Live Seminar

How to say Goodbye in Japanese


How to say Goodbye in Japanese

Welcome back to another “Video & Article” series, this time for another live-stream with tutor Erika. This live-stream teaches you how to say “Goodbye” naturally in Japanese. Many people tend to use “さようなら”, which is correct but may sound a bit unnatural. Let’s learn other ways to say goodbye to friends and colleagues!

Table of Contents
[Why to avoid “Sayonara”]
[What to say instead of “Sayonara”]
[Overview Table]


This live-stream about ways to say “Goodbye” in Japanese aired in March, which happens to be a time of changes in Japan. In Japan, school years start in April and end in March the following year. This has lead to the fact that the fiscal year is scheduled around the same time frame, which leads to events in government offices, companies and schools being timetabled around this time as well.

Hiring of new personnel as well as job transfers and graduation ceremonies take place around March, affecting society at large. And this also leads to March being a season of saying “Goodbye”.


[Why to avoid “Sayonara”]

The direct equivalent to “Goodbye” in Japanese is “さようなら”, sometimes also written as “さよなら” with a short “o” in the beginning. But “Sayonara” is not commonly used in everyday situations, especially not with friends and family (also not really with colleagues).

“Sayonara” actually has a very strong feeling of finality to it. It conveys that you anticipate you will not be seeing the other person for quite some time, so saying “Sayonara” to your loved ones or friends may leave them confused or upset (although many Japanese know non-native speakers learn “Sayonara” as “bye” in textbooks and usually overlook the somewhat inappropriate use of the term).

(…) According to a recent survey conducted by Japan’s livedoor News, the average Japanese person doesn’t use the word “sayonara” at all. They asked 30 people of a variety of ages and genders if they used the word, and the results don’t look good for the “goodbye” word. (Wilson, 2016)

According to the article quoted above from “Japan Today”, 70% of the people asked said they did not use “Sayonara”, and the percentage seems to grow only larger in younger generations, with people stating that Sayonara makes them feel like they won’t meet the other person again or that it feels like “the end”.

[What to say instead of “Sayonara”]

So what should you say, if not “Sayonara”? In casual situations you could say:




“Mata” means “again”, and “Ja” in this case means something like “Well then”. “Ne” is a sentence ending particle to make sentence endings softer. So essentially, all of these expressions mean “See you”, or “Bye then”, or “See you later”.

Nowadays you can also hear many young people say “バイバイ”, which just translates to what it sounds like: “Bye bye”.

There are also many phrases that relate to the time you will meet the other person again:

See you tomorrow

See you next week

However, these are also rather casual, so they cannot be used in very formal situations. Right before New Year’s you can also say:

See you next year

Now, let’s take a look at the more formal phrases to say goodbye. These can be used in the office, with colleagues and co-workers:

Goodbye (more literally: Please excuse me for leaving first)

Many people work away at their desks late into the night in Japan, but eventually you will probably leave the office, leaving a few people behind. In that case, you can use “おさき失礼しつれいします”. If you are just addressing a few coworkers you are close with and not your boss, you can also just say “おさきに”.

Thank you for your hard work

This is the phrase you will most likely get as a response for “おさき失礼しつれいします” from the people remaining in the office. “おつかさまでした” cannot be literally translated to English, but it conveys something along the lines of “Thank you for your hard work”.

You can also say it to a colleague who might have just told you a story about a difficult client or to a friend after taking a test: “おつかさま!”

Take care of yourself, all the best

The last word to introduce is “お元気げんきで”. If someone is going on a long trip and you won’t be seeing them for a while, but you don’t want to use the heavy “Sayonara”, but “またね” doesn’t really do it either, “お元気げんきで” might be a good alternative.

Variations include “お元気げんきでね” or “元気げんきでね”.

That’s it for today. If you have any questions, you can always clear them up by booking a lesson with one of our native Japanese tutors. See you next time!

[Overview Table]

Expression Meaning When to use
じゃあね、またね、じゃまたね See you, see you later, bye then With friends and family you are going to see again soon
バイバイ Bye bye With friends and family
また明日あした/来週らいしゅう/来年らいねん See you tomorrow / next week / next year With friends and family, when you already know when you are going to see them again
さき失礼しつれいします Goodbye, I’ll be leaving first With colleagues (including your boss) when you leave the office before them
さき Goodbye, I’ll be leaving first With close colleagues when you leave the office before them
つかさまでした Goodbye, thank you for your hard work With colleagues (including your boss) when they leave the office before you
元気げんきで、お元気げんきでね、元気げんきでね Take care of yourself, all the best With friends, family and acquaintances when they go on a long trip and you won’t be seeing them for a while
単語たんごリスト(Vocabulary list)
とく Particularly
かれ Goodbye, farewell (not as a greeting, as a general noun)
季節きせつ Season
さよなら・さようなら Goodbye, fare well
再来週さらいしゅう Week after next

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