I am currently staying in Japan for four weeks. I learned to read & write kana and some basic Japanese (basic particles and sentence structure and some vocabulary), but as you can imagine I’m still struggling with a lot of day-to-day stuff

I noticed that, in shops, basically nobody greats me with こんにちは konnichiwa or こんばんは konbanwa. If I do so, I get greeted back the same way (probably out of courtesy). But of course I would like to greet people (in this case store clerks) the common way. But, for the life of me, I can’t understand what exactly they are saying when greeting me. I thought for a while for hello they say すみません sumimasen, but I couldn’t find any reference for すみません being used in such a way. For goodbye, I honestly have no idea what to say (or what they are saying). I usually say “ありがとう ございます arrigato gozaimasu” and leave.

TL;DR: What’s the common way to say hello and goodbye in stores in Japan? An answer with kana (no kanji) would be very much appreciated


1 Answer 1


Normally Japanese people ignore the store and restaurant clerks, especially this generic "Irasshaimase" that travels through the whole store every time a customer enters. It depends a lot on the type of store, how "personal" you become and/or are with the clerks etc. For example in convenience stores, the staff is barely even acknowledged.

If you want you can give a shallow bow towards the person and say "konnichiwa"/"konbanwa" when you meet them, and/or a simple "arigatou gozaimashita"/"domo" (in your situation I would recommend the former) when you have paid and get the receipt etc.

For restaurants you can instead say "gochisousama deshita" (Youtube the pronunciation ;) ) when leaving. This is a set phrase for when you have finished eating, to show your gratefulness. There's an ongoing debate whether or not to say it at restaurants, but at the very least it does not hurt anyone to say it and many people do.

If you want to get the attention of the personnel you would say "sumimasen" which means "excuse me", and not "konnichiwa" like some other cultures, e.g. French.

Personally I always thank the store clerk simply because I think it is polite. I also often greet them with a simple "konnichiwa", which in my case serves a practical purpose as it shows the person that I speak Japanese.

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