Essay On Myself In Japanese

When you start learning Japanese or are visiting Japan for the first time, there are few words to learn right away:

  1. konnichiwa
  2. arigatou
  3. sumimasen

Once you've mastered those three, you need to learn your jikoshoukai.

自己紹介(じこしょうかい)
self-introduction

Jikoshoukai is the Japanese word for "self-introduction." In theory, this is similar to how you would introduce yourself in your own culture. Say hello, say your name, tell a little about yourself. But in practice, there are cultural differences and set procedures you should stick to. You only get one first impression, so it's important to learn how to do it right.

We'll start by teaching you the basic Japanese self-introduction, then cultural subtleties, and finally a ton of extra grammar and vocabulary you can use to talk about yourself with your new Japanese friends.

How to Jikoshoukai

Going to Japan, but don't know Japanese? Don't worry. You can jikoshoukai. The Japanese self-intro has a standard order and set phrases, so even beginners can meet and greet in Japanese.

Jikoshoukai Vocabulary

初めまして(はじめまして)
How do you do?

The set phrase hajimemashite either comes from the verb hajimeru, which means "to start," or it's a shortened form of おにかかりまして. Though etymologists aren't sure of the word's true origin, hajimemashite implies beginning or doing something for the first time. Most people think of it as saying "How do you do?" or "Nice to meet you."

申す(もうす)
to be called
  • は [name] と。
  • My name is [name].

The breakdown of this sentence is easier than it looks. It has three parts:

  1. - The first word 私 means "I" or "me." It's followed by the particle は which indicates the topic of the sentence. In this case, 私 is the topic.
  2. [name] - Your name.
  3. - One meaning of the verb 申す is "to be called." It's paired with the particle と and conjugated to 申します。 This is a polite phrase, so it's safe to use in almost any situation.

When you put them all together, you get something along the lines of "I am called [name]" or "My name is [name]."

宜しくお願いします(よろしくおねがいします)
Please be kind to me
  • よろしくおします。
  • Please be kind to me.

The final piece of the puzzle is よろしくおします. It doesn't translate well to English, which is why we wrote a whole article about it. In a self-intro situation, it means something like "Please be kind to me." It's often translated as "Nice to meet you." This isn't technically correct, though it carries a similar feeling.

Writing Your Jikoshoukai

Now that you've got the basic building blocks down, it's time to put it together. At its simplest, the jikoshoukai sequence is:

  • はじめまして。は (name) とします。よろしくおいします。
  • How do you do? My name is (name). Please be kind to me.

See? Not so hard. When you're getting ready to meet Japanese people for the first time, write this out and practice until it flows. If you're a beginner at Japanese, you don't need any more than this.

Jikoshoukai Etiquette

It's great to know the words to say when introducing yourself in Japanese, but how you say those words will make or break your jikoshoukai.

There are cultural differences to be aware of. They're subtle, so if you miss them it probably won't be counted against you. But paying attention to details like these can give you an extra social edge when you first meet a new Japanese friend.

1. First Name and Family Name

In English, people usually introduce themselves by their first names or full names. When you give your full name, the first name comes first and the family name afterward.

In Japanese, people usually introduce themselves by their family names or full names. When they introduce their full name, the family name comes first and the first name comes second.

2. Occupation

Revealing one or two of your strengths is fine, but listing all your amazing abilities will annoy others and make you seem over-confident.

In English, when you asked what you do for work, you give a brief summary of your job, or the name of your profession.

In Japan, it's common to answer only, "です。" (I'm an office worker./I work for a company./I'm a salaryman.)

However, if you introduce yourself to someone in a business setting, mention your company in your self-intro. For example:

  • Tofuguのコウイチと。
  • I'm Koichi from Tofugu.

This concept goes along with our next point…

3. Don't Talk About Yourself Too Much

Japanese people sometimes say lightly self-deprecating things as a form of humility, but it's usually followed by something positive (or the positivity is implied). For example:

  • 至らない点が多いかもしれませんが、頑張りますので、よろしくおします
  • I might have many flaws, but I'll do my best so please be kind to me.

You don't have to say anything like this (in fact, we advise you don't), but the point is this: Japanese people usually keep their strengths on the down-low.

So try not to show off too much. Revealing one or two of your strengths is fine, but listing all your amazing abilities will annoy others and make you seem over-confident.

4. Bowing vs. Handshake

In the West, if you're meeting someone one-on-one, you shake hands.

In Japan, don't move in for the handshake, especially if your status is the same or lower than the person you're meeting. In Japan, handshakes are for equals, so if you try to shake hands with the Emperor, it would be considered rude. Bow instead, and do so at the beginning and end of your jikoshoukai.

5. Holding Your Hands Behind Your Back

In Japan, holding your hands behind your back signals importance, so it may make you look full of yourself. Put your hands in front of you (the left hand on top of the right), or put your hands beside you.

6. Don't Bow While Talking

This is a no-no from our Japanese bowing guide. Do your bowing after giving your self-introduction. Make sure to finish saying "yoroshiku onegaishimasu" and then bow.

Business Cards

Business cards in Japan are called meishi, and are an important part of Japanese culture. Even outside of the business world, Japanese people sometimes have personal meishi made (meishi means "name card" after all).

We covered meishi etiquette in our article about Japanese work customs, but here are the rules again in a jikoshoukai context.

Orient your card toward the recipient. Give and receive meishi with two hands.

  1. Put meishi in a carrying case: You can buy business card carrying cases online or at any department store in Japan. If you don't have a case, you can carefully put the meishi in your purse or wallet after you've received it. Just don't put it in your pocket.

  2. Use two hands: Orient your card toward the recipient when presenting. Hold the top edge with both hands. When they offer their card, accept it with two hands. Try not to cover any words with your fingers either. Some Japanese people are taught that a meishi is the "face" of the person giving it, so you don't want to cover theirs or your own.

  3. When you and your new friend offer each other meishi at the same time: Present your card with your right hand, while simultaneously receiving theirs with your left.

  4. Read meishi you receive: Read the person's name and title on the card before you put it away. Make sure to show interest in what they do. Act at least a little bit impressed with their job title.

  5. When exchanging meishi in a group, give to the most senior person first: Start by giving your business card to the shachou, then fukushachou, and so on down the chain of command.

  6. Treat meishi with respect: Use common sense and treat meishi like you would a gift. Don't toss or write on them.

Expanding the Basic Jikoshoukai

Maybe you've been doing your Japanese self-intro for years, repeating the same three set phrases over and over. Maybe you've read this guide before and have the basics down pat. You're ready to level up!

Below are example sentences you can mix into your standard jikoshoukai to give it more flavor, and make your self-intro a memorable one.

"Nice to Meet You"

Earlier we learned how to use はじめまして (nice to meet you, how do you do). Here's a few ways to add to this set phrase.

  • こんにちは。はじめまして。
  • Hello. Nice to meet you.
  • みなさん、はじめまして。
  • Nice to meet you, everyone.
  • みなさん、こんにちは。はじめまして。
  • Hello everyone. Nice to meet you.

Name

For a formal situation, you should say both your first and last names. In a casual situation, it's common to say only your family name for Japanese people.

If you're an English teacher on something like the JET Program, your school might want you to give your first name when you introduce yourself to the students. Ask your supervisor what's appropriate for the situation.

Below are several ways to introduce your name, organized by politeness in ascending order.

Casual:

  • のはマイケルですが、みんなにはマイクっています。
  • My name is Michael, but most people call me Mike.

Polite:

Polite:

Very Formal:

  • マイケルと。
  • I'm Michael.

Very Formal/Business:

  • Tofuguのマイケルと。
  • I'm Michael from Tofugu.

"Please Be Kind to Me"

When you end your jikoshoukai, you'll use a phrase that means "Please be kind to me" or "Remember me favorably." But once you've got a handle on the standard "yoroshiku onegaishimasu," you can move on to more casual or more formal variations. Below we've organized them by politeness level in ascending order.

Casual:

  • よろしく。
  • Please be kind to me.

Casual:

  • どうぞよろしく。
  • Please be kind to me.

Polite:

  • よろしくおします。
  • Please be kind to me.

Polite/Business:

  • どうぞ、よろしくおします。
  • Please be kind to me.

Polite/Business:

  • よろしくお。
  • Please be kind to me.

Very Polite/Business:

  • どうぞ、よろしくお。
  • Please be kind to me.

Formal/Business:

  • よろしくお。
  • Please be kind to me.

Very Formal/Business:

  • どうぞ、よろしくお。
  • Please be kind to me.

Custom Jikoshoukai Modification

From here we get into the fun stuff. After expanding on the initial three pieces of the Japanese self-introduction, you can start adding information about yourself, short sentences that explain where you're from, what you like to do, and so on.

These jikoshoukai modifications will help people get to know you faster when you first introduce yourself. This is especially important as you start to make more Japanese friends, go on dates, or have job interviews.

Where You Are From

出身(しゅっしん)
person's origin

Telling where you're from is always a good addition to a self-intro. Even if you don't use it during the initial jikoshoukai, your new Japanese friend will probably ask you anyway, so memorizing a few of these phrases is extra useful.

Two quick vocabulary usage notes: First, the word shusshin mean's "person's origin," and refers more to the place you were born or grew up than where you currently live. It's often used for specific places like a city, state, or prefecture, rather than a country. For example, Mami was born in Osaka, and now lives in Canada. But she spent most of her life in Nara, so she says "のです。" or "はです。"

Second, the verb mairu is a more humble form of kuru or iku. So when is used to talk about where you came from in "アメリカから," it's much more humble, so use it in appropriate situations.

  • アメリカのです。
  • I'm from America.
  • アメリカから。
  • I'm from America.
  • アメリカから。
  • I'm from America.
  • オレゴンのポートランドから。ももポートランドです。
  • I'm from Portland, Oregon. Born and raised.
  • はですが、はです。
  • I was born in Osaka, but grew up in Tokyo.
  • はニューヨークです。
  • I grew up in New York.
  • で。
  • I grew up in the countryside.
  • はですが、のにに。そして、にに、に。
  • I was born in Tokyo, but moved to Osaka when I was ten, and lived there until I entered university, which is when I came to Nagoya.
  • 、がので、にはというのはないんです。
  • My family moved a lot when I was little, so I'm not really from anywhere.

Your School

大学(だいがく)
university, college

School, from elementary up through university, is a big part of Japanese life. Be prepared to have people ask alma mater and what you studied. Or cut them off at the pass by including the information in your jikoshoukai.

  • ⒶⒷⒸのです。
  • I graduated from the Ⓒ department of the faculty of Ⓑ of Ⓐ University.
  • ⒶⒷⒸのです。
  • I'm a student of the Ⓒ department of the faculty of Ⓑ of Ⓐ University.
  • ⒶⒷⒸのです。
  • I'm a second year student of the Ⓒ department of the faculty of Ⓑ of Ⓐ University.
  • オレゴンで、アジアのをしていました。
  • I studied East Asian history at Oregon university for two years.

Your Work

会社員(かいしゃいん)
company employee

Occupation is a common conversation topic when meeting someone new. If you're doing business in Japan (or want to), you'd better learn at least one of these phrases.

A quick grammar usage note: some of these jikoshoukai example sentences use the continuous state conjugation of suru which is shiteimasu. If you want to get extra polite with any of these sentences, swap out しています with shiteorimasu. One easy switch and you're ready to tell CEOs and presidents about your work situation.

  • Tofuguでをしています。
  • I'm the chief editor of Tofugu.
  • トヨタでをしています。
  • I'm working in sales at Toyota.
  • にになりました、です。
  • I'm Satou, assigned to the accounts department.
  • はです。
  • I'm an office worker.
  • はのです。
  • I'm an English teacher.
  • はを。
  • I teach English.
  • はこのでを。
  • I'm going to teach English at this school.
  • はフグでいます。
  • I'm working at East Fugu Elementary School.
  • はフグにいます。
  • I'm working for East Fugu Elementary School.

Where You Live

住む(すむ)
to live, to inhabit

"You live around here?" is a common question no matter the culture. Be ready to answer questions about your living situation with these sentences.

  • にいます。
  • I live in Tokyo.
  • のにいます。
  • I live near Tokyo station.
  • ののマンションにいます。
  • I live in an apartment near Tokyo station.

Hobbies and Proficiencies

趣味(しゅみ)
hobby, pastime

Hobbies are super important part of life in Japan. Japanese junior high and high school students take school club activities seriously (sometimes more than academics) and this passion often continues into adult life. If you have a hobby, that is your "thing." Even if you don't think of your interests as "hobbies," describe them as such anyway. It will help people understand you better. Alternatively, you can say what you like and don't like.

  • は[____]です。
  • My hobby is [____].
  • は[____]することです。
  • My hobby is to do [____]
  • [____]がです。
  • My hobby is [____].
  • [____]することがです。
  • My hobby is to do [____]
  • は[____]がです。
  • I like [____]
  • [____]もです。
  • I also like [____]
  • [____]はではありません。
  • I don't like [____]
  • は[____]することがです。
  • I like to do [____]
  • は[____]がです。
  • I'm good at [____].
  • は[____]することがです。
  • I'm good at doing [____].
  • は[____]がです。
  • I'm not good at/I don't like [____](noun)
  • は[____]することがです。
  • I'm not good at doing [____].

Plans for the Future

積もり(つもり)
intention, plan

What do you want to be when you grow up? What new skills are you trying to develop? What are you going to eat for lunch tomorrow? Answer these questions and more with the example sentences below.

Grammar usage note: the noun tsumori is used to tell what you plan to do. It's most commonly used in situations where you've already made up your mind. It's definite. Don't use it for instances where you're kind of maybe thinking about something, but you're not sure yet.

  • [____]ようといます。
  • I'm thinking about doing [____].
  • [____]したいといます。
  • I'd like to do [____].
  • [____]つもりです。
  • I'm thinking about doing [____].
  • のは[____]です。
  • My object is [____].
  • [____]にしたいといます。
  • I'd like to challenge [____].

Only the Beginning

Now you know what it takes to put together a stellar jikoshoukai in Japanese. Put the pieces together, mind the cultural differences, and practice till its second nature.

With a solid self-intro on your side, you're poised to start your relationships right. Just don't forget your business cards.

Hey!

You need to know how to introduce yourself in Japanese.

Reading is nice. Writing is good. Grammar studies are fine.

But most learners out there want to speak and be understood in Japanese. 

The easiest way to do it?

  • It’s to talk about yourself.
  • It’s to have a set introduction you’ll repeat again and again. Why?
  • Because who doesn’t start with introducing themselves? Everyone does.

Learn to introduce yourself in Japanese and you’ve got 1/3rd of a Japanese conversation squared away. The rest are topics of interest and closing greetings.

And if you’re interested you can learn with actual Audio & Video Lessons at JapanesePod101.com.


You can listen to this Japanese Lesson by JapanesePod101 that I mentioned above.

  • Japanese Introduction – First Impression

Just press the play button on the player below to listen.

If you want to read along, be sure to visit them at the link above. While you listen, scroll down to learn.

Contents

So, here’s what you’ll need for a self Japanese self introduction. 

I’ll give you two ways. The first one is a simple and easy one that most people use. It includes “my name is…” and “nice to meet you.” The second one is more lengthy where you can talk about yourself in more detail.

A. The first, quick way, to introduce yourself.

Everyone uses this. It’s used when meeting new people.

1. Nice to meet you

  • Japanese: 初めまして
  • English Pronunciation: Hajimemashite

This is how you say “nice to meet you” in Japanese. This word does not literally mean “nice to meet you” but it’s one of the many “set Japanese phrases” that are used without thinking. Literally, it means “begin.”

2. My name is (name). 

There can be several variations.

  • I am (name).
  • English Pronunciation: Watashi wa (name) desu.
  • Japanese: 私は (name) です。

Or, you can try this.

  • My name is (name).
  • English Pronunciation: Watashi no namae wa (name) desu –
  • Japanese: 私の名前は(name)です。

Finally, you can try the most casual way to introduce yourself in Japanese.

  • I’m (name)
  • English Pronunciation: (name) desu.
  • Japanese: (name)です。(Note: this is very casual)

Finally, you need this next final phrase.

3. Please treat me well

  • English Pronunciation: Yoroshiku onegaishimasu
  • Japanese: よろしくお願いします。

What in the world is “Please treat me well?” It is a rough translation and has no equivalent in English. This is simply a “Japanese set phrase” thatyou need to use in such encounters and first time meetings. Why? Because that’s how the Japanese language and culture work. Because politeness. And because why wouldn’t you be treating a new person well?

So, here’s your script you can use.

初めまして。私は (name) です。よろしくお願いします。
Hajimemashite. Watashi wa (name)  desu. Yoroshiku onegaishimasu.

B. The second way to introduce and talk about yourself.

In other words, this is your elevator pitch that you’ll use over and over when you need to talk about yourself. In Japanese, this is called a jikoshoukai (自己紹介) or self-introduction, that’s a lot more detailed than the method we used above. It’s often used in group settings when everyone has to say a little about themselves. For example, you’ll hear this at work events or group dates.

This second method is very useful to know because now you can talk about yourself.

  1. Hello,nice to meet you.
  2. My name is ……
  3. I am from …….
  4. I am …… years old.
  5. I am a (student/occupation).
  6. I’ve been learning Japanese for…
  7. I am learning Japanese because…
  8. Please treat me well.

Here’s how you introduce yourself in Japanese.

1. Hello, nice to meet you.

  • Hello – konnichiwa – こんにちは
  • Nice to meet you – Hajimemashite – 初めまして

2. My name is ……

3. I am from …….

  • (Place) kara kimashita. (Place) からきました。
  • Use it to say where you’re from.

Or, you can mention your ethnicity or nationality instead.

  • Amerikajin desu. アメリカ人です。
  •  I am American.

4. I am …… years old.

  • (age) sai desu. (age)歳です。

5. I am a (student/occupation).

  • (position) desu. (position)です。
    • I am a student: gakusei desu. 学生です。
  • Shigoto wa (job) desu. 私の仕事は(job) です。
    • My job is programming: Watash no shigoto wa puroguramingu desu.  仕事プログラミングです。
  • (Job) o shiteimasu. (Job)をしています。
    • Just means “I’m doing (job),” as if you’re answering “What do you do.”

6. I’ve been learning Japanese for…

  • (time)kan nihongo o benkyou shiteimasu.  (time)間日本語を勉強しています。
    • example: 1 year. Ichi nen kan nihongo o benkyou shiteimasu. 一年間日本語を勉強しています。

7. I am learning Japanese because…

  • (Reason) da/kara, nihongo o benkyoushiteimasu. (reason) だ/から、日本語をべんきょうしています。
    • example: Because you’re interested in Japan.
    • Nihon ni kyoumi ga aru kara, nihongo o benyoishiteimasu. 日本に興味があるから、日本語をべんきょうしています。

9. Please treat me well

  • Yoroshiku onegaishimasu – よろしくお願いします。

So, here’s your introduction script you might want to use.

こんにちは, 初めまして。私は (name) です。アメリカ人です。(age)歳です。仕事は(job) です。 (time)間日本語を勉強しています。 (reason) だ/から、日本語をべんきょうしています。よろしくお願いします。

Or, if you can’t read yet and just want to say it out loud:

Konnichiwa, Hajimemashite. Watashi wa (name) desu. Amerikajin desu. (age) sai desu. Shigoto wa (job) desu. (Time)kan nihongo o benkyou shiteimasu. (Reason) da/kara, nihongo o benkyoushiteimasu. Yoroshiku onegaishimasu.

Conclusion: Did you notice that I took out all of the “watashi wa” from most of the sentences? “Why? You should omit 90% of the “watashi’s” there to sound more natural. After you said it once, people understand you’re talking about yourself.

Here’s what you do now.

  1. Create your self introduction.
  2. Leave me a comment and introduce yourself.
  3. And start learning even more Japanese. I suggest trying out lessons at JapanesePod101.com.
  4. Want more? Learn how to say hello in Japanese
  5. Learn how to ask how are you in Japanese

– The Main Junkie

P.S. I highly recommend this for Japanese learners. If you REALLY want to learn to Japanese with effective lessons by real teachers – Sign up for free at JapanesePod101 (click here) and start learning!

 

Written by The Junkie

Linguajunkie is a junkie for languages. English, Japanese, Korean, Russian, German, Hebrew...with more on the way.

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