Japanese Culture – Leaving Home and Coming Back

Hello Everyone,

In this article we will see how Japanese people do take leave from each other when departing from a place, and great each others back when coming back to that place.


It is a tradition in Japan, when leaving a place like home, be it for a few minutes to go to the grocery, a few hours to go to work or weeks to go on travel, to take leave of family or friends in that place (or even the place itself for some persons living alone) by using the set expression:

行ってきますいってきます[ittekimasu]/ I'am off. /

Note: The use of hiragana is the most common for the expressions in this article and are put forward.

This expression is composed of two verbs: 行く(いく) [iku] /to go/ and 来る(くる) [kuru] /to come/, the first at the progressive -て form and the second the polite present/future -ます form, and litteraly means “I am going and I will come back.”.

The answer given to this expression the person(s) remaining in the place being leaved is:

行ってらっしゃいいってらっしゃい[itterasshai]/ Have a nice day. /

It is composed of the same two verbs, but the second is put at a polite imperative form and becomes いらっしゃい [irasshai] /come (please)/ from which the initial い is dropped.

Coming back

Later, when coming back home or to that place, the person who had left will say:

只今ただいま[tadaima]/ I'm back. /

Which is a shortened version of the more formal expression:

只今 戻りましたただいま もどりました[tadaima modorimashita]/ I'm back. /

The expression is composed of ただいま [tada ima] /just now/, and the verb 戻る (もどる) at the past -ました form. It literally means “I just came back”, or “Just now” with an implicit “I came back” for the shorter and most common version.

To this, the persons at home will answer:

お帰りおかえり[o-kaeri]/ Welcome back! /

Here again, this expression is a shortened version of the more formal:

お帰りなさいおかえりなさい[o-kaerinasai]/ Please, be welcome back! /

This is mainly the verb 帰る (かえる) /to come back, to return/ at the polite imperative -なさい form, and preceded by the honorific prefix お- which is a word beautifier used to add some polite respect to the attached word, here the return of that person.


Here it is for this lesson. Do not hesitate if you have questions or comments. And do not hesitate to like and share.


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