What does "Arigatou" mean? How to write Arigatou in Hiragana/ Kanji?

We're sure a lot of you have seen scenes in Japanese films and dramas where the actors say the term "Arigatou" as a way of thanks, or maybe as a show of their feelings alongside a smile. Let's take a look into the real meaning of "Arigatou", its origin, way of writing, and variations. Make sure to read until the end!

The Meaning of Arigatou

The word "Arigatou" actually originates from Buddhism and comes from Buddha himself. It is said that the word was created as a means of Buddha thanking the fact that humans were able to be born.

The term "Arigatai" was born from the 2 words "Aru" and "Muzukashii". It includes the meaning of obtaining certain items being difficult, which evolved into the term "Arigatou", eventually leading to the word being used to express thanks.

How to Write "Arigatou"



While the kanji is "有難う", nowadays most people just write the hiragana "ありがとう".

How to use "Arigatou"


There are 2 ways to use Arigatou, the first is the short version, and the second is the long version. The short version is simply "Arigatou", while the longer version is "Arigatougozaimasu". 

1. Using the Short Version of Arigatou

The short version "Arigatou" is typically used among friends, family, and other such casual relationships.

2. Using the Long Version of Arigatou

ありがとうございます/ Arigatou Gozaimasu

  • Words that end in "masu" or "desu" are more formal than normal, and this is no different from "Arigatou". This is not only used in everyday conversation but when talking to your boss or clients through work. The word itself is still used to express gratitude.

You can also use this form when you want to express a higher level of gratitude to somebody. For example, if you visit a seminar in Japan, you may hear the speaker use this word to thank people for coming to Japan. While he is thanking you for coming to Japan, it also expresses gratitude for coming to the seminar itself and taking time out of your busy day to listen.

ありがとうございました/ Arigatou Gozaimashita

  • While this word has the same meaning as the previous, it is used in past tense instead of present tense.
  • It has the meaning of giving gratitude for all of the things that have happened up until this point, however, it also has the meaning of cutting ties from the person in question, so if you're planning to continue working alongside / being with this person, use "Arigatougozaimasu" instead.

Arigatou's Honorifics 

There are a few ways to express gratitude using honorifics:

1. 誠にありがとうございます/ Makoto ni arigatou gozaimasu

If you use the term "Makoto ni" at the start of a sentence, the sentence will become even more formal. The meaning itself is similar to "Honto ni" or "Sugoku". It's used a lot in business emails.

2. どうもありがとうございます/ Doumo arigatou gozaimasu

This one is used quite often in everyday conversation.

3. 御礼申し上げます/ Orei mōshi agemasu

This is another sentence used when expressing feelings of gratitude. "Orei" is the "thanks" part of the sentence and "mōshi agemasu" means "to say".

4. 感謝いたします/ Kansha itashimasu

This is a more straightforward way of showing your thanks. "Itasu" is a slightly more modest way of saying something, and is often used for business emails and replies to your boss. Also, you can use expressions such as "Kasanete kansha itashimasu" when thanking someone multiple times or even "Aratamete kansha itashimasu".

5. 恐れ入ります/Osoreirimasu

"Osoreirimasu" is not only used when paying respect to others but also when expressing gratitude. While you can say just this, you can also add "Gohairyoitadaki osoreirimasu" to create an even more respectful phrase. This not only thanks the person in question, but also expresses modesty as well, it is used often when talking with your boss.

Ways of Saying「ありがとう」(Arigatou) in Dialects

There are many ways of saying "Arigatou" depending on where you are around Japan, let's take a look at some of the dialects.

Prefecture

 SayingReading
General
ありがとう
Arigatou
Hokkaido 
ありがとう
Arigatou
Aomori 
ありがとうごす
Arigatou gosu
Akitaありがとさん
Arigato san
Iwate 
ありがとうがんす
Arigatou gansu
Yamagata
もっけ, ありがとうさん
Mokke, Arigatou san
Miyagi
ありがとうがす
Arigatou gasu
Fukushima
たいへん, してもらって
Taihen, Shite moratte
Nagano 
ありがとうござんす
Arigatou gozansu
Aichi ありがとうさん, おおきに 
Arigatou san, Ooki ni
Gifu 
きのどく、うたてー
Ki no doku, Utate-
Niigata 
ごちそうさまです
Gochisou sama desu
Toyama
ごちそうさま、きのどく
Gochisou sama, Ki no doku
Ishikawa
きのどく、ようした
Ki no doku, Youshita
Fukui
おおきに、きのどく
Ookini, Ki no doku
Osaka
おおきに
 Ooki ni
Hyogo 
おおきに、ありがとうおます
Ooki ni , Arigatou omasu
Tottori 
だんだん、ようこそ
 Dan dan, Youkoso
Okayama
ありがとうござんす
Arigatou gozansu
Hiroshimaありがとうあります
Arigatou arimasu
Yamaguchi
たえがとうございます
Taegatou gozaimasu
Tokushima & Kochi
たまるか
Tamaru ka
Ehime & Shimane
だんだん
Dan dan
Nagasaki
ありがとうござす
Arigatou gozasu
Saga 
おおきに
Ooki ni
Miyazaki
おおきに、だんだん、かたじけない
Ooki ni, Dan dan, Katajikenai
Kumamoto
だんだん、ちょうじょう
Dan dan, Choujou
Kagoshima
ありがとうごわす
Arigatou gowasu
Okinawa
にへーでーびる
Nihe-de-biru
Miyakojima たんでぃがーたんでぃ
Tandiga-tandi


Other ways to express your feelings without using "Arigatou"

There are some other ways to express your feelings of thanks such as "Doumo" or "Sumimasen". While it may sound like an apology, it's actually a way of thanking someone.

Here are some other ways to thank people without using "Arigatou" in Japanese.

  • とても嬉しく思います/ Totemo ureshiku omoimasu
  • 心より感謝いたします/ Kokoro yori kansha itashimasu
  • 感激いたしました/ Kangeki itashimashita
  • 感謝の言葉もございません/ Kansha no kotoba mo gozaimasen
  • 身に余るお言葉です/ Miniamaru o kotoba desu

How to reply to "Arigatou" 

Within everyday life, when you thank someone you'll typically get a reply such as "ie, douitashimashite", however, there are some times when this phrase doesn't match the situation it's being used in.

Here are some other examples which you can use in the specific situations.

Work, Boss, Humble Languages, Meeting People for the First Time

  • 「どういたしまして」/Dou itashimashite
  • 「恐れ入ります」/Osoreirimasu
  • 「恐縮です」/Kyōshukudesu
  • 「とんでもございません。お役に立てればうれしいです」/Tondemo gozaimasen, o yaku ni tateba ureshii desu
  • 「とんでもないです」/ Tondemo nai desu
  • 「こちらこそ、お役にたてて、うれしいです」/ Kochira koso, oyakuni tatete, ureshiidesu
  • 「こちらこそありがとうございます」/ Kochira koso, arigatou gozaimasu
  • 「お役に立てて嬉しいです」/ O yaku ni tatete, ureshii desu
  • 「いえ、いえ・・」/ Ie, ie
  • 「いえ、どういたしまして」/ Ie, Douitashimashite

Friend / Rivals

  • 「また何かあったら言ってね」/ Mata nani ka attara itte ne
  • 「また何かあったら遠慮なく聞いてね」/ Mata nani ka attara enryonaku kiite ne
  • 「気にしないでいいよ」/ Ki ni shinaide ii yo
  • 「頑張れよ!」/ Gambare yo!
  • 「また相談乗るよ!」/ Mata Soudan noru yo
  • 「こんどおごれよ!」/ Kondo ogore yo!
  • 「その言葉忘れんなっ」/ Sono kotoba wasurenna!
  • 「そんなことは知らん」/ Sonna koto wa shiran!

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