For all you Japanese language learning 生徒 out there, this isn’t your normal “found on a Q&A site ‘What does yoroshiku onegaishimasu mean'” kind of post. No. This is the ultimate ‘What does Yoroshiku Onegaishimasu mean?’ kind of post. And by “ultimate” I mean “holy crap, look at that kanji!”
The Definition of Yoroshiku Onegaishimasu
The definition of “yoroshiku onegaishimasu” is really hard. It’s one of those words that isn’t really translatable. It’s a concept that’s hard to grasp and hard to define in the English language (not to mention plenty of other languages as well). I’m sure that many of you will have “correct” definitions of yoroshiku onegaishimasu as well (put them in the comments / read the comments, they’re useful!). There are different ways that yoroshiku onegaishimasu is used, as well, depending on the situation. We’ll also take a look at the shorter, more casual yoroshiku, just in case you weren’t sure of the difference.
Let’s take a look at some attempts at “definitions.” Keep in mind, these definitions are clunky at best. We’ll take these and put them into “example situations” as well, so you can get a better understanding of these definitions a little later.
In general, you’ll want to use this one in more formal situations, with people that have a higher status than you, and basically anytime you’re not sure which one to use. It’s more formal that yoroshiku on its own, but it’s also safer, too.
“Be Kind to me”
“I am in your debt”
“I’m counting on you”
“Please help me”
“Please take care of me”
“Nice to meet you”
This is pretty much the same thing as yoroshiku onegaishimasu, but it’s not as formal. If you’re not sure whether or not it’s okay to use yoroshiku on its own, you should probably just use yoroshiku onegaishimasu. It means the same things as what’s above.
The problem is that you can (kind of) define these words, but they still don’t really mean anything. How do you use these things? When do you use them? Why do you use them? All that’s important.
I think you probably have to experience using / seeing these things used quite a bit before the definitions start making sense. Why? Because the definitions don’t quite fit… at least not 100%. The English definitions just don’t define the feeling behind the words. Really, they are indescribable. You have to experience them first hand… or, at the very least, see a lot of examples.
Examples Of Yoroshiku Being Used
I’m not saying you’ll become a pro at using this undefinable word just by looking at examples, but it will definitely help. This is a very “situational” kind of word, and the more situations you see, the more you’ll come to understand the feelings behind them (and then come to understand the word yoroshiku as well). To understand these, you’ll have to know at least a beginner’s amount of Japanese (or perhaps even lower intermediate). No matter who you are, though, you can read through the explanations and still get a sense of the word, even if you can’t read what’s being said (just use the translations).
I am Koichi. Nice to meet you / Please be kind to me
Of course, I’m not actually asking people to be kind because I think they’re mean. I’m saying that I’m happy they’re accepting my introduction, and accepting me. And I’m also saying I know that I’m not very high up, and I am just a small speck compared to everyone else. So, it’s not that I’m really asking them to be kind, at least not literally. I’m just saying that I’m sort of in their hands, and that they can do what they’d like with me. I’m just happy they allowed me to meet them and am hoping that future interactions are good.
Please send my regards to Bobby
I’m literally sending my “yoroshiku onegaishimasu” feelings to Bobby (ボッビーさんに). In this case, I’m just sending “my regards.” In this context, I’m not saying “nice to meet you” (I obviously know Bobby already), but I’m sending my regards to him. It’s kind of like saying “Say ‘hi’ to Bobby for me!”
You give something to a co-worker to do for you / a coworker is doing extra work for you
When you are heading out, you might say yoroshiku onegaishimasu to the co-worker, because he/she is helping you out with a project, or something. It’s like saying “thank you in advance” or “I’m counting on you.” This is more of the “I’m in your debt” kind of definition, though none of them really fit 100% perfectly, I’d say.
Please treat me well this year as well
It also has a feeling of “let’s do a good job again this year” or “let’s work well together again this year.” Really depends on the relationship, I suppose. It could also mean “please help me again this year” (in a very general sense).
If you’re joining a new group, school, company, etc
…saying yoroshiku onegaishimasu means something along the lines of “I’ll do my best through the future” or “I’m sorry, but please help me in future undecided times when you’ll have to help me” or “Please help me out.”
I’m going to stop there – as you can see, there are many different phrases and situations its used in. All of them have different definitions, based on the context. There are a few kind of “feelings” that yoroshiku onegaishimasu has, though.
Looking At Yoroshiku’s Kanji
The kanji for yoroshiku is actually pretty wild. In fact, I didn’t know a kanji for yoroshiku even existed until I saw it on the TextFugu forums (someone posted it up, and I was like… what the heck is that??). This word is almost always written in kana, not in kanji, which is why I thought it was weird. Here’s what it looks like:
Updates: However, as you folks point out in the comments, there’s a better way to do the kanji – we’ll do both now, for fun.
The better way is this:
This is just the adverb form of 宜しい, which means “good” or “alright.” Still don’t think this helps a ton in terms of figuring out a “better” definition for this word, but it helps a little. Couple this with onegaishimasu (お願いします) and we get a little more information, because お願いします means something more along the lines of “please help me” (and its meaning, while still also untranslatable, is a little more consistent… and I mean a little… than the whole phrase yoroshiku onegaishimasu).
“good please help me”
So, this does kind of covers some of the feelings present when you say yoroshiku onegaishimasu. There is the feeling of a good future, and of relying on someone else to help you in some way (even if that help is just future acceptance of your existence). The kanji itself for 宜 means “good” or “best regards,” too, which points us even closer towards more of the contexts of yoroshiku that exist (remember in one of the examples where you “send your best wishes” to someone?). In effect, looking at this particular kanji (not the next one, thank you commenters!) actually does help decipher the meaning of this word just a little bit. It doesn’t give us a “perfect” translation, but it does help to show the feelings behind the word just a little bit better. Yet another reason to learn kanji (and learn it better than me, apparently :)
That being said, there’s an “ateji” version of yoroshiku as well. Ateji basically are kanji that contain the correct sounds used to “spell out” Japanese words. This is mostly done with kana now (especially katakana), but you still see it lingering around a decent bit. Here’s the ateji version of yoroshiku, which you saw briefly earlier:
If you know a little bit of Japanese, you’ll know that yoroshiku is made up of four separate kana (よろしく). That means that this version consists of one kanji per kana. Wow. When I saw this kanji, I was (incorrectly) thinking… hmmm, I wonder if I can break these kanji apart, take their separate meanings, and come up with a slightly more accurate definition of yoroshiku (compared to all the other so-so definitions out there). I’m not sure if I came up with something better, but here’s a breakdown of the four kanji:
夜: Evening, Night
苦: Hardship, Suffering
Usually when you break up jukugo words (combination kanji words), take their individual meanings, and put them together again, you come up with something that makes a good amount of sense. Unfortunately, when you break things up that consist of ateji kanji, they have almost no meaning or relation at all to the actual word itself. Only the sounds correlate, and that’s what happened here. Still though, I thought all these kanji just feel so… poetic… not to mention incredibly emo.
I feel like the first two go together (evening & dew) and the last two go together (death & hardship), but that’s about as far as you can take things. That’s the fun of kanji, I guess…
So, all that being said, I want to know what you think. You’ve learned the definition of yoroshiku. You’ve seen it in action to help you get a better idea of how it’s used and what it means, based on context. We’ve also looked at the kanji, which has helped a little. So, how would you define this word. Can you help come up with a “better” definition? The best answerers will get Tofugu Stickers (yes, they exist).
On top of all this, there are other good “yoroshiku” situations that exist out there… probably a ton more. If you’ve had experience with yoroshiku, share them in the comments below! The more examples people can see, the more they’ll understand the “feeling” behind よろしく, rather than the clunky definitions we try to make up for it.
P.S. Are you following Tofugu on Twitter? よろしくおねがいします!!