Why are you supposed to cross out “sama” next to your name when sending something back?

It is the more respectful version of “san”, so leaving it in would be even more big-headed than referring to yourself as “Smith-san”.



  1. Marie said,

    June 6, 2011 at 2:12 pm

    I had never thought of that before! Hopefully haven’t had to send anything back in Japan yet – or I’d have been very rude :s

  2. crella said,

    June 9, 2011 at 5:03 am

    And you also have to cross out the ‘yuki’ (行き)on the return address materials and/or enclosed envelopes you’re sending to and write ‘onchuu’(御中)or it will be rude.

  3. alexcase said,

    June 9, 2011 at 5:07 am

    Think I’ve seen that happen without ever truly understanding what was going on, but makes sense now. Thanks crella!

  4. Michael said,

    June 10, 2011 at 12:02 am

    This implies that it would be insufficiently respectful for them to call you -san?

  5. crella said,

    June 10, 2011 at 1:16 am

    You lower your status (and cross off ‘sama’) and elevate the recipients (cross off ‘yuki’ and write ‘onchuu’).

    Micheal, ‘sama’ or ‘san’ are just never used to refer to someone else. It’s handy in that if you say ‘imouto-san’ it’s understood immediately to mean ‘your younger sister’ and not one’s own.

  6. alexcase said,

    June 10, 2011 at 6:06 am

    Envelopes are always addressed with “sama”, even to someone that you would be on first name terms with face to face, but then I think most people (but not me!) do the same with “Mr and Mrs A. Case” etc on envelopes in the UK.

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