As you may already know, sayonara (さよなら) is the Japanese word for ‘goodbye’. However, if you want to say ‘see you later’, sayonara would not be the most suitable term.
Instead, a more natural way to say ‘see you later’ in Japanese would be mata ne (またね)!
Even in English, you can feel the difference in nuance between ‘goodbye’ and ‘see you later’. You can think of sayonara as a ‘farewell’, a more permanent goodbye.
We have another post on the many different ways to say goodbye in Japanese. But here, let’s focus more on the nuance of ‘see you again’, as you will be sure to use these kinds of phrases more than sayonara in everyday conversation!
Mata ne (またね) is a very common phrase used by Japanese people to say ‘catch you later’. Mata means ‘again’ and ne is a sentence-ending particle used to express exclamation and agreement, depending on the utterance. Ne makes just about any phrase sound more friendly.
Mata ato de
See you later
Ato (後 / あと) means ‘after’ or in this case, ‘later’, while de (で) indicates time of action. This is a great phrase to use for someone who you are going to see later on, and are just saying goodbye to for the moment.
See you next time
Kondo (今度 / こんど) can be translated to ‘next time’ or another time’. You can use this phrase when parting ways to express that you would like to hang out again sometime. The use of this phrase implies that you would like to see this person again, although not necessarily specifying when exactly. It can also be used if you cannot attend or have to cancel plans and you want to suggest ‘some other time!’
Tsugi no kikai ni
See you next time
This essentially has the same meaning as the previous phrase, and can be used the same way. However, the tone is definitely more formal. Tsugi (次 / つぎ) means ‘next’ while kikai (機会 / きかい) translates as ‘chance’ or ‘opportunity’.
As you may have guessed, bai bai (バイバイ / ばいばい) is a borrowed phrase from English. It is quite casual in nature but it is a widely used phrase nevertheless. It is an easy-to-remember phrase when you want to say ‘see you!’ to friends or family.
This is another easy and commonly used way to say ‘see you later’ in everyday conversation. It is very casual in nature and is often used between good friends and relatives.
Genki (元気 / げんき) is a super useful word in Japanese. In this phrase, it holds the meaning ‘healthy’. If you use genki de as a farewell phrase, it means ‘take care!’. You can add ne on at the end to make it sound more informal and warmer.
Ki wo tsukete
This phrase is essentially the same as the previous. It can also mean ‘be careful’ in times of danger. If I’m parting with friends and I want to say ‘bye now, get home safe!’ I will use ki wo tsukete kaette ne (気を付けて帰ってね / きをつけてかえってね).
Keep in mind that the particle wo (を) is pronounced like ‘o’ in this phrase.
I’ll be back later
This is a great phrase to use when you are leaving and want to let someone know you will be back to see them later. For example, you could say it to your family when leaving for school or work in the morning. It combines the verbs iku (行く / いく) meaning ‘to go’ and kuru (来る / くる) meaning ‘to come’, creating an utterance that means ‘I’m going and coming back!’
You can expect to hear itterasshai (いってらっしゃい) in response to this phrase. It has a literal meaning of ‘please go and come back’ but more naturally translates to ‘okay, talk to you later!’.
See you / thank you for your hard work
This is a great way to express ‘see you later’ in the workplace! The verb tsukareru (疲れる / つかれる) means ‘to get tired’. By saying this phrase you are ending the day by showing your appreciation for your coworker’s efforts, acknowledging that they may be tired after a long day’s work, and that you will see them tomorrow.
If you happen to be the first to leave the workplace, you can say osaki ni shitsurei shimasu (お先に失礼します / おさきにしつれいします) which essentially means ‘pardon me for leaving first’.
Depending on how close you are with your coworkers, you can shorten the phrase to otsukaresama, otsukare, or even otsu!
Common ways to say see you later in Japanese
As you can see, there are lots of ways to say see you later in Japanese! Don’t be overwhelmed – most of these can be used pretty much interchangeably, so just pick one you like and stick to it!
For more practical, everyday Japanese we recommend JapanesePod101. They have the best online Japanese lessons, and you can join for free!
See these related posts for more essential Japanese phrases:
- 19 Different Ways to Say Hello in Japanese
- How to Say ‘How Are You’ in Japanese [15+ Essential Greetings!]
- How to Say ‘My Name Is’ in Japanese: Introduce Yourself Like a Native!
- How to Say ‘Nice to Meet You’ in Japanese
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!