Email is one of the most common communication methods in our daily life. In Japan, as well as in other countries, there are many rules for writing business emails. For example, you need to change the writing phrases depending on whether your email destination is internal or external. In this article we’d like to show you the basic business email structure in Japanese as well as the difference between the used phrases in internal and external emails.
- 1 The basic structure of a business email in Japanese
- 2 External business email
- 3 Internal business email
- 4 Template
The basic structure of a business email in Japanese
As you see below, the basic structure might look very similar to an English formal email.
- Brief Pleasantry
- Main Content
- Closing Message
- Sign-off & Signature
In Japan it is better to write a formal email even to somebody who you could talk to casually. Casual talk in a verbal conversation doesn’t necessarily mean that you can write an informal email, so it would be smarter to save casual sentences until your partner starts to write in such a way.
Now let’s go through the differences between the used phrases in internal and external emails.
External business email
|トヨタ自動車株式会社 営業部 部長
|Company name, Department, Position
|突然のご連絡失礼いたします。||When you write an email for the first time|
|いつもお世話になっております。||When you write regularly|
|ご無沙汰しております。||When you contact after a long time|
“いつもお世話になっております” is a standard sentence for daily business emails. You should use this even in a reply.
|ソニー株式会社の田中です。||I’m Tanaka from Sony Corporation.|
Even if it is not the first time you contact someone, you should always add short introduction in an email that will clarify who you are and will help to start a new topic.
There are no template phrases for the main content. Just try to make your sentences short, simple and clear as you probably do in your language when you speak. It is also possible to come straight to the conclusion in the first place and then explain the details.
There is no good translation for the closing messages listed above, but mostly it is something like “Thank you for your time”, “Kind regards,” or “All the best”. The first one can be also translated as “We apologize for the inconvenience, but thank you for your cooperation”. These are standard closing messages in Japanese business emails.
Sign-off & Signature
Your signature in business emails should include:
- Company name
- Phone number
TEL: 03-0000-0000 FAX:
Sales Department Manager
Postcode 000 Minato-ku, Tokyo
TEL: 03-0000-0000 FAX:
Internal business email
If the person has a certain position or has a higher position than you, it’s better to put the position right before the name. However, if your relationship is close to each other, you can simply use “san”.
This phrase is one the most standard greetings in Japan. Again, it’s untranslatable into English, but it means something like “You’ve got to be tired”. Japanese people use this phrase both as hello and goodbye. Also, for the internal business emails, “お疲れ様” is always used at the beginning of every email – even the one to the CEO.
|営業部のジーコです。||It’s Zico from sales department.|
It is only positive to write who you are right after the brief pleasantry. If you work for a large company, introducing your department will also help.
|To the person in a higher position|
Main content / Sign-off & Signature
Use same sentences and form as the external one.
Here you can download a template of business email as a sample: Business-email-template
In Japan there is a special habit how to write/reply emails on business occasion that is not very common for other countries. Want to know more about it: 3 tips to make good impression with email to Japanese people