Work in Japan Advice Board
While most students of Japanese understand the need for keigo, they do not understand the specific rules associated with writing a business e-mail in Japanese. It is not simply a case of translation, as languages tend to have their own set of business phrases which are directly related to the business culture of that country.
The first thing to remember when writing a business e-mail is use of the word “sama” (様). This should be placed after the name of the recipient, for example: 中村様.
Secondly, there needs to be an expression of gratitude. The most common way to start an e-mail after writing the name is by using one of the following phrases:
It is then common to write your name and the company you represent in the following format.
(If you have never met the other person)
(If you have previously met the other person)
Next, you should ensure that you use keigo throughout your e-mail, as you need to demonstrate to the other party your respect. When arranging to meet a client, instead of using words such as 行く or 来る, the Japanese use more respectful terms such as 伺う and “お越しいただく” meaning “to visit (a company)” and “ to be visited by ( a company representative)” respectively. There are many other keigo phrases to use in specific situations, and explaining them in detail now is beyond the scope of this short article, but please be aware of these!
When finishing an e-mail, it is important to use the phrase “宜しくお願い致します。”, which can be roughly translated to “Kind/Best regards”.
Japanese e-mails tend to be more structurally-focused than their Western counterparts, and it is important to leave a line between each new topic.
When sending an e-mail to multiple recipients, Japanese customs dictate that you should list the recipients in order of rank within the company, including your members within your own organization.
Combining the tips above leads us to an e-mail like the one below, which you can use as a guide to help you create Japanese business e-mails in future.
Good luck creating business e-mails in Japanese!
Human Academy Japanese Language School - Chief Manager
After graduating, Mr.Tanaka taught Japanese in a number of countries in the ASEAN region including Malaysia and Brunei.
He then taught at a Japanese school for foreign students in Japan for 10 years before making a transition to school management.
As the role of Japanese language teaching changes, Mr.Tanaka focuses on Japanese teaching methods that fit the needs of students today.