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I came across a learn-Japanese book from the 1980s and wanted to know what you guys think. The book gave a general formula for introduction and here is how it goes:

  1. Someone says their name with any combination of 「よろしくおねがいします」 and/or 「はじめまして」, and the standard response is to repeat what they said but put your own name instead. For example

    キム :はじめまして。よろしくおねがいします。キムです。
    あかみ:はじめまして。よろしくおねがいします。あかみです。

  2. The general response to 「はじめまして」 is 「よろしくおねがいします」

  3. The general response to 「よろしくおねがいします」 is 「こちらこそ。」

I was wondering how rigid these responses are? Are the responses below valid or should I just default to the textbook response?

  1. Can I respond to 「はじめまして」 with 「こちらこそ。」?

  2. Can I respond to 「よろしくおねがいします」 with 「よろしくおねがいします。」? 

  3. If someone says 「田中です。はじめまして。よろしくおねがいします」, can I respond with something like 「こちらこそです。」?

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1) You are right. There are many combinations of よろしくおねがいします AND/OR はじめまして. I think the standard template of introducing is:

はじめまして。田中です。よろしくおねがいします。

If you just put your name instead of 田中 in your response, it will not be bad. But you can change the template depending on the situation. If you meet a person who has social status or age same as you (friend of your friend, for example) you can skip はじめまして or よろしくおねがいします. Also you can say simply よろしく or どうぞよろしく(hardly used) or よろしくね instead of よろしくおねがいします. It sounds friendly but be careful and don't use it when you meet elder person.

You can use also といいます instead of です (only in case of introducing)

[私は]田中です – I am Tanaka

私の名前は田中です – My name is Tanaka (hardly used but can be useful depending on situation)

[私は]田中といいます – I am called Tanaka (very verbatim but japanese often use it)

Note that 私は(わたしは) is skipped usually – no sense to say "I" when you are talking about yourself (in japanese thinking)

Meeting elder person. If you want to be very polite in introducing, you can use next variants

でございます instead of です (hardly used but sounds very politely)

ともうします instead of といいます

よろしくおねがいいたします instead of よろしくおねがいします

Remember: you should use polite words throughout the sentence, not only one.

はじめまして。田中ともうします。よろしくおねがいいたします。

2) You said "The general response to はじめまして is よろしくおねがいします". But it is not quite so. My advice is - dont think rigidly. Use it appropriately to situation.

What does mean はじめまして and よろしくおねがいします? はじめまして inherits from verb はじめる(begin, start) and it is just greeting to person, who you meet first time. It probably means something like "let's begin a friendship" (very verbatim again
(source: kolobok.us) ). よろしくおねがいします does not mean "nice to meet you", "i'm glad to meet you" or somethink like this. おねがいします means request to do somethink like "please do it for me" and よろしくおねがいします is just more polite request. I don't know what japanese are requesting to person in first meeting (probably it is like "please be a friend for me" or "I hope you will be kind to me". It's not more than idiomatic expression) but it is often used in daily life. Example:

A: Can you do it for me?

B: Yes, I can

A: Well, おねがいします

(english-japanese mix )

3) You said "The general response to よろしくおねがいします is こちらこそ". Yes, it sounds good but needs some addition. こちらこそ sounds simply, so you had better respond with full sentence こちらこそよろしくおねがいします if you want to be polite. Also you can put いいえ before it (いいえ、こちらこそ[よろしくおねがいします]). Why いいえ? Try to remember The Matrix scene where Neo meets Morpheus first time:

Neo: It's an honor to meet you

Morpheus: No, the honor is mine

(Note, that is not translation, only analogy).

こちらこそ is just emphasis to yourself and can be used in many situations. For example, when some person helped you, and you helped that person, and when he/she says "I'm grateful to you", you can respond "no, I am very grateful to you" with using こちらこそ.

Here are a direct answers to your questions

1) "Can I respond to はじめまして with こちらこそ?" No
(source: kolobok.us) respond to はじめまして with はじめまして and add after that こちらこそ if companion said よろしく. Don't use it when you talk first and don't say it if companion did not say よろしく.

2) "Can I respond to よろしくおねがいします with よろしくおねがいします?" Yes, you can, but こちらこそよろしくおねがいします sounds a little bit better.

3) "*If someone says 田中です。はじめまして。よろしくおねがいします、 can I respond with something like こちらこそです?" It has been already answered above.

And finally I want to add some wrong examples

You: はじめまして。田中です。こちらこそ

Companion: mmm... What こちらこそ  

one more

Companion: はじめまして。田中です。

You: はじめまして。やまもとです。こちらこそ

Companion: mmm... What こちらこそ  

So, as you can see, japanese is not rigid but very flexible (sometimes too flexible to understand or remember all these
(source: kolobok.us) )

Good luck with your study. がんばって
(source: kolobok.us)

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こちらこそ is a response to よろしくおねがいします. People often say 「こちらこそよろしくお願いします」 for this reason. I don't think we say 「こちらこそはじめまして」 probably because if the other person hasn't met you before, it goes without saying that you haven't met that person either.

A: 田中です。はじめまして。よろしくおねがいします。
B: こちらこそよろしくおねがいします。

This is acceptable, but also unnatural in terms of conversation because it's kind of like:

A: Hello, I'm Alice. Nice to meet you.
B: Nice to meet you, too.
A: (Um... so what's this person's name?)

So to answer your questions,

  1. Yes, you can, but replying with 「はじめまして」 might be better.
  2. It is totally okay to respond with that, but it would be even better to respond with 「こちらこそよろしくおねがいします」
  3. Yes, but you might want to mention your name also.

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