How to Say ‘Long Time No See’ in Japanese

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In previous posts, we have explored how to introduce ourselves and make basic conversation in Japanese. After these introductions you will hopefully make acquaintances with whom you can meet up with again and practice your Japanese even more!

One of the phrases you will hear a lot when meeting up with old friends is hisashiburi (久しぶり / ひさしぶり). Hisashiburi is actually one of those staple words you ought to know for everyday Japanese conversation and it means ‘long time no see’ in Japanese!

Hisashiburi 

久しぶり

Long time no see

As mentioned, hisashiburi is the standard Japanese way of saying ‘long time no see’. 

To break it down, Hisashii means ‘long (time that has passed)’ and buri means ‘since’ or ‘after (a period of time). 

It is a super common expression you can use when you meet or bump into someone who you haven’t seen in a while.

Hisashiburi is suitable to use for any amount of time lapsed, whether you haven’t seen the person in a month or in even years!

Note:

Don’t be surprised if you hear someone using hisashiburi for scenarios other than meeting someone after a long time! It can also mean ‘a long time since’ or ‘first time in a while’.

You can use it for various situations, such as eating a dish you haven’t eaten in a while, or hearing a song you haven’t heard for years. 

Example: 

Hisashiburi ni ramen wo tabenakatta
久しぶりにラーメンを食べなかった
ひさしぶりにらーめんをたべなかった
It’s been a while since I’ve eaten ramen

Hisabisa

久々

Long time no see (casual)

Of course, we know that in Japan, language changes depending on who you are speaking to.

Hisashiburi is a casual enough phrase to use with friends and family, but if you want to switch it up, you can use the shorter variation—hisabisa (久々 / ひさびさ)

The symbol 々 is a repetition mark. If this symbol follows a kanji, this indicates that the kanji is to be repeated. It is a shorthand symbol used to save from rewriting the kanji. 

Other examples of its use can be seen in the word hitobito (人々 / ひとびと) meaning ‘(multiple) people’, and tokidoki (時々 / ときどき) meaning ‘sometimes’.

Ohisashiburi desu

お久しぶりです

Long time no see (polite)

If you were to meet someone who you are not as close with, you will need to make slight adjustments to hisashiburi in order to make it sound a little more polite. 

We can do this in two easy steps! Simply add the honorific o (お) at the beginning, end with the polite term desu (です) and voila! 

So, if you find yourself in this situation you may make a small bow and say o hisashiburi desu (お久しぶりです / おひさしぶりです) in order to show respect to the other person.

Gobusata shiteorimasu

ご無沙汰しております

Long time no see (formal)

Gobusata shiteorimasu (ご無沙汰しております / ごぶさたしております) also means ‘long time no see’ in Japanese. However, it is reserved for much more formal instances! 

You may use gobusata shiteorimasu when conversing with someone in a business setting or speaking to anyone with a high status. 

Ways to say ‘long time no see’ in Japanese

As you can see, there are a few ways to say long time no see in Japanese, depending on how formal or informal you want to be. When in doubt, hisashiburi (久しぶり / ひさしぶり) is the most common phrase for long time no see in Japanese!

For more essential Japanese phrases, our top recommended online course is JapanesePod101. Try it out – it’s free!

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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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