I was born in Nagano, Japan. I moved to America when I was 2, where I received a BA from Connecticut College before returning to Japan.
Introducing Yourself in Japanese
Introducing yourself in Japanese is quite easy. Once you've mastered a few set phrases, you can expand however you'd like from there. I won't be teaching you a complex Jikoshoukai (Self-introduction), but rather only the start of one.
Step one is as follows:
Step 1 (Formal)
Make eye contact. Then, do a bow like explained in my previous article here. While bowing, say "Hajimemashite," which translates roughly to "I've never seen you before, and nor you me." At the end of your Hajimemashite your head should be coming back up, and right before it returns to its normal position start saying "(Your last name here, followed by your first name) to moushimasu." So for example, I would say "Hajimemashite, Abe Akiya to moushimasu." Just to clarify a pronunciation point, the "to" is not pronounced like "going to the store" but, rather, "my favorite movie dog is toto." So, to sum it all up:
- Make eye contact
- Start bowing and while going down say "Hajimemashite."
- Return from your bow but before coming fully back start to say "_______ to moushimasu".
Now, on to step 2.
At this point, if you have above a big goose egg, 0 Japanese language level, you could go into a Jikoshoukai here (or self-introduction). However, if you aren't expected to make a Jikoshoukai, like if you are simply meeting an acquaintance of a friend in a coffee shop, then starting a big speech about what foods you like and where you're from will be both odd and a nuisance. So, here's what you do to keep things nice and simple:
- After finishing your bow while finishing your statement "...to moushimasu," snap back up and make eye contact once more.
- Now I know you just did a bow and may be getting sick of it by this point, but expect to be doing one soon after your first one is finished. You'll need to say "Douzo yoroshiku onegaitashimasu," and as soon as you start your "Douzo" you should already be starting another bow.
- Come back upright as you're finishing the entire phrase, and you're home free with a cherry on top if you shoot your new buddy a smile.
P.S Don't touch anyone physically at all during this interaction. Handshakes more or less do not occur, and the general lack of physical contact among the Japanese populace leads to frequent, spontaneous drive-by hugs.
Summary (Plus a Way to Do the Whole Thing More Casually)
Altogether, this is the gist of what you'll be saying:
"Hajimemashite (while bowing), (last name) (first name) to moushimasu. Douzo yoroshiku onegaitashimasu (while bowing)."
The English translation is this:
"Nice to meet you, Abe Akiya I am. I profess my desire to be good acquaintances and not hate each other."
How to Casual-ise the encounter
This is very easy, and you'll just be replacing one word and shortening another. The casual version I'm giving you will not be overly slangy though, as we should all attempt to use "pretty" Japanese.
Following the exact same pattern, simply do this:
"Hajimemashite (while bowing), _________ to iimasu (changed from moushimasu). Yoroshiku onegaishimasu (while bowing).
Here you're essentially saying the same thing but in a more casual way, by changing the moushimasu to iimasu, and dropping the douzo and changing onegaitashimasu to onegaishimasu.
Now this is not the only way to introduce yourself in Japanese, and it is not the best way either. However, it's correct, acceptable, and widely used. If you manage to get this down pat then you'll undoubtedly create a good first impression, or at least further strengthen your facade of being able to truly speak Japanese.
Paul Martin on February 06, 2018:
Thank you for this. It is very helpful and i love the injection of humor. Hilarious. I’m having final presentation for my Japanese class. 頑張ります！
mikeydcarroll67 on May 28, 2015:
These are essential for anyone travelling to Japan! Any learner will make the most of these!
Buthina on November 23, 2013:
Arigato guzaimashta, could you please write the sentence said by the house owner when asking me to enter the house??!!
Akbok (author) from Aomori prefecture, Japan on April 10, 2011:
Rooskaya: Thanks a bunch! Japanese is a fickle mistress, and I'm glad I've been of some use in helping someone understand her.
Cheerfulnuts: That's perfect! Spoken just like a true native speaker :), with all the politeness you could have to boot.
cheerfulnuts from Manila, Philippines on April 07, 2011:
Hajimemashite, cheerfulnuts to moushimasu. Douzo yoroshiku onegaitashimasu. :) Thanks for the free Japanese lesson, Akbok!
Rooskaya from USA on April 07, 2011:
Nice hub.I would try to learn from your hub.Thanks.
Akbok (author) from Aomori prefecture, Japan on April 02, 2011:
WickedYeti: Thanks for the comment! Yeah, they'll be pretty excited about you nailing a sweet introduction, but it may lull them into thinking you're a fluent Japanese speaker ;). I'll be sure to keep up the Hubs on conversation tips so when you do visit, you'll be nicely equipped to impress!
WickedYeti on April 01, 2011:
I have japanese relatives and am always embarrassed by my lack of japanese language skills. This was so helpful! hopefully if i ever go to visit i'll be able to remember some of these so as to not seem like such a foreigner!
Ruth on March 21, 2011:
I've done this many times but as I now know, sloppily! What a great explanation and funny too. I have a chance to practice tomorrow night, so I'll put it to the test.