I find it much more sincere to accept compliments and show how grateful I am rather than to belittle myself. Therefore I would like to know some phrases in Japanese to accept compliments and show my gratitude rather than overhumbling myself (e.g. not まだまだ).

How do you accept compliments in Japanese without coming off as really arrogant (taking into consideration that the Japanese culture in general highly values modesty and humility)? Although in the West it is certainly possible to accept compliments and be modest at the same time.

E.g. in English we might say:

  • "I'm very happy to hear that!"
  • "I'm glad you liked it (for a performance or something like that)"
  • "It's very kind of you to say that."

Thank you

  • 3
    Compliments are made in different styles in different cultures. People from any culture know exactly how the other person will respond to a compliment even before making that compliment; therefore, they unconsciously word their compliments so that the replies will "match" them in style and they can communicate. One major characteristic of Japanese-style compliments is exaggeration. We exaggerate because we KNOW that the other guy is going to deny the compliment. For instance, we will tell you that your Japanese is great if you know a word or two. Will you reply "I'm happy to hear that!"?
    – user4032
    Commented Jul 23, 2014 at 14:24
  • @非回答者 So, would the answer to this question be "No, it's not possible to accept compliments without sounding arrogant in Japanese" ?
    – user1016
    Commented Jul 26, 2014 at 7:21
  • @Choko If I were to answer the question, yes, I would say something like that without hesitation.
    – user4032
    Commented Jul 26, 2014 at 9:24
  • 1
    Related: the OP has asked the same question on Chinese.SE: chinese.stackexchange.com/questions/8747/…
    – user1478
    Commented Jul 26, 2014 at 12:40

3 Answers 3


Yes, there are ways to say these kind of things. They don't sound super arrogant to me, but I won't guarantee that they'll always be the perfect thing to say. I went with ですます, but keigo and plain form versions are possible as well.

"I'm very happy to hear that!"


"I'm glad you liked it"


"It's very kind of you to say that."


  • 3
    Your Japanese phrases are only "translated" from the English. That does not mean we actually say those. In fact, we do not. Those are the phrases we hear in foreign films dubbed in Japanese, not in real life.
    – user4032
    Commented Jul 24, 2014 at 23:55
  • 2
    @非回答者 In this case, the questioner made it clear that (s)he had been told that there were more culturally appropriate answers, and explictly rejected them. Given that, how is it possible to answer the question without using phrases that may be out of place in real life? If my answer was misleading in some way, I'll be happy to improve it.
    – Kyon Smith
    Commented Jul 25, 2014 at 10:23

This is a hard topic because as you stated Japanese people normally don't react in this way. With that said, there are a couple approaches, not already stated here. (These would be in a more formal setting). Also, it really depends on how you are getting complimented and what the compliment is.

~光栄です。(It's an honor, I am flattered, etc.)

お蔭様で~。(Thanks to you~, Because of your help~, etc.)

~からこそ~。 (All because of~I was able to~, only because~was I able to~)

  • I'd also add that people often say お陰様で when, logically, it's not really thanks to your help at all, so that's probably the most generally useful one.
    – Casey
    Commented Jul 26, 2014 at 3:07

I think it's important to remember that this is an intercultural conversation. That fact is blindingly obvious to the interlocutor. And let's face it-- people use their own cultural stereotypes to interpret meaning in this situation. If Japanese people have "seen" anglophones use these phrases in movies, then it'll probably fit right into their expectations when talking to a real-live anglophone. Sometimes Japanese people get really uncomfortable if anglophones behave "too Japanese" in their presence. Or maybe I just am bad at it, and end up over-doing it? But I'm sick of saccharine condescensions like "You're more Japanese than me!" "You understand the Soul Of The Japanese" (gotten that one three times and it makes me want to punch someone)

Even if the OP's words are in Japanese, I'm guessing the OP has an accent, and hasn't exactly perfected Japanese non-verbals like body language and tone of voice. I've heard people say that the majority of communication is non-verbal-- well, the OP's words might as well match what his/her body already betrays. Because let's face it, "tondemonaidesuuuu" probably sounds like a stale script when this person says it. Because it is. And I have to use every ounce of my body and voice to pretend that it isn't a stale script when I say it every day.

When you live in a foreign culture, you get to reinvent yourself in the new language-- you have to, because your Japanese persona can't be the same as your native one. However, it can be hard to live a perfectly Japanese persona day-in, day-out. Everyone else assumes that you, an anglophone and a foreigner, are egotistical and easily flattered. Saying "mada mada" won't change their minds. So it's okay to make your Japanese persona a little more liveable by injecting it with your own native rhetorical norms.

Who knows. You might even look like a movie star to them. ;)

You must log in to answer this question.