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Is it Rude to Just Say “Arigato” in Japanese?

Is it Rude to Just Say “Arigato” in Japanese?
Is it Rude to Just Say Arigato in Japanese
Is it Rude to Just Say Arigato in Japanese
Is it Rude to Just Say Arigato in Japanese

As you immerse yourself in the culture and language of Japan, it’s natural to want to pick up a few words and phrases along the way. One of the most common words you might encounter is “arigato,” which means “thank you” in Japanese. However, you might have heard that it’s not polite to just say “arigato” and that there are more appropriate ways to express gratitude in Japanese. In this article, we’ll explore whether it’s truly rude to just say “arigato” in Japanese and what other phrases you can use instead.


Learning a new language can be both exciting and challenging, especially when it comes to understanding the nuances of different expressions and social customs. In Japanese culture, politeness is highly valued, and it’s essential to understand the appropriate ways to interact with others, especially when it comes to expressing gratitude. In this article, we’ll delve into the meaning of “arigato” in Japanese and whether it’s rude to just say “arigato” in certain situations.

The Importance of Politeness in Japanese Culture

Before we dive into the topic of whether it’s rude to say “arigato” in Japanese, it’s crucial to understand the significance of politeness in Japanese culture. Politeness is considered a core value in Japan and is reflected in various aspects of daily life, including language, behavior, and etiquette. Japanese people are known for their reserved and respectful demeanor, and it’s essential to adhere to certain social norms when communicating with others.

The Meaning of “Arigato” in Japanese

“Arigato” is a Japanese word that translates to “thank you” in English. It’s a simple yet essential phrase that’s used to express gratitude in various contexts, from casual conversations with friends to formal business meetings. In Japanese writing, “arigato” is often spelled as “ありがとう” using hiragana characters.

When is it Appropriate to Use “Arigato” in Japanese?

While “arigato” is a versatile and widely used expression, it’s essential to consider the context and the level of formality when using it. In general, “arigato” is appropriate in casual situations, such as when a friend helps you with a small favor or when you receive a gift from a colleague. However, in more formal settings, such as business meetings or formal ceremonies, it’s better to use more respectful expressions of gratitude.

Alternatives to “Arigato” in Japanese

If you’re looking for more formal or polite ways to express gratitude in Japanese, there are several alternatives to “arigato” that you can use. Some common expressions include:

  • ありがとうございます (arigatou gozaimasu): This is a more formal and polite version of “arigato” that’s appropriate in business settings or when expressing gratitude to someone you don’t know well.
  • どうもありがとうございます (doumo arigatou gozaimasu): This is a more emphatic version of “arigatou gozaimasu” that conveys a deeper sense of gratitude. It’s often used in formal or public settings, such as when receiving an award or giving a speech.
  • お世話になっております (osewa ni natte orimasu): This expression means “I’m in your debt” or “Thank you for taking care of me” and is commonly used in business relationships or formal situations.
  • お礼申し上げます (orei moushiagemasu): This expression is a formal way to express gratitude and is often used in written communication or formal speeches.
  • ご親切にありがとうございます (go-shinsetsu ni arigatou gozaimasu): This expression means “Thank you for your kindness” and is a polite way to express gratitude for a significant favor or act of kindness.

How to Use “Arigato” Appropriately in Japanese

While “arigato” is a simple and versatile expression, there are still a few guidelines to follow to use it appropriately in Japanese. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Use “arigato” appropriately in the right context and situation.
  • Be aware of your tone and level of politeness. As mentioned earlier, there are different levels of politeness in Japanese, and the way you say “arigato” can convey different degrees of respect and formality. Make sure to adjust your tone and choice of words depending on the situation and the person you’re speaking to.
  • Use other expressions of gratitude depending on the situation. While “arigato” is a commonly used expression of gratitude in Japanese, there are other expressions that may be more appropriate depending on the situation. For instance, you may want to use a more formal expression in a business setting or when receiving an award.
  • Consider using non-verbal cues to show gratitude. In Japanese culture, non-verbal cues such as bowing or offering a small gift can be just as important as saying “arigato.” Be aware of these cultural norms and use them appropriately to show your gratitude in a respectful and sincere manner.


In conclusion, saying “arigato” in Japanese is a simple and versatile way to express gratitude in everyday situations. However, it is important to use it appropriately and consider other expressions of gratitude depending on the situation. Understanding the cultural context and norms surrounding expressing gratitude in Japanese can also help you to communicate effectively and respectfully.

Remember that language is more than just a means of communication - it reflects cultural values and social norms. By learning about different expressions of gratitude in Japanese, you can deepen your understanding of Japanese culture and connect more effectively with native speakers.


Q: Is “arigato” the only way to say “thank you” in Japanese?

A: No, there are other expressions of gratitude in Japanese that may be more appropriate depending on the situation.

Q: Is it rude to just say “arigato” in Japanese?

A: It depends on the situation and the level of politeness required. In some situations, “arigato” may be too casual or informal, so it’s important to consider other expressions of gratitude.

Q: What are some non-verbal cues to show gratitude in Japanese culture?

A: Bowing, offering a small gift, or using honorific language are all ways to show gratitude in Japanese culture.

Q: How important is expressing gratitude in Japanese culture?

A: Expressing gratitude is an important part of Japanese culture and is seen as a way to build and maintain social harmony.

Q: How can I learn more about Japanese culture and language?

A: There are many resources available, such as language classes, cultural events, and online resources. Engaging with native speakers and immersing yourself in the culture can also be a great way to learn.