Unlike in English, saying “let’s go” in Japanese is not just about learning two simple words.
In fact, when you want to say “let’s go, let’s eat” or anything of the sort in Japanese you’ll instead be using a single word. This is because “let’s” in Japanese is actually a grammar point.
In this ultimate guide, I will be explaining both the grammar point for people who would like more info, and I will also be providing simple ready-to-use sentences coupled with examples for those who are just looking for ways on how to say “let’s go” in Japanese.
However, the grammar point is not so bad because once you know how to conjugate it, you can transform every verb into “let’s.”
With that said, now we’re going to explore and learn about all the ways you can say “let’s go and do something,” or “let’s go” in Japanese.
Let’s begin! 始めよう！
Table of Contents
How to say “Go” in Japanese
First, let’s look at how to say “go.”
- To Go
To say “go” in Japanese, we can use the word 行く (iku). By itself, this word simply means “to go.” You can use it when you want to tell someone that you will go somewhere. For instance, if a friend asks if you’re going to the party that’s happening later the conversation might look like this:
kyou no pa-tei- ni iku?
Are you going to today’s party?
If you’re going, you can simply say:
Although 行く (iku) literally translates to “go,” you can use it by itself to say things like: “I’m going”, or “I will go.” You can even use it as a way to say “yes” in Japanese. It’s worth noting that the Japanese language often omits pronouns where context is clear. You don’t even need to say “I” here! Another example:
kyou, jimu ni iku?
Are you going to the gym today?
Simply saying 行く (iku) is sufficient enough again here! Of course, if you’re not going you can say you aren’t by using 行かない (ikanai) instead.
Go in Formal Japanese
Currently, we’ve looked at the plain form of 行く (iku). The plain form (or dictionary form) refers to a casual style of speech. This means that you should only use 行く (iku) when you’re speaking with friends or family. This is because the Japanese language has many different styles of speech that show different levels of respect/politeness.
When you’re speaking with people such as a manager, teacher, or even a stranger you should use a more formal style of speech. These honorifics are called keigo.
In the case of 行く (iku), it becomes 行きます (ikimasu) when speaking formal Japanese.
Let’s say you’re having a conversation with your manager:
kaigi ni ikimasu ka?
Are you going to the meeting later?
Your (formal) response:
Yes. (I am going)
How to say “Let’s” in Japanese
Now that we’ve covered how to say “go” in Japanese, let’s take a look at how to say “let’s.” Being able to say “let’s” in Japanese isn’t as simple as just learning a single word like in English. Instead, it’s a grammar point.
This grammar point is called the volitional form. You use it when you want to make a proposition to do something, invite someone to do something, or propose an action.
Put simply, you use the volitional form when you want to say “Let’s” in Japanese.
If you’re interested in learning all about the form in detail, as well as practising with it, you should definitely check out our Free Japanese Reading Practice.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at how “let’s go” is said in Japanese.
Let’s Go in Japanese
- Let’s Go
When you want to say to someone “let’s go” in Japanese, you’ll want to use 行こう (ikou). Grammatically speaking, 行こう (ikou) is the volitional form of 行く (iku). All volitional words will end in う (u) so it makes it a little easier to recognise.
Just like 行く (iku), you can use 行こう (ikou) by itself as a sentence. For instance, imagine you’re preparing for a camping trip with your friend. Your friend says:
And you reply:
Also like 行く (iku), you can use 行こう (ikou) to say yes to things. Let’s take a look at another example. Your partner asks you:
konya, resutoran ni ikanai?
Shall we go to a restaurant tonight?
Assuming you’re all up for wanting to watch a movie, you can simply reply:
Yeah! (Let’s go)
Sometimes situations where you want to say “let’s go” is interchangeable with “yes.” That’s why you can also use 行こう (ikou) when you want to give an affirmative response to something.
It’s worth noting that all words in the volitional form can convey “yes” too.
As previously mentioned Japanese has many different styles of casual and formal speech that change depending on whom you’re speaking with. Saying 行こう (ikou) is something that you should only do with your friends, family, or in a casual setting. The formal variant is what we’ll discuss next!
Formal ways to say Let’s Go
- Let’s Go (formal)
Understanding how the volitional form works in polite Japanese is much easier than in casual Japanese.
As a quick and simple explanation, take any Japanese verb in the ます (masu) form. Remove the す (su) and attach しょう (shou). That’s all there is to it.
A few examples:
食べます ー 食べま
す ー 食べましょう (Let’s eat)
見ます － 見ま
す ー 見ましょう (Let’s see/ Let’s watch)
Back to the Star of today’s post! The casual 行く(iku), meaning “to go” becomes the formal 行きます (ikimasu). And then:
行きます ー 行きま
す ー 行きましょう
Exactly like how you would use 行こう (ikou) to say “let’s go” in a casual setting, you can use 行きましょう (ikimashou) to say the same thing in a formal one.
Let’s take a look at examples. Let’s say you’ve joined a hiking group. You’re with people with whom you’re not too familiar. You’re trying to work out where to go, and someone suggests a place:
kono tokoro ha dou desuka?
How about this place?
If you’re all up for it, you can say:
In this example, you can think of 行きましょう (ikimashou) as a polite way to say “sounds good” in Japanese. You’re essentially telling the person that you’re happy to do the thing that they’re proposing.
If you’re wondering what to say when you’re not too keen on the idea, we have an ultimate guide on how to say No in Japanese. Declining things in Japanese can be a little tricky, but the guide should definitely be able to explain all the nuances and everything clearly to you.
Let’s Go in Japanese Keigo
- Let’s Go (Very formal, Keigo)
There is actually another way to go even further beyond and say “let’s go” when you want to be super formal. This super formal Japanese is called Keigo. You will hear it a lot when you’re being spoken to as a customer.
For instance, when you are checking in at a hotel, or when you’re paying for an item at a cashier, the staff may use it with you. They use this super polite style of speech to really emphasize how valued you are (as a customer).
In the case of 参りましょう (mairimashou), you’ll probably not hear it as much in Japanese speech.
Let’s Go in Japanese Keigo Examples
Being a massive The Legend of Zelda fan I was playing Hyrule Warriors the other night. I play with Japanese voices out of preference and I noticed a great example of this phrase being used in the game.
I noticed how the character Impa, who is a loyal protector of Princess Zelda, speaks to the King of Hyrule. In Hyrule Warriors you can select characters you’d like to join you on quests and missions. When I selected Impa and the King of Hyrule together, she says:
Let us be off, your majesty!
I thought this was a fantastic example of how much formality 参りましょう (mairimashou) carries.
When you use this phrase, you’re really putting the person you’re speaking with on a pedestal.
Another situation where I’ve used this kind of phrase before was when I went to Mcdonalds (in Japan) for my job interview. After preparing to the best of my ability and trying to calm my nerves as much as possible I entered the building. I asked the staff:
sumimasen, tenchou ga irashaimasu ka?
Excuse me, is the manager about?
To which they replied:
shoushou omachikudasai. sugu mairimasu.
Please wait for a moment. They’ll be with you momentarily.
参ります (mairimasu) can also mean “to come” as well as “to go” in Japanese, making it a little easier to use!
Let’s Go Together
- Let’s Go Together
Jumping back to 行こう, if you attach the word 一緒に (isshoni) to the phrase, you can say “let’s go together” in Japanese.
一緒に (isshoni) means “together” in Japanese, and you can use it exactly how you would use “together” in English.
As we discussed earlier, 行こう (ikou) is the casual way to say “let’s go” in Japanese. When you want to specify that you particularly want to go somewhere with someone you might want to use the phrase 一緒に行こう (isshoni ikou). For instance, let’s say your partner is looking at some photographs of a new theme park that’s opened up near you. They might say:
atarashii yuuenchi wa sugoku tanoshisou.
The new theme park looks so fun.
You might respond:
Let’s go together!
一緒に行こう (isshoni ikou) is a phrase that you should only use with friends and family. You can say 一緒に行きましょう (isshoni ikimashou) to say “let’s go together” in polite Japanese.
Right, Let’s Go
- Right, Let’s Go
saa / deha / jaa / yoshi + ikou
In situations where we are looking to depart or go somewhere, we might say “right, let’s go,” or “okay/alright, let’s go.”
These situations would mostly be those where you’re about to depart at any second. For instance, imagine you’ve just packed the car for a road trip. You quickly scan through your head to make sure you haven’t forgotten anything.
You think everything is good to go, and you’re ready to depart. In English, you might say “okay, let’s go.” The “okay” in this sentence is where the さあ (saa)・よし (yoshi)・じゃあ (jaa)・では (deha) come in.
さあ (saa)・よし (yoshi)・じゃあ (jaa) ・では (deha) can be used pretty much interchangeably. The order in which you see them displayed on this page shows how formal each expression is, from casual to formal.
The difference between さあ・よし・じゃあ・では
さあ (saa) is the most casual of the group and is best used with those with whom you are familiar.
You might also hear さあ (saa) being used as a filler word in sentences by young people.
When you want to use it as a filler word, you suggest you have something a little delicate to say and are working out how to word it correctly. In the case of today’s topic, you can use さあ、行こう (saa ikou) when you want to say “right, let’s go” casually in Japanese.
After you’ve finished packing the car for the trip, you might say よし行こう (yoshi ikou). Here the よし (yoshi) can be interpreted as “okay” as in “okay (that’s finished), let’s go.”
When you use じゃあ (jaa) and say じゃあ行こう (jaa ikou) you’re essentially saying “well then, let’s go.” For instance, let’s say you ask your partner, who is joining you on this camping trip if they’re ready. They say:
un, junbi ga owatta
Yeah, preparations are finished!
To which, you reply:
Well then, Let’s go!
When you say じゃあ (jaa), you’re essentially saying “if that’s the case, then…”
では (deha) is the most formal of the group. Therefore, It is best used in conjunction with the polite 行きましょう (ikimashou), rather than the causal 行こう (ikou). Similar to じゃあ (jaa), you can use では行きましょう (deha ikimashou) when you want to say to someone “okay/well then, let’s go” in polite Japanese speech.
Let’s Go in Japanese slang
- Let’s Go
If you’ve ever played a Super Mario video game, then I’m sure you’ve heard him shout out his catchphrase “Let’s go!” at some point. In the Japanese language, Mario’s catchphrase is actually what’s called a transcription of a foreign word, a loanword, or katakana. Basically, it’s a word borrowed directly from the English language that is a part of the Japanese dictionary.
This is what the phrase レッツゴー (rettsu go-) is. It is essentially English that is spoken with only Japanese phonetics. I’d expect you’re thinking if you can even use this phrase to say “let’s go” in Japanese. The answer is… Kind of. What I mean by this, is that while a native Japanese speaker will understand you, it depends on what kind of impressions you want to leave.
You can say レッツゴー (rettsu go-), but it has a somewhat playful vibe to it. This means, of course, you’ll probably not want to use it during formal situations.
More Ways to say Let’s Go in Japanese slang
If you’ve watched any anime like Dragonball Z or anything similar that has a targetted audience of young males in the Japanese dub, you’ve probably heard some of the characters shout things like 行くぞ！ (ikuzo) at some point.
When looking at the English subtitles, it may be translated as “Let’s go.” But there are some more nuances to these kinds of words. So you’ll have to be careful when using them. Let’s take a look!
Meaning of ikuzo (行くぞ) in Japanese
Building from what we mentioned previously, 行くぞ (ikuzo) is essentially the verb 行く (iku) which means “to go” in Japanese (see entry #1). The main difference here is that 行くぞ (ikuzo) is followed by a special sentence-ending particle. In this case ぞ (zo).
When attached to the end of a word or sentence, ぞ (zo) emphasises the thing that the speaker is talking about. In Anime and Manga, it is primarily used only by men.
Thus, using ぞ (zo) gives a rash, aggressive impression. The, often male protagonist, might say 行くぞ (ikuzo) right before a big fight. In this sense, we get the impression that the protagonist is super pumped up, and is ready to give it his all.
It is similar to the Japanese sentence-ending particle よ (yo), which works a bit like an English exclamation mark. The ぞ (zo), however, really shows the speakers determination to something.
You could also use 行くぞ (ikuzo) to describe other things somewhat aggressively like:
densha ga ikuzo
The train is (about to) go.
However, again, this is only really heard by characters in anime. Saying 行くぞ (ikuzo) in a real-world environment would get you some weird looks for sure as it’s unnatural.
Meaning of ikuwayo (行くわよ) in Japanese
Similar to 行くぞ (ikuzo), 行くわよ (ikuwayo) can also be used to say “let’s go” in Japanese. It works as the feminine version of 行くぞ (ikuzo). Thus you will mostly hear it being used by females protagonists in anime that have a target audience of young females. These distinctions are here because Japanese is a gendered language with many differences in speech between men and women.
Also, like 行くぞ (ikuzo), you’re probably best off avoiding using 行くわよ (ikuwayo) in real-world conversations. This is because it would essentially sound like you’re mimicking your favourite anime character. Instead, it’s better to simply say 行こう (ikou).
Want To Go
- Want to go
When you want to say that you want to go somewhere in Japanese, you can use 行きたい (ikitai). Saying “I want to” in Japanese is actually a grammar point. If you’re interested in learning the details, you can check out our reading practice on this grammar point for beginners.
The great thing about 行きたい (ikitai) is that it’s already a complete sentence in itself. For instance, if your friend asks you if you’d like to go for a walk, the conversation might look like this.
konya isshoni sanpo ikanai?
Would you like to go for a walk together this evening?
If you want to go, you can reply:
I would like to (go)!
Just as a quick tip… When you want to ask someone if they would like to go somewhere or do something in Japanese, you don’t use this grammar point. Instead, you should simply say 行く？ (iku?) or 行かない？ (ikanai?) like in the example above.
sanpo ni ikitai?
Want to go for a walk?
In summary, you should only say 行きたい (ikitai) as a response to something. I used to make this mistake all the time, so I think it’s a good thing to know as early as possible!
I Don’t Want To Go
If you’re not so keen on the idea, you might want to decline. But saying no in Japanese is another story, as it’s considered polite to decline indirectly.
To say “I don’t want to go” in Japanese though, you can use:
I don’t want to go.
If you were to say directly that you don’t want to go like the above expression, you’re feeling of not wanting to go may come across quite strongly. I’d recommend using this expression with those you’re really close with, or if you really really dislike the idea of going somewhere.
Telling someone to Go
- Go (telling someone)
When you want to tell someone gently to go somewhere you can use 行って (itte). This isn’t an aggressive expression, but if you’re looking for one, you can use 行け (ike). When you say 行け (ike) you are really telling someone to go.
Imagine you’re watching your friend play a game, and they’re on the last boss. They’re so close to beating it, and you might shout 行け！ (ike), meaning “go!”
Be right Back in Japanese
With 行って (itte), the connotations attached are much calmer. For instance, you can use this phrase to say brb (be right back) in Japanese. Imagine you’re chatting with a friend on the phone and you want to go and grab something from the fridge. You can say:
I’ll be right back.
This phrase directly translates to “go and come back,” and you can use it the same way you would use “be right back” in English.
Should Go in Japanese
- Should Go
itta hou ga ii
When you want to give someone a suggestion or advice in regards to if they should go to a place you can use 行ったほうがいい (itta hou ga ii). In English, it translates to “should go”.
The amazing thing about this expression is that it’s already a complete sentence. Plus! As pronouns are often omitted in Japanese, you can use 行ったほうがいい (itta hou ga ii) as it is to say one of two things:
- I should go
- You should go
It just depends on the context of your conversation. For instance, say a friend isn’t too sure if they can be bothered to go to class today:
jugyou ni ikitakunai
I don’t want to go to class.
Being the amazing friend that you are, you encourage them and say:
itta hou ga ii.
You should go (to class).
The subject (which is also often omitted in Japanese) of this sentence is already understood by both people. Therefore you don’t need to specify and say “class” here.
Giving advice comes from our thoughts and feelings about something. Naturally, we will sometimes want to say “I think” when giving it.
To say “I think you should go” in Japanese we can attach と思う (to omou) to the expression. It becomes:
itta hou ga ii to omou.
I think you should go.
Those of you who have studied Japanese before might have noticed that both of these are two grammar points.
As a quick explanation, the たほうがいい grammar point functions like this. Take the plain form verb, in this case, its 行く. Turn it into the past tense, or, the た form. 行く becomes 行った. Then simply attach ほうがいい.
Let’s Go back in Japanese
- Let’s go back
When you want to return to somewhere, you can say 戻ろう (modorou) in Japanese. 戻ろう (modorou) comes from the verb 戻る (modoru) which means “to return.” Like 行こう (ikou), 戻ろう (modorou) is also a volitional form word. This means that the meaning is essentially “let’s go back.”
You can use 戻ろう (modorou) to say “let’s go back” for any situation except for returning home. For example, let’s say you’re off on a hiking trip, and you decide to take a different path. The path becomes smaller and smaller until it’s looking like you should just go back. In this case, you can simply say 戻ろう (modorou).
Let’s Go Home
When returning home, there is a different word you should use. This word is 帰る (kaeru) which literally means “go home.” Let’s say you’re satisfied with your hiking today and you want to go home. To say this in Japanese, take the word 帰る (kaeru), and change it into the volitional form: 帰ろう (kaerou). You could say something like:
onaka suita! kaerou!
I’m hungry! Let’s go home!
In any other situation where you want to go back to any place that’s not your home, you would use 戻ろう (modorou).
Volitional Form Learning Resources
Check out Japanese Ammo with Misa’s video on the volitional form. I think she does a great job of explaining it while keeping everything interesting!
Let’s Go and Do Something
- Let’s go and do X
X ni ikou
To say “let’s go and do something” in Japanese you need to use a grammar point. First, take the verb in ます form which you are doing. For instance, します, which means “to do”. Remove the ます, which makes it simply し. Lastly, attach に行こう.
します ー し
ます ー しに行こう – Let’s go and do it
見ます ー 見
ます ー 見に行こう – Let’s go and see
食べます ー 食べ
ます ー 食べに行こう – Let’s go and eat
Let’s go and study some more Japanese!
motto nihongo wo benkyou shi ni ikou!
Let’s go and study more Japanese!
How did you find today’s post? I hope you found all the information you were looking for. If you have any questions at all leave me a comment below!
If you’re interested in learning Japanese from the beginning, check out our ultimate guide.
Or, if you’re already studying you might be interested in visiting more of our ultimate How to Japanese guides.
We also have a personalised dedicated Japanese reading practice page for all language levels.
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More Ultimate Guides:
How to say No Way in Japanese [Ultimate Guide]
How to say Have a Good Day in Japanese [Ultimate Guide]