I once did the big mistake to say goodbye to my Japanese friend using the word “Sayonara” and hurt him a lot without realizing it. There are so many ways how you can say goodbye in Japanese and I chose the least appropriate one for casual situations. Here is why.
Sayonara (さよなら) is the most famous but least used way to say goodbye in Japanese since it means “Farewell”. Bai bai (バイバイ), Jaa ne (じゃあね), Mata ne (またね), and Mata ashita (また明日) are the phrases most frequently used in casual situations, while after work it is best to say Otsukaresama desu (お疲れ様です).
Just like with the Japanese greeting “Konnichiwa”, “Sayonara” is actually one of the least used phrases in daily life. Do you want to know how to say goodbye casually to your friends and naturally to your coworkers? Below you will find 26 ways to say goodbye in Japanese including the phrase used by samurai.
1. Sayonara – Farewell, Goodbye (rarely used)
Sayonara (さよなら), also commonly written as Sayounara (さようなら), is worldwide known as the Japanese equivalent for the word goodbye. However, it is actually the least useful and one of the least common ways to say goodbye in Japanese.
While it translates as “goodbye” it is actually a very formal and respectful phrase that generally implies you won’t be seeing each other for an extended period of time and often even never again. Using Sayonara to say goodbye really feels like “the end” and so a better translation is the word “farewell“, in my opinion.
I once used this phrase to say goodbye to my Japanese roommate when he moved to another apartment in Tokyo and he got really upset about it. Later he wrote me a long text explaining that I really hurt him and that it is not “Sayonara” because we are friends and he wants to see me again. I felt so sorry and apologized a million times.
So don’t make the same mistakes as I did and avoid using “Sayonara” as a goodbye for beloved ones, family, and friends. Especially when you want and expect to meet them again in the near future.
From my own experience here in Japan, I can tell you that is hardly ever (actually never) used to say goodbye in everyday situations. The only occasions you might come across it are Japanese drama, anime, manga, and when usually younger children or students say goodbye to their teachers (source).
2. Bai Bai – Bye-Bye, See You (casual)
This is probably the easiest and one of the most popular goodbyes in Japanese, especially among friends. Bai bai (バイバイ) is just like the English “bye-bye“. It means the same and is used in the same way. In Japan, you will hear it everywhere since it is used in all kinds of informal situations.
In the past, it was mainly used by the younger generation and was especially popular among girls. So some people might feel that it sounds a bit childish and has a rather feminine touch (source). In general, though, it can be used by both males and females, old and young.
“Bai bai” is also the most common informal goodbye on the phone. My Japanese friends and even my coworkers use it all the time when we hang up. However, it is not a good idea to use it in formal phone calls with your boss or a client.
(or “Jaa ne“, “Mata ne“, etc.)
3. Jaa Ne – Bye, See You (casual and my favorite)
Jaa ne (じゃあね) means “bye“, “see you“, or “ciao” in English and is another popular casual phrase to say goodbye to friends and people you know well. It is used by everyone I know including my Japanese friend’s parents and relatives.
The Jaa (じゃあ) actually means “then” or “well” so a more literal translation would be along the lines of “well then“, “bye then“, or “see you then“. You will also find it written as じゃね (ja ne), じゃーね (Jaa ne), or じゃ〜ね (Jaa ne).
This is not only one of the most commonly used goodbye phrases but also my personal favorite, because it just sounds so cool!
(or “Jaa ne“, “Jaa mata“, etc.)
4. Mata Ne – See You Again, See You Around (casual)
Mata ne (またね) is the goodbye I most commonly hear from my friends when they expect to see me later on the same day. The word Mata (また) means “again” among all kinds of other things. So if you translate the phrase into English you will get phrases like “see you later“, “see you again“, and “see you around“.
While you can always respond with the same goodbye phrase, my Japanese friends usually reply with a slightly different one. So for example when I say “Mata ne” to say goodbye they reply with “Jaa ne“, but when I use “Mata ne” they reply with “Jaa ne” or one of the casual phrases I will introduce next.
(or “Mata ne“, “Jaa mata“, etc.)
5. Jaa Mata – See You Soon, See You Again (casual)
This phrase is a combination of the two phrases we just learned. In English Jaa mata (じゃあまた) means something along the lines of “see you soon“, “see you again“, or “see you then“. Generally speaking, it is just another casual “bye” or “see you“, though.
You will also often hear Jaa mata ne (じゃあまたね) which means exactly the same. The sentence ending particle ne (ね) only makes the sentence sound a little bit softer and maybe slightly more feminine.
(or “Jaa ne“, “Jaa mata“, etc.)
6. Mata Ato De – See You Later, Catch You Later (casual)
Mata ato de (また後で) is another good choice when you are planning to meet your friends later the same day. Ato (後) means later and so the phrase literally translates as “later again”. It can mean anything from “see you later” to “catch you later” and “talk to you later“.
Two other common variations are Jaa mata ato de (じゃあ、また後で) which means “Well, see you later” and Mata ato de ne (また後でね) which is “see you later then“. Or combine them Jaa, mata ato de ne (じゃあ、また後でね) to say “Well, see you later then“.
I usually add un (うん) to my reply which is an informal way to say “yes“.
|goodbye||Jaa, mata ato de|
|response||Mata ato de ne|
(or “Un, mata ato de ne“, etc.)
7. Mata Kondo – Till Next Time, See You Then (semi-casual)
When you don’t have any concrete plans to meet again or when you don’t know when you will see the other person again you can use the phrase Mata kondo (また今度). It means “till next time” or “see you then“.
Personally, I don’t like using the phrase with my friends, because it is also used when declining an invitation. You can use Mata kondo na (また今度な) to say “Maybe next time!“. So, in my opinion, it feels a bit cold. I would rather use it as a polite goodbye for someone I actually don’t intend to meet again.
|response||Un. Bai bai!|
8. Mata Ashita – See You Tomorrow (casual)
If you have concrete plans to see each other again or when you know you are going to see your friend again tomorrow you should use Mata ashita (また明日) which means “See you tomorrow“.
Ashita (明日) is the Japanese word for “tomorrow” and you can easily change to phrase to similar ones. “See you again next week” is Mata raishuu (また来週) and “See you next year” is Mata rainen (また来年), for example. You should definitely try “Mata rainen” before the New Year’s holidays.
|response||Un, mata ashita|
(or “Un, mata ne“, “Un, jaa ne“, etc.)
9. Oyasumi Nasai – Good Night (formal goodbye at night)
While a lot of other websites include Oyasumi Nasai (おやすみなさい) in their posts about Japanese greetings, I didn’t mention it in my list of 26 ways to say hello in Japanese, since it is always used as a goodbye. It is the formal phrase to wish somebody a “good night” in Japanese.
When you meet someone in the evening or later at night greet them with “Konbanwa” (or one of the more casual ways to say hello in Japanese) and use “Oyasumi nasai” to say goodbye to them.
(or the less formal “Oyasumi“)
10. Oyasumi – Good Night (casual goodbye at night)
The casual version of “Oyasumi nasai” is just Oyasumi (おやすみ). I use it to say good night to my Japanese boyfriend and I also use it with my friends and every one of my host family in Nagano whenever I visit them.
(or also just “Oyasumi“)
11. Otsukaresama Desu (common formal goodbye after work)
Now let’s take a look at some formal phrases you can use at work. Otsukaresama desu (お疲れ様です) or Otsukaresama deshita (お疲れ様でした) are the most commonly used phrases to say goodbye to coworkers. Especially when you leave the office before them.
Unfortunately, there is no real translation for Otsukaresama desu in English but it means something along the lines of “Thank you for your hard work (today)“. The phrase comes from the word Tsukareru (疲れる) which translates into “to be or to get tired“.
Deshita (でした) is the past tense form of the copula desu (です). In other offices “Otsukaresama deshita” seems to be more popular, however, at my work we always use “Otsukaresama desu” when saying goodbye. Sometimes followed by a more casual phrase such as “Mata ne”.
It can also be said to a coworker when they are having a tough time with a project when they finished a difficult task at work.
( or “Otsukaresama deshita“)
12. Otsu – Good Job! Bye! (casual goodbye after an event)
Japanese love abbreviations. So the short Otsu (おつ, オツ) is the casual version of “Otsukaresama” and can be translated as “thank you“, “good job“, “goodbye“, or “goodnight” (source). After an event, project, or trip with your friends, you can use the phrase to express your thanks and to say goodbye at the same time.
After a school event, students usually say it to each other. The son of my (other) Japanese host family in Kagoshima also said it to his father, the driver, when we parked our car at our destination in Miyazaki after a several hour-long journey.
(or “Otsukare“, “Otsukaresama“, etc.)
13. Gokurousama Desu (formal goodbye for kohais at work)
Gokurousama desu (ご苦労様です) and Gokurousama deshita (ご苦労様でした) are two other formal goodbye phrases you can use when leaving your office. They are very similar to “Otsukaresama desu/deshita” and mean exactly the same “Thank you for your hard work (today)“.
However, you should only use them with your kohais (juniors) at work but the phrase is not respectful enough to address your superior or “Senpai” which is the Japanese word for “senior”. So when your boss says “Gokurousama desu”, you should reply with the politer “Otsukaresama desu”.
(or “Otsukaresama deshita“)
14. Osaki ni Shitsurei Shimasu (goodbye when leaving first)
Osaki ni shitsurei shimasu (お先に失礼します) is another polite goodbye or a polite excuse that can be used with your boss and coworkers when you are leaving the office earlier. It is often translated as the apologetic “Excuse me for leaving first“, however, it can also just mean “I’m finished for the day“.
If you compare “Osaki ni shitsurei shimasu” and “Otsukaresama desu/deshita“, the former one is definitely more apologetic. You acknowledge that your coworkers are still working hard. So I would suggest using it when you have to leave way earlier than the rest and especially when you leave work before your boss.
However, this phrase is not used when you are leaving for lunch or for an errand. There is another phrase I’m going to introduce further down below.
|goodbye||Osaki ni shitsurei shimasu|
(or “Otsukaresama deshita“)
15. Osaki ni (casual goodbye when leaving first or earlier)
Osaki ni (お先に) is the casual and shorter version of “Osaki ni shitsurei shimasu” and is something along the lines of “I’ll leave first” or “I will go ahead” in English. However, just think of it as a casual or semi-formal “bye” when you leave earlier.
Use the phrase with coworkers you are close with instead of the more formal phrase. You can also use it to say goodbye to a group of friends when you are the first one to leave a party, for example, or when you are already heading to the next store while shopping.
(or “Un, Mata ne“, “Jaa mata“, etc.)
16. Shitsurei Shimasu (respectful goodbye when leaving)
Together with “Otsukaresama desu” this is the formal goodbye I tend to use the most. Do you remember Shitsurei shimasu (失礼します) from the phrase”Osaki ni shitsurei shimasu”? If you don’t leave earlier but just leave a place or a conversation and want to say bye in a respectful way use “Shitsurei shimasu”.
It translates as “Excuse me” or “Sorry for the interruption/discourtesy“, but it functions as a goodbye. After a talk with your boss or professor, for example, I would use this phrase when leaving the room. I also use it instead of the casual “Bai bai” when ending a formal phone call.
The past tense version Shitsurei shimashita (失礼しました) is also commonly used. However, while you can also use “Shitsurei shimasu” when entering a room, “Shitsurei shimashita” is only used when leaving.
(or just nodding)
17. Sore Dewa – Well, Talk to You Again (semi-formal)
Sore dewa (それでは) is a phrase that can be used in different situations and means “Well then…“. It indicates that you are ready to go/leave or about to end a conversation. When you read a blog written in Japanese you can often see it at the end of the post.
The actual phrase used as a goodbye is Sore dewa, mata aimashou (それでは、また会いましょう) and translates as “So, let’s meet again“. However, it is too long, so everyone just uses the short “Sore dewa”.
One important thing to be aware of is that では is pronounced “dewa” but written as “deha”.
|response||Jaa, mata ne!|
(or “Un, mata ne“, “Un, jaa ne“, etc.)
18. Dewa – Well… (casual bye to end a conversation)
Dewa (では) is the casual version of “Sore dewa” and translates as “Well…” or also “Well then…“. My favorite artist always uses this as his goodbye at the end of his blog posts and he even misspells it as でわ (see here). It is quite casual and might even feel a bit rude. Personally, I don’t suggest using it if you are a woman.
(or “Un, jaa ne“, “Un, jaa mata“, etc.)
19. Ittekimasu & Itterasshai – Bye (when leaving home)
When you leave your house in the morning to go to work or school you use Ittekimasu (いってきます、行って来ます) to say goodbye to everyone at home. In anime, you always see characters screaming “Ittekimasu~” when they slip on their shoes and hurry to school.
It literally translates as “I will go and come back” but means “bye” or “see you later” or “see you after school/work“. It can also be used when you leave the office for lunch or when you go out to meet a client before coming back to the office. In that situation, you can think of it as “see you after lunch/the meeting“.
The usual response by everyone staying at home is Itterasshai (行ってらっしゃい、いってらっしゃい). It is another goodbye phrase and literally means “Please go and come back“. However, more appropriate translations are “Please have a nice day“, “Take care“, or “See you“.
20. Ojama Shimashita – Thanks for Having Me (very polite)
While the previous phrase is used when leaving your own home, Ojama shimashita (お邪魔しました) is used when leaving someone else’s house. In English, it means “Thanks for having me” or “Thank you for inviting me over“. It is a very polite goodbye in Japanese.
This phrase is very similar to “Shitsurei shimashita” and “Shitsurei shimasu” and in a similar way, the present tense form Ojama shimasu (お邪魔します) is used when entering someone’s house. It means “Excuse me for bothering you”.
It is a good phrase to use when you have been invited over by an acquaintance for cafe, tea, or dinner. The first time I stayed at my host family’s house I used these two phrases, but now I always greet them with “Tadaima” and thank them with “Arigatou ne”.
Oh, and don’t use this phrase as a response to the Japanese greeting in shops and restaurants “Irasshaimase”.
|response||Iie, okiotsukete kaette ne|
Not at all, please take care
21. Okiotsukete Okaeri Kudasai – Have a Safe Trip (formal)
Okiotsukete okaeri kudasai (お気をつけてお帰りください) is a very formal goodbye that you can use with guests, visitors, and customers. Use this phrase to wish someone a safe journey home. In English, it means “Have a safe trip back home“, “Please take care on your way back home” or “I hope you have a safe trip back home“.
It can also be written as “O-ki o tsukete okaeri kudasai” and “Oki o tsukete okaeri kudasai“.
|goodbye||Okiotsukete okaeri kudasai|
22. Kiotsukete – Take Care, Have a Safe Trip (casual)
The casual version of the phrase we have just learned is Kiotsukete (気をつけて) or Ki o tsukete. It means “Take care” or “Have a safe trip” or “Be careful on your way home” and is commonly used to say goodbye to friends when they are heading back to their home at night or when they are going on holiday.
The phrase is also used to tell someone to “be careful” or “stay safe“. When a typhoon, is going to hit Tokyo, for example, my coworkers usually say goodbye with Kiotsukete ne (気をつけてね). The “ne” at the end makes the phrase sound softer.
You can also make the phrase more polite by adding “O” and/or “kudasai. Okiotsukete (お気をつけて) or Okiotsukete kudasai (お気をつけてください).
|response||Un, mata ashita ne|
(or “Un, mata ne“, “Un, kiotsukete ne“, etc.)
23. O-Genki De – All the Best, Stay Well (formal)
O-genki de (お元気で) is another formal goodbye you can use when you won’t see someone for some time or when someone is leaving for a long vacation. It means “all the best“, “stay well“, or “stay healthy“.
It sounds way more formal than “Kiotsukete or “Okiotsukete kudasai”, so I usually don’t use it with my friends or coworkers. However, sometimes I hear people say it during flu season. I might use it with the grandparents of my boyfriend maybe.
You can read more about what “genki” really means in Japanese in my other blog post.
24. Genki De Ne – All the Best, Stay Well (casual)
Genki de ne (元気でね) or just Genki de (元気で) are the more casual versions of “O-Genki de”. However, the phrases still sound kinda stiff so I stick with using “Kiotsukete” for people I know well.
25. Odaiji Ni – Get Well Soon (goodbye when someone is ill)
When you know that someone is ill or doesn’t feel well the commonly used goodbye is Odaiji ni (お大事に) which means “Get well soon“. It is also the standard goodbye you will hear from your doctor or the hospital staff.
(or just “Arigatou“)
26. Saraba – Adios (old-fashioned goodbye used by samurai)
The last goodbye is a very old-fashioned one that was used in the past by samurai. Saraba (さらば) or Saraba da (さらばだ) means “Adios” or “Farewell“. It is not used in everyday life but you might hear it in a drama or movie about samurai. It could be used as a joke among close friends.
|response||(probably just laughing)|
A few other goodbyes I found are Abayo (あばよ) which means “ciao“, Bai-Baikin (バイバイ菌) which should only be used by children or Anpanman fans, and other phrases such as Tanoshinde ne (楽しんでね) which translates as “Have fun” and Mata chikai uchi ni aeru to ii ne (また近いうちに会えるといいね) which is a formal way to say “I hope I will see you again“.
Overview – How to Say Goodbye in Japanese
Here’s the overview of all 26 ways of how to say “goodbye” in Japanese. I also highly recommend you to check out my other blog post about Japanese greetings: “26 Ways to Say Hello in Japanese (Common & Fancy Greetings)“.
|mata ne||See you again|
See you around
|jaa mata||See you soon|
See you again
|mata ado de|
mata ato de ne
|See you later|
Catch you later
|mata kondo||Till next time|
See you then (semi-casual)
|mata ashita||See you tomorrow||また明日|
|mata raishuu||See you next week||また来週|
|oyasumi nasai||Good night (formal)||おやすみなさい|
|oyasumi||Good night (casual)||おやすみ|
|Thank you for your hard work|
Goodbye (after work)
|Thank you for your hard work|
Goodbye (to kohais)
|osaki ni shitsurei shimasu||Excuse me for leaving first|
I’m finished for the day
|osaki ni||I’ll leave first|
Bye (when leaving first)
|shitsurei shimasu||Sorry for the discourtesy|
Sorry for the interruption
|sore dewa||Well, talk to you again|
Well then… (formal)
|dewa||Well then… (casual)||では|
|ittekimasu||I will go and come back|
Bye (when leaving home)
|itterasshai||Please go and come back|
Have a nice day
|ojama shimashita||Thanks for having me||お邪魔しました|
|okiotsukete okaeri kudasai||Have a safe trip (formal)||お気をつけてお帰りください|
have a safe trip (casual)
|o-genki de||All the best (formal)|
Stay well (formal)
genki de ne
|All the best (casual)|
Stay well (casual)
|odaiji ni||Get well soon||お大事に|
Bye (used by samurai)