How to Introduce Yourself in Japanese: The Complete Guide to Jikoshōkai

Have you ever daydreamed about introducing yourself in Japanese? Maybe you are thinking about getting a job, making friends, or even mustering up the courage to talk to a Japanese person? Or perhaps you are still learning the basics or want to advance, and it is all a bit confusing. Never fear, your guide is here!

Japanese Self-Introduction:  The Basics

Let’s start off with a “template” for self-introductions in Japan.  It doesn’t matter if your self-introduction is long, short, simple, or intricate;  you’ll probably use the following 3 phrases in every introduction you do.  

1.  はじめまして (Hajimemashite): Nice to Meet You! 

Every standard self-introduction needs to begin with a “hello” and “nice to meet you.” Hajimemashite stems from the dictionary verb はじめる (hajimeru), meaning “to begin.” You are using はじめまして to indicate that this is the first time you have met someone, the beginning of your relationship.

Sometimes はじめまして is replaced with a greeting, like おはようございます (ohayō gozaimasu) or こんにちは (konnichiwa).  Or you can choose to say both like this:  

おはようございます 。   はじめまして。
(Ohayō gozaimasu. Hajimemashite.).
Good morning. Nice to meet you.

2.  {Name} ~といいます。({Name} To Iimasu.): My Name Is~ 

Strictly speaking, you can say:

私の名前は{name}です。
(Watashi no namae wa {name} desu.).  
My name is ~

However, to sound more fluent, you can say:

{Name}といいます。
({Name} to iimasu.)  
I’m called {name}.

Or the most simple yet fits in any situation phrase:

{Name}です。 
({Name} desu.)
I am {name}.

3.  Finising Your Self-Introduction – よろしくお願いします (Yoroshiku Onegai Shimasu): PleaseTake Care of Me.  

This phrase can mean “Please treat me well” or “I look forward to working with/getting to know you.” It is another way to say, “Nice to meet you.” 

Remember that this is a key phrase used at the end of self-introductions in Japan.  

For a more casual introduction, you could say “どうぞよろしく (dōzo yoroshiku).” 

Both of these phrases come from “どうぞよろしくお願いします (Dōzo yoroshiku onegai shimasu)” which is the most formal/polite way to say this phrase.  We’ll discuss formality later on in this article.  

Example: Basic Self-Introduction in Japanese in 3 Steps

Step 1: Hajimemashite

はじめまして。
(Hajimemashite)
How do you do?

Step 2: Saying Your Name

ジョン・スミスです。
(Jon Sumisu desu.)
I’m John Smith.

Step 3: Yoroshiku Onegai Shimasu

よろしくお願いします。
(Yoroshiku onegai shimasu.)
I am pleased to meet you.          

2.  Making Your Self-Introduction Longer:  Adding Personal Information

Often when you make a self-introduction, it is important to give some relevant or interesting information about yourself. Here are a few ideas of the kind of information you can provide.

 1.  どこから来ましたか?(Doko Kara Kimashita Ka?): Where Are You From? 

ニューヨークから来ました。
(Nyūyōku kara kimashita.)
I came from New York. (or “I’m from New York.”)

You can replace “New York” with your hometown or country.

This is the most common phrase for new language learners. When listening to native Japanese speakers, you may notice that they use the word 出身 (shusshin) to ask where you are from. 出身 means “one’s origins” or, in other words, your hometown. However, it can also refer to the school you graduated from. 

どこの出身ですか?
(Doko no shusshin desu ka?
Where are you from?

Examples:

ニューヨーク出身です。
(Nyūyōku shusshin desu.)
My hometown is New York. (or “I’m from New York.”) 

If you want to be more specific, you can say both your country and city/town like this: 

オーストラリアのシドニー出身です。
(Ōsutoraria no Shidonī shusshin desu.
I’m from Sydney, Australia.

The grammar for this is: Country + の (no) + city/town + です (desu).

2.  Hobbies 

Introduce your hobby or hobbies to share information about you. This is an excellent future conversation starter and will help your new acquaintances to get to know you better.

A helpful phrase to remember is: 
趣味は {hobby} を [dict. form verb] ことです。
(Shumi wa {hobby} o [verb] koto desu.)
My hobby is ~.

Examples:

1. 趣味は 絵を描くことです。
(Shumi wa e o kaku koto desu.)
My hobby is drawing pictures.

2. 趣味はギターを弾くことです。
(Shumi wa gitā o hiku koto desu.)
My hobby is playing the guitar.

3. 趣味は本を読むことです。
(Shumi wa hon o yomu koto desu.)
My hobby is reading books.

You could leave out the verb and こと (koto) to simplify this phrase:
趣味は {hobby} です。
(Shumi wa {hobby} desu.)
My hobby is ~.

Example:

趣味はギターです。
(Shumi wa gitā desu.)
My hobby is the guitar.

For some hobbies, there are special words you can use like: 読書(dokusho): reading books

趣味は読書です。
(Shumi wa dokusho desu.)
My hobby is reading books.

3.  Likes/Dislikes

Talking about your likes is a bit similar to talking about your hobby. However, saying what you like in Japanese is easy using this pattern:

~が好きです。 
(~ga suki desu.)
I like ~.

Let’s take a look examples using が好きです.

Examples:

1. 絵を描くことが好きです。
(E o kaku koto ga suki desu.)
I like to draw pictures.

2. ギターを 弾くことが好きです。
(Gitā o hiku koto ga suki desu.)
I like to play the guitar.

3. 本を読むことが好きです。
(Hon o yomu koto ga suki desu.)
I like to read books.

Dislikes

You usually don’t say things you don’t like during your introduction, as it can come off sounding negative or even rude.

If you really would like to say that you don’t like something in Japanese, you could use this sentence structure:

~好きじゃないです。
(~suki janai desu.)*
I don’t like ~.

Or a slightly more formal phrase:
~好きではないです。
(~suki dewa nai desu.)
I don’t like ~.  

*Note:  While these phrases allow you to talk about things you don’t like, it’s better NOT to use them in your self-introduction. Using these phrases will sound negative and out of place in almost any case.  

If you really feel that you need to talk about things you don’t like in your introduction, a much better option would be to use “苦手 (nigate).” 苦手 means “to be poor or not good at something.” However, it is also a more elegant way to say that you don’t like something.  

Examples:         

1. 辛い物は苦手です。
(Karai mono wa nigate desu.
I’m not so good with spicy foods. 

2. スポーツは苦手です。
(Supōtsu wa nigate desu.)
I’m not good at sports.  

4.  Your Activities

These phrases express what you are doing in Japan. You could use this in a club you join, a community event, a language class, or a meet-up, among other socializing situations.

Examples:

1. 日本語学校で日本語を勉強しています。 
(Nihongo gakkō de nihongo o benkyō shiteimasu.)
I study Japanese at a Japanese language school.    

   

2. 渋谷にあるカフェでアルバイトをしています。
(Shibuya ni aru kafe de arubaito o shiteimasu.)
I have a part-time job at a cafe in Shibuya. 

3. 会社員をしています。      
(Kaisha-in o shiteimasu.)
I’m an office worker.       

4. 梅田にある会社で働いています。
(Umeda ni aru kaisha de hataraiteimasu.)
I work at a company in Umeda (a district in Osaka).    

5. 英語の先生をしています。
(Eigo no sensei o shiteimasu.)
I’m an English teacher.    

5.  What Brings You To Japan?

In your self-introduction, you can express your reason for being there. These are some examples you can use for semi-informal to formal circumstances.

Examples:

1. ALTとして働くために来ました。
(ALT toshite hataraku tame ni kimashita.)
I came [to Japan] to be an ALT.

2. 日本語を勉強するために日本に来ました。
(Nihongo o benkyō suru tame ni Nihon ni kimashita.)
I moved to Japan to study Japanese.

3. 夫が日本人なので日本に引っ越して来ました。
(Otto ga Nihonjin nanode Nihon ni hikkoshite kimashita.)
I moved to Japan because my husband is Japanese.

4. 日本の文化に興味があったので日本に来ました。
(Nihon no bunka ni kyōmi ga atta node Nihon ni kimashita.)
I came to Japan because I have an interest in Japanese culture.

Japanese Self-Introduction Examples

Let’s look at some self-introduction examples using the sections covered above. The following two examples are suitable for most situations (at your job, a new school, joining a club, etc.).  

Example 1:

はじめまして。
(Hajimemashite.)
Nice to meet you.

ジョン・スミスといいます。
(Jon Sumisu to iimasu.)
My name is John Smith.

カリフォルニアから来ました。
(Kariforunia kara kimashita.)
I’m from California.

JETプログラムで来ました。
(JET puroguramu de kimashita.)
I came to Japan through the JET program.

趣味はヨガをすることです。
(Shumi wa yoga o suru koto desu.)
My hobby is doing yoga.

料理をすることも好きです。
(Ryori o suru koto mo suki desu.)
I also like to cook.

どうぞよろしく。
(Dōzo yoroshiku.)
Pleased to meet you.  

Example 2:

はじめまして。
(Hajimemashite.)
Hello.

アリス・リデルです。
(Arisu Rideru desu.)
I’m Alice Liddell.

イギリスのロンドン出身です。
(Igirisu no Rondon shusshin desu.)
My hometown is London, England.

ABC大学で工学を勉強しています。 
(ABC daigaku de kōgaku o benkyō shiteimasu.)
I study engineering at ABC university.

趣味は映画を見ることで、日本の映画もよく見ます。
(Shumi wa eiga o miru koto de, Nihon no eiga mo yoku mimasu.)
My hobby is watching movies, and I often watch Japanese movies too.

ホラー映画は苦手です。
(Horā eiga wa nigate desu.)
I don’t like horror movies.

よろしくお願いします。
(Yoroshiku onegaishimasu.)
Nice to meet you.

Advanced Self-Introductions in Japanese for Business

A panel of business people (three men and one woman) are sitting behind a long table look at a woman sitting in front of them, as if giving an interview.

Now you have some Japanese under your belt, and you’d like to sound more natural. This part is for advanced speakers and will include more formal language, which is perfect for when you need to use “business Japanese.”

 1.  Previous Work History

What did you do before you came to Japan to work? Let’s go through some examples. 

A helpful phrase you may want to use is:  
日本に来る前は~ 
(Nihon ni kuru mae wa~
Before I came to Japan~

Examples:

1. 日本に来る前は大学生でした。   
(Nihon ni kuru mae wa daigakusei deshita.)
Before coming to Japan, I was a college student.

2. 日本に来る前は高校で数学を教えていました。   
(Nihon ni kuru mae wa kōkō de sūgaku o oshiete imashita.)
Before coming to Japan, I was teaching math at a high school.

3. 日本に来る前はシステムエンジニアをしていました。
(Nihon ni kuru mae wa shisutemu enjinia o shiteimashita.)
Before coming to Japan, I was a systems engineer.

2.  Work Experience

In this section, you can see how to express your previous experiences.

You can discuss where you were and how long you were there.  

Examples:

1. 2年ほど前にニューヨークから来まして、ABC大学でコンピューターサイエンスを勉強しています。
(Ni nen hodo mae ni Nyūyōku kara kimashite, ABC daigaku de konpyūtā saiensu o benkyou shiteimasu.)
I came from New York about two years ago and have been studying computer science at ABC University until now.

2. 去年日本に来て1年間日本語学校で日本語を勉強してきました。
(Kyonen Nihon ni kite ichi nenkan Nihongo gakkō de Nihongo o benkyō shite kimashita.)
I came to Japan last year and have been studying Japanese at a Japanese language school for a year.

3. もともとロンドンにある会社で働いていたのですが、転勤になって半年前に日本に来ました。
(Moto moto Rondon ni aru kaisha de hataraiteita no desu ga, tenkin ni natte hantoshi mae ni Nihon ni kimashita.)
I originally worked at a company in London, but I transferred to Japan half a year ago.

3.  Feelings About Working at Your New Job

It’s common for native Japanese speakers to give their feelings or impressions of their new job. Here are some of the phrases you can use to do this in your self-intro.  

Examples:

1. いろいろとご迷惑をおかけするかもしれませんが、一生懸命がんばりますのでどうぞよろしくお願いいたします。
(Iroiro to gomeiwaku o okake suru kamoshiremasen ga, isshōkenmei ganbarimasu node dōzo yoroshiku onegai-itashimasu.)
(Since I’m new) I may cause some trouble for you, but I’ll do my best.  

2. いろいろと教えていただくことがたくさんあるかと思いますが、どうぞよろしくお願いいたします。
(Iroiro to oshiete itadaku koto ga takusan aru ka to omoimasu ga, dōzo yoroshiku onegai-itashimasu.)
I’ll try not to get in your way and work hard. 

3. いろいろとご迷惑をおかけするかと思いますが、どうぞよろしくお願いいたします。
(Iroiro to gomeiwaku o okakesuru ka to omoimasu ga, dōzo yoroshiku onegai-itashimasu.)
I may cause you trouble, but I’ll do my best. 

4. みなさんのご迷惑にならないように、一生懸命がんばりたいと思います。
(Mina-san no gomeiwaku ni naranai you ni, isshoukenmei ganbaritai to omoimasu.)
I’ll do my best not to cause you any trouble.

As you may have noticed, the expressions above are very humble. Being humble is a part of Japanese culture, and showing this through your self-introduction can make a good first impression. 

Super Polite Self-Introductions: Using Keigo

If you want to challenge yourself and be super formal or polite, this section will show you how.  

敬語 (Keigo): Honorific Language

This is a step above the standard formal and informal polite language (丁寧語 teineigo) we have been using thus far.  Keigo is used when you are in a very formal situation or are addressing someone with a very high social status. You might use keigo in situations like job interviews or when speaking to the owner or president of your company. Businesses also use it with their business partners and customers. If you ever go to a Japanese department store, you’ll probably hear the employees using keigo.  

Keigo is an all-encompassing term for super polite formal levels in Japanese.

There are two forms – 尊敬語 (sonkeigo): honorific language and 謙譲語 (kenjōgo): humble language. 

尊敬語 (sonkeigo) is primarily used to honor and elevate others.

Example:

When you enter a store in Japan, employees might say “いらっしゃいませ (irrashaimase)” to welcome you. This is a 尊敬語 word to pay respect to you, the customer.  

謙譲語 (kenjōgo) is used to lower your position and humble yourself.

Example: 

します (shimasu) → 致します (itashimasu)

お願いします(onegaishimasu) →お願い致します (onegai itashimasu)

Instead of using the standard polite form します (shimasu), meaning “to do,” it changes to 致します (itashimasu) in the humble form.

Being Extra Polite: Useful to Know

Here are some words you can use in your introduction to make it much more formal (and professional) and polite.

1. です (Desu)/といいます (To Iimasu) → と申します (To Mōshimasu): My Name is~

We introduced the words です (desu) and といいます(to iimasu) to say your name, but a more polite way is to use と申します (to mōshimasu).

申す(mōsu) is the humble form of 言う (iu): to say.  

2. ~から来ました (Kara Kimashita) → 参りました (Mairimashita): ~Came From

Saying where you are from in a standard self-introduction, you would use から来まし (kara kimashita), or 出身 (shusshin) explained above. However, if you are in a very formal situation, or your audience is people you highly respect, you may want to use 参りました (mairimashita), which is the humble way to say “I came (from).”  

3. 改めまして (Aratamemashite):  Once Again

You may have learned that また (mata) means “again” in Japanese.  改めまして (aratamemashite) is not keigo, but it is a much more formal and polite way to say また in Japanese.  You’ll often hear it in business/workplace situations.  

Examples:

1. 改めまして後日お電話させていただきます。
(Aratamemashite gojitsu odenwa sasete itadakimasu.)
I’ll call you again at a later date.

2. 改めまして、本日はお集まり頂きありがとうございました。
(Aratamemashite, honjitsu wa oatsumari itadaki arigatō gozaimashita.)
Thank you all again, for gathering today.

ご・お (御) (Go/O): Polite Prefixes

In polite language, ご (go) and お (o) are attached to specific words to make them honorific.

Examples:

  • 迷惑 (meiwaku) → ご迷惑 (gomeiwaku): trouble
  • 作る (tsukuru)  → お作る (otsukuru): to make
  • 指導 (shido) → ご指導 (goshido): guidance
  • 金 (kane) → お金 (okane): money
  • 土産 (miyage) →お土産 (omiyage): souvenir

Some words, like okane and omiyage, always use the polite “o” regardless of formality. If you didn’t say it with the “o” (kane and miyage), it would sound rough and even rude.  

While there are some exceptions, お (o) is used for words of Japanese origin, while ご (go) is used for words of Chinese origin.

Super Polite (Business) Japanese Self-Introduction Examples

If you need to do a formal or polite self introduction in Japanese in a business situation, these examples would work well for you.

Example1:

はじめまして。
(Hajimemashite.)
How do you do?

本日から配属になりました、スティーブ・ロジャースと申します。
(Honjitsu kara haizoku ni narimashita, Sutību Rojāsu to mōshimasu.)
I will be joining this company from today. My name is Steve Rogers.

アメリカから参りました。
(Amerika kara mairimashita.)
I come from America.

趣味は運動をすることで、日本でマラソン大会に挑戦したいと思います。
(Shumi wa undō o suru koto de, Nihon de marason taikai ni chōsen shitai to omoimasu.)
My hobby is exercising, and I would like to attempt a marathon in Japan.

ご指導のほどよろしくお願い致します。
(Goshido no hodo yoroshiku onegai itashimasu.)
Thank you for your guidance. Please treat me kindly.

Example 2:

おはようございます。
(Ohayō gozaimasu.)
Good morning.

本日より入社いたしましたミカサ・アッカーマンと申します。
(Honjitsu yori nyūsha itashimashita Mikasa Akkāman to mōshimasu.)
I am Mikasa Ackerman, and I will start working with this company today.

日本語を勉強するために一年前に日本に来ました。
(Nihongo o benkyō suru tame ni ichinen mae ni Nihon ni kimashita.)
I came to Japan a year ago to study Japanese.

日本に来る前は、パラディ島でプログラマーとして働いていました。
(Nihon ni kuru mae wa, Paradi-tō de puroguramā toshite hataraiteimashita.)
Before coming to Japan, I worked on Paradis Island as a programmer.

趣味は料理を作ることで、最近は日本食にも挑戦しています。
(Shumi wa ryōri o tsukuru koto de, saikin wa Nihon-shoku ni mo chōsenshiteimasu.)
I’m interested in cooking, and lately, I have even tried making Japanese food.

いろいろとご迷惑をおかけするかもしれませんが、一生懸命がんばりますのでどうぞよろしくお願いいたします。
(Iroiro to go-meiwaku o o-kakesuru kamoshiremasen ga, isshōkenmei ganbarimasu node dōzo yoroshiku onegai-itashimasu.)
I may cause some problems, but I’ll do my best. 

お辞儀 (Ojigi): Bowing 

An illustration of two silhouettes of men facing each other and bowing. The man on the right is holding a briefcase. There is a big flag of Japan in the background.

It is important to show respect and greet others with a bow in Japanese business and casual situations. However, even bowing has levels of formality in Japan!

Bowing in Japan: 3 Types of Bowing

These are the 3 types of bowing you will see (and use) in Japan.

 1.  会釈 (Eshaku): A Slight Bow

This is the most common form of bowing in your daily life. You will use this to greet people shopping, friends, and other instances where formality is unimportant. 

The textbook definition of this bow says to lower your head and torso at a 15-degree angle. However, it’s more of a nod of your head in common practice, like when saying “yes” to agree with someone.  

2.  敬礼 (Keirei): A Polite Bow

This type of bowing is for business interactions such as meeting clients, superiors, or formal meetings.

To do this type of bow, lower your head and torso at a 30-degree angle.

3.  最敬礼 (Saikeirei): Respectful Bowing

This bow shows the greatest amount of respect. It should be used when formally apologizing or in a very formal situation (like giving a speech).

This bow involves lowering your head and torso at a 45 to 70-degree angle.

Your eyes should also be looking down. Both men and women can keep their arms at their sides. Women may also have their hands in front of them, one on top of each other.

Casual/Informal Self-Introductions in Japanese

A group of people are sitting around a square table. In the middle, two men, one on each side of the table, are standing up and shaking hands over the table.

Let’s take a break from all that formality to look at casual self-introductions. These will be with people your age or younger or in situations where formality is not an issue.

砕けた話し方 (Kudaketa Hanashikata): Casual Language

Casual language usually aims to be as easy and short as possible. You may omit entire words like です (desu) or particles like は (wa) and が (ga) when speaking. 

Here are some examples of how to speak more casually using the categories listed above.  

Likes/Interests

1. 旅行をするのが好き。
(Ryokō o suru no ga suki.)
I like to travel.

2. 釣りが好き。
(Tsuri ga suki.)
I like to fish.

3. ビデオゲームをするのが好き。
(Bideo gēmu o suru no ga suki.)
I like to play video games.

Dislikes

1. ニュースを見るのは好きじゃない。
(Nyūsu o miru no wa suki janai.)
I don’t like to watch the news.

2. 雑誌を読むのは好きじゃない。
(Zasshi o yomu no wa suki janai.)
I don’t like to read magazines.

3. サッカーをするのは好きじゃない。
(Sakkā o suru no wa suki janai.)
I don’t like to play soccer.

Reasons for Coming to Japan

1. 交換留学生として来たの。
(Kōkan ryūgakusei toshite kita no.)
I came as an exchange student.

2. 日本で仕事を見つけたので日本に来たの。
(Nihon de shigoto o mitsuketa no de Nihon ni kita no.)
I came to Japan because I found a job in Japan.

3. 日本語を勉強するために日本に来たの。
(Nihongo o benkyō suru tame ni Nihon ni kita no.)
I came to Japan to study Japanese.

What You Do in Japan

1. 英語を教えてる。
(Eigo o oshieteru.)
I teach English.

2. 会社員をしてる。
(Kaisha-in o shiteru.)
I work in a company.

3. 専門学校でデザインを勉強してる。
(Senmon gakkō de dezain o benkyō shiteru.)
I study design at a vocational school.

What You Did Before Coming to Japan

1. 大学生だったの。
(Daigakusei datta no.)
I was a university student.

2. 写真家をしてた**の。
(Shashinka o shiteta no.)
I was a photographer.

3. 大学院で歴史を勉強してたの***
(Daigakuin de rekishi o benkyō shiteta no.)
I studied history in grad school.

**Note:  Instead of shiteiru or shiteimasu, you can omit the(i) sound and change it to casual form shiteru. (Past tense: shiteita→shiteta)

***Note: Putting verbs in dictionary form and adding の (no) softens the language and makes it friendlier.

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