Basics of Japanese: Self-Introductions
Now that you’ve learned the basics of hiragana and katakana, it’s time to learn how to actually speak! And what better topic than yourself? If you’re feeling a little unsure of how to pronounce some of these sounds, be sure to head back to Lesson 5 Pronunciation for a quick review!
Note: On this page, I will use the romaji spelling of Japanese words only once. This is to help encourage you to read in Japanese! When you encounter a word in hiragana or katakana, challenge yourself to read it. がんばって！(Ganbatte! Do your best!)
Self-introductions are called じこしょうかい (jikoshoukai). A typical じこしょうかい will include your name, age, nationality, and hobbies. And it’ll also include two more parts that aren’t really used in English. I’ll call these the “opening and closing lines”.
Opening and Closing Lines
You’ll soon learn that Japanese has many set phrases that are used in specific situations. There’s a special word for welcoming someone when they enter a store, announcing that you’re leaving for school/work, or saying thank you after a meal. じこしょうかい are no different.
1. はじめまして (hajimemashite): probably the most typical way to start your self-introduction. Once people hear はじめまして, they know a じこしょうかい is soon on the way. It’s kind of like a “how do you do”.
2. こんにちは (konnichiwa): of course, you could also start with a simple “hello” instead! It’s not as formal at はじめまして. Also, take a look at how it’s written in hiragana. You’ll notice it’s actually written as “konnichiha”. This is a special spelling. For now, just remember は [ha] is pronounced as わ [wa] for the word こんにちは.
There’s really only one option for a closer. It’s a bit of a doozy, but it’s a very useful phrase to know. It’s used in many, many more ways than just for self-introductions.
どうぞよろしくおねがいします (douzo yoroshiku onegai shimasu).
Talk about long, right?! In Japanese, the longer something is the more polite it ends up being. In this case, we can shorten this down.
よろしくおねがいします (yoroshiku onegai shimasu)
Just remember: longer = politer. If you’re introducing yourself to your new co-workers, you might be better off sticking with どうぞよろしくおねがいします or よろしくおねがいします!
Here’s the rest of the vocab you’ll need to know for this lesson:
Writing Your じこしょうかい
Here are the set phrases to learn. It’s actually very simple! Just fill in the blanks with the details that apply to you.
わたし は [your name] です。 (careful: は is pronounced as wa here!)
[your age] さい です。 (If you need a review on numbers, go here: Lesson 6 Numbers)
[Your country] じん です。(Almost every country is a katakana word. America = Amerika, Canada = Kanada, France = Furansu, etc.)
[Your hobby] が すき です。
Check Your Understanding
Here’s my じこしょうかい. Read and try to translate it!
わたし は カトリーナ です。
クッキング と ハイキング と ビデオゲーム が すき です。
Watashi wa Katoriina desu.
Kukkingu to haikingu to bideo geemu ga suki desu.
Yoroshiku onegai shimasu!
Check Your Translation
How do you do?
I am Katrina.
I like cooking and hiking and video games.
It’s nice to meet you!
Based off the translation, what do you think と [to] means?
Also, did you notice how in the English I use I, I, I all the time, but I only used わたし once in the Japanese? That’s because, in Japanese, once it’s obvious what the topic of the conversation is, you don’t need to keep repeating it! How easy, right?
So how’s your own じこしょうかい coming along? Leave a comment and try introducing yourself!