With lessons 1-30 of the Pimsleur Japanese I course we should be able to understand most of the following clips from ‘Shigatsu wa kimi no uso” (Your lie in April).
By now it should not surprise us that there are dozens of ways to say ‘goodbye’ in Japanese, depending on who we are talking to, whether we are the ones who are leaving or it is someone else who is leaving, and when we will be seeing the other person again.
Let’s start with the most famous ‘goodbye’ of all, the formal ‘sayonara’, which is frequently used at school between teachers and students; we also use it when we are uncertain when or if we will ever see the other person again, i.e., it is a ‘goodbye’ with a connotation of finality:
goodbye, so long, farewell
Now, without the finality nuance, the default ‘goodbye’ is a combination of “well… (see you)” (dewa/jaa…), “again” (mata), and an optional friendly suffix (ne/na):
(Well… (see you)) (again) (, right?)
((sore) dewa/jaa…) (mata) (ne/na)
We can combine these few words to say ‘goodbye’ with all kinds of levels of formality, from the formal “sore dewa… mata”, to the casual “mata ne!”, to the very casual “jaa…”.
We can also indicate the time in the future when we will be seeing the person again; in English we say “See you
again tomorrow”, or “see you again next week”, leaving the ‘again’ part out as it is implied. In Japanese, we say exactly the same thing but we leave the ‘see you’ part out because it is also implied: “ See you again tomorrow”, or “ See you again next week”. Nice, right? We convey the same feeling leaving either the ‘see you’ or ‘again’ part out of the sentence, but English and Japanese chose the opposite parts to leave out. If the meeting times are specific, we need to attach ‘ni’, which plays the role of ‘at’, ‘in, and ‘on’, or we can say ‘made’ meaning we won’t meet ‘until’ that time.
Well then… see you!
Well then… see you in a bit
Well then… see you later
Well then… see you tonight
Well then… see you tomorrow
Well then… see you next week
Well then… see you next month
Well then… see you next year
Well then… see you next time
Well then… take care (stay healthy)
Well then… see you at 10:00
Well then… see you on Monday
Well then… see you in April
Well then… until 10:00
Well then… until Monday
Well then… until April
((sore) dewa/jaa…) (mata) (ne/na)
((sore) dewa/jaa…) (mata) nochi hodo
((sore) dewa/jaa…) (mata) ato de
((sore) dewa/jaa…) (mata) kon-ban
((sore) dewa/jaa…) (mata) ashita
((sore) dewa/jaa…) (mata) rai-shuu
((sore) dewa/jaa…) (mata) rai-getsu
((sore) dewa/jaa…) (mata) rai-nen
((sore) dewa/jaa…) mata kondo
((sore) dewa/jaa…) o-genki de
((sore) dewa/jaa…) (mata) juu-ji ni
((sore) dewa/jaa…) (mata) getsu-youbi ni
((sore) dewa/jaa…) (mata) shi-gatsu ni
((sore) dewa/jaa…) (mata) kuu-ji made
((sore) dewa/jaa…) (mata) getsu-youbi made
((sore) dewa/jaa…) (mata) shi-gatsu made
Want to specify where we will meet again? Just add it; all we need is to specify the place at which we will meet again, e.g.,
Well then… see you tomorrow at school
jaa… mata ashita gakkou de
To say ‘goodbye’ in a letter:
Well then, (I’ll) write (you) a letter again
Well then, (I’ll) send (you) a letter again
(sore dewa/jaa), mata te-gami wo kaki-masu
(sore dewa/jaa), mata te-gami wo okuri-masu
Depending of the situation, a ‘goodbye’ is just not enough. It would be impolite to leave, say, the room of a sick person, or a formal meeting, with a casual ‘Jaa… ne?’ or even a formal ‘sore dewa… mata’. Instead, there are certain situations for which there is a very well defined way to say ‘goodbye’; here are some that I can think of:
get better (e.g., when leaving an ill person)
take care (e.g., before a trip)
I’ll go, and I’ll come (e.g., ‘goodbye’ when leaving our house)
go and come (e.g., ‘goodbye’ to someone leaving our house)
I was a bother (e.g., leaving someone’s house or office)
I’m being rude (e.g., leaving a meeting)
I’m rude because I’m leaving early (e.g., when leaving work)
you got tired, thank you (e.g., to co-worker leaving work)
you endured hardships, thank you (to superior leaving work)
you took care of me, thank you (e.g., departing a host family)
‘farewell’ in samurai jargon
o-saki ni shitsurei shimasu
o-sewa ni nari-mashita
- ‘o-ki-wo-tsukete kudasai’ means ‘take care of yourself, please’; it is the usual way to say ‘goodbye’ to someone that is leaving on a trip
- In Japan, ‘itte ki-masu’ (I’ll go, and I’ll come), is the standard way to say ‘goodbye’ when leaving a place to which we intend to return, like our house.
- The standard ‘goodbye’ reply to ‘itte ki-masu’ is ‘itte rasshai’, which also means ‘go, and come’.
- ‘o-jama shi-masu’ (present tense) means “I’m going to be a bother”, and we use it when we arrive to a place that ‘belongs’ to someone, like a friend’s house, or a physician’s office. When we leave, we say ‘o-jama shi-mashita’ (past tense) to apologize for having been a bother.
- ‘Shitsurei shi-masu’ means “I’m being rude”; we use it when we arrive to or leave a place that does not belong to any person in particular, but it is certainly not ours. A typical example is arriving late to or leaving a formal meeting in a meeting room or restaurant.
- ‘o-saki ni shitsurei shi-masu’ is the polite way to say ‘goodbye’ to the co-workers when leaving the office; we are apologizing for being so rude that we leave earlier than them, leaving them with their work.
- ‘o-tsukare-sama deshita’ is the polite way to say ‘goodbye’ to someone that is leaving the office before us; it thanks to him/her for his/her valuable effort while they were at work. In a more general way, we can use it to mean ‘Good work’.
- ‘go-kurou-sama deshita’ is the polite way to say ‘goodbye’ to a superior that is leaving the office before us.
And let’s finish with some Japanese adaptations of the ubiquitous English ‘bye-bye’:
bye-bye (common among female students)
bye-bye (extra girly)
bye crocodile, later ‘gator
‘bye-bye’ (バイバイ) is common among female middle and high-school students, e.g, kimiuso, ep. 1:
W.r.t. ‘bye-bye-kiin’, there is a Japanese children’s anime called “Sore ike! Anpanman” (Let’s go, Anpanman!); the villain of the story is an alien called ‘Baikin-man’, where ‘baikin’ means ‘bacteria’ or ‘germ’. Well… when Baikin-man says ‘goodbye’, he uses a pun of his name: ‘bye-baikiin!’, as in this clip of “Soreike! Anpanman”, ep. 344:
Eng: Right! Well… that was it. Later ‘gator.
Lit: Right! Well… until here. bye bacteria
hai. dewa… koko made. bai-baikiin
ee. jaa… koko made. mata ne!
Thus, ‘bai-baikiin’ has very much the flavor of ‘bye-bye crocodile, see you later alligator’, i.e., it is a ‘goodbye’ favored among young children, or when we are trying to be playful, like in this clip from “Your lie in April”, ep. 20, in which Kawori is saying ‘goodbye’ to Kosei on the phone:
Eng: because that’s the case. Later ‘gator.
Lit: so the thing we said, that’s why! bye bacteria.
sou iu koto dakara. sore dewa.
そう いう こと だから。それでは。
sou iu koto dakara. baibaikiin
そう いう こと だから。バイバイキーン。
Now, the sentence above before ‘baibaikiin’, i.e., ‘sou iu koto’ (so the thing we said) – does not appear to translate well as ‘that’s how it is’ or ‘that’s the case’. However, ‘Battlestar Galactica’ uses a very similar wording to express a similar feeling:
Eng: So say we all!
As a final note, in slice-of-life and romance animes and dramas, which are 90% based in misunderstandings, “that’s the case!” is nowhere as frequent as its opposite, i.e., “that’s not the case”, or as its dual, i.e., “it’s something else”:
that’s the case! that’s it!
that’s not the case! that’s not it!
it’s something else! you are wrong!
sou iu koto desu
sou iu koto nai yo!
And I went completely off the tangent, but it was fun… バイバイキーン.
sutoppu, watashi, mite Ep.6
Tsubaki… Tsubaki! Stop! Stop!
Look at me. Look at me!
Tsubaki… Tsubaki! sutoppu! sutoppu!
Watashi wo mite. watashi wo mite yo.
つばき… つばき! ストップ! ストップ!
わたしを 見て。 わたしを 見てよ!
- the sentence-ending ‘yo’ means ‘for sure!’ or simply ‘!’.
- ‘yada’ means ‘no way’.
anata/kimi, desu/da, yo Ep.7
Eng: You are who you are!
Lit: You? You are you!
anata wa anata desu.
あなたは あなた です。
kimi wa kimi da yo.
- Kawori addresses Arima as ‘kimi’ instead of ‘anata’, because it is a conversation between close friends.
- ‘yo’ is like a spoken exclamation mark.
watashi/boku/ore, anata/omae, dewa/ja, arimasen/nai, yo, san/kun Ep.10
Eng: I’m not you!
You’re right, you’re right.
I am me, and you are you.
Lit: Me? I’m not Watari!
That’s so, that’s so.
Me? I am me. You? You are you.
watashi wa watari kun dewa arimasen.
sou desu, sou desu.
watashi wa watashi, anata wa anata.
わたしは わたりくん ではありません。
わたしは わたし、あなたは あなた。
boku wa watari ja nai, yo.
sou da, sou da.
ore wa ore, omae wa omae.
ぼけは わたり じゃないよ。
おれは おれ、おまえは おまえ。
- ‘boku’ and ‘ore’ are casual forms of ‘watashi’; ‘boku’ has a connotation of being respectful, while ‘ore’ has one being manly, rude, and confident.
- ‘omae’ is a casual form of ‘anata’, with the same connotations as ‘ore’, i.e., manly, rude, and confident.
- ‘ja’ is the casual form of ‘dewa’
- ‘nai’ is the casual form of ‘arimasen’.
- in formal talk, adult names are generally followed by ‘san’, those of young boys are followed by ‘kun’ or ‘chan’, and those of girls by ‘chan’.
-tachi, desu/da, yo Ep.12
Eng: Let’s play.
We are pianists!
lit: Let’s play.
We? We are pianists!
hikimashou. watashi-tachi wa pianisuto desu.
ひきましょう。わたしたちは ピアニスト です。
hikou. watashi-tachi wa pianisuto da yo.
ひこう。わたしたちは ピアニスト だよ。
- ‘hiku’ is ‘to play an instrument’
wa, ni, mada, masu form vs. dict form, yo Ep.16
Eng: Watari is still at school!
lit: Watari? He still exists in the school!
watari kun wa mada gakkou ni imasu
わたりくんは まだ 学校に います
watari wa mada gakkou ni iru yo
わたりは まだ 学校に いるよ。
- ‘gakkou’ is ‘school’
- ‘mada’: no change in context, i.e., he was at school before and he is still at school
- the masu form of a verb is formal, the dictionary form is casual; hence, ‘imasu’ is the formal version of ‘iru’, both meaning ‘to exist’. Thus, ‘Watari is at school’ is translated as ‘watari exists at the school’.
yo, i-adjective Ep.17
lit: Do me this favor.
i-i desu yo
- In this tiny exchange Kousei is being very serious and polite, asking what is supposed to be an unreasonable request, so he uses ‘onegai shimasu’, while Nagi is non-plussed about the request and doesn’t see it as a big deal, so she accedes to it casually, finishing her acceptance with ‘yo’.
- ‘yo’ is like a spoken exclamation mark.
[desu/da] kara Ep.19
Eng: Because I’m a pianist.
lit: Me? I’m a pianist; that’s why.
watashi wa pianisuto desu kara.
わたしは ピアニスト ですから。
boku wa pianisuto da kara.
ぼくは ピアニスト だから。