At Moto-i in Minneapolis, our restaurant is built on the tradition of delicious Japanese cuisine and the centuries-old practice of brewing sake. We love having people come in who have never tried ramen or sake, and seeing the look on their faces when they discover a dish they love or they try a drink they thought they may not like. What we love even more is when they come back again and again, and bring their friends and family with them. Another thing we love is that people of all backgrounds and ethnicities visit our restaurant on a regular basis and that they want to learn something about Japanese tradition. Many times, this begins with them wanting to learn a few basic Japanese words and phrases. In this blog, we’ll look at some of the more common words that even the beginning language learner can master.


It’s always polite to greet someone the first time you meet them, and ask them a bit about themselves. In Japanese, the most common greeting are: おはようございます (Ohayōgozaimasu) – Good morning! This phrase is a good one to use when you run into somebody early in the morning when you arrive at work, and if you come to Moto-i on Saturday or Sunday when we open at 11:00am, we would love to be greeted by you in this manner! こんにちは (Kon’nichiwa) – Hello This greeting is fairly well known, and you may have heard before. It can be used as a common greeting between acquaintances, and can also mean “Good afternoon.” お名前は何ですか (Onamaehanandesuka) – What is your name? This is a polite thing to ask someone when you meet them for the first time. You may only talk to them this one time, but they’ll definitely remember you asking them their name in Japanese!


If you’ve been talking with a friend for awhile, or you’re finishing up a business meeting, it’s important to say goodbye before hanging up the phone or leaving the room. さようなら (Sayōnara) – Goodbye (Farewell) This phrase is also well known, and is sometimes used as a more formal goodbye (or farewell). お元気で (おげんきで) (Ogenkide) – I wish you the best of luck. This can be a nice way to say goodbye to someone without being too formal. You are wishing them good health and good luck wherever they may go. じゃあまた (Jā mata) – See you! This is a casual goodbye that’s often shared between friends. They know they’ll see each other again soon, and their relationship is one where formality isn’t as important. You don’t have to be fluent in Japanese in order to learn these easy greetings and goodbyes, and you can feel comfortable using them without worrying too much about proper etiquette (which is of course very important in Japan). If you’d like to try these phrases out in public, while also enjoying some delicious cuisine, come to our restaurant in Minneapolis today. We’ll greet you warmly, make sure you’re well taken care of, and send you off with our best wishes and the hope we’ll see you again soon.

We look forward to your next visit!

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