How To Say ‘How Are You’ In Japanese [15+ Essential Greetings!]

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One of the most useful phrases to learn when speaking any language is ‘how are you?’

After learning how to say ‘hello’, ‘goodbye’ or ‘thank you’, showing that you can say ‘how are you’ brings you one step further in impressing others with your language skills. It also allows for a conversation to grow where you can show off your skills even more!

The most common way to say ‘how are you’ in Japanese is o genki desu ka? (お元気ですか / おげんきですか)

However, in Japanese, there are quite a few more ways in which you could ask someone how they are. Let’s get started!

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Common ways to say how are you in Japanese

O genki desu ka?


How are you?

Genki can be translated as ‘healthy’ or ‘spirited’. Paired with the polite term desu and the question marker ka and there you have it! The O (お) at the beginning is part of Japanese honorific speech called keigo (敬語 / けいご). It is used to show respect to the person you are speaking to. 

Here are a couple of variations of genki desu ka which can be more useful in casual situations:

  • Genki desu ka? 

By dropping the honorific O, you can avoid sounding overly fancy.

  • Genki?

Drop the desu ka and simply ask genki? Use a rising intonation in your voice to signify that you are asking a question.

Download a FREE printable workbook to learn the Japanese scripts hiragana and katakana here.

Daijoubu desu ka?


Are you alright?

Daijoubu (大丈夫 / だいじょうぶ) can translate to ‘okay’ or ‘alright’ and is one of the most useful words to know in Japanese. It can be used in a few different scenarios. In this context, daijoubu desu ka can simply mean ‘are you alright?’. It can also sound like ‘is everything okay?’ or ‘do you need help?’. 

Choushi wa dou desu ka?


How are you?

Choushi (調子 / ちょうし) literally translates to ‘condition’ or ‘state of health’ and dou (どう) means ‘how’. When used in this context it can mean ‘how is it going?’ or ‘how are things?’. In many cases you may choose to omit the desu ka when speaking in casual conversations. Choushi wa dou? sounds more chill, sorta like ‘whats up!’.

Two young Japanese women in conversation in a living room, holding cups of tea and smiling.

Kibun wa dou desu ka?


How are you feeling?

Kibun (気分 / きぶん) means ‘feeling’ or ‘mood’. Therefore, this phrase relates more so to how you are doing in an emotional sense, rather than how you are in general. 

Taichou wa dou desu ka?


How are you?

Taichou (体調 / たいちょう) means ‘physical condition’ or ‘state of health’. You can use this expression when speaking to someone who may have had health problems recently and you want to know how they are feeling.

Saikin dou desu ka?


How have you been recently?

Saikin (最近 / さいきん) means ‘recently’. This is a simple and friendly way to ask ‘how are you’ in Japanese. It expresses something along the lines of ‘how are you doing these days?’. Be sure to use this when catching up with someone you haven’t spoken to in a while!

An older Japanese lady and a young girl leaning their heads together and listening to a phone call together.

Ikaga o sugoshi desu ka?


How are you? 

This is a very polite way to say ‘how are you’ in Japanese. The verb sugosu (過ごす / すごす) found in this phrase means ‘to spend/pass time’. So, you are pretty much asking ‘how are you getting along?’. It does come off as rather formal, so be sure to use it when speaking to those who are older or of a higher status and avoid using it with friends!

O kawari arimasen ka?


How are you?

O kawari arimasen ka (お変わりありませんか / おかわりありませんか) would literally translate to ‘nothing strange has happened, has it?’. In a roundabout way, it simply means ‘how have you been?’. You can shorten it to kawari nai (変わりない) meaning ‘how are you, no change? in order to make it more informal. 

If you answer ‘how are you’ or ‘what’s up?’ with kawari nai it can be understood as ‘nothing much’ or ‘same old’. 

Doushimashita ka? 


What’s the matter?

This phrase is commonly used in situations where the person you are speaking with seems to be troubled by something. It can also be translated as ‘what happened?’ in English and is generally used to show a sense of concern.

Doushita no?


What’s the matter?

This is essentially the same as the previous phrase, however – yes, you’ve guessed it! It is the informal version to be used with your Japanese friends or colleagues!

Nani shiteru? 


What are you doing?

In literal terms nani shiteru (何してる / なにしてる) is asking ‘what are you doing?’. It is a casual phrase used between friends and can be compared to ‘what’s up?’ or ‘what are you up to?’ in English. With this expression you can showcase your knowledge of casual Japanese and impress your friends!

Omoshiroii koto atta?


Any news?

Similar to the previous phrase, this is a suitable expression to use when catching up with your friends to find out what they’ve been up to. It means ‘has anything interesting happened?’ and is a great way to begin a friendly chat.

Related phrases

Two young Japanese woman greeting each other delightedly on a train platform.



Long time no see

It is best to enter a conversation with a greeting, and then follow up with ‘how are you?’. If you are familiar with Japanese you have most likely heard the phrase hisashiburi (久しぶり / ひさしぶり) before! It is a widely used greeting which means ‘long time no see’ and is used when you meet somebody you haven’t seen in a while. It is a super effective way to go into a conversation. 

Gobusata shiteorimasu


Long time no see

Gobusata shiteorimasu (ご無沙汰しております / ごぶさたしております) is a highly polite way of saying hisashiburi. Make sure to use this version of ‘long time no see’ when speaking in a formal or business situation!

How are you in Japanese

As you can see, there are so many ways to say ‘how are you’ in Japanese! Just as in English we might as someone ‘what’s up?’, ‘how are things recently?’ or ‘how are you feeling?’, you can pick the right phrase for the situation in Japanese.

You can check out some of these different ways to say hello in Japanese to use in conjunction with what you’ve learned here, and soon you’ll be ready to wow everyone with your Japanese greeting skills!

Related posts

Do you want to learn even more usual, everyday Japanese? Our top recommendation is JapanesePod101. And it’s free!

An infographic presenting several different ways to say 'how are you' in Japanese

Hannah Stafford

Hannah is a half Irish/half Japanese girl living in Ireland. Her love for Japan and the Japanese language led her to studying languages and translation in university where she specialised in Japanese. She spent a year studying abroad at Rikkyo University in Tokyo. In her free time, Hannah enjoys using her sewing machine to upcycle clothes and create new pieces!

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