Writing E-mails in Japanese

Ever wonder about what etiquette to follow while writing an e-mail to a Japanese person? Ayumi Nagatomi, one of JCMU’s Japanese language instructors in Hikone, discusses quick tips on the “do”s and “don’t”s of composing messages in Japanese.


(Please use online tools such as Reading Tutor if you need some help in decoding expressions written in Japanese below.)

Have you ever written an e-mail in Japanese? Your e-mail may be seem concise, but yet, it might be unintentionally offensive to Japanese people. No matter how short your message may be, please check the following rules of thumb before clicking on the “send” button.

  1. Subject line

Does the subject line clarify the content at a glance? Avoid ambiguous subject line such as お願い. The addressee may be too busy to read all the emails he/she receives.

  1. Addressee’s name

Do NOT skip this part unless you are writing to a very close friend.

  1. Greeting

You should not start with 「おはようございます」「こんにちは」「こんばんは」as you cannot assume when the addressee gets to read your message.

  1. Body

When you are sending a file, do not forget to add a few words such as

[File X] をお送りします。

このメールに[File X] がついています。

  1. Conclusion

End with 「よろしくお願いします」 instead of 「ありがとうございます」 especially if you are asking a favor. It is not considered polite to thank him/her in advance.

  1. Your name

Don’t forget to include your name!

Of course, there are a myriad of things you need to consider, depending on the relationship with the addressee as well as the nature of your email. No matter what though, do not let emoji invade your message.

Happy writing, everyone!

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