Simplifying Formal Japanese (Video Series)

Hey gang,

Here’s the first video in a new series that I’ve decided to make called ‘Kantan Keigo’. Basically the idea is to take formal keigo phrases, break them down and offer alternatives that you might find much more useful on a daily basis.

I’d love it if you guys could have a watch and tell me what you think. Perhaps you could tell me some keigo phrases that you’d like to see featured in the future. Thanks for watching!

P.S. 2 things I’ve already been made aware of.

  1. Should it be kantanNA keigo?
    Yes that would be grammatically correct but it just doesn’t have the same ring to it. The channel is called Kantan Japan too but again, names can be a little bit more relaxed with the rules.

  2. The romaji in the video reads HA instead of Wa.
    Yep, that’s my bad. Since I started learning, I have almost never used romaji, so I kind of forgot that it was giving you the literally pronunciation of the character. I was thinking from the view that all particle は’s are pronnounced WA, so if I wrote HA, everybody would understand. I’ll fix this in the next video though, as I want it to be ass accessible as possible.


Nice video.

However, I do think the relative lack of お元気ですか in conversational Japanese has less to do with its formality and more to do with the fact that Japanese is not English. Lemme explain what I mean:

In English, “how are you?” is meaningless small-talk. It’s standard conversation-opening handshaking “hi” “hi” “how are you” “fine thanks, you?” “I’m fine”. It bears just as much meaning to the conversation as a whole as the noises old dial-up modems made when they were connecting. Badly-written Japanese textbooks introduce お元気ですか as lesson number two, because that’s the second thing an English speaker would think to say. Well-written Japanese textbooks focus on breaking English speakers out of the English mindset from the beginning, and thus don’t cover お元気ですか at all.

Why? Because in Japanese, お元気ですか is an intensely personal question that you only ask if you genuinely care about the answer - you touched on this when you pointed out that it more commonly follows お久しぶり, but didn’t really mention it explicitly.

Mindless conversation-handshaking in Japanese consists of things like “nice weather, isn’t it?” or “so how about that sportsball last night”.

(Meanwhile, “good day to you, sir” is more like ごきげんよう. :stuck_out_tongue:)


Yea I totally understand what you’re saying. Thanks for the feedback!

If you’ve never used romanji in your learning (which I am sure is the correct approach), then why use it in the videos you make for other learners?


That’s a good idea for a video series. I’m sure it will be helpful for a lot of people.

Incidentally, looks like you got a typo in your edit.

“How’s is been going lately?” at about 3:25.

1 Like

That’s a fair question but I just think a lot of learners do like to use it. Also, I make travel videos about Japan for tourists, so I don’t want to exclude some of my viewers if they only have a casual interest in learning some Japanese phrases.

1 Like

Thanks for watching and giving some feedback. Oh bugger, seems impossible to make a video full of text without making at least a few typos! Will try harder to proof read on the next one!

1 Like

Yep, fair enough! It all depends on the audience you are after I guess. Tourists after a phase-book kind of experience rather than more serious learners. I hope it goes well! Good luck with it!

My secret super power is being completely unable to see typos in my own writing.


This one stays!