“お久しぶり！ (ohisashiburi!)” or “久しぶり！ (hisashiburi!)” is a common Japanese greeting that is said whenever you haven’t seen someone in a long time. This short but convenient phrase is equivalent to English phrases like “long time no see!” or “it’s been a long time since we’ve seen each other.”
Let’s take a look at how to use お久しぶり naturally in both formal and casual situations, as well as its different usages.
お久しぶり (Ohisashiburi) Vs. 久しぶり (Hisashiburi): Polite Vs. Casual
This word also has different levels of politeness depending on who you are talking to:
1. Most Informal / Casual: 久しぶり (Hisashiburi)
It’s been a while! / It’s been a minute!
Who It’s Used With: Since 久しぶり (hisashiburi) is the casual version, you would use this only with people you know well, like close friends or family. It could also be used with people of lower social status than you (children, 後輩 (kōhai)*, etc.)
*Note: 後輩 (kōhai) means “junior.” This refers to someone with less seniority than you at work, school, or even social/sports clubs.
久しぶり (hisashiburi) can also be used as an adverb in a sentence, which we’ll go over in detail later in this guide.
2. Semi-Casual/Informal: お久しぶり (Ohisashiburi)
Long time no see!
The only difference between this semi-casual word and the very casual word above is the honorific お (o): お久しぶり (Ohisashiburi) vs. 久しぶり (hisashiburi).
Who It’s Used With: お久しぶり also can be used with friends and family but makes it a little more formal and polite than 久しぶり. You can also use お久しぶり with people you are acquainted with but are not super close to, like coworkers or classmates.
3. Formal/Polite Version: お久しぶりです (Ohisashiburi Desu)
Adding です (desu) to お久しぶり (ohisashiburi) makes this a much more formal/polite version. It is like saying, “It has been a while since we’ve met” in English.
It has been a while since I last saw you.
Who It’s Used With: This phrase is usually used with people you are not close to but have a similar social status. For example, coworkers or classmates you don’t know well or people you know casually (like people you see in the gym, cafe, etc.). This phrase is also polite enough to use with people like your immediate boss if you often work together and know each other well.
4. Very Formal/Polite: お久しぶりでございます (Ohisashiburi De Gozaimasu)
お久しぶりでございます (ohisashiburi de gozaimasu) is a very formal phrase. It is rarely used since the situations where this phrase is appropriate are very limited.
(Ohisashiburi de gozaimasu.)
It has been quite a while since the last time we have met.
Who It’s Used With: This phrase is reserved for people with a much higher social status than you, and you have some relationship with them (usually a casual relationship where you don’t know anything personal about someone). For example, the CEO of your company, business partners, or regular customers (customers in Japan are highly respected, as providing excellent customer service is essential).
All of the forms listed above are also used as a greeting (on its own).
(Yuka-chan! Hisashiburi janai! Kyonen irai da ne.)
Long time no see, right, Yuka? We haven’t seen each other since last year.
(Ohisashiburi desu. Ogenki deshita ka?)
Long time no see. How have you been?
(Ohisashiburi de gozaimasu. Sono setsu wa, taihen osewa ni narimashita.)
It has been a long time since we saw each other. Thank you very much for that time.
**Note:その節 (sono setsu) is a formal and common way to say “at that time.”
How is お久しぶり (Ohisashiburi) Used Naturally in Japanese?
The word お久しぶり (ohisashiburi) itself means “a long time (not doing/having something)” and is mainly used in two scenarios.
1. As a Greeting
When used as a greeting, お久しぶり (ohisashiburi) is usually the first thing you say to someone you haven’t seen in a while.
(Ohisashiburi! Sengetsu, isogashikute aenakatta ne. Genki datta?)
Long time no see! We were so busy that we couldn’t meet last month. How have you been doing?
2. Using 久しぶり (Hisashiburi) As An Noun/Adjective: With Nouns and Verbs
久しぶり (hisashiburi) can also be used to describe something (noun or action) you haven’t experienced in a long time.
1. Using 久しぶり With Nouns
久しぶり＋の (no)＋ Noun = [Noun] that I haven’t done/seen/etc. in a while
Examples: Using久しぶり (Hisashiburi) With Nouns
A: (Senshu sa, yatto Okinawa ni iketa no!)
A: You know, I finally could go to Okinawa last week!
B: (Ii ne. Hisashiburi no ryokō datta ne.)
B: Nice. It’s been a long time since you traveled.
A: (Kinō no sushi, chō oishikatta!)
A: Yesterday’s sushi was so tasty!
B: Un, hisashiburi no nihon ryōri datta mon ne.)
B: Yeah, it has also been a while since you ate Japanese food, right?
2. Using 久しぶり With Verbs
Verb in Plain Form**＋ のは (no wa)＋久しぶり (hisashiburi) = It’s been a while since I [verb}
The best way to see how this is used is through examples.
Examples: Using久しぶり (Hisashiburi) With Verbs
(Issho ni shukudai o yaru no wa hisashiburi da ne!)
It’s been a long time since we did homework together!
(Umi ni iku no wa hisashiburi desu ne.)
It’s been a while since we went to the sea.
How Long is a Long Time?
You are probably wondering, “what amount of time is a long time?“
This is completely subjective and varies from person to person. For some people, a few days is considered a long time, while others think a few weeks or months is long.
In general, if you usually see someone daily, you could say お久しぶり to them if you haven’t seen them in a few days. On the other hand, if you normally don’t see someone often (once a month or so), it may take a few months before it feels like you haven’t seen them in a while.
久しぶりに (Hisashiburi Ni): Using Hisashiburi as an Adverb – It’s Been A While Since ~
If you use 久しぶり (hisashiburi) together with a particle に (ni), it means “doing something for the first time in a while/long time.” This is the adverbial usage of 久しぶり.
Please note that only the adverb 久しぶり (hisashiburi) – no honorific お (o) can be used. お久しぶり (ohisashiburi) cannot be used in this case, as it is only used as an expression/greeting.
(Kare wa hisashiburi ni haha ni denwa o shita.)
He called his mother for the first time in a while.
(Hisashiburi ni yasumi o totta node, ryokō ni iku koto ni shita.)
I took some days off for the first time in a while, so I decided to travel.
3. ご無沙汰 (Gobusata) Another Way to Say Long Time No See/Hear in Japanese
無沙汰 (busata) can be translated as a “time of long silence” or “not contacting (someone) for a long time” in English. However, its usage is very specific in Japanese and differs from 久しぶり (hisashiburi) in the following three ways:
- It is used with people who have a much higher status or position than you. Because of this, it is usually used with the honorific prefix ご (go): ご無沙汰 (gobusata)
- While it is used in conversation, it is more common in written form (such as in letters, emails, etc.)
- It has the nuance of being sorry or apologetic for not contacting someone for some time, while 久しぶり (hisashiburi) has the nuance of a greeting rather than an apology.
How ご無沙汰 (Gobusata) is Used in Japanese
- ご無沙汰 (gobusata): Used as a noun in a sentence
- ご無沙汰しています / ご無沙汰しました (gobusata shite imasu / gobusata shimashita): Used as a phrase to say “(Sorry) that it’s been a while since I’ve contacted you.” This is a formal way to use this word.
- ご無沙汰しております (gobusata shite orimasu): Used as a phrase to say “(Forgive me) for neglecting to contact you in such a long time” or “It has been quite some time since I last got in touch with you.” This is a very formal phrase and very helpful when contacting people in Japan via letter or email.
Let’s look at a few examples of using ご無沙汰 (gobusata), starting with the most casual usage and then moving on to the formal expression.
(San nenkan no gobusata deshita ga, ogenki de osugoshi deshita ka?)
We haven’t contacted each other for 3 years, but have you been doing well?
(Gobusata shite shimai mōshiwake gozaimasen.)
I am deeply sorry for not contacting you for a while.
(Taihen gobusata shite orimasu. Marui sha no Tanaka desu.)
I am incredibly sorry for not contacting you for a long time. I am Tanaka from Marui company.
Examples #2 and #3 are mostly used in written language and on very formal occasions. It would not be natural to use a phrase like ご無沙汰しております (gobusata shite orimasu) with people you contact often or in casual conversations.
For example, even if you haven’t seen or contacted your boss for a while, you wouldn’t use ご無沙汰 (gobusata) in an email to them. This is because you work at the same company, so saying “I haven’t written to you in a while” would sound unnatural.
On the other hand, you would use this phrase with a customer you have not contacted or responded to for a while. In Japan, businesses should always use formal and polite language like ご無沙汰 (gobusata) with their customers.
~ぶりに (~ Buri Ni): Expressing an Exact Period of Time
If you want to express that a certain period of time passed, you can use the following structure:
[Time Period] ＋ぶりに
- 4日ぶりに (yokka buri ni): For the first time in 4 days
- 5年ぶりに (go nen buri ni): For the first time in 5 years
- 1ヶ月ぶりに (ikka getsu buri ni): For the first time in 1 month
You usually use this structure to express that a certain amount of days, months, or years have passed.
(San nen buri ni hanabi taikai ni itta.)
I went to a fireworks festival for the first time in 3 years.
(Itsuka buri ni kanojo kara
no renraku ga kita.)
She responded for the first time in 5 days./She responded 5 days later.
Using 久しぶり！(Hisashiburi!) As a Joke
The phrase 久しぶり！ (hisashiburi!) can also sometimes be used jokingly, like when you say goodbye to someone but bump into them a short time later.
Two friends are leaving home from school.
A: (Jā, mata ne!)
A: See you later!
B: (Mata ne!)
B: See you later!
They part ways but meet each other again outside the school building.
A: おっ、久しぶり！(saying “long time no see” even though you have just seen each other a few moments earlier)
(A: O, hisashiburi!)
A: Oh, long time no see!
お久しぶり (ohisashiburi) has different ways to be used in the Japanese language, so here is a table to summarize it all!
|久しぶり＋の＋N||Part of a sentence to describe a noun you haven’t done in a while.|
|V＋ の＋は＋久しぶり||Part of a sentence to describe a verb you haven’t done for a while.|
|久しぶりに||Part of a sentence (adverb) meaning “It’s been a while since I ~.”|
|ご無沙汰||Noun in a sentence||Very formal|
|ご無沙汰していますご無沙汰しました||Apologetic greeting||Very formal|
|ご無沙汰しております||Apologetic greeting||Extremely formal|
|~ぶりに||To express a certain period of time passed since you last did something.|