How to Give a Real Jikoshoukai in Japanese (Self-Introduction)
Want to Give a Proper Jikoshoukai to a Group of Monks?
The Troublesome Jikoshoukai (And How to Defeat it)
When living in Japan, having to do a self-introduction is both inevitable and sometimes painful. Numerous questions arise regarding how long you should talk, what you should talk about, and whether or not you should crack a joke in front of your 60 year old principle/boss. If you can manage to build an introduction off of what I'm about to write (or just copy the example one) I can guarantee that it will be of quality enough to get you by in any social setting. Remember, no one will expect you to be a fluent Japanese speaker upon setting foot off the airplane. Here’s the basic outline along with an example (audio clip included!) towards the end:
The Basic Outline #1-5
#1. Say your name with your last name first, followed by obviously your first name.
#2. If you’re from someplace cool like Tanzania, say where you’re from excitedly. If you’re from someplace boring like America, look ashamed, lower your gaze to a bug crawling on the floor, and announce that you’re from boring old America.
#3. If you aren’t self conscious, go ahead and say your age
#4. Depending on the setting, you can feel free to announce some of your interests or favorite things to eat. You might also consider adding in some skills of yours, like being able to add animated animal faces to Power Points.
#5. Keep things simple and close it up with a polite and classic Japanese farewell.
Steps one through five can be made to be either very easy, or quite complicated depending on your Japanese level. For the purpose of simplicity and providing a foundation that can be built on, I’ll be going through the more basic version of a self-introduction. If you were after something more complicated, your Japanese would be at a level where you probably wouldn’t even need this guide in the first place!
Step #1 Say Your Name Say Your name (Destiny's child anyone?)
Just as in English you wouldn’t scream out your name first when meeting someone (AKIYA!), you want to tack on a polite little hello in Japanese before saying your name. Depending on the time of day, you can use Konnichiwa, Konbanwa, Ohayou gozaimasu, or the miracle word, Hajimemashite. If I were you, I’d go with the tried and true Hajimemashite to lead off my introduction, making it look something like this:
Hajimemashite, (Last Name) (First Name) toh moshimasu or iimasu. (Nice to meet you, I am called *Pettigrew* *Peter*)
In some cases, you can just say your last name, like if you’re meeting someone on a more professional level, but not in a business or work related setting. It can be very tiring to learn all the little details, so focus more on just getting the basics down.
Step #2 Say Where You’re From
In Japan, when you’re a foreigner, more often than not people will assume you’re from America. If, however, you’re from Australia, and want to distinguish that, then feel free to add that fact in during your Jikoshohkai. This isn’t as weird as you might think, and could be equated to saying what state you’re from when introducing yourself to a new group of colleagues. That being said, this isn’t an absolutely necessary step, and is more useful for those of you reading this who are or are considering a position in teaching English. Here’s what it looks like to be proud of your origins:
(Country said in Japanese accent) no (Name of your state if you’re from the U.S.A) shuu kara kimashita. (I’m from America’s *blah* state)
If you aren’t from the States, then just drop the shuu (しゅう) part and add in whatever city you’re from in the second set of parentheses. The reason for this is that Shuu basically means state, and pardon me if my assumption that you aren’t from a country with states has offended you.
Step #3 Say Your Age
Although I put this as step #3, it’s totally ok for it to be snuck in between Steps 1 and 2. If you find that when you practice your Jikoshohkai it sounds better when it’s there instead of here as step 3, then by all means do it that way. This one is short and sweet:
(Number in Japanese) sai desu. (I am *blah* years old)
Very easy, and honestly if you don’t even want it in your Jikoshohkai you don’t have to put it in. I’m still a young chipmunk, so I’m not completely sure, but I’m more than willing to bet that after a certain age and after being drawn into some prestigious company somewhere, you no longer say your age. It’s more for the younger kids to add this in (Just remember how excited you used to be to shout your age at people when you were still 10 years old).
Step #4 Add in Your Interests/Skills
This is where you can add some flavor to your introduction, and also where it gets a bit tricky. The purpose of this segment is to make you memorable and not boring, and perhaps create an opportunity to make a friend who shares in the same interests as you. If you went up and said “I’m Akiya and I’m 22”, people would applaud after you were finished but only because you were leaving the stage or center of the circle. Here’s the gist of what you might say:
Shumi wa Nihongo wo benkyoh suru koto desu (My interest is studying Japanese)
Shumi wa ironna atarashii tabemono ni chousen suru koto desu (My interest is trying my hand at eating lots of new foods)
Pasokon ijiri ga tokui nanode, nani ka tetsudaeru koto ga arimashitara koe wo kakete kudasai (I’m good at screwing around with computers, so if there’s anything I can help with, please call me).
This part is clearly more complicated than the other steps, but it’s very important that you add something to this effect. If you’re at a complete loss, just go with the first one that claims your interest is studying Japanese, as it’s easy to say, and will also flatter any Japanese speaker you’re talking to. If you have anything in particular that you’d like to add to your Jikohshoukai, write it in the comments section and I’ll do a translation for you!
Step #5 The Closer
This is probably the easiest darn part of the whole thing (but hard to translate), so let’s not waste any time:
Kongo mo douzo yoroshiku onegai itashimasu (I look forward to a prosperous relationship from here on out!)
Douzo Yoroshiku Onegai itashimasu (Same as above but without the “from here on out”)
Yoroshiku Onegai shimasu (Same as above but less formal)
Yoroshiku~ (Same as above but significantly less formal, also notice the squiggle at the end which wants you to extend the “ku” part a little bit at the end)
In most cases you should read the situation and decide which one to use.However, if you want to choose a good middle ground, just go for the 1st casual entry, “Yoroshiku Onegai Shimasu”.
Audio Clip of the Example Jikoshoukai
What it Looks Like Put Together (With Audio Clip)
Hajimemashite, Noodle Cup toh moshimasu. 22(Ni jyu ni) sai desu. Amehrika noh Nebahda (Nevada) shuu kara kimashita. Shumi wa Nihongo wo benkyoh suru koto to nihon no yakyuu wo miru koto desu. Douzo yoroshiku onegai itashimasu!
Hello, I’m Noodle, Cup. I’m 22 years old. I’m from America’s Nevada state. My interests are studying Japanese and watching Japanese baseball. Nice to meet you yada yada…
if you can manage to say this I guarantee that no one will bat an eye, and the people you're introducing yourself to will be very impressed with your "Foreigner speaking Japanese" show. Take a peek at the audio clip to the right. I spoke slowly for the first round, and then at normal speed for the second instance.
What you’ve read and hopefully ingrained into your memory thus far is a basic self introduction that would be required of you at parties or small get-togethers with people who you don’t really know too well. If you’re just meeting your friend’s friend at an arcade, please don’t take 4 minutes of their time blurting out your autobiography. If you’re looking for something simple like that, go to my hub on easy Japanese introductions that’s actually a counterpart to this one. Anyway, it’s good to be prepared with one of these handy that you can bust out at a moment’s notice because, trust me, Japan will require many of these from you even if you’re a hermit who never leaves his hut.