How to Say “How Do You Do” in Japanese: Formal and Informal Ways

Greetings are an essential part of any language, and learning how to say “How do you do?” in different contexts is a valuable skill. In Japanese, there are both formal and informal ways to greet someone. This guide will explore both variations, provide tips to enhance your understanding, and offer examples to help you master these greetings. Let’s dive in!

Formal Greeting: Hajimemashite

In formal or business settings, the appropriate phrase to use when meeting someone for the first time is “Hajimemashite” (はじめまして). This phrase roughly translates to “Nice to meet you” and is used to express politeness and respect. Here’s an example conversation:

Person A: Hajimemashite. Watashi wa Tanaka desu. Yoroshiku onegaishimasu.
Person B: Hajimemashite. Watashi wa Suzuki desu. Yoroshiku onegaishimasu.

In this exchange, the phrase “Hajimemashite” is followed by an introduction and the expression “Yoroshiku onegaishimasu.” This additional expression can be translated to “Please treat me well” or “Nice to meet you.” It’s essential to note that using the person’s last name when introducing yourself is respectful in Japanese culture.

Informal Greeting: Yoroshiku

In more casual situations, such as meeting friends, classmates, or colleagues you are already acquainted with, a common way to say “How do you do?” is “Yoroshiku” (よろしく). Unlike the formal greeting, “Yoroshiku” does not include a verb and translates to “Please treat me well” or “Nice to meet you.” Here’s an example:

Person A: Yoroshiku. Watashi wa Tanaka.
Person B: Yoroshiku. Watashi wa Suzuki.

This exchange is more relaxed and skips the full self-introduction because the individuals are already familiar with each other.

Tips to Enhance Understanding

Understanding the subtle nuances behind greetings can be challenging, but these tips can help clarify the usage of formal and informal greetings in Japanese:

  1. Pay attention to the context: Different situations call for different greetings. Assess the environment and the relationship between you and the person you are greeting to determine whether a formal or informal approach is appropriate.
  2. Observe native speakers: Pay attention to how native Japanese speakers greet each other and follow their lead. Mimicking their greetings will help you blend in naturally.
  3. Use appropriate honorifics: Adding “-san” after someone’s name is a common way to show respect in Japanese. If unsure about the appropriate level of formality, err on the side of being more formal.

Regional Variations

When it comes to regional variations, it’s important to note that Japanese greetings are relatively consistent across the country. While local dialects may exist, the standard formal and informal greetings mentioned earlier are widely understood and used throughout Japan.

However, it’s worth mentioning that some small variations might occur in different regions or among specific groups. These differences could include alternate phrases or specific dialects. To avoid confusion, it’s best to stick to the standard greetings discussed previously unless you become familiar with a particular dialect or region.


Mastering greetings is a fundamental aspect of any language learning journey, and Japanese is no exception. By learning how to say “How do you do?” in both formal and informal contexts, you’ll be equipped to greet others appropriately in various situations. Remember to adapt your approach based on the formality of the setting and the relationship between you and the person you’re meeting. With practice and familiarity, you’ll confidently navigate Japanese greetings and make a positive impression on those you meet. Yoroshiku onegaishimasu!

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