Introducing Yourself in Japanese
Introducing yourself in Japanese is quite easy and once you’ve mastered a few set phrases, you can basically expand however you’d like from there. I’ll be teaching you not a complex Jikoshoukai (Self introduction), but simply the start of one. Step one is as follows:
Step 1 (Formal)
Make eye contact like you would with an angry bear, because Japanese people are inherently scary. Then, do a bow like explained in my previous hub 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:
#1 Make eye contact
#2 Start bowing and while going down say “Hajimemashite”
#3 Return from your bow but before coming fully back start to say “_______ to moushimasu”.
Now, on to step #2.
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At this point,if you have above a big goose egg 0 Japanese 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:
#1 After finishing your bow while finishing your statement “…to moushimasu”, snap back up and make eye contact once more.
#2 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.
#3 Come back up right 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.
Sum Up (plus a way to do the whole thing more casually)
All together, 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.