Q. What does "Banzai" mean?
A. "Banzai（万歳）" literally means ten thousand years (of life). It is written with the combination of the kanji characters for "ten thousand（万）" and "age（歳）." Click here to learn the kanji characters for it.
"Banzai" is a Japanese cheer that can be translates as "Long life!" or "Hurrah!" It is usually repeated three times to express enthusiasm, celebrate a victory, applause and favor on happy occasion while raising both arms. It is commonly done together with the large group of people.
Foreign people seem to confuse "Banzai" with a war cry. It is probably because the Japanese soldiers shouted "Tennouheika Banzai!(天皇陛下万歳!)" when they were dying during World War II. In this context what they meant was "Long live the Emperor" or "Salute the Emperor".
Click here to learn other Japanese gestures.