Leaves have started to fall, days are getting shorter and shorter and temperatures are dropping. That’s right, winter is on its way! And winter means… holidays! Just like any other country, this time of the year is very important in Japan as well, especially New Year. It brings out another set of very specific traditions and codes of Japanese culture. Among them, the rules to say happy new year to the people around you appear to be very specific. If you’re wondering how to wish a happy new year in Japanese, this article is here to help you!
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How to say Happy New Year in Japanese
Depending on how old you are, the time of the year and the context in which you stand, there can be several ways to say happy new year in Japanese.
Wishing a happy new year in Japanese: before January 1st
In Japan, there are two steps when it comes to new year wishes. Thus, it is common to hear “良いお年をお迎えください” (yoi otoshi wo omukaekudasai) before January 1st (but not after December 31st!). It translates as “Have a good year” and is often shortened to “良いお年を” (yoi otoshi wo).
Wishing a happy new year in Japan: from January 1st
Starting January 1st, Japanese people let go of “良いお年を” (yoi otoshi wo) and start saying あけましたおめでとうございます instead. This one is read “Akemashite omedetō gozaimasu”. You might be wondering what’s the meaning of it, since the words are different. Actually, it is also used to say “Happy New Year”.
Depending on who you’re with, you may or may not hear the very conventional 今年もよろしくお願いします (Kotoshimo yoroshiku onegai shimasu) following あけましておめでとうございます (Akemashite omedetō gozaimasu). Its literal meaning is harder to translate to English but it conveys gratitude for the year to come. If you work in an office, for example, you could find yourself being told or saying: あけましておめでとうございます。今年もよろしくお願いします (Akemashite omedetō gozaimasu. Kotoshimo yoroshiku onegai shimasu).
Saying happy new year to your friends in Japan
In more casual settings, that is to say between friends or among young people, “あけおめ！ことよろ !” (Ake ome! Koto yoro!) can be heard quite frequently. It simply is a shorter version of “あけましておめでとうございます。今年もよろしくお願いします” (Akemashite omedetō gozaimasu. Kotoshimo yoroshiku onegai shimasu).
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Learn Japanese with your senpai!
If you’d like to practice listening and saying the terms with just saw, you can watch Mizuki senpai’s video about New Year in Japan! In this video, just like many others on our YouTube channel, she introduces useful vocabulary and key cultural aspects relevant to new year in Japan. The practice you need just before holiday season!