Before, we talked about the useful phrase “Otsukaresama”.
Today, we will discuss another similar phrase “Gokurosama”.
Basically, they are the same. The root word is Kuro苦労, which means work or hardship. It can also mean worry or anxiety. But used as one, the word means “thank you for your hard work”.
So what`s the difference? Well, as you know by now, Japan is a society that has many levels of seniority, and each one has it`s own protocol. Otsukaresama is normally used between people of equal status, or when speaking to someone of a higher rank.
Gokurosama is only ever used by a senior person to a person junior in rank or status. Used by a junior to a senior would constitute a breach of protocol and being very rude. That would mean a lot of red faces, and lots of bowing in apology!
Simply speaking, your boss will say to you “Gokurasama deshita” when you have finished something, and you will reply respectully “Otsukaresama deshita”.
So, if in doubt, always opt for safety and politeness and use Otsukaresama.
One interesting point to remember. You can also use it in a drinking context. Instead of just saying kampai, you can say “Otsukaresama! Kampai!” (Our working day is over! Cheers!)