Happy Birthday in Japanese: How to Say it, and How to Celebrate! (2023)

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Ever wondered what to do when celebrating your birthday in Japan? Or how the Japanese celebrate birthdays? Or most importantly – how to say ‘happy birthday’ in Japanese? We’ve got you covered!

Up until the 1950s, celebrating birthdays in Japan was not customary. In fact, they considered every new year a common birthday for everyone!

In modern times, as the Japanese adapted a few Western customs and holidays, birthdays are now celebrated. Because of Japan’s lack of early birthday customs, the birthday song is sung in English.

Here are some examples of ways to say ‘happy birthday’ in Japanese, plus a few fun facts about Japanese birthdays!

Table Of Contents

  1. How to say happy birthday in Japanese
    • Otanjoubi omedetou gozaimasu
    • Happii basudee
    • Suteki na ichinichi wo
    • Suteki na otanjoubi wo sugoshite kudasai
    • Subarashii ichinen ni narimasu you ni
    • Kore kara mo douzo ogenki de ite kudasai
  2. How do Japanese people celebrate birthdays?
  3. Gift-giving on Japanese birthdays
  4. Special birthdays in Japan
    • Shichi-go-san (ages 3, 5, and 7)
    • Seijinshiki (age 20)
    • Celebrations for the elderly (ages 60 and above)

How to say happy birthday in Japanese

There are many ways to wish your friends, family, and even coworkers a happy birthday in Japanese! You can use them in a conversation or even as a message in a birthday card.

Here are a few Japanese birthday wishes to try.

(Video) Learn How to Say Happy Birthday In Japanese 🎉 Birthday Song

Otanjoubi omedetou gozaimasu


お たんじょうび おめでとう ございます

Happy birthday (polite)

The word for ‘birthday’ in Japanese is tanjoubi (誕生日 / たんじょうび). Omedetou (おめでとう) means ‘congratulations’ or ‘best wishes’.

You might notice that there is a slight difference in how tanjoubi is used here: in Japanese grammar, there is a concept called ‘polite speech’ or keigo (敬語 / けいご). One way to make a native Japanese noun polite is to add an ‘o’ (お) before it, just like in o-tanjoubi (お誕生日 / おたんじょうび).

The ‘o’ is called an ‘honorific prefix’, and you can learn more it here.

Gozaimasu (ございます) is basically a very polite version of the verb ‘to be’. Here it is used to make your greeting even more respectful!

Using the greeting this way is appropriate for most people, but for people you are closer to, you might like to use one of the following, less formal, variations:

  • Otanjoubi omedetou (お誕生日おめでとう / おたんじょうびおめでとう) – polite (but slightly less formal than the full version, otanjoubi omedetou gozaimasu)
  • Tanjoubi omedetou (誕生日おめでとう / たんじょうびおめでとう) – casual, to be used with friends

Happii basudee


Happy birthday (casual)

This greeting is an English loan word, which is why it is written in the Japanese script called katakana! Happii basudee is pronounced with a Japanese accent and is an extremely casual way to greet your friends and family on their birthday.

Want to learn how to read Japanese? Download your free hiragana and katakana workbook here!

Suteki na ichinichi wo


すてきな いちにち を

I hope you have a wonderful day

(Video) How to say Happy Birthday in Japanese | Celebration phrases |

This is one way to express your kind wishes to a birthday celebrant! Suteki na ichinichi wo can be used among friends, family and even co-workers.

Suteki na (素敵な / すてきな) is an adjective that translates to ‘lovely’ or ‘wonderful’. Meanwhile, ichinichi (一日 / いちにち) means ‘one whole day’.

Suteki na otanjoubi wo sugoshite kudasai


すてきな おたんじょうび を すごして ください

I hope you have a great birthday

Sugoshite kudasai means ‘please spend’. The phrase translates to “Please spend / please have a great/wonderful birthday”!

You can replace suteki na with other adjectives, such as tanoshii (楽しい / たのしい), which means ‘fun’!

Subarashii ichinen ni narimasu you ni


すばらしい いちねん に なります ように

I wish you a wonderful year ahead

This one is a bit more formal than the previous phrase, so it is appropriate to use this one in the workplace.

Subarashii (素晴らしい / すばらしい) is another word that translates to ‘wonderful’ while ichinen (一年 / いちねん) means ‘one year’.

Kore kara mo douzo ogenki de ite kudasai


これから も どうぞ お げんき で いて ください

Please stay healthy from now on

Being healthy and happy doesn’t end at the last second of someone’s birthday. To wish someone to continue being healthy after their special day, this is another thoughtful phrase you can use!

(Video) How to say Happy Birthday in Japanese | Japanese Language for beginner | Practice Japanese

Kore kara mo (これからも) translates to ‘even after this’. Douzo (どうぞ) means ‘please’ or ‘kindly’.

How do Japanese people celebrate birthdays?

In some cultures, the birthday celebrant must treat the guests on their special day, but in Japan, it’s more common to see friends or family plan and prepare for someone’s birthday party!

Couples usually spend their birthday with their partner. Sweet, right? For families, especially for young children, parents take care of the party planning, decorations, food, and gifts. Like most kids’ birthday parties, classmates and friends are also invited.

Happy Birthday in Japanese: How to Say it, and How to Celebrate! (1)

Restaurants also offer freebies or saabisu (サービス) for customers who come and dine on their birthday, usually in the form of desserts.

Gift-giving on Japanese birthdays

Gifts aren’t usually expected unless you are a celebrant’s close family member or friend, however, it doesn’t mean it’s not welcome! Japanese gift-giving customs can get tricky sometimes but the most popular gifts on birthdays are sweets, food (especially cake!), and little trinkets.

Birthday cards are also a popular, simple gift you can give someone with a heartfelt message inside. Nowadays, people mostly send their birthday wishes through text messages, chat apps, or calls.

Special birthdays in Japan

Japan has a unique way of celebrating birthdays, especially those considered as ‘milestone birthdays’! What are some examples of special birthdays?

Shichi-go-san (ages 3, 5, and 7)

Shichi-go-san (七五三 / しちごさん) translates to 7-5-3. It is a special holiday for children aged 3, 5, and 7. This is celebrated every November 15th (add up 3, 5, and 7!) and is an occasion to wish longevity.

In the past, there was a higher risk that children would die at an early age because of poverty or hunger, so parents would pray at shrines for their children to live long lives.

Every shichi-go-san, boys wear traditional Japanese clothing such as hakama or haori and girls wear kimono, plus some accessories and even make-up! The parents take their kids to a shrine to pray for their children’s health and safety.

Happy Birthday in Japanese: How to Say it, and How to Celebrate! (2)

Special candy called chitose ame (千歳飴 / ちとせあめ) are given to children. The candies are long and thin, signifying the longevity of life.

Check out this video by JapanesePod101 to know more about shichi-go-san!

Seijinshiki (age 20)

Seijinshiki (成人式 / せいじんしき) is a coming-of-age celebration for all young people aged 20! This is celebrated every second Monday of January. It used to be celebrated every January 15th, but this date made it difficult for people to back to their hometown to celebrate, so moving it to a Monday gave people more time to go home over the weekend.

Seijin (成人) means ‘adult’ or ‘grown-up’ and shiki (式) means ‘ceremony’. On this day, 20-year-old men dress up in suits or hakama, while women wear kimono (typically furisode, a type of kimono with long sleeves, usually worn by unmarried women).

Happy Birthday in Japanese: How to Say it, and How to Celebrate! (3)

The age of 20 is significant because it is the legal age at which individuals are allowed to vote, drive, drink, and smoke. Celebrants gather at their respective city halls for a ceremony, then visit shrines afterward. They may have parties or reunions at the end of the day, where they can finally drink together. Kanpai!

Celebrations for the elderly (ages 60 and above)

Lastly, there are several different special birthdays for the elderly.

(Video) How to say "Happy Birthday" in Japanese! - Otanjyōbi Omedetō!

The 60th birthday or kanreki (還暦 / かんれき) is particularly important. This culminates five full cycles of the Japanese zodiac, a time in which a person is said to be ‘reborn’.

The colors red and white are often used during kanreki. For example, a sleeveless red jacket called the chanchanko (ちゃんちゃんこ) is worn to represent a baby’s jacket and a person’s rebirth. White cranes and red turtles are also placed on top of cakes used for this occasion. White cranes symbolize 1,000 years and red turtles for 10,000 years!

Other ages celebrated include the ‘double-digit’ ages.

The 77th birthday or kiju (喜寿 / きじゅ), also called the ‘happy age’! In earlier Japanese calligraphy, the kanji for ki 喜 (which means ‘rejoice’) was written in a way that looks like two sevens (七七) were inside the character!

The 88th birthday or beiju (米寿 / べいじゅ) is also called the ‘rice age’. The character for ‘rice’ is bei or kome (米) and it looks like the kanji for eight-ten-eight (八十八).

The 99th birthday or hakuju (白寿 / はくじゅ) is called the ‘white age’. The character for white is haku or shiro (白) and it looks like hyaku (百), the kanji for ‘one hundred’, but without the stroke on top! The stroke is also a standalone radical ichi (一) which means ‘one’.

Want to start learning kanji? Download your FREE kanji e-book here and learn all about radicals – the easy way to learn kanji!

Happy birthday in Japanese

So now you know some different ways to say happy birthday in Japanese. If you are looking for some Japanese birthday wishes or messages to send to a friend, we hope you found some inspiration here.

If you’re ready to continue your Japanese language journey, our recommended online course is JapanesePod101!

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Learn more about celebrations in Japan:

  • Christmas in Japan: How to Celebrate Like a Local
  • How to Say Merry Christmas in Japanese (and Other Seasonal Greetings)
  • New Year in Japan: Traditions, Food and Celebrations
  • How to Say Happy New Year in Japanese
Happy Birthday in Japanese: How to Say it, and How to Celebrate! (4)

Thea Ongchua

Thea is a freelance content writer, currently majoring in Japanese studies. She likes to create art and draws inspiration from film and music. Thea was inspired to study Japanese language and culture by reading the literary works of Haruki Murakami and Edogawa Ranpo.

(Video) How to say "Happy Birthday" in Japanese & Birthday Culture 【Japanese, English sub】


How do Japanese celebrate birthdays? ›

In Japan, the only time you'll organize your own birthday party is when you are a child, although your parents likely played a bigger part in the actual organization of it than you did. The cake is a "must" and we sing "Happy Birthday" in the dark and blow the candles out on the cake (a 1:1 ratio of candles to years).

How do Japanese wish happy birthday? ›

1) お誕生日おめでとう!

Simple and classic, this one means "happy birthday", or literally "congratulations on your birthday".

How do Japanese greet birthday celebrators? ›

Interested in impressing a birthday celebrant? Instead of plainly greeting in English, you can say "Happy birthday" in Japanese as "お誕生日おめでとう(pronounced as otanjoubi omedetou)." This is the most casual way of wishing someone a happy birthday in Japanese.

What does Tanjoubi Omedetou mean? ›

Happy Birthday. O-tanjoubi omedetou gozaimasu. ( formal) お誕生日おめでとうございます。 Tanjoubi omedetou. (

What is Issho mochi? ›

Isshou mochi (一生餅) refers to the antiquated unit of measurement called a shou. One shou (一升, isshou) is equivalent to 1.8 kilograms, or nearly 5 pounds. Students of Japanese know that the language is fond of linguistic puns. Isshou is also how you pronounce the kanji 一生, meaning “one's entire life.”

What do the Japanese celebrate? ›

1st JanuaryNew Year's DayMarine Day
21st March (approx.)Vernal Equinox DayAutumn Equinox Day
29th AprilShowa DayHealth and Sports Day
3rd MayConstitution DayCulture Day
4th MayGreenery DayLabor Thanksgiving Day
3 more rows

What are different ways to say happy birthday? ›

How to Say Happy Birthday 50 Different Ways
  1. You sustained one more year. ...
  2. I wish you a happier birthday than anyone else has wished you.
  3. Didn't we just celebrate this like a year ago?
  4. You sustained one more year. ...
  5. Don't count the candles, enjoy your day.
  6. Happy you day.
  7. Age is just a number.
  8. I'm glad you were born.

What is the best message for birthday? ›

Short & Sweet Birthday Messages
  • “The day is all yours — have fun!”
  • “Happy birthday to my ride or die. ...
  • “Thinking of you on your birthday and wishing you everything happy.”
  • “Best wishes on your birthday – may you have many, many more.”
  • “Cheers to you for another trip around the sun!”
  • “Today is about you. ...
  • “Happy birthday!
7 Jan 2022

What does tanjoubi mean in Japanese? ›

tanjoubi omedetou – 誕生日おめでとう (たんじょうびおめでとう) : a Japanese phrase for 'happy birthday'. This phrase literally means 'congratulations on the birthday', but can be translated into English as 'happy birthday' or 'happy birthday to you'.

What is meant by Kaisha? ›

kaisha – 会社 (かいしゃ) : a noun meaning 'company' or 'corporation' in Japanese.

What is Oyasuminasai? ›


good night. In a casual way, you can say OYASUMI.

Is Omedetou polite? ›

omedetou – おめでとう : a Japanese phrase meaning 'congratulations'. This can also mean 'best wishes' or such depending on the situation. This was used to mean 'to love much' or 'to cherish much' politely in the old Japanese language.

How do you use happy birthday in a sentence? ›

Happy-birthday sentence example

Enjoy your happy birthday at the happiest place on Earth with this free celebration offer. He obliged and she started to sing Happy Birthday. These pans are perfect for using as a themed happy birthday cake or for dessert during a bowl game in football season.

Why do Japanese say san? ›

In Japanese, "~ san (~さん)" is a title of respect added to a name. It can be used with both male and female names, and with either surnames or given names.

What is Doljabi? ›

Doljabi is a tradition where the baby is placed in front of various items or objects. Then, the baby is encouraged to grab one or two items from the set of objects where each choice symbolizes a certain future of the baby with respect to his or her career or a lifestyle.

What age can children eat mochi? ›

Mochi. The sticky chewy texture of mochi is a choking hazard and should never be served to babies and young children. Most parents wait until at least 3 years old when the child has grown all of her/his baby teeth and is able to properly chew and swallow food.

How do Japanese celebrate first birthday? ›

On their first birthday, babies in Japan are made to carry or step on mochi weighing around 2 kg. This tradition does not have to be celebrated precisely on the child's birthday and instead can be celebrated the week before or after their birthday. Shou (升) in isshou mochi is a unit of measurement.

What is the most important celebration in Japanese culture? ›

New Year (shogatsu):

This is the most important holiday in Japan. While only January 1 is designated as a national holiday, many businesses remain closed through January 3.

What religion is Japan? ›

The Japanese religious tradition is made up of several major components, including Shinto, Japan's earliest religion, Buddhism, and Confucianism. Christianity has been only a minor movement in Japan.

How do you write a heart touching birthday? ›

Wishing you a very happy birthday! The Strength You Carry Within Touches My Soul Too, So On Your Very Special Day, I Wish You The Universe Of Happiness, A Very Happy Birthday. Someone as special as you deserve happiness every single day, but even more so on your birthday.

What is a unique way to wish a girl happy birthday? ›

Birthday Wishes for Girls
  • You're my one true best friend, girl. ...
  • You're more than just a best friend, girl. ...
  • A very happy birthday to the prettiest girl I know. ...
  • You're the best friend anyone could wish for, girl. ...
  • You're such a special friend to me, girl. ...
  • You're my favourite person and best friend, girl.

How do you say happy birthday to your crush? ›

9 Flirty Texts to Send Your Crush on Their Birthday
  1. "Don't party too hard without me!"
  2. "Hey, birthday boy. ...
  3. "I'm glad you were born."
  4. "I hope you have a birthday as unforgettable as I am."
  5. "Congratulations on another year of surviving."
  6. "I have a birthday present for you.
13 Mar 2018

How do you say happy birthday in simple way? ›

40 Ways to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY!
  1. Have a fabulous birthday!
  2. May all your wishes come true!
  3. Many happy returns of the day!
  4. Many more happy returns!
  5. I wish you a wonderful birthday!
  6. Have a great one!
  7. Have a good one!
  8. I hope you have a fantastic day and a fantastic year to come.
23 Apr 2021

How do you send a cute birthday text? ›

Casual, short birthday messages are always a nice touch
  1. I hope your celebration gives you many happy memories!
  2. Enjoy your special day.
  3. Have the best birthday ever!
  4. Wherever the year ahead takes you, I hope it's happy.
  5. The day is all yours — have fun!
  6. Thinking of you on your birthday and wishing you everything happy.

What Gozaimasu means? ›

' So what's going on with this? When you say “Good morning” politely, you say 'Ohayo gozaimasu. ' It's just the casual “Good morning,” 'Ohayo' with 'gozaimasu' at the end. The word 'gozaimasu' is a very polite expression and can roughly be translated as “am,” “is,” or “are” in English.

What is itsu in Japanese? ›

Definition: 意味

Learn Japanese vocabulary: いつ (itsu). Meaning: when; at what time; how soon​. Type: Pronoun.

What is Akemashite Omedetou Gozaimasu? ›

「明けましておめでとう(ございます)!」 = Akemashite omedetou gozaimasu. = “Happy New Year!” to anyone who has lost a family members.

What birthdays are special in Japan? ›

Japan has several birthdays which are considered to have special meanings. The third, fifth, and seventh birthdays are the occasions of shichi-go-san (七五三), a festival for three and seven-year-old girls and five-year-old boys.

What do Japanese eat during birthday? ›

In Japan they make small bite sized sweet Mochi cakes to celebrate the birthday rather than relishing a huge cake. These small rice cakes are made with sweet rice, soy flour and delightful stuffings like red bean paste.

Why is the age 99 Special in Japan? ›

In Japan,your 99th birthday is considered your "white" birthday. This is a play on kanji. If you subtract the Kanji for one (一) from the kanji for one hundred (百) you get the kanji for white (白). Therefore, 99 is considered a special "white" birthday.

Do Japanese people sing happy birthday? ›

Happy birthday! Happy birthday!” It is also actually really common for people in Japan to just sing the English version of the happy birthday song but with a Japanese accent.

How can I celebrate my birthday? ›

6 creative ways to celebrate birthdays while social distancing
  1. Throw a virtual birthday party. Just because you're celebrating at a distance doesn't mean you can't celebrate together. ...
  2. Pick a party activity. ...
  3. Create a birthday slideshow. ...
  4. Celebrate locally. ...
  5. Make a birthday full of flavor.

How do you celebrate yakudoshi? ›

To ward off the misfortunes believed to occur during a yakudoshi, individuals may engage in prayer to Shinto or Buddhist deities, attend rituals, purchase protective charms, make pilgrimages, exchange gifts, or hold special festivities, usually at the beginning or end of the year.

What food is called birthday? ›

A birthday cake is a cake eaten as part of a birthday celebration. Birthday cakes are often layer cakes with frosting served with small lit candles on top representing the celebrant's age. Variations include cupcakes, cake pops, pastries, and tarts.

What do you serve at a Japanese theme party? ›

Good food is necessary at a Japanese-theme party, so let's start with the menu!
Our go-to recipes for an izakaya-inspired party:
  • Yakitori.
  • Karaage.
  • Teba Shio (Salted Chicken Wings)
  • Yaki Onigiri,
  • Agedashi Tofu.
  • Teriyaki wings.
  • Sake-steamed clams.
14 Nov 2019

Is 88 a special birthday in Japan? ›

In Japanese culture, the 88th birthday, or “Beiju” (米寿), is known as the long life celebration. Beiju is a play on the kanji characters for rice and 88. “Bei” (rice米) is important in Japanese society because it sustains life and represents purity and wholesomeness.

How old is Japan? ›

Japan: 15 Million Years Old

Japan came into existence in 660 B.C. Buddhism impacted Japanese culture to a large extent, if we go by historical records.

What is 77th birthday called? ›

77 years old is especially called “Kiju”. The history of most of those celebrations can trace back to China, but the celebration of Kiju (77 years old) originates in Japan. (In Asian tradition, newborns being considered a year old when they are born.

Why is Japan's 20th birthday special? ›

Each year in January, young men and women—those who have turned hatachi, or 20 years old—gather at public halls, community centers, and other venues across the country to celebrate crossing the threshold into adulthood. The age of majority, when children legally join society as adults, is 20 in Japan.

What are different ways to say happy birthday? ›

How to Say Happy Birthday 50 Different Ways
  1. You sustained one more year. ...
  2. I wish you a happier birthday than anyone else has wished you.
  3. Didn't we just celebrate this like a year ago?
  4. You sustained one more year. ...
  5. Don't count the candles, enjoy your day.
  6. Happy you day.
  7. Age is just a number.
  8. I'm glad you were born.

What is the best message for birthday? ›

Short & Sweet Birthday Messages
  • “The day is all yours — have fun!”
  • “Happy birthday to my ride or die. ...
  • “Thinking of you on your birthday and wishing you everything happy.”
  • “Best wishes on your birthday – may you have many, many more.”
  • “Cheers to you for another trip around the sun!”
  • “Today is about you. ...
  • “Happy birthday!
7 Jan 2022

What do Japanese give as gifts? ›

Food and drink serves as one of the most popular gifts in Japan, especially for small-scale gift-giving occasions such as Oseibo and Okaeshi. Popular food and drink gifts include confectionery, cakes, teas, spirits and teas.


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