5 Unique (or Strange?) Commonly Used but Cannot Be Translated Japanese Phrases!

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5 Unique (or Strange?) Commonly Used but Cannot Be Translated Japanese Phrases!

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It is said that the language Japanese is having many polite and vague phrases, and when it comes to non-Japanese people, you’ll sure to stuck with understanding some phrases used just as custom, because some of them are really difficult to translate directly to English!

Here I pick up 5 Japanese phrases that are commonly used but cannot be translated directly to English. The phrases are used from young to old, so let’s learn them for practical use!

1. Otsukaresama Deshita(おつかれさまでした)

This phrase is mostly used after you finish working. The literally meaning of “Otsukaresama Deshita” is “Thank you for your hard work”.


There are more casual way of saying “Otsukaresama Deshita” as well!

-Otsasukaresama(おつかれさま): without “desu”. You can use it for colleagues getting along well and among your friends.
-Otsu(おつ) : This is super casual version but useful on social media! As this is very light word, please use this only to someone you are really close to.

2. Osewa ni Natteorimasu(おせわになっております)

This is the phrase mostly used in business scene. Literally it means ” I appreciate all you have done for me.” or “Thank you for taking care of me.”, but it doesn’t have such a serious meaning every time. Japanese people tend to use the phrase as custom because we say it even we do not know the the client very well.


The most used case is for business e-mail. After you write the recipient name, “Osewa ni Natteorimasu” has to be followed. Few people are feeling gratitude to the recipient when writing it, but this is one of the business manners in Japan. You cannot start talking without writing it!

However, if it’s inquiry or the first contact, it is a bit wired to use the phrase. Instead of “Osewa ni Natteorimasu”, you better to use “Hajimemashite (初めまして)” which means “Nice to meet you”.

3. Yoroshiku Onegaishimasu(よろしくおねがいします)

…To Apply

Those five phrases are really Japanese and difficult to translate, but very commonly used. By knowing the meaning of words, you might be able to get deeper understanding of Japanese mind!

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Been working in girls’ fashion magazines for a long time and am now the chief editor of Tokyo Girls’ Update. I have more expertise in Japanese teen fashion than anyone else (probably)! I’m a huge fan of the Revolutionary Girl Utena and Bakemonogatari animes.

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