What does Senpai mean in Japan

What does the Japanese word "Senpai" mean? - Explanation

The term senpai comes from the Japanese and is also sometimes written as senpai. It describes a person who has more experience than the other person or who has been with an organization for a long time, for example. It doesn't matter how old someone is. For example, a 40-year-old who has been with a company for a week would refer to a 21-year-old as a senpai if he or she has been with the company for three years. In this case, the 40-year-old would be a Kōhai.

This term indicates that the 40-year-old is below the 21-year-old in the hierarchy, as can sometimes be the case in Japanese groups. Such hierarchies can occur, for example, in Japanese schools, sports clubs or companies.

When is the term “Senpai” used?

The term is mainly used as a salutation when you want to express your respect. Senpai is mostly used as a stand-alone form of address, but it is also possible to use the name and Senpai in some cases, as is common with other Japanese forms of address. Depending on familiarity, either the first name or the last name is used. But since it is a respectful form of address, it is more common, if the name is used in the form of address, that it is the surname.

This form of address is also used outside of Japan in the martial art Budo. There the salutation Senpai is used subjectively to address students who started before a self. Students who started after one are referred to as Kōhai. If another student started at the same time as you yourself, this is called Dōhai.