2.0 Welcome to Japanese-Learning Communities (1)

Tokyo Sky
Figure 1: Tokyo Sky

In this book, our goal is to provide you with the tools and knowledge to actively participate in dynamic language-learning communities.

In ‘Welcome to Japanese-Learning Communities’, you will start a fun journey to learn basic Japanese conversation skills. This chapter will show you how to introduce yourself and help you make friends with your fellow classmates and other members in language-learning communities.

It’s designed to make interactions in Japanese straightforward and enjoyable, whether you’re greeting someone for the first time or stepping into a new cross-cultural sphere.

 

Goal Icon  Learning goals

By the end of this chapter, you will be able to:

  • Identify additional hiragana characters.
  • Use simple greetings to start a friendly conversation in Japanese.
  • Understand and apply the fundamental sentence pattern ‘X は (wa) Y です (desu)’ (X is Y) in a self-introduction.
  • Learn the Japanese punctuation system to enhance your reading and writing skills.
  • Gain insights into various first-person pronouns in Japanese, aside from 私 (わたし: watashi), and how to use them.

Words

Japanese Romaji English Notes
私(わたし) watashi I/me This is a formal and gender-neutral first-person pronoun. For more information on gender and first-person pronouns, please see Module 6.7.
名前(なまえ) namae name
お名前 onamae name The honorific prefix お (o) is used before 名前 (namae) to show politeness. It is typically used to refer to someone else’s name, not your own name. For further details on honorific prefixes, please refer to Module 1.6.
先生(せんせい) sensei teacher/professor/doctor/ lawyer/author This is also an honorific title placed after the family name of the teacher to whom you are referring.
〜さん san Mr/Ms/Mrs/any non-binary titles The honorific さん (san) is a gender-neutral title that is used after someone’s family name or, in slightly more intimate  contexts, their given name.
皆(みな)さん mina-san everyone Polite/formal
学生(がくせい) gakusei student This word usually refers to university students.
大学(だいがく) daigaku university
自己紹介(じこしょうかい) jiko-shoukai self-introduction 自己 (jiko) means ‘self’. 紹介 (shoukai) means ‘introduction’ or ‘referral’.

Expressions and phrases 

Japanese Romaji English Notes
じゃあ jaa then Short response
a
oh Short response
ええと eeto
well Short response
はい hai
yes/okay Polite; はい (hai) is versatile in Japanese, commonly used as ‘yes’ to affirmatively respond to questions. Beyond just ‘yes’, it can imply ‘okay’, signaling agreement or acknowledgement in a conversation. It’s used to show that the speaker is listening and comprehending what’s being said, often used to maintain the flow of conversation. Conversely, the term for ‘no’ in Japanese is いいえ (iie), which will be introduced in Module 3.0.
お願(ねが)いします onegai shimasu please The phrase お願いします can stand alone in requests or .
X(を)お願いします X (o) onegai shimasu X, please In the sentence pattern, use a noun for ‘X’ to indicate the object acted upon. The particle を (o) follows this noun, marking it as the direct object in the sentence. In casual conversation, this particle can sometimes be omitted for brevity. For a deeper understanding, please refer to the ‘Key Grammar Points’ section below.
はじめまして hajime mashite Nice to meet you Neutral
よろしく yoroshiku Treat me kindly; Nice to meet you Informal (also see Module 2.3)
よろしくお願いします yoroshiku onegai shimasu Please treat me kindly; Nice to meet you Polite/formal; To learn more about the distinctions between はじめまして and よろしくお願いします, please see Module 2.3.
ありがとう arigatou Thanks Informal
ありがとうございます arigatou gozaimasu Thank you very much Polite/formal
どういたしまして dou itashi mashite You’re welcome Neutral
こんにちは konnichiwa Hello Neutral; Note that the hiragana character は is pronounced ‘wa’ rather than ‘ha’ (also see Module 2.3).
おはよう ohayou Morning [greeting] Informal
おはようございます ohayou gozaimasu Good morning Polite/formal
さようなら sayounara Bye Polite/formal
すみません sumimasen Excuse me/I’m sorry [apology] Polite/formal (also see Module 2.3)
ごめんなさい gomennasai I’m sorry [apology] Polite/less formal (also see Module 2.3)

Key grammar points

Japanese Romaji English Notes
wa Particle; It is pronounced ‘wa’; however, it is written as ‘ha’. This particle is often referred to as a ‘topic marker’, used to indicate the topic of a sentence (also see Module 2.4).
です desu is, am, are Copula/linking verb
Xは? X wa? What about X? In the given sentence pattern, ‘X’ represents a noun, and the particle は (pronounced ‘wa’ in this context, not ‘ha’) is used to mark the topic of the sentence. This usage highlights the noun ‘X’ as the main topic of discussion.
o
Particle; It is pronounced ‘o’. This particle is often referred to as a ‘object marker’, used to indicate the object that marks the action of a verb in a sentence (also see Module 2.5).

 

Exercise 1

Guess which hiragana letter needs to be filled in. To check the answer, click the ‘turn’ button. You can also listen to the sound of each word by clicking the audio icon.
You may notice that some words are not pronounced in the exact way they are written in hiragana and romaji. These sounds are called ‘long vowel’ sounds, which will be covered in more detail in Module 2.2.
     

Speech Bubble Icon  Model dialogue

Lina and Kevin are practising self-introductions in their first Japanese language class at a university in Australia.

Teacher: じゃあ、みなさん。自己紹介(じこしょうかい)をお願(ねが)いします。 Jaa, mina-san. Jiko shoukai o onegai shimasu.
Lina: あ、はじめまして。私(わたし)は*リナ(りな)です。よろしく。

* The non-Japanese name ‘Lina’ is usually written in katakana, but we are providing the hiragana here to help you read it in Japanese.

A, hajime mashite. Watashi wa Rina desu. Yoroshiku.
Kevin: Oh, so can we just say よろしく? Yoroshiku?
Lina: Yeah, that’s a shorter and more casual version of yoroshiku onegai shimasu. Yeah, that’s a shorter and more casual version of yoroshiku onegai shimasu.
Kevin: Right. ありがとう、リナさん。 Arigatou, Rina-san.
Lina: ええと、お名前(なまえ)は? Eeto, onamae wa?
Kevin: ケビン(けびん)です。はじめまして。よろしくお願い… What was that again? Kebin desu. Hajime mashite. Yoroshiku onegai … What was that again?
Lina: よろしく is just fine! Yoroshiku is just fine!
Kevin: よろしく! Yoroshiku!
Teacher: リナさん、ケビンさん、とてもいいですね!Just quickly, when you’re talking to your teachers or people who are older than you or in more formal contexts, it’s customary to use the longer version of the phrase, ‘yoroshiku onegai shimasu’. Rina-san, Kebin-san, totemo ii desu ne!  Just quickly, when you’re talking to your teachers or people who are older than you or in more formal contexts, it’s customary to use the longer version of the phrase, ‘yoroshiku onegai shimasu’.
Lina and Kevin: はい。ありがとうございます! Hai, arigatou gozaimasu!
Teacher: どういたしまして。
Dou itashi mashite.

 

English translation

Teacher: All right, everyone. Please introduce yourselves [literally, ‘Self introductions, please’].
Lina: Oh, nice to meet you. I’m Lina. Treat me kindly.
Kevin: Oh, so can we just say yoroshiku?
Lina: Yeah, that’s a shorter and more casual version of yoroshiku onegai shimasu.
Kevin: Right. Thanks, Lina.
Lina: Well, (what’s) your name?
Kevin: (I’m) Kevin. Nice to meet you. Yoroshiku onegai … What was that again?
Lina: Yoroshiku is just fine!
Kevin: Yoroshiku [Treat me kindly]!
Teacher: Lina and Kevin, that’s very good! Just quickly, when you’re talking to your teachers or people who are older than you or in more formal contexts, it’s customary to use the longer version of the phrase, yoroshiku onegai shimasu.
Lina and Kevin: Okay. Thank you very much!
Teacher: You’re welcome.

Exercise 2

Listen to the following audio files. Each phrase is read twice, first at a slow pace and then at a natural pace. Repeat each phrase after the speaker.

 

Teacher: じゃあ、みなさん。自己紹介をお願いします。


Lina: あ、はじめまして。私はリナです。よろしく。

Kevin: Oh, so can we just say よろしく?

Kevin: Right. ありがとう、リナさん。

Lina: ええと、お名前は?

Kevin: ケビンです。はじめまして。よろしくお願い … what was that again?

Lina: よろしくis just fine!

Kevin: よろしく!

Teacher: リナさん、ケビンさん、とてもいいですね!

Lina and Kevin: はい。ありがとうございます!

Teacher: どういたしまして。

Lightbulb Icon Discussion points

Let’s share your observations and thoughts on the following points!

  1. The greeting よろしくお願いします (yoroshiku onegai shimasu) might have sounded quite unfamiliar to you at first. How did it make you feel when you heard it for the first time? Is there an expression in your own language that conveys a similar meaning?
  2. How do the brief expressions あ (a), じゃあ (jaa) and ええと (eeto) function in the conversation? Can you think of specific situations where you might use these phrases? Are you familiar with any other short expressions that facilitate smoother dialogue?

 

Further resources

The following resource (about 2 minutes long), created by Japan Voices, may help you understand the cultural nuances and connotations of よろしくお願いします. It uses scenes from the Studio Ghibli anime Tonari no Totoro (My Neighbour, Totoro), to illustrate the phrase’s use when the family moves to a new house in a new area:

 

 

Figures

1 “Tokyo Sky” (untitled) by Pierre Blaché. Pexels. Licensed under Pexels licence.

2 Goal IconGoal Icon” by faisalovers. Wikimedia Commons. Licensed under CC by 3.0.

3 Speech Bubble IconSpeech Bubble Icon” by Geremy Good. Wikimedia Commons. Licensed under CC 0.

4 Lightbulb IconLightbulb Icon” by Maxim Kulikov. Wikimedia Commons. Licensed under CC by 3.0.

 

References

Japan Voices. “The True Meaning of Yoroshiku onegai shimasu from My Neighbor Totoro (2).” YouTube video, 2:09. December 1, 2021. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eB9nMSQXFKY.

 

Licence

Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

Japanese Introductory 1 Copyright © 2024 by Iori Hamada is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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