Saying thank you in Japanese 有難い気持ちを伝える
The famous "arigato gozaimasu" is not the only way to say thank you in Japanese. Let's look at some expressions that express your gratitude in Japanese.
In Japanese, they say thank you with words but also with gestures: you can accompany each of the expressions that follow with a slight movement of the head forward.
Arigato gozaimasu is the classic phrase found in all language textbooks. If there is only one to remember, remember this one, or one of its many variants. If you have trouble with pronunciation, you can use just arigato. The pronunciation is close to "arri-ga-toe". Just "arigato" is a rather familiar way to thank someone, but as a foreigner, you will be forgiven!
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You can also use the form in the past, arigato gozaimashita, to say thank you for something that you have received and no longer have. When saying goodbye, don't forget to reiterate your thanks: you can never thank Japan too much!
Domo (どうも) is the simplest expression to remember. Remember to lengthen the first vowel, pronounce it this way: do-hmo. This often goes with dozo どうぞ (please, do so). So you can safely answer domo if whoever you're speaking with started their sentence with dozo .
You can also combine the two expressions in a domo arigato or, aiming for a high level of politeness, domo arigato gozaimasu.
If you know some basic words in Japanese, you'll know that sumimasen means "excuse me". Know that sumimasen can also, depending on the situation, mean "thank you". Compared to arigato, this expression expresses a feeling of embarrassment, of humility compared to the benefit received. For example, if you drop your Pasmo card and a caring person picks it up for you, you can say sumimasen: you feel gratitude but also a sense of embarrassment because the person bothered to bend down to pick up the lost object.
When someone has taken care of you for a certain period of time, you can use the expression osewa ni narimashita お世話になりました. Literally: "I was your responsibility". It's widely used in the world of work, for example to thank co-workers with whom you've worked on a project for a while. While traveling, you can use it to thank the staff of a ryokan when checking out, or a passer by who has shown you the way by accompanying you to the place you were looking for.
Here's an expression that you will have to use if you meet a member of the imperial family! More seriously, the expression kansha shite-orimasu 感謝しております and it's a very, very polite expression. Kansha suru (感謝する) is a verb that means "to thank"; shite-orimasu being the humble form of suru. Don't use this to thank anyone but those of a very high rank, otherwise you'll be seen as a distant, unfriendly person.