Sign-up / Sign-in

This article will help you write Japanese business emails smoothly, even if you have just started working in Japan. It covers everything you need to know about Japanese business e-mails, including example sentences you can use right away, points to note, and things not to do.

Seven basic rules about writing business emails in Japanese

Japan has its own rules for business emails, and you need to be careful about your manners to avoid offending others. If you fail to do so, you may make the other person uncomfortable within your first sentence and lose their trust in your work. So let’s start by reviewing the following seven basic rules.

(1) Subject line: Convey the body of the message in a concise and easy-to-understand manner.

Try to keep the subject line to about 20 characters, which makes it clear what you want to know and what you want to communicate. If it is too long, the end of the subject line may be cut off when you send it.

Business people deal with dozens to hundreds of emails a day. Therefore, the subject line should be easy to understand without opening the email. By doing so, the recipient can prioritize the e-mails, handle them in a rational manner, and understand the contents quickly.

For example

Here,「○○社の件」や「研修の件について」is not acceptable because the contents are not known until the mail is opened.

For example,
「〇〇社 見積もり確認依頼」「ビジネスメール研修(10/15)実施のお知らせ」

This should be used as a subject line that can be understood without opening the envelope.
You can also use “重要(Important)” or “要返信(Reply Required)” to differentiate important matters from other emails (be careful not to use too many).

(2) To: Use TO, CC, and BCC without making mistakes.

Since the same email will be sent to both of them at the same time, grasp the meaning of the destination setting.

TO: To the person in charge, the person you will be communicating with directly
CC and BCC are for people you want to be aware of the contents of your e-mail.
CC(Carbon Copy): All recipients can see the addresses.
BCC (Blind Carbon Copy): Other recipients cannot see the other e-mail addresses or names.

If you are not acquainted with some of the people you send emails to, be careful not to CC them, as this may lead to information leaks.

(3) Addressee’s name: Other information that should be included in addition to the name (in the case of a personal address)

The recipient’s company name, department name, and name should be listed in this order.

株式会社○○ (Company Name)
△△部 (Department Name)
部長 山田 太郎 様 (Name)

If there is a job title, it will look more polite if you put the full name before the title, but if you don’t, just the last name is fine. Always add “sama” at the end of the name. This is called a title of honor, and is used to show respect and deference to a third party. If you are sending a letter to several people at the same time, you can use only the last name.

When sending to multiple people at the same time

It is not necessary to list everyone’s name. Just use these headings supplied above to address everyone.

If you are addressing a group
When addressing a group without an individual’s name, the address should be “○○ 株式会社(Inc)” or “△△部御中( Department ONCHU)”. When addressed to a group without an individual\’s name, “○○ Inc” or “△△ Department ONCHU” is used. It should not be used for personal names.

It is very rude to use the wrong company name or name. Be sure to check for conversion errors, which are common.

4) Beginning of the text: Start politely with a greeting.

You want to have a variation because it can be different depending on whether you are inside the company, outside the company, or in a specific situation. Before getting to the email body requirements, say your company name and your name after the first sentence.

Here are some example first sentences to use:

先日は貴重なお時間をいただき誠にありがとうございました。:Senzitsuha-Kichona-Ozikanwo-Itadaki-Makotoni-Arigatougozaimashita (After a visit, etc.)
大変ご無沙汰しております。Taihen-Gobusatashiteorimasu  (When contacting someone after a long absence)
ご不在でしたので、メールにてご連絡させていただきます。Gohuzaidesitanode-Meerunite-Gorenraku-saseteitadakimasu (When you were not available by phone, etc.)
何度も申し訳ございません。Nandomo-Moshiwake-Gozaimasen/度々失礼いたします。Tabitabi-Shitsurei-Itashimasu (When contacting many times in one day)
:お世話になります。Osewaninarimasu/初めてご連絡させていただきます。Hazimete-Grenraku-Saseteitadakimasu  (To whom you are sending an e-mail for the first time)
先日はご迷惑をおかけいたしまして大変申し訳ございませんでした。Senzitsuha-Gomeiwakuwo-Okakeitasimashite-Taihen-Moushiwakegozaimasendeshita (Apology)

お疲れ様です “otsukayasama”。(Use words that express appreciation for each other’s hard work)
The word “otsukayasama” is for internal use only. It should not be used for people outside the company as it is considered rude.
It is safer not to use “Gokasama” as it is used for inferiors.

5) Body: Keep the writing style lean and easy to read.

According to the Business Email Survey 2015, the number one characteristic of emails that makes you feel uncomfortable is ambiguity in the text. Other top complaints are difficulty in reading the content, such as difficulty in reading or lack of information. Rude sentences and misspelled words are also in the top 10 complaints.
It is an ironclad rule that not only the subject line, but also the body of the message should be clear about what you want to convey. In addition to the content, the appearance of the message also needs to be considered. It is important to keep in mind that a message that is difficult to read will make the recipient feel uncomfortable, so take the following points into consideration when composing your message.

1. one project per email (cramming requirements into one email is a recipe for confusion and mistakes)
2. use enclosures and bullet points, and moderate line spacing.
3. use quotations to answer questions from the recipient.
If you have a request, clearly state the deadline.
Clearly state who is in charge of the project (who you want to do the work, who in your company will be in charge, etc.)
6. after writing the document, check that the basic layout is done and that the content as well as the appearance is neat and organized.

6) Closing the email: Close with a greeting to make a good impression.

The most concise and popular closing sentence is “よろしくお願いいたします(I look forward to working with you)”. If you use this, you will be fine, but if you use the same greeting every time you communicate with the recipient, it will feel tasteless. In this section, I will introduce some greeting phrases at the end of sentences to suit different situations.

The following is a list of common closing sentences.

I would like to thank you for your cooperation.
Please continue to work with me.

If you want to be more polite, you can use the following phrases. (If you want to be more polite)

When there is a lull in communication, such as with business partners

I would like to thank you for your continued support and guidance.
I would like to thank you for your continued support.

When you request a response…

I would like to ask for your consideration.
I would appreciate your consideration.

When thanking someone

Thank you very much.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

7) Signature: Give your contact information without omission.

Company name Department name
Name (English name)
Postal code and address
Telephone number / Fax number
E-mail address, Website URL
(Depending on the type of business, please include regular holidays and closed days.)

For example:

Jiro Tanaka, □□ 部, XX 会社
Tokyo, Japan
5F, △△ Building, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
Phone: 03-XXXX-XXXX / Fax: 03-XXXX-XXXX

How to create sentences that make a good impression on others and gain their trust

1 – Use honorifics

Use polite language in e-mails because it is difficult to convey emotions. Unlike spoken language or private emails, honorific language is the basis. Do not confuse honorific and humble words, which are often mistaken. Respectful words are used when you want to respect the person who is doing the action. Humble words are used when you want to respect the recipient of the action. If you make a mistake, you may be taken as looking down on the other person, so it is one of the most important things to pay attention to. Here are some examples that are particularly prone to mistakes

If you want to convey your boss A’s intentions to someone outside the company, use humble language.
Even if your boss is in a higher position than you, he or she is in a lower position than the other person outside the company.
However, if it is an internal email, use reverent language about A, because Boss A is in a higher position than you.

2 – Season’s greetings

Season’s greetings are greetings that include the season and the weather of the month at the beginning of the body of the message. It is a letter format used for thank-you notes and formal documents. It is also often used when creating formal documents via e-mail. There are standardized phrases that can be quoted by selecting the season and month. Since the seasons vary from region to region, there is no absolute correct answer, and you can include your own sentiments such as “It’s now the season of beautiful cherry blossoms.”

3 – Words of concern for the recipient

I’ve already mentioned that the basic rule is to write a business email that succinctly conveys the requirements. However, one of the most important skills to get on the right track as a working adult in Japan is to be able to add a word of concern for the recipient. The best way to do this is to put yourself in the recipient’s shoes. It is best if you can put yourself in the recipient’s shoes and say something that will build a good relationship with them.

Example: When making a request

I’m sorry to bother you.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.
If you have any questions, please feel free to ask.

Example: A Word of Thanks

Thank you very much for your prompt reply.
Thank you very much for your prompt reply.
Please take care of yourself.

Things NOT to do

Even if you have taken the trouble to compose an email, if you use the wrong honorific or make a typographical error, it will make the recipient feel uncomfortable. To prevent this from happening, here are some of the most common mistakes you can make.

What to say in an email

You can use “弊社(we)” for your company and “貴社(you)” for the other company.

In order not to make it a bad email.

Don’t mistake respectful words and humble words (making a mistake means that you look down on the other person).
Don’t send frequently (don’t rush to reply many times).
Don’t send too often (don’t rush to reply repeatedly). Do not use symbols or emoticons such as ^^.
If you are sending a series of emails to the same person, start with “Thank you for your help. I’m sorry to bother you again.

Do not send emails early in the morning or late at night.
Don’t send it early in the morning or late at night (it’s better to send it between 8:30 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. during normal business hours).
Avoid sentences that are too long or too short.
Avoid using too long or too short sentences.

Avoid using only “Re:” in the subject line.
When you are angry, try to communicate by phone rather than by e-mail (e-mail gives a harsh impression).
Avoid long sentences with too many line breaks or no line breaks (make your sentences clear and easy to read).
Avoid long sentences with too many line breaks (make sentences neat and easy to read).

Be careful not to misspell or misconstrue (especially company names, names, product names, etc.).
Do not use too many hiragana, as it makes the text difficult to read.

Now, let’s try to compose an email based on the above.

You can copy and use them as is! Example sentences for different situations

Sales (proposals regarding products and services)




Thank you very much for using our product “XX”.

The new product “XX” will go on sale on October 0.
We would like to ask you for your kind consideration.
If you would like to place an order, please contact Tanaka. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.

Request a Quote



3.受け取り場所 弊社○○支店


Thank you very much for your suggestion of a new product the other day.

We are now considering the introduction of the new product “XX” that you(Tanaka-sama) proposed.
Please prepare a quotation with the following information.

Products to be quoted
New product “XX” x 100 sets
Payment method
3. Place of receipt: Our company’s XX branch

We would be very grateful if you could provide us with the quotation by the end of October, so that we can adjust our budget based on the quotation. I apologize for the inconvenience, but I would appreciate your consideration.

It is an important manner for working people in Japan to be considerate of each other so that they can work comfortably. I hope you will refer to this article and try to send e-mails in accordance with Japanese business rules so that you can use it as an important tool to make your work go smoothly. However, if you find it difficult to check yourself and are unsure about honorific expressions, don’t hesitate to ask a Japanese person in your company, or enroll in business Japanese lessons with Toranomon Language School so that you will never struggle again.

2 thoughts on “Writing Business Emails in Japanese and What Not to Do”

  1. Hi! I understand this is sort of off-topic however I needed to
    ask. Does operating a well-established website such as yours require a lot of work?
    I’m brand new to blogging but I do write in my diary everyday.

    I’d like to start a blog so I can easily share my experience and feelings online.
    Please let me know if you have any recommendations or tips for brand new aspiring blog owners.


    1. We have a team of web designers who made and update our website/blog. They work internally within Toranomon Language School, not 3rd party hire. We use WordPress for everything, but there are several other website builders you can use, too. Good luck on your blog!
      Be sure to sign up for our English or Japanese courses, too! We also have English, Japanese, Digital Marketing & Design, and International Politics and Governance for kids grade 3-12 this summer only.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *