Definition of あけおめ (Akeome)
あけおめ (akeome) means “Happy New Year”, a casual Japanese New Year’s greeting. It is casually used by young people when they meet their friends in early January. When your friends greet you using this phrase, you can reply to them by repeating the same phrase; but when they are much older than you, you should use the polite form あけましておめでとうございます (akemashite omedetou gozaimasu) as explained below.
Polite Form of akeome
あけおめ is an abbreviation of “明けましておめでとうございます” (akemashite omedetou gozaimasu), which sounds more polite and formal than the abbreviated phrase. This expression consists of the two parts “明けまして” and “おめでとうございます”. The former is a polite te-form of the verb “明ける” meaning “(something) ends and turns into a new state”*, and the latter means “congratulations”. Therefore, the phrase literally means “(The last year) has ended and turned into a new year, congratulations!”. Since あけおめ is a casual way of saying “明けましておめでとうございます”, you should use the original expression in a formal situation.
* 明ける is a rare word used only in a few phrases, including “夜が明ける” meaning “night is over” and ”梅雨が明ける” meaning “rainy season is over”.
Meaning of ことよろ (kotoyoro)
Some people go on to say “ことよろ (kotoyoro)” after akeome, which abbreviates “今年(ことし)もよろしくお願(ねが)いします” (kotoshi mo yoroshiku onegai shimasu) and means “This year too, let’s get along well with each other”. The latter phrase “よろしくお願いします” is a very common phrase in Japan, which is often used when you ask someone to do something, or when you show your willingness to build/keep a good relationship with someone (in this case, you’re sort of asking them to have a good relationship with you).
As in akeome, you should use the original expression “今年もよろしくお願いします” in a formal situation (e.g. when you greet someone older than you) rather than its abbreviation. Also, note that kotoyoro sounds more casual and younger than akeome and therefore is predominantly used among teenagers.
Other Japanese New-Year Vocab/Culture
20 Japanese Words and Culture for Christmas and New Year
Superstition about 初夢 (Hatsuyume, “New Year’s First Dream”) in Japan
Happy New Year! And this year too, let’s get along well with each other.
Ex2 (A casual version of Ex1)
Ex2 (A more casual version of Ex1)
Synonyms in English: Happy New Year
Related words and phrases: 明ける (be over) おめでとう (congratulations), よろしく