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Most of the time when I'm composing e-mail in Japanese it's either:

  • A friendly, informal e-mail to a friend
  • A request for tech support or similar customer service

When composing these e-mails I tend to want to use 拝啓 and 早々, as I was taught for regular letters in class, but they feel far too formal or stilted. I've occasionally used こんにちは as an opening, but due to the nature of e-mail that feels like it may or may not be appropriate depending on the time it is received.

What is the typical practice for phrasing openings and closings in these e-mails?

Note: Saw this when prepping, but it doesn't cover what I was looking for.

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I feel like you need to provide more context for the emails. Are you emailing an old friend after many years? A relative on a semi-consistent basis? Co-workers/superiours multiple times a day? Someone you don't even know (like a website support email)? –  istrasci Apr 28 at 16:36
    
Edited to add; also put in the link to the previous question I was trying to reference in the opening line. –  Kaji Apr 28 at 16:39

3 Answers 3

up vote 6 down vote accepted

I think anything will do for informal emails, but definitely not 拝啓 or 早々 as these are only used in snail mails. Something like どうも or 元気にしてる? would be fine.

In a business setting it's much more complicated (I would even say bizarre), and you should check with your colleagues as the format varies between companies or even projects (and some people take offence when the emails don't conform to them). Here are some general resources on the subject (link, link, link)

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As you say, 拝啓 and 早々 are too formal for emails.

Opening with いつもお世話になっております is appropriate for the emails of requesting something if you belong to the company and write as an employee of the company, but I think it's too formal for an email to friends.

I suggest following format:

[to name]さん、こんにちは

[from name]です。

[contents]

よろしくお願いします。

[signature]

Closing with よろしくお願いします is natural for the email of requesting something. And it is polite but not too formal. If you want the more formal closing, you can say ご検討のほど、よろしくお願いします or よろしくお願い致します.

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For an opening to a "support" or service email, you can often start off with いつもお世話になっております to affirm your "business" relationship with them (even if you don't really have one).

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