Learn How To Say Happy Birthday In Japanese

13 September 2022Shopify API

Here’s how to say happy birthday in Japanese. Check it out!

Want to wish your Japanese colleague or significant other on their birthday in Japanese? Well, check out our article below as we’ve brought you some of the heartfelt ways to say Happy Birthday in Japanese!

Birthdays are one of the most significant events in our lives and we can’t miss our close friends' birthdays without wishing them or throwing them a surprise party. Even if you don’t throw a surprise party for your close mates, you definitely have to wish them on their special day.

Of course, different cultures have different perspectives when it comes to birthdays. While some cultures are known for having lavish birthday parties, there are some who like to keep it low-key.

 However, wishing someone on their birthday is a tradition most people follow around the world. 

And today we’ll be learning how to say Happy Birthday in Japanese. So hang on and read along.

How To Say Happy Birthday In Japanese?

How To Wish Someone Happy Birthday In Japanese

We learned how birthdays are a common celebration in Japan nowadays so now it’s time to learn how to say “Happy Birthday” to your Japanese friend or partner. Below are some of the effortless and best ways to say happy birthday in Japanese. 

How To Wish Someone Happy Birthday In Japanese Pronunciation  Used In
誕生日 Tanjobi  Mostly used in casual contexts (between friends and colleagues)
おたんじょうびおめでとうございます O tanjō biomedetōgozaimasu Formal context (with elders / senior officials, a person in a higher status, etc)
おたんじょうびおめでとう O tanjo biomedeto Used in casual contexts
はっぴーばーすでー Happi Baasude Can be used by beginners to the Japanese language and predominantly used in casual contexts

Another way to wish someone happy birthday in Japanese is by mentioning their age. This is done by saying “sai no o tanjō biomedetō” (さいのおたんじょうびおめでとう) however the age must be mentioned before the entire phrase is uttered.

For example, if your Japanese friend is celebrating his/her 25th birthday you can wish them by saying “Ni-ju-go sai no o tanjō biomedetō” (25歳の誕生日おめでとう) which means “Happy 25th Birthday”.

This type of Japanese birthday wish is mainly used in casual contexts, especially with people who you’re close with. In addition, make sure you know how old your friends are turning to get your birthday wish delivered right.

You can watch the video below to learn how to effortlessly say Happy Birthday in Japanese.

Are Birthdays Celebrated In Japan?

Before we learn how to say “Happy Birthday” in Japanese, we must know if birthdays are actually celebrated in Japan. By knowing so we can avoid any awkward or embarrassing moments before making attempts to wish a Japanese person on their birthday. 

We all are aware that celebrating birthdays is an event that was founded by the West and the Eastern culture wasn’t particularly known to give significance to a person’s birthday.

Since Japan is also part of the Eastern world, the Japanese people historically aren’t renowned for celebrating their birthdays. 

However, as the Western influence started taking over the world, birthdays became significant and a can’t-miss event across most parts of the world, including Japan as well. 

Gradually, the people in Japan incorporated the practice of celebrating birthdays and it became a regular event in Japanese traditions nowadays. 

Although celebrating birthdays became a tradition in Japan after Westernization, the Japanese people followed a contrary routine to the West when celebrating a person’s birthday.

The Japanese celebrated their birthdays on New Year’s day marking how everyone begins their new age on a new year and it used to be a shared birthday event where everybody would gather and give gifts to each other.  

Over time, the tradition altered to celebrate individual birthdays and on the exact date of a person’s birthday. And today several Japanese people mark their birthdays on their specific birthday dates by either throwing a small party or having a family gathering.

How Are Birthdays Celebrated In Japan?

Birthdays are celebrated distinctly across the world. People living in the Western world, if they can afford it, are renowned for throwing lavish birthday parties held at exotic locations which are attended by a massive crowd of friends, family members, and peers. 

In the interim, people in the East either have low-key birthday parties or don’t celebrate birthdays quite often. And in Japan, birthdays are celebrated in a simple manner that most people would fail to notice if it's actually someone’s birthday.  

If you’ve been to Japan or have Japanese friends you’ll know that the Japanese people don’t overspend. They like to keep things simple and chic thus they don’t hold extravagant birthday parties. 

In most cases, birthdays in Japan are celebrated by inviting close friends and families to the house where delicious homemade food is served. 

Or birthdays are celebrated in dine-in restaurants and the person celebrating would invite his/her friends and colleagues to the restaurant where they would pay for the meal.

If you’re invited to a Japanese birthday party either at home or to a restaurant, make sure to wish the birthday boy or girl and offer them a gift. Although they don’t expect any gifts, it’s considered a courtesy to wish them and make them feel special on their day.

How Is Age Calculated In Japan?

It’s crucial to know the age of a person before you wish them on their birthday, especially if you’re going to mention their age while wishing. 

We all are aware that the people in the West calculate the age of a newborn baby starting from 0. And the baby is only considered age 1 after completing one whole year after birth.

On the other hand, it was a traditional practice in Japan to calculate the age of the baby from the year the infant was born. For instance, a newborn baby is regarded to be age 1 from the year of birth in Japan and this tradition is called (数え年) “Kazoedoshi”.

This is why it used to be an accustomed tradition in Japan to celebrate birthdays during the beginning of the New Year and not on the specific birthday date of a person.

However, most youngsters in Japan nowadays celebrate their birthdays individually and also calculate their age based on Western practices.

How To Throw A Birthday Party In Japan?

If you’re visiting Japan or are currently residing there and you want to throw a birthday party then you might want to do it the Japanese way. We discussed how the Japanese people aren’t fans of throwing lavish parties therefore make sure to keep your birthday party simple yet elegant. 

You can do this by either inviting your friends and colleagues to your place and offering them cake and other delicious food or by taking them out to a dine-in restaurant and paying for the meals they choose to have. 

Make sure not to play loud music, scream or create unwanted noise because the Japanese are well-mannered people and they wouldn’t prefer making a scene and disturbing others.

Special Milestone Birthday Celebrations In Japan

While birthdays are celebrated every year in the West, most Japanese people celebrate birthdays based on specific age milestones. 

This is done to commemorate the important stages of life and how far a person has managed to come in life. 

Let’s take a look at which age milestones are considered crucial in Japanese traditions.

1st Age Milestone

The first birthdays are always a specialty in Japanese households. To mark the first birthday of the child, Japanese parents make their baby hold or trample a rice cake.

It’s also a popular Japanese practice to let the baby choose an item that lets the parent envision their child’s future profession.

For instance, if the baby chooses a pen then it suggests that he/she is going to become a writer or if a calculator is selected then the baby will go on to become an accountant in the future.

20th Age Milestone

Like how “Sweet 16” is a popular age milestone for women in the West, the Japanese have the 20th age milestone to celebrate the coming of age of an adult. 

The 20th age birthday celebration in Japan is called “Seijin no hi” and is generally celebrated by throwing an ordinary party where relatives and friends attend and offer gifts.

60th Age Milestone

After a person reaches the age of 60, they’re considered fortunate in the Japanese culture. 

This is because the Japanese believe that rebirth begins after 60 and it’s celebrated by wearing a red dress because red signifies good luck in the Eastern culture.

70th Age Milestone

Celebrating the 70th birthday is also a special milestone because it signifies how far a person has come in life. When a person reaches 70 years it’s considered to be their “joyous or happy year”.

88th Age Milestone

The 88th birthday in Japanese traditions is regarded as remarkable because it’s called the “Rice birthday”. 

This is because the number 88 looks like grains of rice and rice is a crucial symbol in Japanese culture.

99th Age Milestone

It’s quite rare for a person to make it to 99, however, the 99th birthday in Japan is celebrated by everybody wearing white and offering gifts related to long life to the birthday individual.

How To Say Happy Birthday In Japanese: FAQs

How do you wish someone a happy birthday in Japanese?

One of the most formal ways to wish someone a happy birthday in Japanese is by saying “O tanjo biomedeto” (おたんじょうびおめでとう). Another formal way of wishing happy birthday in Japanese is by saying “O tanjō biomedetōgozaimasu” (おたんじょうびおめでとうございます), this will make you sound polite and respectful.

How do you say happy birthday in Japanese informal?

One of the effortless and shortest ways to say Happy birthday in Japanese informally is “Tanjobi” (誕生日). Another way to casually wish your friend or colleague happy birthday in Japanese is by saying “O tanji biomedeto” (おたんじょうびおめでとう). If you’re unable to pronounce Japanese words properly you can wish your Japanese friend by saying “Happi Baasude” (はっぴーばーすでー).

How do you say happy birthday to your boyfriend in Japanese?

Since a boyfriend is an intimate partner it’d be ideal to wish them informally in Japanese. One of the casual and informal ways to say happy birthday to a significant other in Japanese is saying “O tanji biomedeto” (おたんじょうびおめでとう). If you prefer to keep it short you can say “Tanjobi” (誕生日).

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