Difficulty of Japanese language is based on the fact that there are several ways to talk with different kinds of people. Being respectful about hierarchy, social status and paying respect to people who deserve it by their merits.
To say “Hello” in Japanese, we can find a few synonymous and manners to initiate a conversation with anybody, but with Japanese we have at least 4 usual ways to express this same simple idea.
- The common way: We’ve all heard in movies or maybe cartoons the word “Konnichiwa”, that is used as the most common greeting towards somebody no matter the social condition.
- When you are at the phone in Japan most of people will answer with “moshi moshi”, that’s only used when somebody picks up the phone. Other differences between English and Japanese languages are that you can find words with a gender specific usage.
- “Ossu” is a common way between male friends to salute each other in a pretty informal manner, maybe similar to “what’s up?” but for men use only. Another way to say “Hi” may be different between Japanese regions or cities, just as Osaka City’s particular way to salute a friend with “yahoo”.
- Also, we can find “super informal” ways, as “saikin do?” that is the most accurate equivalent to “sup”, even over “ossu” but this is not gender specific.
Of course we could go deeper in this subject, as there are other ways that change depending on the hour of the day; “ohayō gozaimasu” before breakfast, "konbanwa" for evenings and after dinner, and "oyasumi nasai" to say “hello” late night or wish somebody a good night and goodbye at the same time.