Oyasumi – Meaning, Origin and Usage

Wishing someone a pleasant night is polite and caring. However, it can get pretty routine after a time. Do you want a new, interesting way to say “goodnight” to your friends? Or maybe you’re visiting someone’s house, it’s getting late, and you’re getting ready to leave, and you want to know what to say when you do? Perhaps you are in Japan on vacation and want to politely bid your host goodnight. In that case, “oyasumi” is the word for you. This post unpacks the meaning and origin of this expression.


Translated from Japanese, “oyasumi” means “goodnight”. It’s what you say to someone when you are about to go to sleep, or you may use it when you are saying “goodbye” to someone at night. It is typically used only after 8 pm or after sundown in traditional Japanese culture.

This is typically used as a more polite way of saying “goodnight” or excusing oneself from another’s house. You can use this with people your own age, or people that you look up to or that may have a higher status than you do. Though it is not entirely formal, it is not as common as many other phrases for “goodnight” are.

Example Usage

“I’m about to go to bed. Oyasumi”.

“It was so nice to see you. I’ll come visit again soon. Oyasumi”.

“I’ll see you tomorrow. Oyasumi”.

“Thank you so much for inviting us, Oyasumi, until tomorrow!”

“I am so tired, Oyasumi, have lovely dreams”.


This phrase came from Japanese culture, but the actual origin of the word is not entirely known. It is believed that the phrase was derived from certain Japanese characters, in which “o” and “yasumi” were put together. In this way, the “o” was an honorific prefix used to signalize the formality of the phrase, while “yasumi” means “rest” or “break”. Putting those two phrases together, the term “oyasumi” began to be used as a formal way to say “goodnight” when going to bed or leaving someone else’s house at night.

Phrases Similar to Oyasumi

  • “Oyasuminasai”, which is the more formal version of “oyasumi” and still means “goodnight”.
  • “Yukkuri o yasumi”, which translates to “sleep tight”.

Phrases Opposite to Oyasumi

  • Good morning.
  • “Ohayo”, which translates to “good morning” in Japanese.
  • Hi/hello/etc.

What is the Correct Saying?

  • “Oyasumi” – “Goodnight”

Ways People May Incorrectly Say Oyasumi

“Oyasumi” is used to say “goodnight” when going to bed or leaving someone’s house for the evening. As such, using this term to mean anything other than that would be incorrect. For example, you could not use “oyasumi” to say “good morning” because that is the opposite of what it means. So, “oyasumi, you’re up early” would be incorrect.

Further, you would not use the phrase if you are just entering someone’s home, or if you are leaving their home but it is not nighttime. This may sound like, “oyasumi, it’s good to see you” or “I should be heading out, I have to make lunch soon. Oyasumi”. Both of these phrases would be incorrect, as these are examples of the wrong context in which you would use this word.

Acceptable Ways to Phrase Oyasumi

You may use “oyasumi” to say goodnight to someone when you are going to bed. This could sound like, “it’s getting late. I should head to bed. Oyasumi” or “it’s almost midnight. I should get some rest. Oyasumi”.

If you were to use “oyasumi” as a way to tell someone goodnight when leaving their house in the evening, you may say, “thank you for dinner. Oyasumi” or “I should be getting home, but we should do this again soon. Oyasumi”.

Other examples are:

  • Oyasuminasai, you are very kind for allowing us to visit your home today.
  • Oyasumi father, I will see you in the morning before school.
  • Have a safe trip and oyasumi teacher!



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