January 19, 2018

Culture: Learn Japanese – “Hajime”

Hajime Kanji

Here in CultureSpike, we like to expand our cultural horizons, especially when it comes to Japan. Now, no one here is fluent in Japanese, but we do understand a little just by watching our weekly doses of anime. But in an effort to learn conversational Japanese (rather than “tte ba yo!”), we’ll post some Japanese words and phrases and how to use them.

In the first post on CultureSpike.com, we introduced a word “Hajime”. This in literal translation means “beginning”, but it can also have several meanings. One meaning of it is “the first”, which all you manga fans should recognize this by the manga “Hajime no Ippo” which means “The First Step” (“Ippo” means “one step”). “Hajime” with this meaning of “the first” can also be used as a name for a Japanese male. Interestingly enough the kanji for this name is similar to the kanji that represents “one” when used with counting ( which is “一” ).

For all those of you that had taken Japanese martial arts, you may also recognize this word. “Hajime” is what is said at a beginning of a match or “kumite” ( yes Bloodsport ;) see you know more Japanese than you thought). In this case, it means more of a command to “begin” rather than to signify the “beginning”. The opposite of this word, “Yame”, is also used to stop the progress of the match.

Hajime Karate
(Neo would be proud)

The most used version of this word in conversational Japanese is “Hajimemashite”. This is said when first meeting someone for the first time. While it literally means “beginning” (polite form.. we’ll go more into this in other posts), it has a different, but related, meaning when used in this context. It means “nice to meet you” or more closely “we start our relationship”. So, a proper (and formal) way of greeting someone would be: “Hajimemashite! Watashi watomoshimasu. Dozo yoroshiku onegaishimasu” which translate to “Nice to meet you! My name is. It’s a pleasure meeting you”.

Hajime Scarface


Do you know Japanese? Did we get everything right? We would love for you to comment on how we did!



  1. Augustina says:

    Superb inforatmion here, ol’e chap; keep burning the midnight oil.


  1. [...] Culture: Learn Japanese – “Hajime” In the first post on CultureSpike.com, we introduced a word “Hajime”. This in literal translation means “beginning”, but it can also have several meanings. [...]

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