Nervous about meeting your host family? Don’t be! You’ll be made very welcome by Lexis homestays, and getting to know your family will be one of the real pleasures of your time in Japan. Below are some very simple words and phrases to get you started in communicating at home. These are collectively call ‘aisatsu’. “Aisatsu” (挨拶) is a Japanese word that refers to greetings or formal expressions of politeness and respect.
As a beginner Japanese language student, it is important to learn the basics of “aisatsu” as this is something that plays a crucial role in Japanese culture and communication. Learning just a few of these key phrases goes a long way to easing your entry into Japanese society. Of course, as you study at Lexis Japan you’ll learn all sorts of phrases and language from different levels of politeness, but you’ll still go back to these basics time and time again during your day to day life.
Here are some common “aisatsu” that beginner Japanese language students should learn:
1. “Konnichiwa” (こんにちは): A general greeting used in the afternoon.
2. “Ohayou gozaimasu” (おはようございます): A morning greeting used before 10 a.m, or the first time you meet someone that day
3. “Komban wa” (こんばんは): A evening greeting used after sunset.
4. “Sayounara” (さようなら): A farewell greeting used when leaving.
5. “Arigatou gozaimasu” (ありがとうございます): A thank you expression.
In addition to these greetings, beginner Japanese language students should also learn basic expressions for polite conversation, such as “Excuse me” (すみません), “I’m sorry – Gomen Nasai (ごめんなさい), and “Yes – Hai ” (はい) or “No – Iie” (いいえ). They should also learn the proper way to address people, including using titles such as “san” (さん) after someone’s name to show respect. As in most culture, these small expressions of politeness go a long way to making building relationships.
Learning “aisatsu” and basic expressions are essential for building social and communication skills in Japanese, and they provide a foundation for further study of the language.
Aisatsu serves many important purposes, including showing respect and courtesy to others, building and maintaining relationships, and reflecting cultural values such as humility, respect, and consideration for others.
One reason why aisatsu matters so much in Japan is that it helps to build and maintain relationships, both personal and professional. By greeting someone, you acknowledge their presence and show that they matter. This creates a sense of connection and fosters a sense of community.
Another reason why aisatsu is significant in Japan is that it reflects the cultural values of the country. Japan is a collectivist society that values harmonious relationships, and greetings are one way to maintain social harmony by showing consideration for others and avoiding conflict.
Aisatsu also sets the tone for the rest of the interaction, creating a friendly and welcoming atmosphere and establishing a positive relationship between the parties involved. In contrast to this, though no less importantly, the level of politeness shown also helps to establish the relative ranks of people in a conversation, something that can matter very much in a formal setting within a country as traditionally hierarchical as Japan.
Just as having a few phrases such as this before you arrive in Japan will make a huge difference to meeting you homestay and establishing a relationship there, the same applies to all interactions you’ll have within Japan. It’s very common, particularly in regional areas and smaller communities, to exchange greetings far more widely than is the case in some countries – jogging or hiking in a small town can mean having to offer a cheery ‘Konnichiwa!’ every few paces!
As with everything, even a small effort can go a long way!