japanese kanji for happy birthday

What Is The Japanese Kanji For Happy Birthday? | How To Say Happy Birthday In Japanese?  

Jun 05, 2024Shopify API

The Japanese kanji for happy birthday is お誕生日おめでとうございます" (O-tanjoubi omedetou gozaimasu). In this article, we breakdown this phrase and also learn how to say happy birthday in Japanese.

Celebrating birthdays is a universal tradition that brings people together in joy and celebration. In Japan, like many other countries, birthdays hold a special place in people's hearts. 

While there are various ways to express birthday wishes in Japanese, one of the most elegant and culturally rich methods is through the use of kanji characters. 

In this article, we will explore the Japanese kanji for "happy birthday" and delve into the significance and beauty of these characters.

Japanese Kanji For Happy Birthday Is お誕生日おめでとうございます

In Japanese, "Happy Birthday" is typically expressed as "お誕生日おめでとうございます" (O-tanjoubi omedetou gozaimasu). This phrase can be written in kanji as:

  • 誕生日 (Tanjoubi): This means "birthday." The first character, "誕" (tan), signifies "birth," and the second character, "生" (sei), means "life." Together, they represent the celebration of the day one came into the world.
  • おめでとう (Omedetou): This is a congratulatory expression that conveys well-wishes and congratulations. While it can be written in kanji, it is more commonly written in hiragana to maintain a more informal and warm tone.
  • ございます (Gozaimasu): This is a polite ending particle, which adds formality and respect to the message. It is often used when addressing someone you are not very familiar with or in a formal setting.
Japanese Kanji For Happy Birthday Is お誕生日おめでとうございます

How To Say Happy Birthday In Japanese?

In Japan, expressing birthday wishes is a heartfelt tradition, and there are several ways to say "Happy Birthday."

The most common and formal way to convey birthday greetings is by using the phrase "お誕生日おめでとうございます" (O-tanjoubi omedetou gozaimasu). Here's a breakdown of how to pronounce and use this phrase:

  • O-tanjoubi (お誕生日): This is the word for "birthday." It is pronounced "oh-tahn-joh-bee." Pay attention to the pronunciation of "tanjoubi," which has a long "o" sound at the beginning and a short "o" sound in the middle.
  • Omedetou (おめでとう): This is the congratulatory part of the phrase. It is pronounced "oh-meh-deh-toh." Again, notice the long "o" sound at the beginning.
  • Gozaimasu (ございます): This is a polite ending particle that adds formality to the phrase. It is pronounced "goh-zah-ee-mahs." It's important to use "gozaimasu" to show respect and politeness, especially when addressing someone older or in a formal setting.

Putting it all together, "お誕生日おめでとうございます" (O-tanjoubi omedetou gozaimasu) is the complete and respectful way to wish someone a happy birthday in Japanese.

If you are in a more casual or familiar setting, you can simply say "お誕生日おめでとう" (O-tanjoubi omedetou) to convey birthday wishes without the extra formality of "gozaimasu." This is a warm and friendly way to wish someone a happy birthday among friends or family.

Breaking Down The Components In お誕生日おめでとうございます

Breaking down the components of the kanji phrase "お誕生日おめでとうございます" (O-tanjoubi omedetou gozaimasu) helps to understand the individual meanings and elements within the expression:

  • お (O): This is an honorific prefix commonly used in Japanese. It is added to words to show respect and politeness. In the context of "お誕生日," it adds a sense of formality to the word "birthday."
  • 誕生日 (Tanjoubi): This is the core of the phrase, and it means "birthday." Let's break down the characters within it:
    • 誕 (Tan): This character means "birth" or "to be born." It represents the act of coming into the world.
    • 生 (Sei): This character means "life" or "to live." It signifies the state of being alive.
    • 日 (Bi): This character means "day." When combined with the previous two characters, it represents the special day of one's birth.
  • おめでとう (Omedetou): This part of the phrase is a congratulatory expression used to convey well-wishes. Breaking it down:
    • お (O): As mentioned earlier, this is an honorific prefix.
    • めでたい (Medetai): This word means "auspicious" or "joyous." It is used to express happiness and congratulations.
  • ございます (Gozaimasu): This is a polite ending particle that adds formality and respect to the entire expression. It is used to address someone you are not very familiar with or in formal situations. 

The breakdown of this component is as follows:

  • ご (Go): Another honorific prefix, like "お," used for politeness.
  • ざい (Zai): This part comes from the verb "ある" (aru), which means "to exist" or "to be." In this context, it makes the phrase more polite and respectful.
  • ます (Masu): A common ending in Japanese that also adds politeness to the sentence.

So, when you break down the components of "お誕生日おめでとうございます," you find that it is a respectful and formal expression that combines honorific prefixes, words related to birth and celebration, and polite endings to convey a heartfelt message of congratulations on the special day of one's birth. 

This phrase beautifully captures the sentiment of wishing someone a happy birthday in a culturally significant and respectful manner.

The Cultural Significance of Celebrating Birthdays in Japan

In Japan, birthdays are celebrated with various customs and traditions, each with its own unique meaning. Some common customs include:

  • Oseibo: Gifting: It is customary to give gifts to express gratitude and well-wishes. These gifts often include items such as food, clothing, or household goods.
  • Eating Birthday Cake: Just like in many other countries, birthday cakes are a popular tradition in Japan. Families often gather to celebrate with a cake adorned with candles.
  • Age-Specific Celebrations: Certain birthdays hold special significance in Japan. For example, the "Coming of Age Day" (Seijin no Hi) celebrates the transition from adolescence to adulthood when a person turns 20.


The Japanese kanji for "Happy Birthday" carries deep meaning and is a beautiful way to convey your well-wishes and celebrate a loved one's special day. Beyond its linguistic significance, it reflects the rich cultural heritage of Japan and the importance of tradition and symbolism in daily life. 

So, the next time you want to wish someone a happy birthday in Japanese, consider using these kanji characters to make your message even more special and meaningful.

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