Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Are your friends tired?

I’ve heard that Japanese language has most varieties for greeting of all language.

When you meet people in the morning, you would say “ohayoogozaimasu”.
When you start eating, you would say “itadakimasu”.
When you leave home, when someone complimented the meal you cooked, when you meet your child’s teacher, when you enter someone’s house…
You would choose and use “the best” greeting for each situation.

In most of Japanese elementary school,
there are posters “Let’s greet with loud voice!”.

Yes, greeting is very important in Japan.

I think, people sometimes use greetings too much, especially in business or formal situation.
If they use their own word instead of routine greeting, it would sound more friendly and interesting.

But in my opinion, basically greeting is convenient and good way to communicate with people.

Recently, some greetings have some different meanings.
Have you ever heard “otsukaresama”?
“otsukaresama” is a very interesting greeting…

Basically, this greeting is used in office.
“o” expresses “polite”, “tsukare” means “tired” and “sama” is “Mr. / Ms.”.
“otsukaresama” is like “I understand you worked a lot.
You must be tired! Please don’t work too hard!”.

What a thoughtful greeting!

When you meet your co-workers or boss in office, when you start talking with your co-workers or boss on the phone…
you would use “otsukaresama”.

Recently, “otsukaresama” is also used between friends, couple and family.
When you meet, talk on the phone or send an e-mail during or after work, most of people say “otsukaresama”, even if they don’t work together.

In my opinion, there are two reasons for that.

First, there isn’t common greeting to use for casual situation (close friends, boyfriend / girlfriend, family etc.) even though we have so many kinds of greetings!
There are greetings “konnichiwa” (hello) and “konbanwa” (good evening).
But we usually don’t use them for casual situation.
Especially for young people, the greetings sound like formal.
So, we became using the convenient and thoughtful greeting “otsukaresama” out of office, too.

For another reason, I guess most of people know that their friends, boyfriend / girlfriend and family are tired.

“Of course I understand that you worked a lot.
Of course you must be tired.
I’m tired, too!

Let’s try not to work too hard!!
Let’s try not to do overtime too much!!!”



  1. Anonymous7:50 AM

    Hello Akiko! This is a great site - so interesting and useful -
    I hope a lot of people find out about your blog and read it!

  2. Anonymous1:15 PM


    Very awesome blog!

    My name is Pepe Glemg2utske and I live alone in a small cave on the edge of Hokkaido, a small island off the coast of Austria. I have no electricity or gas but the monkeys - when not beating me - have taught me how to build an internet out of leaves and tree sap.

    I am very interested in learning Spanish and feel your site has helped me greatly. Did you know corn is called maze in Italian?

    I am sorry that you are wrong about the fish facts though. I know many fish that copulate (do the nasty). Just today I saw a little flounder with a top-hat propositioning a call girl in the little pond next to where the monkeys beat me. He didn't have enough money on him though. It made me sad.

    Nihon just do it!


  3. David!
    You are David with an expensive umbrella, right?
    Thank you very much for your interesting, funny, strange and crazy comments!

    About the fish thing, you are right.
    Though this blog is not "Biologygo for it!", I checked it with google and I found out that some kinds of fish copulate (Don't say "do the nasty"!).

    Have a great weekend with your sweet monkeys and poor flounder☆ :)

  4. Hi Akiko!

    Congratulations on starting your blog. I can see that it's going to be very very useful for learners of Japanese, and learners of the nighttime activities of fish ^-^

    I'm looking forward to reading more. Nihon...go for it!

  5. Hi Tom,

    Thank you very much for the comments!
    Though this blog is not for learners of nighttime activities of fish... (^_^;)
    (The word "nighttime activities of fish" sounds so funny for me, anyway.)

    I'm looking forward to reading your blog, too!

  6. Thank you for your website, I've found it very interesting.

    I'm always looking for new Japanese teachers so please let me know if you need a job

  7. A. Hitler9:00 AM

    Please update this - ima!

  8. I didn't know about the posters in elementary schools, it's really interesting!

  9. Brian5:43 AM


    Hajimemashite, Washington DC. no Brian desu. I really enjoyed your posting on otsukaresama, it was interesting to learn about how and why people are using it more casually. And Tom's posting about lonely fish was hilarious, what a wacko. (kichigai hito)

    So ieba... I remember when I once called my Japanese friend kichigai in a friendly way. In America we say "you're crazy" and it can be a very friendly adjective. But my friend in Japan was REALLY upset when I called her crazy, I guess there's a cultural gap there.

    Anyway, I work for the US government and sometimes take trips to Tokyo. I'm hoping to live there for a few years soon too. If you'd like to be penpals you can find me on Otherwise I'll just continue to enjoy your BLOG and your kanji lessons, arigatou!
    - Brian

  10. Hi Brian,

    Thank you for posting comments.
    (^ ^)
    I'm glad to hear that you enjoy my blog!

    About "Kichigai", as you said, the Japanese word sounds stronger than English "crazy".
    Kichigai is almost "lunacy, insane, distraction" or something like that.
    "kichigai" cannot be used on TV or radio, because the word describes discrimination against insane people.

    Yes, this kind of cultural gap sometimes makes serious problem...

    I guess English "stupid" means stronger than Japanese "baka".
    What do you think?