You’ve heard “goodbye” in Japanese in movies or TV shows enough to know it by heart: さようなら (sayounara).
Yes, さようなら (sayounara) is goodbye in Japanese in the literal sense. But, unlike what Hollywood would have you believe, Japanese people almost never use it. In fact, it can lead to a bit of confusion or awkwardness if you end your conversation with さようなら.
The reason is さようなら is like saying “goodbye forever.” It’s almost as formal as saying “farewell” in Japanese, with a stronger sense of finality. On Japanese TV shows, the only time you hear it is if someone is saying goodbye to a loved one who passed away, or to someone they will never see again. So, it’s very strong. In fact, younger generations in Japan say they never use the word at all because it makes them feel sad.
So what’s the best way to say goodbye in Japanese? It depends on the situation. There are a few ways that are almost always acceptable, while other set Japanese phrases are best for situations like saying goodbye to colleagues at work.
Let’s learn how to say goodbye in Japanese… the natural way!
1. “See ya” in Japanese – Ja ne
The most common, natural way to say goodbye in Japanese is actually to say じゃあね (Ja ne, “See ya!”).
For a language that prides itself on formality, this may seem a bit casual, but think about how you say goodbye in English most of the time. Most often, it’s to friends and family, or coworkers at the same level as you. You would say “see ya” to them, but to a boss, you might say “I'm clocking out now. I'll be in tomorrow at 8.” as a way of goodbye. The same is true in Japanese.
This phrase is most common because you say it often to those closest to you. But, you wouldn’t say it to your boss or teacher. There are other phrases that are more formal for that.
2. “Bye” in Japanese – Baibai
This one is easy: バイバイ (baibai, “bye bye”). It’s said the same as in English, and it's another common, casual way to say goodbye. It’s used more often by women, though, to sound かわいい (kawaii, “cute”).
3. “See you later” in Japanese – Mate ne
A slight variation on じゃあね is またね (mata ne) or じゃあまたね (ja mata ne). This means “Later” in Japanese, or “Well, see you later!”
Again, it’s casual, so you’ll use it with friends, family, and people in your same social circle. But it’s very natural, and you’ll hear it often.
You can say ではまたね (dewa mata ne) or また近いうちにね (mata chikai uchi ni ne) for “See you soon” in Japanese. But またね essentially means the same thing, and it's used both as “see you later” and “see you soon.”
4. “See you tomorrow” in Japanese – Mata ashita
To be more specific when you’ll see someone next, you can add the “when.” For “See you tomorrow!” in Japanese, you say また明日 (mata ashita).
You can change 明日 to whenever you’ll see them next, like また来週 (mata raishuu, “See you next week”). Similarly, you could say “Until then” with それまで、じゃあね (Sore made, ja ne).
5. “I’m leaving” in Japanese – Itte kimasu
There’s a specific way to say goodbye when you’re leaving your house: 行って来ます (itte kimasu), which translates to “I’ll go and come back” or “I’ll be back.” When someone says this to you when they leave, the proper response back is 行ってらっしゃい (itterasshai). It means “go and come back safely” or “be safe!”
It’s not really formal or informal, but you usually only say it when leaving your own home.
6. “Excuse me for leaving before you” – Osaki ni shitsureshimasu
Here’s your formal phrase for leaving work. You’ll say this to your boss and coworkers, and it’s always polite. When you leave work, say お先に失礼します (osaki ni shitsureshimasu). It means “excuse me for leaving before you.”
It’s said as an apology for leaving any work left to those staying behind, but even if the work's finished and others are still there, you say this. It’s just polite. If you’re talking to your coworkers, you can then add じゃあね or また明日.
7. “Thank you for your hard work” – Otsukaresama deshita
Yes, this is a way to say goodbye in Japanese! When someone says お先に失礼します, you say goodbye by replying お疲れ様でした (otsukaresama deshita). It stems from the word 疲れた (tsukareta), meaning “tired.” So the whole phrase translates to something like “you must be tired.” But it’s really used to say “thank you for your hard work” or “good job.”
In fact, you can use the casual form お疲れ (otsukare) to tell someone “good job” or “wow, you worked hard.” For instance, if a friend told you they spoke Japanese for a whole day, their brain might feel a bit weary after all that! So you say “お疲れ” to acknowledge they worked hard until fatigued, and that they did well.
8. “Thank you for everything” – Osewa ni narimasu
Another business expression to use as a goodbye phrase. This one is best when talking to a client or someone at work who has helped you.
お世話になります (osewa ni narimasu) translates as “thank you for everything” but has a nuance of “thank you for taking care of me and supporting me” as well. If someone helped you with a big task at work, you would definitely make sure to thank them with お世話になります or お世話になりました (osewa ni narimashita, past tense) before you leave for the day.
But, there’s a more formal phrase you use when thanking a client for their continued business. It’s いつもお世話になっております (itsumo osewa ni natte orimasu). This is the humblest form of speech, and means “thank you always for your continued support.” You’d use this to end a phone call with a client, or at the end of a business meeting, as a way of goodbye.
9. “Take care” in Japanese – Ki wo tsukete
To say “take care” in Japanese, you would use 気を付けて (ki wo tsukete). It also has a meaning of “be safe.” It’s appropriate in almost all situations, and it’s often used as a goodbye to say “Be careful going home.” You might use this one more often if, say, you’re parting ways late at night or the weather isn’t great.
10. “Stay well” – O-genki de
Another way to say goodbye in Japanese that can be used in most situations is お元気で (o-genki de). It means “stay well” or “all the best.”
It’s a bit on the formal side, although you can still say it with friends, especially if you may not see them for a little bit. It’s common to say this as a goodbye when leaving for a vacation or holiday break, to anyone you might not see for a few weeks, or if it’s flu season and you’re wishing someone to stay healthy.
11. “Get well soon” in Japanese – Odaiji ni
Like お元気で, you can use お大事に (odaiji ni) as a parting expression. お大事に means “Get well soon” or “Feel better soon” in Japanese. If you visited the doctor because you’re sick, the doctor would say this instead of goodbye. Plus, you can use this with friends, coworkers, or anyone who is leaving because they don’t feel well, or to end a phone conversation with someone under the weather.
12. “Thank you for having me over” – Ojama shimashita
When you arrive at someone’s home in Japan, it’s polite to say お邪魔します (ojama shimasu). It literally means “I’m bothering you,” but it's used to say “excuse me for intruding.” You say it no matter the circumstances when entering someone else’s home, even if the visit is planned and they’re expecting you.
The same is true when you leave! You use the same expression in past tense to say goodbye: お邪魔しました (ojama shimashita). Even though it still means “I bothered you,” the more accurate translation to English would be “thank you for having me over!” So always make sure to thank your host with this phrase as a way to say goodbye.
13. “Farewell” in Japanese – Saraba
In Japanese, you might say さらば (saraba) or お別れ (owakare) for “farewell,” but it’s almost never used. About the only way you hear “farewell” is in the word 送別会 (soubetsukai, “farewell party.” Soubetsu refers to the farewell parting itself, not the saying).
The closest word would actually be さようなら because it has the same sense of finality that “farewell” has in English.
14. “Have a good day” in Japanese – Tanoshinde ne
You could say よい一日をお過ごしください (Yoi tsuitachi wo o-sugoshi kudasai) for “have a good day” in Japanese. But, it’s not very common to say this. It’s much more natural to say 楽しんでね (tanoshinde ne) or 楽しんできてね (tanoshinde kite ne), both of which mean “have fun.”
You can use this expression in the same way you would “have a good day” in English, but it sounds more like natural Japanese than よい一日をお過ごしください.
How Will You Say “Goodbye” in Japanese?
Which phrases will you use to say goodbye? Did I miss any you use to part ways in Japanese? Let me hear them below in the comments!
Now that you know how to end your conversation, are you ready to find a language exchange partner? Or how about mastering the core 101 Japanese words to level up your skills fast? I’d love to hear what you want to learn next on your Japanese language journey!
皆さん、頑張ってね! (“Good luck, everyone!”)
And finally... One of the best ways to learn a new language is with podcasts. Read more about how to use podcasts to learn a language.