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How To Say Happy Birthday In Japanese?

how to say happy birthday in japanese

Here’s how to say happy birthday in Japanese. Check it out!

Want to surprise a friend with a special greeting? Learning how to say ‘Happy Birthday’ in Japanese is a thoughtful gesture. Discover the phrase and its pronunciation, along with cultural insights on birthday celebrations in Japan, to make your message memorable and heartfelt.

How To Say Happy Birthday In Japanese?

To say “Happy Birthday” in Japanese, you can use the phrase “お誕生日おめでとうございます” (Otanjoubi omedetou gozaimasu), which is pronounced as “oh-tahn-joh-bee oh-meh-deh-toh goh-zai-mahs.”

How To Wish Someone Happy Birthday In Japanese

We learned how birthdays are a common celebration in Japan nowadays so now it’s time to learn how to say “Happy Birthday” to your Japanese friend or partner. Below are some of the effortless and best ways to say happy birthday in Japanese. 

How To Wish Someone Happy Birthday In JapanesePronunciation Used In
誕生日Tanjobi Mostly used in casual contexts (between friends and colleagues)
おたんじょうびおめでとうございますO tanjō biomedetōgozaimasuFormal context (with elders / senior officials, a person in a higher status, etc)
おたんじょうびおめでとうO tanjo biomedetoUsed in casual contexts
はっぴーばーすでーHappi BaasudeCan be used by beginners to the Japanese language and predominantly used in casual contexts
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Another way to wish someone happy birthday in Japanese is by mentioning their age. This is done by saying “sai no o tanjō biomedetō” (さいのおたんじょうびおめでとう) however the age must be mentioned before the entire phrase is uttered.

For example, if your Japanese friend is celebrating his/her 25th birthday you can wish them by saying “Ni-ju-go sai no o tanjō biomedetō” (25歳の誕生日おめでとう) which means “Happy 25th Birthday”.

This type of Japanese birthday wish is mainly used in casual contexts, especially with people who you’re close with. In addition, make sure you know how old your friends are turning to get your birthday wish delivered right.

You can watch the video below to learn how to effortlessly say Happy Birthday in Japanese.

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Are Birthdays Celebrated In Japan?

Before we learn how to say “Happy Birthday” in Japanese, we must know if birthdays are actually celebrated in Japan. By knowing so we can avoid any awkward or embarrassing moments before making attempts to wish a Japanese person on their birthday. 

We all are aware that celebrating birthdays is an event that was founded by the West and the Eastern culture wasn’t particularly known to give significance to a person’s birthday.

Since Japan is also part of the Eastern world, the Japanese people historically aren’t renowned for celebrating their birthdays. 

However, as the Western influence started taking over the world, birthdays became significant and a can’t-miss event across most parts of the world, including Japan as well. 

Gradually, the people in Japan incorporated the practice of celebrating birthdays and it became a regular event in Japanese traditions nowadays. 

Although celebrating birthdays became a tradition in Japan after Westernization, the Japanese people followed a contrary routine to the West when celebrating a person’s birthday.

The Japanese celebrated their birthdays on New Year’s day marking how everyone begins their new age on a new year and it used to be a shared birthday event where everybody would gather and give gifts to each other.  

Over time, the tradition altered to celebrate individual birthdays and on the exact date of a person’s birthday. And today several Japanese people mark their birthdays on their specific birthday dates by either throwing a small party or having a family gathering. 

How Are Birthdays Celebrated In Japan?

Birthdays are celebrated distinctly across the world. People living in the Western world, if they can afford it, are renowned for throwing lavish birthday parties held at exotic locations which are attended by a massive crowd of friends, family members, and peers. 

In the interim, people in the East either have low-key birthday parties or don’t celebrate birthdays quite often. And in Japan, birthdays are celebrated in a simple manner that most people would fail to notice if it’s actually someone’s birthday.  

If you’ve been to Japan or have Japanese friends you’ll know that the Japanese people don’t overspend. They like to keep things simple and chic thus they don’t hold extravagant birthday parties. 

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In most cases, birthdays in Japan are celebrated by inviting close friends and families to the house where delicious homemade food is served. 

Or birthdays are celebrated in dine-in restaurants and the person celebrating would invite his/her friends and colleagues to the restaurant where they would pay for the meal.

If you’re invited to a Japanese birthday party either at home or to a restaurant, make sure to wish the birthday boy or girl and offer them a gift. Although they don’t expect any gifts, it’s considered a courtesy to wish them and make them feel special on their day.

Special Milestone Birthday Celebrations In Japan

While birthdays are celebrated every year in the West, most Japanese people celebrate birthdays based on specific age milestones. 

This is done to commemorate the important stages of life and how far a person has managed to come in life. 

Let’s take a look at which age milestones are considered crucial in Japanese traditions.

1st Age Milestone

The first birthdays are always a specialty in Japanese households. To mark the first birthday of the child, Japanese parents make their baby hold or trample a rice cake.

It’s also a popular Japanese practice to let the baby choose an item that lets the parent envision their child’s future profession.

For instance, if the baby chooses a pen then it suggests that he/she is going to become a writer or if a calculator is selected then the baby will go on to become an accountant in the future.

20th Age Milestone

Like how “Sweet 16” is a popular age milestone for women in the West, the Japanese have the 20th age milestone to celebrate the coming of age of an adult. 

The 20th age birthday celebration in Japan is called “Seijin no hi” and is generally celebrated by throwing an ordinary party where relatives and friends attend and offer gifts.

60th Age Milestone

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After a person reaches the age of 60, they’re considered fortunate in the Japanese culture. 

This is because the Japanese believe that rebirth begins after 60 and it’s celebrated by wearing a red dress because red signifies good luck in the Eastern culture.

70th Age Milestone

Celebrating the 70th birthday is also a special milestone because it signifies how far a person has come in life. When a person reaches 70 years it’s considered to be their “joyous or happy year”.

88th Age Milestone

The 88th birthday in Japanese traditions is regarded as remarkable because it’s called the “Rice birthday”. 

This is because the number 88 looks like grains of rice and rice is a crucial symbol in Japanese culture.

99th Age Milestone

It’s quite rare for a person to make it to 99, however, the 99th birthday in Japan is celebrated by everybody wearing white and offering gifts related to long life to the birthday individual.

How do you wish someone a happy birthday in Japanese?

One of the most formal ways to wish someone a happy birthday in Japanese is by saying “O tanjo biomedeto” (おたんじょうびおめでとう). Another formal way of wishing happy birthday in Japanese is by saying “O tanjō biomedetōgozaimasu” (おたんじょうびおめでとうございます), this will make you sound polite and respectful.

How do you say happy birthday in Japanese informal?

One of the effortless and shortest ways to say Happy birthday in Japanese informally is “Tanjobi” (誕生日). Another way to casually wish your friend or colleague happy birthday in Japanese is by saying “O tanji biomedeto” (おたんじょうびおめでとう). If you’re unable to pronounce Japanese words properly you can wish your Japanese friend by saying “Happi Baasude” (はっぴーばーすでー).

How do you say happy birthday to your boyfriend in Japanese?

Since a boyfriend is an intimate partner it’d be ideal to wish them informally in Japanese. One of the casual and informal ways to say happy birthday to a significant other in Japanese is saying “O tanji biomedeto” (おたんじょうびおめでとう). If you prefer to keep it short you can say “Tanjobi” (誕生日).

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