Whether between friends, colleges or businesses, giving and receiving gifts in Japan has its own customs. With its plethora of unfamiliar do's and don'ts, the process can be intimidating to foreigners. But with so much focus on the complicated aspects of gift giving and receiving, many guides fail to bring up the art of how to express a simple \"thank you.\" These instructions will help you find and write the most appropriate version for any gift you receive.
Finding Your Thanks
Choose the level of politeness you want to use. You can use the lowest, most casual thanks used among friends, a less casual thanks, a more polite version or the longest and most polite version. Even if you are writing to a friend, you might want to use a higher politeness level to show proper appreciation for a gift.
Write the word “doumo” if you want to use the most casual thanks. Be careful, as doumo is casual enough it may come off as flippant. Doumo is three characters long in the Japanese syllabary, hiragana (do-u-mo), and is written like this: ???
Write the word “arigatou” if you want to use a less casual thanks. Arigatou is the most generic thanks and can be used in situations in which politeness is not a huge concern. Arigatou is five characters long in hiragana (a-ri-ga-to-u) and is written like this: ?????
Write the words “arigatou gozaimasu” if you want to use a more polite way of saying thank you. This phrase should suffice when you want to give a normal version but still be formal and polite. Gozaimasu is five characters in hiragana (go-za-i-ma-su) and looks like this: ?????. The entire phrase looks like this: ??????????
Write “doumo arigatou gozaimasu” if you want to use the highest level of politeness. This phrase not only raises politeness level but also expresses a much higher level of gratitude. Doumo arigatou gozaimasu is a combination of all three words given so far, and together they look like this: ?????????????
Tip: If you're feeling ambitious, try writing arigatou or arigatou gozaimasu in kanji, the more-difficult Chinese characters used in the Japanese writing system. In kanji, arigatou gozaimasu looks like this: ?????????. However, it is uncommon even for native Japanese speakers to use kanji to express their thanks.