Happy Birthday in Japanese // 20 Must Know Words & Phrases (2023)

Culture • By LTL Team HQ •

How To Say Happy Birthday in Japanese (& Much More)

Today we move into the wonderful world of birthdays as we teach you how to say happy birthday in Japanese, and a lot more!

Happy Birthday in Japanese // 20 Must Know Words & Phrases (1)

First of all though, fun fact alert.

DID YOU KNOW | Birthdays have been celebrated in Japan only since around 1950!? Previously, all Japanese birthdays were celebrated over thenew year!

Bet you didn’t know that one, right?!

Anyway, there’s plenty of useful phrases we can learn when talking about saying happy birthday in Japanese that can also be used in other situations and it’s those very words we will be teaching you today.

Happy Birthday in Japanese | Key Words To Know

Happy Birthday in Japanese | Wishing a Superior Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday in Japanese | Wishing a Friend Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday in Japanese | Asking About a Birthday

Happy Birthday in Japanese | Other Useful Birthday Phrases

Happy Birthday in Japanese | Asking About Age

Happy Birthday in Japanese | Age Related Culture in Japan

Happy Birthday in Japanese | FAQ’s

Happy Birthday in Japanese | Key Words

First, let us walk you through the meaning of Japanese words that we’re going to use today.

  • 誕生 (tanjyou) | A noun meaning Birth, Origin or creation in Japanese.
  • 日 (bi) | A suffix that is used to add the meaning ‘day’ to its preceding words.

NOTE | The Kanji character can also be found in words like “kinou” (yesterday) and “kyou” (today).

  • おめでとう(omedetou) | Sending someone well wishes like for saying “Congratulations” or “Best wishes”.
  • ございます (gozaimasu) | A polite Japanese expression to express existence of things. Sometimes ございます is put after an interjection like “omedetou” to make it sound polite.

In Japanese Culture, different forms of the same phrase are used to show respect depending on the position of the receiver.

FOR EXAMPLE | You can say thank you to someone by using ありがとう but to level this up and make it politer (like for example talking to your boss or elders) you can add ございます to make ありがとうございます.

(Video) Learn How to Say Happy Birthday In Japanese 🎉 Birthday Song

One thing to be very aware of in Japanese (although very similar in Korean and Chinese culture too) is to be aware who you are speaking to. Generally there isn’t a one size fits all approach.

Talking to friends, your colleagues or family can lead to very different ways of expressing things.

Anyway – these are the keywords you need to know, so now lets get into the good stuff and discover how to wish your friends, family and others a happy birthday in Japanese!

Happy Birthday in Japanese | Wishing a Superior Happy Birthday

Combining the things mentioned above, to wish a superior or a colleague on their birthday, the formal version used is…


Happy Birthday in Japanese // 20 Must Know Words & Phrases (3)

A literal translation of this phrase would be “congratulations on your birthday”.

Here, “o” is a prefix used to make the following words more polite.

You’ll notice this used in other sentences.

FOR EXAMPLE | Going back to basics, the polite way to ask “What is your name” would be お 名前 は 何 てすか. Notice the お used at the start to make the sentence more polite.

TOP TIP | Never use “o” prefix while talking about yourself as it is perceived rude in Japanese Culture.

Happy Birthday in Japanese | Wishing a Friend Happy Birthday

It’s your friends birthday and you want to impress them by using your Japanese language skills!

You won’t use the same phrase you would use to wish your superior while wishing your friends, right?


To make the phrase more casual, you need to omit the words ‘o’ and ‘gozaimasu’. Simply say…

誕生日おめでとう (tanjyoubi-omedetou

Happy Birthday in Japanese // 20 Must Know Words & Phrases (5)

Due to effect of western culture, young people may speak even more casually with each other, saying, ハッピーバースデー (happi-basude) to each other.

This greeting basically sounds like “happy birthday” in English.

TIP | Notice this is written in Katakana, which is the Japanese alphabet used for loanwords and (foreign) names.

Many Japanese people will celebrate with friends on a different day, as their birthday might be a special dayspent with their significant other.

(Video) 20 Different Ways To Wish ‘Happy Birthday’ & 'Happy Anniversary' (+ Free PDF & Quiz)

Happy Birthday in Japanese | Asking About a Birthday

What about if we want to flip it around and ask questions about someones birthday in Japanese instead?

To ask someone “When is your birthday?” we can say…

あなたのお誕生日はいつですか (anata-no-tanjyoubi-wa-itsu-desu-ka)

If you know the other persons’ name, you should use…

~さんの誕生日はいつですか (~san-no-tanjyoubi-wa-itsu-desu-ka)

In Japanese, “~ san (~さん)” is a title of respect added to a name and is very commonly used in Japan.

It can be used with both male and female names, and with eithersurnamesorgiven names.

FOR EXAMPLE | Johnさんの誕生日はいつですか.

How to Learn Hiragana (Quickly) // 7 Terrific Tips To Success How to Learn Hiragana? It might seem difficult but Hiragana can be understood within a few hours. Follow these tips for success and start reading Hiragana.

Happy Birthday in Japanese | Other Useful Birthday Phrases

Here are some phrases that you can consider using when talking about birthdays in Japanese.

Have Fun!


Have a Great Day!


I Hope it’s a Wonderful Year For You


May All Your Wishes Come True


May Your Future Be Filled With Joy


Hanzi vs Kanji // Japanese Kanji NOT To Use in Chinese Hanzi vs Kanji // Japanese and Chinese have a long history of sharing characters with each other, but it’s not always as simple as that. Find out why…

Happy Birthday in Japanese | Asking About Age

Hopefully, you won’t need to ask this question (especially at a birthday party). Asking this question might offend the other person so be careful!

However, sometimes it might pop up so it’s good for us to learn these whilst you are here!

To ask someone about their age in a formal way, you can use…


Happy Birthday in Japanese // 20 Must Know Words & Phrases (8)

For a more casual situation you can say.

何歳ですか (nansai-desu-ka)

(Video) MUST KNOW Phrases When Living with a Japanese Partner & Roommate

If you’re on the receiving end of this question, respond using theJapanese numbering systemand add ~歳です (~sai-desu) to depict how many years old you are.

~歳 (~sai) is a counter used to express age in Japanese.

FOR EXAMPLE | If you are 30 you can respond with 私は30歳です (watashi wa san-ju sai desu)

If the circumstances require you to ask their age, you might consider using the following phrases afterwards which roughly translate to “you look young for your age”!

  • まだ若いですね (mada-wakai-desune
  • へー若そうですね (aee-wakasou-desune
Happy Birthday in Japanese // 20 Must Know Words & Phrases (9)

Happy Birthday in Japanese | Age Related Culture in Japan

Here are some facts about Japanese birthdays we also wanted to share.

DID YOU KNOW | Your 16th birthday is a big one! When a person turns 16, the five cycles of the Chinese zodiac are completed. The person is then considered “reborn.”

In Japan,you’re considered an adult when you turn 20. It’s also the age you can start to legally drink alcohol and are allowed to vote.

When someone turns 77 in Japan, they’ve reached the “happy age”.

The 88th birthday is the “rice age,” and the 99th birthday is considered the “white age”.

Remember, the birthday person never plans the party themselves.

Friends will get together, pick a day that everyone is free, and plan the party at a restaurant or a bar.

Now you know how to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY IN JAPANESE, let the party begin!!

BONUS LESSON | Learning the numbers is of course important when talking about birthdays.

Our friend Layla teaches you Japanese numbers up to 100 and trust us, it’s really not hard!

Enjoy learning about birthdays in other languages?

Why not check out our complete guides to learning how to say happy birthday in Mandarin Chinese, Russian, Korean and in Vietnamese also!

Happy Birthday in Japanese | FAQ’s

How do you say Happy Birthday in Japanese!

誕生日おめでとう (tanjyoubi-omedetou).

(Video) How to write Happy Birthday In Japanese

However, due to effect of western culture in Japan, young people may speak even more casually with each other, saying, ハッピーバースデー (happi-basude) to each other.

How do you say “when is your birthday” in Japanese?

We can use あなたのお誕生日はいつですか (anata-no-tanjyoubi-wa-itsu-desu-ka), to ask when someone’s birthday is in Japanese.

How can I ask someone how old they are in Japanese?

How old are you in Japanese is おいくつですか (o-ikutsu-desu-ka).

A more casual version would be 何歳ですか (nansai-desu-ka).

What is a formal way to wish someone a Happy Birthday in Japanese?

You can お誕生日おめでとうございます(o-tanjyoubi-omedetou-gozaimasu).

A literal translation of this phrase would be “congratulations on your birthday”.

How can I make a sentence polite in Japanese?

You can add the O prefix to a sentence (お).

For example with Happy Birthday you can say 誕生日おめでとうございます。

Notice the at the start of the sentence.

How can I say have a great day in Japanese?

You can say 素敵な一日を sutekina-ichinichi-o.

At what age in Japan are you allowed to drink and vote?

Your 20th birthday in Japan is the magical age in which you are legally allowed to drink and vote.

Want More From LTL?

WANT TO LEARN JAPANESE?Check out ouronline Japanese courseshere.

We offer a 7 day free trial to all new students where you can study 24/7.

What about studying Japanese in Japan instead?We’ve got your back. OurJapanese courses in Tokyocan either be taken insmall groupsof no more than 5 students orindividuallyfor a more tailored experience.

We even offer incrediblehomestay experiences in Tokyoas well.

The language experiences don’t end there either, in fact we also teach:

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Come and be a part of this amazing community!

Happy Birthday in Japanese // 20 Must Know Words & Phrases (10)

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    How do you wish a Japanese person happy birthday? ›

    Instead of plainly greeting in English, you can say “Happy birthday” in Japanese as “お誕生日おめでとう(pronounced as otanjoubi omedetou).” This is the most casual way of wishing someone a happy birthday in Japanese.

    What is the vocabulary for birthday in Japanese? ›

    お誕生日おめでとう [OTANJÔBI OMEDETÔ] Happy Birthday! OTANJÔBI is a polite expression with TANJÔBI (birthday), and the honorific O before it.

    How do you say happy birthday in Japanese casually? ›

    2. Otanjoubi Omedetou — Happy Birthday (Casual)

    How do you say happy birthday phrases? ›

    Short & Sweet Birthday Messages
    1. “Hope all your birthday wishes come true!”
    2. “It's your special day — get out there and celebrate!”
    3. “Wishing you the biggest slice of happy today.”
    4. “I hope your celebration gives you many happy memories!”
    5. “Our age is merely the number of years the world has been enjoying us!”
    Jan 12, 2023

    Why is 88 A Japanese birthday? ›

    In Japanese culture, the 88th birthday, or “Beiju” (米寿), is known as the long life celebration. Beiju is a play on the kanji characters for rice and 88. “Bei” (rice米) is important in Japanese society because it sustains life and represents purity and wholesomeness.

    How do you express a wish in Japanese? ›

    “たい” and “ほしい” are two grammatical constructs used very frequently in the Japanese language. They both enable you to express desire – or wanting something – in a very similar way.

    What is 20 years birthday called? ›

    AnniversaryLatin-derived term
    20 yearsVicennial
    21 yearsunvigintennial
    22 yearsduovigintennial
    192 more rows

    How do you wish someone a 20th birthday? ›

    Wishing you a happy 20th! Sending my warmest birthday wishes to you! I hope you have an amazing day! May this special day bring you happiness, joy, and love.

    How do you say 20th birthday? ›

    Here we offer you some short birthday captions for Instagram:
    1. 20 is the new 19.
    2. Say goodbye to 19 and hello to 20.
    3. I'm 20!
    4. 20, a new start!
    5. 20#
    6. 20, still a princess!
    7. My roaring twenties begin!
    8. Unlock 20!
    Dec 25, 2022

    How do you respond to Arigato casually? ›

    FAQ: What is the reply to arigatou? If you take Japanese lessons, you'll probably learn that the proper response to arigatou is do itashimashite (どういたしまして), meaning “you're welcome.” However, that's very rarely used in modern Japanese conversation except in more formal situations.

    How do you say happy birthday informally? ›

    How to Say Happy Birthday 50 Different Ways
    1. You sustained one more year. Congrats!
    2. I wish you a happier birthday than anyone else has wished you.
    3. Didn't we just celebrate this like a year ago?
    4. Happy birthday, champ.
    5. Don't count the candles, enjoy your day.
    6. Happy you day.
    7. Age is just a number.
    8. I'm glad you were born.
    Jan 23, 2023

    What is a simple birthday wish? ›

    Happy birthday to you! Wishing you a wonderful day and many blessings for the year ahead. May your birthday be packed with love and happiness. Wishing you a wonderful birthday!

    How do you write a heart touching birthday? ›

    Happy Birthday! On your birthday I wish that all your dreams come true, not just for one day but always and forever too! Happy Birthday! A very happy birthday to someone who means so much to me in life, thank you for being here today, wishing you a wonderful day full of love from my heart to yours.

    How many phrases are in happy birthday? ›

    You probably sang 4 phrases: (1) Happy birthday to you, (2) happy birthday to you, (3) happy birthday dear Grandma, (4) happy birthday to you. That's easy, natural phrasing!

    How do you say happy birthday to a friend? ›

    Short and Sweet Birthday Wishes for Best Friend
    1. Happy birthday to my favorite person.
    2. My life would suck without you.
    3. Today is all about you.
    4. Wishing you a day that's as special and awesome as you are!
    5. Happy birthday! ...
    6. Life is more fun with you by my side.
    7. Happy birthday to my totally amazing, irreplaceable bestie.
    Dec 7, 2022

    Why is 20 a special birthday in Japan? ›

    It's not just children who are fêted when they turn certain ages; Japanese adults also get special attention on certain birthdays. Adulthood (seinen) in Japan has officially begun at age 20 since the Meiji era (1876). That age has recently been lowered to age 18, but the 20th birthday is still a momentous occasion.

    What is Japan's lucky number? ›

    Lucky seven

    Like many countries throughout the world, Japan considers the number seven lucky. This is not imported, but steeped in the country's religious traditions.

    Why is 77 a special birthday in Japan? ›

    77 years old is especially called “Kiju”. The history of most of those celebrations can trace back to China, but the celebration of Kiju (77 years old) originates in Japan. (In Asian tradition, newborns being considered a year old when they are born. So, he is actually 76 years old in modern age).

    What is a good Japanese greeting? ›

    The most common phrases when greeting someone familiar is “Ohayō gozaimasu” (Good morning), “Konnichiwa” ('Hello' or 'Good day'), and “Konbanwa” ('Good evening').

    What does Tai desu mean? ›

    There are times when people don't want a material object but instead desire an action, like eating or buying. In such a case, "to want" in Japanese is expressed as "~tai desu".

    What is the meaning of Yokatta? ›

    よかった [YOKATTA] It was good. / I'm glad. YOKATTA is the past form of an adjective, II (good). It is an expression used in a casual conversation between friends. So, the polite way of ending a sentence, DESU, is omitted.

    What is i in Japan? ›

    The Japanese word watashi is a genderless term that translates to “I” in English. Japanese language textbooks often suggest it as one of the best overall terms to use to describe yourself.

    Why is 20 a big birthday? ›

    In the U.S. the legal age for drinking, smoking, and entering nightclubs is 21. So the 21st birthday is a significant turning point for a young adult as they're now able to partake in more adult activities, legally.

    Is 20 a special birthday? ›

    The 20th birthday launches adolescents into adulthood and is cause for celebration. Turning 20 is an important milestone in any young adult's life, where you leave your adolescent years behind and embark on your adulthood.

    Is 20 your golden birthday? ›

    Your golden birthday is when the date of your birth coincides with your age. For example, if you were born on October 8, your golden birthday took place when you turned 8. If you were born on December 21, your golden birthday took place when you turned 21. Learn more.

    What does 20th birthday symbolize? ›

    Turning 20 years means that you have completed your teenhood and now you are officially an adult. You are now in your era of the '20s.

    Why is 21 a special birthday and not 20? ›

    The 21st birthday signified the start of an adult life and the independence it brings with it. Traditionally when a person became 21 he or she would leave the parental home for pastures new.

    Can birthday be two words? ›

    This word is the combination of the words 'birth' and 'day. ' Since both 'birth' and 'day' function as base words on their own, combined, they create a compound word, one word with one meaning.

    Is Domo arigato rude? ›

    ' meaning “Thank you” to you, you can say 'Domo.” as the reply. Please note that some people consider 'Domo. ' is a little bit rude. It would be better to use 'Arigato.

    What does Domo Arigato mean? ›

    When you buy something at a store, store clerk would say "DOMO ARIGATOU", meaning thank you "very much".

    What can I say instead of Arigato? ›

    Thank you in Japanese: Domo (どうも)

    For some of the Japanese, an “arigatou” is still too much. Instead, they'll cut the expression short and just respond with a simple “domo” and it'll do the trick.

    What is the short way to say happy birthday? ›

    HBD is an acronym for Happy Birthday.

    What is better than saying happy birthday? ›

    I hope you have a fantastic day. Have a great one! Wishin you many more candles to blow. Many happy returns of the day!

    How do you send best wishes in Japanese? ›

    The most common way to wish someone good luck in Japanese is “頑張って(ね) (ganbatte (ne)).”
    Different Ways To Use 頑張って (Ganbatte)
    1. 頑張って。 (Ganbatte.) Good luck. / Do your best.
    2. 頑張ってね。 Ganbatte ne. Good luck, okay? (You got this!) / Do your best, alright? (good luck!)
    3. 頑張ってくださいね。
    Sep 3, 2022

    What does Omedetou Gozaimasu? ›

    "Omedetou gozaimasu" in Japanese means 'Congratulations'- which is the greeting for you if you know in this language.

    How do you express your wishes in Japanese? ›

    All of that can be expressed with “~てほしい”. For that, you simply add “noun + が” before “~てほしい”: ~が…~てほしい。 もっと雪が降ってほしい。
    [Expressing a third party's wishes with nouns]
    表現 ひょうげんExpression
    願望 がんぼうDesire, wish
    望 のぞ むTo wish for, to desire
    希望 きぼうHope, wish
    許可 きょかPermission
    4 more rows
    Jul 28, 2017

    Does Arigato mean thank you? ›

    Do Japanese people say arigatou? Yes, they do! Arigatou on its own is a simple, somewhat casual “thank you.” That said, most people prefer doumo arigatou or arigatou gozaimasu as their standard way of saying thanks, because both of those phrases are more polite than arigatou on its own.

    How do you give all best wishes? ›

    1. “Best of luck at your race tomorrow! ...
    2. “Good luck today! ...
    3. “Good luck and good wishes.”
    4. “All the luck in the world, all wished for you.”
    5. “Good luck, you! ...
    6. “Love and luck to you on your first day at work. ...
    7. “Sending good vibes to take with you to your treatment.”
    8. “I know how important this is for you.
    Jul 16, 2018

    How do you send a good wish message? ›

    Get well soon messages for friends.

    Wishing you a speedy recovery. Sorry to hear you're feeling under the weather. Hope you feel better soon. Hope you feel better soon friend, things aren't the same without you around.

    What are different ways to say best wishes? ›

    synonyms for best wishes
    • compliments.
    • felicitations.
    • greetings.
    • hail.
    • give a 'hear-hear'
    • good going.
    • good wishes.
    • good work.

    What does Domo arigatou Gozaimasu? ›

    2. Domo arigato gozaimasu / Thank you very much.

    What is Genki desu? ›

    When someone asks you if you are genki – you can simply say – “genki desu.” – In English, the equivalent would be something like. “How are you?” – “I'm Good.”

    How do you respond to Akemashite Omedetou? ›

    You can reply by repeating the phrase; Akemashite omedetō gozaimasu (明けましておめでとう ございます), which in this case means “Happy New Year to you too.” You may also use any of the other ways to say “Happy new year” in Japanese discussed above as a response.

    How do you say Happy birthday in Japanese Kanji? ›

    In Japanese, “happy birthday” is written (お) 誕生日 おめでとう (ございます). This is pronounced “(o) tanjoubi omedetou (gozaimasu)”.


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