In any language, the ability to offer congratulations is a valuable tool and a great way to make people happy. Let’s learn how to say congratulations in Japanese and some examples of its use in practice.
The Casual Way to Say Congratulations in Japanese
The word for congratulations in Japanese is おめでとう (omedetō).
This is the casual form of the greeting and can be used with friends and family.
Congratulations on getting the job!
Formal/Polite Way to Say Congratulations
If you want to offer congratulations in a more formal situation, such as to a superior or someone you do not know as well, the polite form of the greeting is おめでとうございます (omedetō gozaimasu)
(Kaisha no sōgyō, omedetō gozaimasu)
Congratulations on the establishment of your company.
The Kanji for おめでとう
While おめでとう and おめでとうございます are most commonly written only in hiragana, you may run into the kanji, especially in polite situations.
おめでとうございます → 御目出度う御座います
This is the full kanji form (all possible kanji are used), but you may see other versions with only some of these kanji, such as:
Using Omedetō Naturally
Let’s take a look at some common words and phrases that are paired with おめでとう (or おめでとうございます).
Congrats on graduating!
(Gokekkon omedetō gozaimasu)
Congratulations on your wedding!
Another surprising example of giving congratulations in Japanese is for holidays. While English uses “happy” as a greeting, like “happy birthday” or “happy Easter,” in Japanese, おめでとう or おめでとうございます is used.
(Haha no hi, omedetō gozaimasu)
Happy Mother’s Day!
As an interesting side note, the greeting for Christmas in Japan doesn’t use おめでとう or おめでとうございます, but instead is just メリークリスマス (merī kurisumasu), or “merry Christmas.”
Offering your friends, family, and others congratulations is a great chance to lift their spirits and wish them well. Give it a shot and tell someone who deserves it, “おめでとう！”