How to say “Goodbye” in Japanese

Say goodbye in Japanese

No one likes to say goodbye, but did you know there are different ways to say goodbye in Japanese depending on when you’re planning on seeing a person again and who the person is?

Here are a few proper ways to say farewell in Japanese without sounding like a newbie or needlessly offending anyone.


Sayōnara is probably the first thing that comes to mind when you think about saying goodbye in Japanese. But Sayōnara is probably not the proper term in most situations, especially if your planning on seeing the person again shortly.

Sayōnara is typically reserved for longer partings of a day or more. If you going to see the person later that day then Sayonara is not for you. Think of it like saying ‘farewell’ in English. You wouldn’t say ‘farewell’ when you leave the office for lunch would you?

Jā, shitsurei shimasu

Jā, shitsurei shimasu is a highly formal way of saying goodbye to a superior such as an employer or a teacher. You’re basically apologizing for the rudeness of having to leave.

Sore, dewa mata & Dewa, mata

Sore, dewa mata and Dewa, mata are formal ways of saying ‘see you later’ in Japanese.

Jā, mata

Jā, mata is a much less formal goodbye and also basically means ‘see you later.’ Use this is cases where you’ll likely to see the person later during the same day. You can also mix it up in a less formal way by using Jā, mata ne.

Jā, ne & Sore, Jā

Jā, ne and Sore, Jā are probably the least formal ways to say goodbye to close friends or equals. Think of it as a ‘see ya’ or a ‘that’s it then’ in English.

Pronunciation Videos

For further help with pronunciation and origins of Sayōnara, here is the lovely Hiroko from JapanesePod101.

And, if you’re not easily frighted by strange bald men, here is a good video on some of the less formal goodbyes like Jā, ne and Mata, ne and the formal shitsurei shimasu.

Photo Credits – Splash photo by: Mullenkedheim

One Response to “How to say “Goodbye” in Japanese”

  1. Shoganai Japan » How to say “Goodbye” in Japanese | i heart japan  on July 5th, 2010

    […] News & Events […]

Leave a Reply