Just like how you learn how to say hello when picking up a new language, you also learn how to say bye. If you haven’t checked it out already, we have an article about ways to say hello, too.
In English, we have a few different phrases that we use interchangeably when bidding farewell to someone — “see you”, “catch you later” and the standard “bye” are just to name a few. Would it be so surprising to say that it’s similar in Japanese?
There are tons of ways to say bye — some are more general while others are used in specific settings. Some are better to use with people you’re familiar with; others are more appropriately used in the formal setting.
We’ve compiled a total of 17 ways in this list — shall we take a look at what they are?
1. Sayonara (さようなら)
The first one is the one that we learn first when picking up Japanese: sayonara (さようなら). This is the direct Japanese equivalent of goodbye. There is one major difference, though: you can use “goodbye” in a casual setting without it holding any heavier connotations, whereas “sayonara” has a strong sense of finality — if you say it to someone, it’s like as if you expect to not see that person any time soon.
A lot of Japanese people don’t really use this as compared to the rest on this list.
2. Jaa ne (じゃあね)
This next one is one you hear quite often in anime (アニメ) and J-drama — “jaa ne” (じゃあね) is used in casual situations to say bye. This is kind of like saying “see ya” to your friend after school when parting ways.
You’ll hear this phrase often among friends and people who are familiar with each other, like relatives.
3. Mata ne (またね)
This phrase is similar to the previosu one. “Mata ne” (またね) has the word “mata” (また) in it which means “again”, so this phrase somehow means “see you again”. “Mata ne” is most often used among casual friends.
If you’ve listened to any episode of our Nihongo Master podcast, we end it off with “mata ne” every time!
4. Mata ashita (また明日)
“Mata ashita” combines two words: “mata” and “ashita” (明日), which means “tomorrow”. This phrase can translate to “see you tomorrow”. Just like the previous one, you use this with friends and family casually, but with one slight difference: you use this if you’re meeting them the next day.
You can change the word for “tomorrow” for something else — if you want to say “see you next week”, you can say it as “mata raishuu” (また来週).
5. Mata kondo (また今度)
Another “mata” phrase to say bye is “mata kondo” (また今度). The word “kondo” means “next time”, so this phrase is like saying “see you again next time”! Compared to the other two, this casual phrase is used when you haven’t really planned a date to meet next, but implying you’d want to — or at least, I do it that way.
6. Mata aou (また会おう)
Similarly, “mata aou” (また会おう), which has the meaning of “let’s meet again” is a casual way to say bye and somehow implying that you want to meet again. The polite version of this phrase is “mata aimashou” (また会いましょう).
7. Kyou arigatou (今日ありがとう)
Moving on from the “mata” bye phrases, we have “kyou arigatou” (今日ありがとう). This combines two words: kyou (今日) to mean “today” and arigatou (ありがとう) to mean “thank you”. Together, it holds the meaning of “thanks for today”. It’s used pretty similar to the English translation.
8. Otsukaresama (お疲れ様)
This next one is a pretty common one: otsukarsama (お疲れ様) means “thanks for your hard work”. While it’s said for the usage of its actual meaning, most of the time, it’s used to say bye. You’ll hear this quite often — when you’re finished with work and parting ways with your coworkers at the end of the day or after club practice at school.
The more formal version is “otsukaresama deshita” (お疲れ様でした), but you can even be super casual by dropping the “sama” and “deshita” to make “otsukare”.
9. Ki wo tsukete (気をつけて)
This phrase is used just like the English phrase “take care”. That’s actually the exact translation for ki wo tsukete (気をつけて). When you’re parting ways with someone, you can combine this with any of the other phrases above to say bye — or even on its own.
10. Genki de (元気で)
While you can say the previous phrase as a way to say bye to someone who’s going on a long trip or moving to a different city or country, it’s more appropriate to say “genki de” (元気で) to mean “take care of yourself” or “all the best”. Genki (元気) actually means “healthy” or “lively”, but in this case, it’s like a wish for someone who’s going away.
11. Itte kimasu (行ってきます)
No more chat about going away for a long time — this one is used when you’re off for a while and will return. Say, you’re leaving for work or school in the morning, you say “itte kimasu” (行ってきます) to your family members before heading out the door.
If you hear the phrase and you’re the one not leaving, you can say this phrase back: “itterasshai” (行ってらっしゃい), which means “go and come back”.
12. Bai bai (バイバイ)
I bet you can guess what this phrase means — “bai bai” (バイバイ) is the katakana (カタカナ) version of “bye-bye” in English. You use this casually, of course, and most of the time, girls are the ones using it. Guys can say it as well, but it does have a slight feminine tone to it.
13. Tanoshinde ne (楽しんでね)
While there’s another way to say “have a good day” in Japanese, it’s not as common as saying “tanoshinde ne” (楽しんでね). It translates to “have fun”, but people use it as a way to wish someone a good day as they say bye.
14. Osaki ni shitsureishimasu (お先に失礼します)
We have tons of casual ones, here’s a formal one: osaki ni shitsureishimasu (お先に失礼します). This is one that you use in the office to your senpais (先輩) or higher-ups like your boss and supervisor. If you’re leaving before them, you should use this phrase as it means “excuse me for leaving work before you.”
You can say this to your colleagues as an “apology” for leaving work to anyone that is still there working. Even if there is no work left, you can still say this.
15. Odaiji ni (お大事に)
If you’re not feeling well and go to the doctor’s in Japan, the doctor will say this to you when you’re leaving: “odaiji ni” (お大事に). This phrase means, “get well soon” or “feel better soon”. You can use it when you’re visiting friends or relatives who are sick, and instead of saying bye, you can use this phrase instead.
Even if it’s just a phone call, you can still use it!
16. Ojama shimashita (お邪魔しました)
In Japan, when you go to someone’s home, it’s polite to greet with “ojama shimasu” (お邪魔します). This means “I’m intruding” or “I’m bothering you”. I think it’s because it’s someone else’s private space and you’re in it. Regardless of whether you’re invited over or dropping by impromptu, you still should say this phrase.
It’s the same for when you leave — you have to change the phrase to its past tense: ojama shimashita (お邪魔しました). This literally means “I’ve bothered you” but it can translate to “thanks for having me over” in nuance.
17. Osewa ni narimashita (お世話になりました)
Last but not least, another business one: osewa ni narimashita (お世話になりました). When you’re talking to someone who has helped you at work or a client, it’s best to say this phrase when saying goodbye. It literally translates to “thanks for everything” but it means, “thanks for taking care of me and supporting me”.
You can use this when you’re ending a phone call with a client or to thank your coworker for helping you out big time.
Which one of these ways to say bye will you use next time? Are there any ones that you have already been using and new ones that you’ll start using from now on? I hope you have these 17 “bye” phrases prepared for when you’re saying bye to a friend or a business client!