Sunday, May 31, 2015

Writing Email in Japanese: Some Styles

Style in writing letter/email in Japanese maybe varies from one to other. I thought that this might be of some use based on to whom and the email content. Feel free to add any additional information regarding social customisation of written material.

For simple email, there will : salutation (宛先)、greeting (あいさつ), email content/information (詳しい情報), ending (むすび) and signature (署名). If you request a reply, don't forget to add request of reply (返事の要求). The full structure of Japanese email (example for invitation/誘いのメール) is as pictured below.
Structure of Japanese invitation email [1]

Here are some styles when writing email in Japanese,
First think you do in any letter is to state who you are addressing. In English it would look something like "Dear + Name," or "To + Name," in Japanese it looks a lot like the second version "name + へ、” へ is the directional target marker so it could be translated as to, example:
    山田さんへ、 content....

After the name you have a few options as to what you do next. Formal letter (I.E. A letter to your boss, a company, or someone you don`t know) is best to be started with the what information requested. Then don't for get to close with such phrase like 敬具。Here is the example

    haikei (dear sir) content...

    keigu (sincerely)

Which is the English equivalent of sincerely. For more personal letter you can skip this step and move straight to the body of the letter, and/or giving greeeting i.e. こんにちは、etc. The first part of the main letter should always talk about the addresses health (お元気ですか), the current weather and inquire as to the health of the addresses friends and family. From there you can move onto your reason for writing. Informal style, Although it is not advised, you can skip all the small talk by replacing 拝啓 with :
    zenryaku content.....


meaning "in a quick fashion". Well that is a little about letters in Japan. Finally, I used this third style like the following.
    バグスです content...

The last is the most common I used both in University and at works.


  1. Akiko Yana, Rie Ooki, Yuka Komatsu, 日本語Eメールの書き方, Writing E-mails in Japanese. The Japan Times, 2005.
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