Having been on the receiving end of Japanese hospitality quite a bit in the past week, I'd like to know the best way to thank people for it in Japanese.

I've found several words for "hospitality" but don't know which is closest to English:

  • 款待{かんたい}
  • 持{も}て成{な}し
  • 厚情{こうじょう}

I also wouldn't be surprised if the best way to thank somebody in this way in Japanese might not even involve one of these words but rather be phrased very differently to the English expression for language or cultural reasons.

  • 4
    Are you aware of お世話になりました?
    – Earthliŋ
    Apr 15, 2014 at 11:23
  • 1
    Are you speaking or writing?
    – user4032
    Apr 15, 2014 at 11:27
  • 2
    It is a set phrase for much more than this situation. It means something like "I'm very much obliged/indebted" and sort of implies that someone went out of their way to do something for you. Its content is much like saying "thank you", but the nuance conveys some humility on your part. In any case, it's a good phrase to know, in particular for a hospitality situation, because someone hosted you and there is little you can do to pay them back.
    – Earthliŋ
    Apr 15, 2014 at 11:37
  • 1
    Now you have an answer from a native speaker.
    – Earthliŋ
    Apr 15, 2014 at 12:54
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    @hippietrail You might find the word "特別扱い" useful. It's something like "preferential / special treatment". During your 1 week trip to Japan, your hosts might give you "特別扱い".
    – davewp
    Apr 16, 2014 at 6:06

4 Answers 4


The more common the phrases are, either in English or Japanese, the less likely it is that direct or literal translations will sound natural in the other language. "Thank you for your hospitality" is a prime example of this.

All of the three words that you listed are "big" --- especially 「歓待」 and 「厚情」. Those two are seldom used in spoken language and when they are used in writing, they would have to be surrounded by other big Sino loanwords.

「おもてなし」 (PLEASE write this in kana (and add an 「お」)) happens to have been a trendy phrase the last several months because of this speech at the IOC meeting in Buenos Aires last year. The phrase, however, is rarely used in spoken language.


The most common phrase that we use in situations where you would say "Thank you for your hospitality" would be:

「[大変]{たいへん}お[世話]{せわ}になり、ありがとうございました。」 or


  • 2
    Would お世話にななりました be appropriate as well?
    – Kaji
    Apr 15, 2014 at 13:24
  • I actually had jotted down "おもてなし" on my notes to look up next time I had internet access but misheard で in place of て so couldn't figure out what my note was. I think I actually asked my hosts about how to say "hospitality" and this is what they could think of (-: Apr 15, 2014 at 16:20

So, some of these words have much narrower meaning than hospitality in general.

To me, 「親切{しんせつ}」 sounds like the most neutral word for hospitality. A natural sentence would be 「ご親切{しんせつ}に、ありがとうございました。」

Both 「(お)もてなし」 and 「歓待{かんたい}」are specifically the hospitality towards guests.

「お世話{せわ}になりました」 is for something longer (but, it seems most cases of hospitality fall in this category; see comments). You say this when you graduate from a school and thank a teacher there, or at least when you spend a night and thank a host. Not for somebody who picked up your fallen handkerchief.

「(ご)厚情{こうじょう}」 is extremely formal. In a letter, when you invite people to a funeral, you could thank them for their 「ご厚情{こうじょう}」 with the deceased.

  • 1
    Picking up a handkerchief is not an act of hospitality.
    – Earthliŋ
    Apr 15, 2014 at 12:58
  • For some example of what I mean by hospitality, people who I didn't previously know who gave me a ride in their car, took me out for a meal or drinking, or invited me to stay at their home. Apr 15, 2014 at 17:43
  • 1
    I see, then, 「お世話{せわ}になりました」 is the most appropriate.
    – yhirai
    Apr 16, 2014 at 2:53

「おもてなし」 is probably closest to hospitality.

You can say 「持て成し」 but it's probably more common to say 「おもてなし」.

When you thank someone, I don't think you have to mention their hospitality; instead, it's perfectly fine to say 「ありがとうございました」 or 「お世話になりました」.

「おもてなしありがとうございます。」 is literally "thank you for your hospitality", but this sounds very awkward.

  • 5
    I'd like to hear a constructive criticism from the downvoter about what's wrong with this answer. Without such I can't learn from this )-: Apr 15, 2014 at 11:29
  • 3
    Well at least I hope this helped you...
    – hello all
    Apr 15, 2014 at 11:30

How about 恐れ入ります ? I was led to believe that this may be used to thank someone when you want to acknowledge the trouble that they have gone to for you.

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