Happy Birthday in Japanese 🎁 A Complete Guide

How To Say Happy Birthday in Japanese (& Much More)

Today we move into the wonderful world of birthdays as we teach you how to say happy birthday in Japanese, and a lot more!

Lex in Japan

First of all though, fun fact alert.

DID YOU KNOW | Birthdays have been celebrated in Japan only since around 1950!? Previously, all Japanese birthdays were celebrated over the new year!

Bet you didn’t know that one, right?!

Anyway, there’s plenty of useful phrases we can learn when talking about saying happy birthday in Japanese that can also be used in other situations and it’s those very words we will be teaching you today.

Happy Birthday in Japanese | Key Words To Know

Happy Birthday in Japanese | Wishing a Superior Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday in Japanese | Wishing a Friend Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday in Japanese | Asking About a Birthday

Happy Birthday in Japanese | Other Useful Birthday Phrases

Happy Birthday in Japanese | Asking About Age

Happy Birthday in Japanese | Age Related Culture in Japan

Happy Birthday in Japanese | FAQ’s

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Happy Birthday in Japanese | Key Words

First, let us walk you through the meaning of Japanese words that we’re going to use today.

  • 誕生 (tanjyou) | A noun meaning Birth, Origin or creation in Japanese.
  • 日 (bi) | A suffix that is used to add the meaning ‘day’ to its preceding words. 

NOTE | The 日 Kanji character can also be found in words like “kinou” (yesterday) and “kyou” (today).

  • おめでとう(omedetou) | Sending someone well wishes like for saying “Congratulations” or “Best wishes”.
  • ございます (gozaimasu) | A polite Japanese expression to express existence of things. Sometimes ございます is put after an interjection like “omedetou” to make it sound polite.

In Japanese Culture, different forms of the same phrase are used to show respect depending on the position of the receiver.

FOR EXAMPLE | You can say thank you to someone by using ありがとう but to level this up and make it politer (like for example talking to your boss or elders) you can add ございます to make ありがとうございます.

One thing to be very aware of in Japanese (although very similar in Korean and Chinese culture too) is to be aware who you are speaking to. Generally there isn’t a one size fits all approach.

Talking to friends, your colleagues or family can lead to very different ways of expressing things.

Anyway – these are the keywords you need to know, so now lets get into the good stuff and discover how to wish your friends, family and others a happy birthday in Japanese!

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Most Common Kanji // The 10 You NEED To Know (with Pronunciation & Examples)

There are so many different Kanji in Japanese, but which ones should you focus on learning first? Today we teach you the 10 most common Kanji in Japanese!

Happy Birthday in Japanese | Wishing a Superior Happy Birthday

Combining the things mentioned above, to wish a superior or a colleague on their birthday, the formal version used is…

お誕生日おめでとうございます。(o-tanjyoubi-omedetou-gozaimasu)

Happy Birthday in Japanese

A literal translation of this phrase would be “congratulations on your birthday”.

Here, “o” is a prefix used to make the following words more polite.

You’ll notice this used in other sentences.

FOR EXAMPLE | Going back to basics, the polite way to ask “What is your name” would be お 名前 は 何 てすか. Notice the お used at the start to make the sentence more polite.

TOP TIP | Never use “o” prefix while talking about yourself as it is perceived rude in Japanese Culture.

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Basic Phrases in Japanese // Learn 32 Essential Phrases (With Flashcards & FREE Quiz)

Basic Phrases in Japanese // Learn these phrases to make your first steps when learning Japanese. We teach you how to get by when speaking basic Japanese.

Happy Birthday in Japanese | Wishing a Friend Happy Birthday

It’s your friends birthday and you want to impress them by using your Japanese language skills!

You won’t use the same phrase you would use to wish your superior while wishing your friends, right?

Correct!

To make the phrase more casual, you need to omit the words ‘o’ and ‘gozaimasu’. Simply say…

誕生日おめでとう (tanjyoubi-omedetou)

Birthday Wishes in Japanese

Due to effect of western culture, young people may speak even more casually with each other, saying, ハッピーバースデー (happi-basude) to each other.

This greeting basically sounds like “happy birthday” in English.

TIP | Notice this is written in Katakana, which is the Japanese alphabet used for loanwords and (foreign) names.

Many Japanese people will celebrate with friends on a different day, as their birthday might be a special day spent with their significant other.

Happy Birthday in Japanese | Asking About a Birthday

What about if we want to flip it around and ask questions about someones birthday in Japanese instead?

To ask someone “When is your birthday?” we can say…

あなたのお誕生日はいつですか (anata-no-tanjyoubi-wa-itsu-desu-ka)

If you know the other persons’ name, you should use…

~さんの誕生日はいつですか (~san-no-tanjyoubi-wa-itsu-desu-ka)

In Japanese, “~ san (~さん)” is a title of respect added to a name and is very commonly used in Japan.

It can be used with both male and female names, and with either surnames or given names.

FOR EXAMPLE | Johnさんの誕生日はいつですか.

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How to Learn Hiragana (Quickly) // 7 Terrific Tips To Success

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Happy Birthday in Japanese | Other Useful Birthday Phrases

Here are some phrases that you can consider using when talking about birthdays in Japanese.

Have Fun!

楽しんでください
tanoshinde-kudasai

Have a Great Day!

素敵な一日を
sutekina-ichinichi-o

I Hope it’s a Wonderful Year For You

素晴らしい1年になりますように
subarashii-ichinen-ni-narimasu-you-ni

May All Your Wishes Come True

あなたの願いが全て叶いますように
anata-no-negai-ga-subete-kanaimasu-you-ni

May Your Future Be Filled With Joy

これからの人生が幸せで溢れますように
kore-kara-no-jinsei-ga-shiawasede-afuremasu-youni

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Hanzi vs Kanji // Japanese Kanji NOT To Use in Chinese

Hanzi vs Kanji // Japanese and Chinese have a long history of sharing characters with each other, but it’s not always as simple as that. Find out why…

Happy Birthday in Japanese | Asking About Age

Hopefully, you won’t need to ask this question (especially at a birthday party). Asking this question might offend the other person so be careful!

However, sometimes it might pop up so it’s good for us to learn these whilst you are here!

To ask someone about their age in a formal way, you can use…

おいくつですか(o-ikutsu-desu-ka)

Birthday in Japanese

For a more casual situation you can say.

何歳ですか (nansai-desu-ka)

If you’re on the receiving end of this question, respond using the Japanese numbering system and add ~歳です (~sai-desu) to depict how many years old you are.

~æ­³ (~sai) is a counter used to express age in Japanese.

FOR EXAMPLE | If you are 30 you can respond with 私は30歳です (watashi wa san-ju sai desu)

If the circumstances require you to ask their age, you might consider using the following phrases afterwards which roughly translate to “you look young for your age”!

  • まだ若いですね (mada-wakai-desune)
  • へー若そうですね (aee-wakasou-desune)
Happy Birthday in Japanese

Happy Birthday in Japanese | Age Related Culture in Japan

Here are some facts about Japanese birthdays we also wanted to share.

DID YOU KNOW | Your 16th birthday is a big one! When a person turns 16, the five cycles of the Chinese zodiac are completed. The person is then considered “reborn.”

In Japan, you’re considered an adult when you turn 20. It’s also the age you can start to legally drink alcohol and are allowed to vote.

When someone turns 77 in Japan, they’ve reached the “happy age”.

The 88th birthday is the “rice age,” and the 99th birthday is considered the “white age”.

Remember, the birthday person never plans the party themselves.

Friends will get together, pick a day that everyone is free, and plan the party at a restaurant or a bar.

Now you know how to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY IN JAPANESE, let the party begin!!

BONUS LESSON | Learning the numbers is of course important when talking about birthdays.

Our friend Layla teaches you Japanese numbers up to 100 and trust us, it’s really not hard!

Learn the Japanese numbers in just 5 minutes

Enjoy learning about birthdays in other languages?

Why not check out our complete guides to learning how to say happy birthday in Mandarin Chinese, Russian, Korean and in Vietnamese also!

Happy Birthday in Japanese | FAQ’s

How do you say Happy Birthday in Japanese!

誕生日おめでとう (tanjyoubi-omedetou).

However, due to effect of western culture in Japan, young people may speak even more casually with each other, saying, ハッピーバースデー (happi-basude) to each other.

How do you say “when is your birthday” in Japanese?

We can use あなたのお誕生日はいつですか (anata-no-tanjyoubi-wa-itsu-desu-ka), to ask when someone’s birthday is in Japanese.

How can I ask someone how old they are in Japanese?

How old are you in Japanese is おいくつですか (o-ikutsu-desu-ka).

A more casual version would be 何歳ですか (nansai-desu-ka).

What is a formal way to wish someone a Happy Birthday in Japanese?

You can お誕生日おめでとうございます(o-tanjyoubi-omedetou-gozaimasu).

A literal translation of this phrase would be “congratulations on your birthday”.

How can I make a sentence polite in Japanese?

You can add the O prefix to a sentence (お).

For example with Happy Birthday you can say お誕生日おめでとうございます。

Notice the お at the start of the sentence.

How can I say have a great day in Japanese?

You can say 素敵な一日を sutekina-ichinichi-o.

At what age in Japan are you allowed to drink and vote?

Your 20th birthday in Japan is the magical age in which you are legally allowed to drink and vote.

Want More From LTL?

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