Happy New Year in Japanese (and Other Greetings)
New Year’s Day marks the end of weeks of winter celebration. There was Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and then New Year’s Eve right at the December’s end. Students wrapped up their school semester, as the rest of us wrapped up numerous presents, as the year wrapped up.
Even though many of these holidays aren’t traditionally Japanese, many Japanese have adopted the holiday spirit. Christmas is a big commercial day, and every year you can see New Year’s celebrations take place across Japan.
You can boost your Japanese this holiday season with the following common phrases.
How to say Happy New Year in Japanese
Yoi otoshi wo (sugoshite kudasai).
The Japanese translation literally means something like “have a good year,” 良い meaning “good” and お年 meaning “year.” You can omit the verb when saying this phrase, but if you want to be more complete, you can add過ごしてください, which means “please have” in this context.
You can use this phrase only up until the New Year begins. When you want to wish someone on or after the New Year, use the one below.
Akemashite omedetou (gozaimasu)!
あけまして is derived from the verb 明ける（あける）which means “to begin.” So, this phrase is apt for celebrating New Year’s Day. You can make the phrase more polite or formal by adding ございます, which is just a common polite suffix in Japanese.
Unlike the previous example, you use this phrase once the New Year has arrived.
Other forms of holiday greetings in Japanese
See you next year
Just another expression for around New Year’s. また来年 means “again next year” or “see you next year.” As you might’ve guessed, you use this expression before the actual day.
Best Wishes for Next Year
Shin’nen ga yoi toshi de arimasu you ni.
This phrase seems rather long, but it conveys a simple meaning, best wishes for the next year. 新年 means “new year” and良い年 means “good year.” ように roughly means “so that” or “in order to,” but at the end of a positive saying it can convey a wish for something to happen. For example, 良い日であるように(Yoi hi de aru you ni) is “I hope you have a good day” and 良い成績をとるように(Yoi seiseki wo toru you ni) is “I hope you get a good grade.” The literal translation of the holiday phrase is closer to “I hope the new year is a good one.”
“Merry Christmas” is a simple and straightforward translation, as the Japanese is a phonetic translation of the English. Remember to lengthen the “i” syllable at the end of メリー in order to pronounce the phrase correctly.
Like “Christmas,” “Kwanza” in Japanese is also a phonetic translation that sounds very much the same as the English. “Omedetou” means something like “congratulations” and is said to celebrate something. You can use “omedetou” with versatility, such as in “お誕生日おめでとう！（Otanjoubi omedetou!)” for “Happy birthday!”
Can you break down the words in this phrase? It follows the same pattern used in the previous phrase, “Happy Kwanza.
Yoi kyuujitsu wo.
If you want to be all encompassing and wish people the best for any holiday they are celebrating, or even just wish them well on a vacation, then you can say良い休日を.
休日 means “any day that you rest,” so its meaning is technically broader than “holiday,” but it often implies a holiday or vacation time.
That’s it! With these eight phrases and a bit of hiragana and katakana under your belt, you’ll be able to read, understand, and express many of the greetings this holiday season. では、良いお年を！新年がとても良い年でありますように。(Anyway, Happy New Year! I hope that the New Year is very good one.)
Taking your Japanese skills to the next level
If you want to learn more than “Happy New Year” then check out LingQ and learn Japanese online. LingQ comes with 100s of guides lessons that have been professionally recorded and transcribed. These are perfect for beginners and use common, everyday vocabulary. Not only that, you can access a wide range of other content in LingQ’s library, from news to music, or you can simply import your own content from the web. For more information, please check out this guide on how to import content into LingQ in order to create the perfect study material.
Connie Huang has self-studied the Japanese language for over a decade. In addition to Japanese, she knows Mandarin Chinese, Spanish and French.