What? Sayonara means “Goodbye” in Japanese right? What are you talking about! Well it’s true that Sayonara does mean “farewell” in Japanese, but, it’s not just a casual “cya” or “bye” it has a much more intense meaning.

Native Japanese do not use “SAYOUNARA” unfortunately…

JapaneseRomajiEnglish (and Explanation)
行って来ますItte kimasuI’m leaving
お先に失礼しますOsaki ni shitsurei shimasuExcuse me, I’m leaving first
じゃあねjaa neSee you
バイバイbai baiBye bye
元気でGenki deAll the best
またねMata neSee you again
あばよAbayoFarewell

Sayonara is one of those words that everybody knows! It’s the word you hear your not so cool uncle using as he leaves the family party. Yes it really is known around the world much like “Adios” and “Auf Wiedersehen”. When most people think of Sayonara they think of a nice friendly greeting to say “see you later” but this is not the case.

The Actual meaning of Sayonara

Sayonara is hardly ever used by native speakers of Japanese. This is because they rarely come into the situation where they would need to use this type of goodbye. Using Sayonara gives the impression that you will not be seeing that person again, at least not for a very long time.

Therefore, if you have been using Sayonara in your daily conversations, you are implying that you won’t be coming into contact with your friends, teachers, co-workers anytime soon.

So, when Is the perfect situation to se sayonara you ask?

Well, firstly imagine you are at the airport and you are seeing someone off. This is the perfect time to use Sayonara as you are either not going to be seeing that person again for a long time or even at all.

What if you and your girlfriend have just broken up, and not on good terms? You could use sayonara here because, odds are, you really don’t want to see them again.

Imagine running a race and passing your competition, saying sayonara at this point would be a really funny, tongue-in-cheek way to taunt them, implying that you won’t be seeing them again.

Other Japanese Greeting video

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Other ways to say goodbye In Japanese

Guys, don’t worry! There are lots of other ways to say goodbye in Japanese that are less permanent! Let’s take a look now at some of those various other ways to say goodbye in Japanese.

行って来ます  Itte kimasu I’m leaving

You can use this phrase if you are about to go somewhere, intending to come back to that same place. If you go from your house to the shops and back or from work to a meeting and back, this is the perfect “see you real soon” type expression

お先に失礼しますOsaki ni shitsurei shimasu  Excuse me, I’m leaving first

Now this goodbye is a little bit more formal, perfect for use in a formal setting such as a meeting or family dinner. You can also use Shitsurei Shimasu as a standalone phrase too.

じゃあね (jaa ne) See you

This is a really nice informal goodbye to use with your friends, more like “see you”. Leaving a party, day out with your friends or saying goodbye to your mom. This is a great phrase to use in many informal situations. It’s very playful, friendly and super common in Japan, so make sure to get used to using it.

バイバイ bai bai Bye bye

Recognise this one? Sure, you do! This is stolen directly from the English BYE BYE so your pronunciation should already be top-notch for this one. Again, this is pretty informal so use with caution and lookout for the correct opportunities to use this Japanese farewell.

元気で Genki de  All the best

If you are wanting to wish someone all the best, then “Genki de ne” is the correct phrase to use. Say goodbye and at the same time wish them well with this awesome little phrase. It is quite informal and should not be used in formal situations.

またね Mata ne See you again

Mata ne is arguable the most popular phrases and is certainly used a lot in anime too. This informal farewell would be best used saying goodbye to a friend or family member but could also be used with if you are on good terms with teachers and acquaintances. It’s the more formal of the informal goodbyes

あばよ Abayo Farewell

Abayo is quite a comical and eccentric way to say goodbye in Japanese. Odds are, if you use this with Japanese native, they will have a quiet chuckle to themselves as they will be surprised that you know and are using the word. Imagine it a bit like farewell in English.  

A lot of Japanese people feel that sayonara is quite a cold word, so you should really think carefully about who you use it with and in what situation.

Thanks for reading today’s online Japanese lesson guys, see you again next time! Sayo… Mata ne.

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