Wishing you good cheer in the New Year!


How do you welcome the New Year?  

The beginning of a new year is a time to reflect on the year gone by, and make plans for the future. Some people go to shrines and temples, hoping to change our lives for the better.  We tip a glass of sake or wine with our family.

During this special time of the year, we give and receive warm greetings to our loved ones. These inspiring messages will be especially important as we express our hopes and dreams for better days ahead in 2022 after surviving the challenging year of 2021!



There are many お正月 (Oshogatsu) New Year’s phrases in Japan, but what phrases are there to use as greetings?

Today, I would like to introduce two phrases, one commonly used at the end of the year and the other at the beginning of the year, and why they are used at those times.



( Yoi otoshi wo! )


( Yoi otoshi wo omukae kudasai!) 


The phrase「よいお年を」 “Good New Year” is an abbreviation of the phrase 「よいお年をお迎えください」 “Please have a good New Year.” However, when greeting your superiors at the end of the year in business situations, it is common to politely say 「よいお年をお迎えください」instead of abbreviating it to「よいお年を」.

If you have been using this phrase in the sense of “Have a good New Year,” did you know that there is a difference in perception from the original meaning? As the end of the year is a hectic time with many events, the phrase is used in the sense of “I hope you will finish your various events and complete your preparations for a good new year.  It also expresses the feeling of “Let’s work hard at the busy year-end season and welcome a happy new year.”

For the above reasons, the greeting「よいお年を」is usually not used on 大晦日 (Omisoka) – December 31.

It is not necessary to say 「よいお年を」on December 31 because the New Year’s preparations should have already been made. The appropriate time to say this phrase is from mid-December to December 30. However, sometimes people say it on New Year’s Eve accidently and it might make the other person uncomfortable.  But they have no offense intended.

When greeting people on New Year’s Eve you can always use the safe phrase:



(Rainen mo yoroshiku onegai-shimasu.)

“I look forward to seeing you again next year”. 



( Akemashite omedetou gozaimasu! )


明けましておめでとうございます」”Happy New Year!” is a phrase that is often used as a New Year’s greeting. It is a phrase that expresses congratulations on successfully passing the year and welcoming the new year. It has become a standard phrase you can see on New Year’s greetings and New Year’s cards.

明けまして」refers to the end of one period or one state and the beginning of the next. In other words, 「明けましておめでとうございます」means that the last year has ended and the new year has just begun anew.  And it also expresses our feelings of quiet and holy celebration of the New Year.

The time to say this phrase is during  松の内 (Matsunouchi), when the gods of the year come and stay in each of our houses.  In Japan, this period during the New Year’s holiday is when New Year’s decorations such as 門松 (kadomatsu), the special decoration using pine trees (matsu) is displayed to welcome the gods. The end of Matsunouchi is when the gods of the year leave the house, so we put away the New Year’s decorations.

The New Year’s holiday differs from region to region, and in the Kanto region it is until January 7, while in the Kansai region it is until January 15.



Some casual ways to say Happy New Year to your friends in Japan

In more casual settings, that is to say between friends or among young people:


あけおめ!ことよろ !」 (Ake ome! Koto yoro!) can be heard quite frequently.

It simply is a shorter version of “あけましておめでとうございます。今年もよろしくお願いします

(Akemashite omedetō gozaimasu. Kotoshimo yoroshiku onegai shimasu).

“Happy New Year! I look forward to seeing you again this year.”


In Conclusion

When greeting the Japanese people around you for the New Year’s holidays, why not express your gratitude for last year and greetings for this year in Japanese with all your heart?




May your days be merry and bright★