15 Ways to Express Thank You in Japanese

Are you seeking a way of saying thank you in Japanese? If yes, please get through this article. As you might hear previously or you heard several times in Anime etc, “Thank You” in Japanese can be expressed in several ways.

In this article, you can learn various kinds of “thank you” expressions other than arigatou gozaimasu, which you can use according to the situation, specific occasions, and the level of the person you are talking to. The topic of saying “thank you” in Japanese is very fitting for us to discuss and you must know if you have the desire to live in Japan. Good for work, college or even moving there.

Why is this so essential to understand? because this culture of gratitude is very inherent in eastern countries, if we don’t completely understand the culture of gratitude, other people will behave less well towards us. Uniquely in Japanese, there are many expressions to express gratitude, each expression has a different meaning and different conditions in its use.

Furthermore, in Japanese dramas or films, you will often see scenes of Japanese people saying “Arigatou” or “Arigatou Gozaimasu” while bowing, or just saying with a grateful face. What is the actual meaning, how to write it, and variations of this “arigatou”? let’s discuss to the end guys!

The Meaning of “Arigatou/Arigatou Gozaimasu”

Surely, many people know this Japanese phrase. Arigatou gozaimasu which is used to express “thank you” is usually used in general situations, which are mostly formal. Generally used when you want to express “thank you” to people you don’t know, much older people or of a higher social status than you.

It is said that etymologically Arigatou comes from Buddhism, namely from the word “お釈迦さま/Oshakasama/ Founder of Buddha. Which is an expression of joy and gratitude for the Buddha who was born as a human.

From the letters, namely /ありがたい/ arigatai, from two words (有る /ある/exist and / むずかしい/ hard, meaning: hard/rare to get. From this word, it is then read as 有難う/ Arigatou. It comes from this, then it came up until now that Arigatou used to express gratitude. Arigatou’s writing was originally from the Kanji letter, “有難う”, but in everyday life, arigatou or arigatou gozaimasu is commonly written using hiragana letter.

In order to deepen your understanding and broaden your knowledge, here are 16 ways to say thank you in Japanese for you.

1. Arigatou (ありがとう)

Arigatou is a more casual phrase from arigatou gozaimasu, it means “thanks” in English. Generally used when you mean to express “thank you casually” to those closest to you and this word is generally used in informal conditions, and is usually spoken to friends, family, or people of the same age. Arigatou alone without gozaimasu, cannot be used from the bottom up but can be used from bottom to top that means for example between employees to bosses, teachers to students, soldiers to commanders, and so on. However, in this case, we still can use it for parents,  because in Japanese culture, family is our closest circle, so it’s okay to use casual language.

2. Arigatou Gozaimasu (ありがとうございます)

If you do not understand your current position and condition, this word is very safe and recommended to be spoken. It means “thank you very much”. Arigatou gozaimasu is read as Arigatoo Gozaimas, the letter u is behind the letter o in Japanese it is read as long as 2 beats, and on the word masu, desu, u is not read at the back. Same with ending sentences ~ます/ ~masu or ~です/~desu, has a more polite meaning than arigatou alone. Used to express gratitude not only in daily life but also at work when communicating with Bosses or Clients. This sentence emphasize the expression of gratitude at that time.

For example, when you come to a seminar or events, you might hear the MC say: / Honjitsu wa goraijo itadaki, arigatou gozaimasu/ Thank you for coming today. Even though there is a meaning of “come”, the MC was wanted to emphasize their gratitude for being there and taking the time to listen to the seminar.

3. Arigatou gozaimashita (ありがとうございました)

Grammatically, this expression is the past form of arigatou gozaimasu. Contain the same meaning and function as ありがとうございます /Arigatou Gozaimasu, the difference is in terms of time. ありがとうございました/ Arigatou Gozaimashita is used to express gratitude for something that happened in the past (past tense).

ありがとうございました/ Arigatou Gozaimashita also has another meaning, namely the relationship is only until then. If you want the relationship with that party/person to continue, use ありがとうございます /Arigatou Gozaimasu. Generally used to express your gratitude to people who have bothered you or have helped you in many ways, such as a store clerk who helped and served you during shopping.

4. Doumo arigatou gozaimasu (どうもありがとうございます)

Standard expressions that are commonly used in everyday life. This one expression is showing gratitude from the bottom of my heart. This thank you is often said for people who are highly respected, such as business clients, customers, directors, or people who are very instrumental in our lives. It can be said that the level expression is much more polite and formal than arigatou or arigatou gozaimasu. The literal meaning is “thank you very much”.

5. Doumo (どうも)

Shorter than Doumo arigatou gozaimasu, we can use the word doumo to say thank you. This short and concise expression is commonly used in informal situations between friends or relatives who already know each other.

6. Sankyu- (サンキュー) Thank You in Japanese Slang

This is an expression of “thank you” taken from the English absorption “thank you”. Generally used in casual and non-formal situations, and more often used by young people. You can use this expression with friends of the same age, hangout friends, or friends who are already familiar. Interestingly, sometimes there are some people who convey in writing, in chat language young people often shorten the expression sankyu to 39. Numbers 3 for san and 9 for kyu. written with the number 39 because the way to read the number 39 is also “San Kyu”.

7. Sumimasen (すみません) Thank you and sorry for the trouble

There is something else that is unique from the Japanese culture, namely the use of words in several conditions that have different meanings.

The expression of sumimasen is known as an expression used to say sorry. Indeed, this sumimasen is generally used to apologize, but under certain conditions, this sumimasen can mean Thank You, or it can also mean “I’m sorry to have bothered you”.

Therefore, sumimasen also means “thank you”. The meaning of “thank you” by using this expression is that we are “apologizing for being a bother and grateful for what other people have done for us”. If it is our friend who helps, then we can say Sumanai or Suman to replace the word sumimasen (which has a formal feel).

8. Otsukaresamadeshita (お疲れ様でした) Thank you for your cooperation or your work

Otsukaresama is an expression that is usually used when we finish a job. This expression is used to express gratitude for the effort and hard work that has been done by others, or to appreciate each other’s efforts and hard work done together. It simply means “thank you for your hard work.”

Otsukaresama is an indispensable greeting in Japanese work culture. The Japanese use it to thank their comrades for their efforts.

9. Osewani narimashita (お世話になりました)

Similarly, with otsukaresama deshita, this expression is also a greeting that is often used in the world of business and work. Of course, in other situations, it can be used. The meaning is almost the same, which is used to express gratitude to others. Osewani narimashita is generally used when you have received a lot of help either for work-related matters or other things. It can simply mean “thank you for your kindness”, “thank you for your service”, or “thank you for everything”.

10. Makoto ni arigatou gozaimasu (誠にありがとうございます)

Placing the word “誠に/Makoto ni” before ありがとうございます, has a profound polite and formal meaning. 誠に/ Makoto ni means “really” or “very”. This phrase is often  found in formal business emails as well as a formal announcement in the department store or public facilities..

11. Orei mōshi agemasu (御礼申し上げます)

Another phrase to express gratitude is 御礼申し上げます/Orei mōshiagemasu. 御礼/ Orei means thanks or gratitude and  申し上げます means say, this is a very profound way to express ‘I would like to say’ in Japanese which originally come from the form 言う or iu that means say in Japanese. Hence, 御礼申し上げます/Orei mōshiagemasu can be translated into the meaning ‘I would like to profoundly say gratitude or thank you.’

12. Kansha itashimasu (感謝いたします)

This is a more straightforward way of expressing gratitude. いたす/itasu is a more polite and self-deprecating form than する/suru in Japanese, it can be used when sending business e-mails or to a boss. And to express gratitude deeply and repeatedly, you can use the phrase「重ねて感謝いたします」/Kasanete kansha itashimasu or 「改めて感謝いたします」/Aratamete kansha itashimasu. This phrase means ”Thank you very much” in Japanese.

13. Gochisousama deshita (ごちそう さま でした) – thank you for the meal

Slightly different from all the expressions above, the expression to thank us for the food we have eaten is gochisou sama deshita. This expression is used as a thank you for the food that is given to us. This word is usually learned in pairs with the expression Itadakimasu (いただきます) which means happy eating. It is also important to know this expression since it is commonly used in Japanese daily life. This word has the meaning of thanking all those involved in making food, from the farmer who has planted it, the farmer who takes care of his livestock, the grocer, who cooks the food, and everyone who has been involved in making the food we eat. Gochisousama deshita or gochisousama for a more casual expression is used when we finish eating. It means “thank you for this delicious food/dish.”

14. Go shinsetsu ni arigatou gozaimasu (ご親切にありがとうございます)

Although not everyone will be friendly to you, there will be people who will be very kind to you, either friendly in helping with all their heart or even caring for you. Probably, this good person is your boss, friend, or senior. Then say this word to that person. This word will express your gratitude for the friendliness and concern of the person. This phrase means ‘Thank you for the kindness’ in Japanese.

15. Kochira Koso Arigatou Gozaimasu (こちら こそ ありがとう ございます)

Doitashimashite (どいたしまして) and Kochira (こちら こそ) After discussing all the ways to express thank you in Japanese, we need to know how to respond when someone says ‘Thank you’. For example, we want to reply ‘You are welcome’ which in Japanese is expressed by the word “Doitashimashite” or we can just use the word “Kochira Koso” or just add this phrase in front of the word thank you, so it would be Kochira Koso Arigatou Gozaimasu (こちら こそ ありがとう ございます). This will be very useful for you because there will be many people who will help you in your social life and easily use this phrase sounds very natural and beautiful in Japanese.

Conclusion

Here are all the explanations and expressions about using arigatou or arigatou gozaimasu in Japanese. It can be concluded as the following points

  • The expression of arigatou gozaimasu is used when expressing gratitude in a more formal and polite form.
  • For a more casual form of expression, we can use arigatou.

Hopefully, this article would be helpful for you and could answer your curiosity, see you on the next article! 

About Eka 72 Articles
Hi, I’m Eka. I’m one of the awardees of the 2016 MEXT College to College Recommendation Scholarship. I completed the one-year JASSO-Tokyo Japanese course (2016-2017) and won second place in the Japanese speech competition held internally at JASSO at that time. After that, I continued my education at NIT. Akashi College and earned a Bachelor of Engineering degree after 2 years of study. I love teaching children English and Japanese, writing blogs, designing graphics, and creating digital content. I hope you enjoy the knowledge I share here based on the experience I gained in Japan for over 5 years. Thanks!