“Good night” in Japanese – Learn the different ways

Today, we will learn all the ways to say “good night” in Japanese. Such a simple phrase as this should be a walk in the park, a real vocab hit and run… but there’s more here than meets the eye! So we’re laying it all out on the table!

A crescent moon wearing a hat with a star pattern

This article gives you all you need to know on exactly how to say “good night” in Japanese, how to master the phrase’s kanji, and how to use it in the proper context. We also throw in some bonus material you can use when it’s time to go to bed!

So without further adieu, let’s get to learning some Japanese!

How to say “good night” in Japanese

We shall set the stage by reminding all you diligent learners that Japanese is a language that honors the gap between familiar and unfamiliar. This idea finds its way into the language as formal and informal. Thusly, here is the Japanese way to say “good night” in both contexts!

Formal “good night” in Japanese

The more formal form for “good night” in the Japanese language is おやすみなさい (Oyasuminasai | お休みなさい). It’s a Japanese expression to be used in formal situations or when you’re speaking with elders, strangers, superiors at work (including co-workers who are older than you), and those of high status.

Some folks just like to be extra polite no matter who they’re talking with, as can be found in the old traditions of Japan. As a rule of thumb, when in doubt, it’s always better use the polite expression.

Informal “good night” in Japanese

The informal or casual way to say “goodnight” in Japanese is おやすみ (Oyasumi|お休み). This is what you’d use with close friends and family members. It can almost sound more like a sweet and short “night!” when said in this way.

Both forms of this expression are super common and can be heard everywhere in Japan or anywhere the Japanese language is heavily dominant!

The polite prefix お (o) in Japanese

For those of you who have been observing Japanese for a while, you will have come across the prefix お (o). This お simply functions as a means to make words sound more polite, endearing, and gentle – it is by no means necessary to complete the word.

Some common examples of words that carry it are おすし (osushi|お寿司), おみず (omizu|お水), おさけ (osake|お酒), おくすり (okusuri|お薬), etc.

This also sometimes transforms to ご (go) instead, like in the word ごきょうりょく(gokyouryoku|ご協力), but that’s beside the point. What’s important to note here is that the お (o) in おやすみ (oyasumi) cannot be removed!

Perhaps at some point, this お (o) was a function of this prefixes magic, but over time it has developed into a set term that has permanently placed the お (o) where it is found to this day. So remember this as a set phrase totally unconnected (practically, anyway) to the polite suffix お (o)!

How to use なさい (nasai) in Japanese

While we’re discussing these two words, it’s the perfect time to review the grammatical transformation なさい (nasai). This small ending follows the stem form of a verb and is used to either give polite and confident directions or enforce a command.

It’s often used by moms talking to their children or public announcers, like on a train or bus.

Because it can be rather harsh and direct, we’d recommend that you don’t use it until you feel completely comfortable with the structure!

やさいをぜんぶたべなさい!(yasai wo zenbu tabenasai!|野菜を全部食べなさい!)

Eat all of your vegetables!

きょうがっこうがあるのではやくおきなさい(kyou gakkou ga aru node hayaku okinasai | 今日学校があるので早く起きなさい)

You have school today, so hurry up and get up

わからなかったらせんせいにききなさい!(wakaranakattara sensei ni kiki nasai! |わからなかったら先生に聞きなさい)

If you don’t understand, ask your teacher!

P.S. don’t get confused here – although おやすみなさい does have the なさい, it is indeed the polite form of this expression!

When to use “good night” in Japanese

Similar to the English language, there are two main ways to use “good night” in Japanese:

  1. Saying when heading home from work or elsewhere late at night.
  2. Saying it right before heading off to bed/sleep

The second use here is quite obvious. Note, again, that the first use of this expression only applies when it is late at night and implies that those departing will go home to sleep.

Here are some simple examples in context:

もうねむくなりましたね、すみません。おさきにかえります。おやすみなさい!(mou nemukunarimashita ne, sumimasen. Osaki ni kaerimasu. Oyasuminasai! | もう眠くなりましたね、すみません。お先に帰ります。お休みなさい!)

I’ve gotten sleepy already, sorry. I’m going to head home. Good night!

Otouto: あにはぼくとビデオゲームいっしょにする?(ani ha boku to bideo geimu issho ni suru? |兄は僕とビデオゲーム一緒にする?)

Big bro, will you play video games with me?

Oniisan: テレビゲイム?じょうだんじゃないさ?ねっちゃうだよ。おやすみ(terebi geimu? Joudan janai sa? Necchau da yo. Oyasumi |テレビゲイム?冗談じゃないさ?寝っちゃうだよ。お休み )

Video games? Are you kidding me? I’m going to bed, good night.

Yuri: とにかく、らいしゅうのきんようびにまたあそびにいこうか(…tonikaku, raishuu no kinyoubi ni mata asobi ni ikou ka?|とにかく、来週の金曜日にまた遊びに行こうか)

Anyway, shall we go out again next Friday?

Maiko: うん、あそぼう!たのしみにしている~!(un, asobou! tanoshiminishiteru~|うん、遊ぼう!楽しみにしている!)

Let’s! I’m looking forward to it~!

Yuri: じゃあ、また。おやすみ(jaa, mata. Oyasumi)

Then see you. Good night!

Maiko: おやすみ!(oyasumi!)

Good night!

Saying good night with おつかれ (otsukare|お疲れ)

Another perhaps not-so-obvious way to say “good night” is with the expression おつかれ(otsukare|お疲れ) or, in a more polite form, おつかれさまです(otsukaresama desu|お疲れ様です).

Here is a rather special expression used by co-workers after a day’s hard work or at the end of a long shift, or really by any group who have shared time working together to achieve a common goal.

In Japanese, if you have an outing with your working peers, for example, it would be more appropriate to use this expression instead of one of the other two we covered above.

The expression can roughly mean “good work today” and is essential to master if you plan on nailing a job in Japan!

Yuuta: きょうみんなががんばりました。ありがとうございました。おつかれさまです(kyou minna ga ganbarimashita. Arigatou gozaimasu. Otsukaresama desu|今日皆が頑張りました。ありがとうございます。お疲れ様です)

Everyone worked really hard today. Thank you. Good night!

Everyone: おつかれさまです (お疲れ様です!| Otsukaresama desu!)

Good night!

What is the kanji for “good night?”

Within the term おやすみ (oyasumi) is the verb やすむ (yasumu|休む). This verb has several meanings, including taking a vacation/day off, being absent, or going to bed/rest. It is a super important verb to remember as a student of Japanese as it’s used all the time!

Also, the kanji character for this Japanese word, 休, is simple and easy to remember! It is comprised of two basic symbols – the symbol for a human and that for a tree. Probably the easiest way to recall this character is by seeing a human resting on a tree. It’s probably a lazy worker who’s constantly absent from the job! And there you have the kanji for good night.

The kanji for oyasumi is wrriten as お休み. But keep in mind that even though kanji can be assigned to this expression, it is often (probably more often than not) written in ひらがな (hiragana) alone!

Other ways to say “good night” in Japanese

Now that we have the basics dialed to a science, let’s learn other phrases which are more creative Japanese ways to say good night!

“Sweet dreams” in Japanese

いいゆめをみてね (ii yume wo mite ne|良い夢を見てね)

“Sweet dreams” is perhaps the second most common way to say good night. This straightforward expression is used among close friends and family, wishing them a good night or good dream. In Japanese, ゆめ (yume|夢), or dream, is used along with the verb みる (miru|見る), which means “to see”!

“It’s about time to go on your futon” in Japanese

そろそろおふとんはいるね (sorosoro ofuton hairu ne|そろそろお布団入るね)

“It’s about time to go on your futon” is a common way for parents to let young children know that it’s time to go to bed. It’s something you can also jokingly say with close friends when it’s sleepy time.

Note: A futon is a type of mattress most commonly used in Japan, so it’s practically synonymous with bed.

“Sleep peacefully” in Japanese

ゆっくりねてね (yukkuri nete ne | ゆっくり練ってね)

“Sleep peacefully” in Japanese is pretty straightforward, wishing a good sleep or good rest for someone. The adverb ゆっくり(yukkuri) means peacefully, slowly, or easefully, and it is a good one to add to your list!

“Let’s meet again in our dreams” in Japanese

ゆめでいっしょにまたあおうね (yume de issho ni mata aou ne| 夢で一緒にまた会おうね)

Let’s meet again in our dreams. Here is a rather romantic expression you might use to wish your date good night at the conclusion of an amazing adventure!

“Dream of me” in Japanese

わたしのゆめ (watashi no yume | 私の夢)

The Japanese way of saying “dream of me” is missing the verb and can translate literally as “a dream of me.” Again, it’s a romantic expression (such a romantic time, right before bed) to be used with someone whom you are closely affectionate with. Try this one out via text!

“Sleep like a good child” in Japanese

いいこだしねるね (iiko dashi neru ne | いい子だしねるね)

“Sleep like a good child” is something usually spoken to children or a kind of joke to a friend or significant other. Either way, it’s one of the sweeter ways to wish someone good night!

“Sleep with the angels” in Japanese

てんしといっしょにねるね (tenshi to issho ni neru ne|天使と一緒に寝るね)

On the one hand, “sleep with the angels” is a sweet way to wish someone a good night. This sentence can also refer to someone who has gone to “sleep with the angels” or someone who has passed away.

Just as a conclusion here, remember that Japanese people tend to be more shy and primarily communicate emotions in other ways than through spoken word. Some of these expressions are rather direct, so be sure that you aren’t being too imposing (for even your romantic partner) before saying them!

On the flip side, if you are interested in a Japanese native, or if you have a Japanese partner, look for other ways through which they might show their affection or interest!

Bonus – Japanese words related to sleep

Here are some additional vocabulary related to good night and sleeping in Japanese.

to sleep寝るねるneru
to lie down横になるよこになるyoko ni naru
lack of sleep睡眠不足すいみんふそくsuimin fusoku

Wrap Up

We hope by learning Japanese ways to say “good night,” you also learned a bit more about the language and Japanese culture!

Once you’ve had a good night’s rest, how about we head on to the morning? Let’s learn how to say “good morning” in Japanese next through this article!

がんばってください (Ganbatte kudasai)! ^^

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