However, when you get there, how are you going to get around? Sure, you may find some people that can speak English, but it’s not guaranteed, and even if you find english-speaking folks where’s the fun in that?
For the complete Japanese experience, you should know how to speak the Japanese language, right?!
Or at least you should know some basic words and expressions.
Learning Japanese can seem like quite a task for most people. But don’t worry, you don’t need to know the entire language. I have prepared a list of essential Japanese phrases that you should know if you’re planning on traveling to Japan.
These common phrases will make it easy for you to make your way through Japan, and even engage in small conversations.
Greeting people, thanking them, and asking for directions will all become simpler if you know these key phrases.
I- Japanese for Tourists – Japanese Travel Phrases
Here are a few phrases in Japanese that will help you greet people, ask for help, and also make basic conversation.
1. Please: Kudasai ください
There are two ways to ask for things; you can either demand it, or you can politely ask for it. Guess which one will make people more likely to help you out. Saying please is important if you’re going to a foreign land. Even when ordering food, you should say “please” at the end to sound polite.
2. Thank You: Arigato Gozaimasu ありがとうございます
Just like saying please, showing gratitude is encouraged – not just Japan, but anywhere in the world. In Japan, people usually bow down when they’re showing gratitude.
3. Excuse Me / Sorry: Sumimasen すみません
If you want to get someone’s attention, or if you bump into someone on the road or in a restaurant, you can use this phrase to apologize to them. This is one of the most common phrases that you will be using while in Japan.
4. Yes: Hai はい – No: iie いいえ
To show consent, you use the word “hai.” You can also use it to show that you understand what the other person is saying. If you’re denying something or not giving permission, you use the word “lie,” which means no.
5. Where is the Toilet?: Toire Wa Dokodesu Ka? トイレはどこですか
When you’re traveling, you might not always be near your hotel when you need to use the restroom, so it’s essential that you know how to ask someone where the nearest toilet is.
6. Good Morning: Ohayou Gozaimasu おはようございます
This is a formal way of saying good morning. However, if you want to say it informally, you can simply say, “Ohayou.”
7. Good Afternoon: Konnichiwa こんにちは
Yes, it’s the same as Hello! Konnichiwa, when used at noon or around that time, means good afternoon.
8. Hello: Konnichiwa こんにちは
If you want to say hello to someone in a formal or informal way, you can use this word. It is a term that is used as a very broad way of greeting someone and can also mean good morning or good afternoon.
9. Good Evening: Konbanwa こんばんは
This word can be used as both a formal and an informal way to say good evening.
10. Goodbye: Sayonara さようなら
When you’re taking leave from somewhere, you can use this word to signify that you’re going. Although it also means “goodbye forever” and that’s why you probably should say “Ja na” instead which is more widely used.
11. My Name Is…: Watashi No Namae Wa … Desu 私の名前は…です
When you’re introducing yourself to someone for the first time, you first start off with your name. In Japanese, your last name will come first, as opposed to English.
12. How Are You?: O Genki Desu Ka? お元気ですか
It is generally a nice gesture to ask how the other person is doing after you introduce yourself to them. It makes for a pleasant conversation.
13. I’m Fine, Thanks: Hai, Genki Desu はい, 元気です
If someone asks you how you are, then this is how you should reply to them.
14. This is Fun/interesting: Omoshiroi Desu おもしろいです
If you want to show that you’re interested in something or having a good time, you can use this phrase. If you’re with a guide or someone is showing you around the city, this is a good way to let them know that you’re enjoying yourself.
15. One More Time/again: Mou Ikai もういっかい
If you want someone to repeat something because you haven’t fully understood what they’re saying, then you can say this. Or if you liked a piece of food and you want more you can also say this. Note that it’s always better to end your request with “Kudasai“.
16. What is This?: Kore Wa Nan Desu Ka? これは何ですか
Generally, if you can’t figure something out or want to know more about a particular object or situation, you can use this phrase to ask someone to tell you more about it.
17. I’d Like Something: “Something” O Kudasai …をください
You should definitely try new things to eat in Japan. If you want to ask for something to eat, then this is the phrase to use.
18. How Much is This?: Ikura Desu Ka? いくらですか
“Ikura” in Japanese means “how much.” Even if you don’t know the name of the item that you want to buy, you can simply point towards it and ask how much it is for by using this phrase.
19. The Bill/check, Please: Okaikei Wo, Onegaishimasu お会計をお願いします
When you are done eating at a restaurant, and you want to pay up and leave, you can ask for the bill by saying, “Okaikei wo, onegaishimas.”
20. Do You Accept Credit Cards?: Kurejitto Kado Wa Tsukaemasu Ka? クレジットカードは使えますか
You might not always have cash on you; neither is it recommended for you to carry a lot of cash on your person at all times. If you want to ask a shop or restaurant if they accept credit cards, use the phrase, “Kurejitto kado wa tsukaemasu ka”.
21. Before Eating a Meal: Itadakimasu 頂きます
This is a phrase that is used very commonly in Japan before eating a meal. It means that you humbly receive what comes your way as food. You also use this phrase to thank the other person for the food.
22. Your Recommendation: Omakase お任せ
You might not always know the best thing on the menu, especially if you’re visiting Japan for the first time, or even that restaurant for the first time. So if you ever need to ask the chef to recommend something for you according to your taste, then you can use this phrase.
23. Non Smoking Seat: Kinen Seki 禁煙席
Not everyone smokes and so they might want a seat in the non-smoking zone. You can use this phrase to show your preference.
24. I Don’t Understand: Wakarimasen 分かりません
If someone says something that you don’t understand, you can use this phrase to indicate to them that you didn’t get what they were saying to you. Using the phrase, “Mou Ikai,” you can ask them to repeat what they said in Japanese or use the next phrase to ask them to say it in English.
25. Can You Speak English?: Eigo Wa Hanasemasu Ka? 英語を話せますか
It is quite understandable that you won’t know how to keep a full conversation going in Japanese. So if you need to make a detailed conversation with someone, then you can first ask them whether they know how to speak English. It can make things much easier for you.
26. Can You Translate This for Me?: Yakushite, Kudasai? 訳してください
You might need quite a bit of help with translation, especially if you’re at the grocery store and you need to read the ingredients on a certain packet. You can politely ask a native speaker to help you with that.
27. Help Me: Taskete たすけて
This is the simplest way to ask for any assistance.
II- Additional Resources to Learn Japanese for Tourists
If you wish to learn the Japanese language in even more detail, here a few books that can help you learn the language before your trip to Japan.
You also can find more expressions and their pronunciations here.
1. Japanese for Busy People – Latest Prices Here
This is one of the most popular books on the Japanese language. It has more than 20 components, including videos and manuals, that can help you learn the language right from the very basics. Which is perfect for who really wants to learn Japanese and also for the occasional traveler who want simple Japanese for tourists.
2. Japanese for Travelers – Latest Prices Here
Not only does this book give you enough information on the Japanese language, but it also has a lot of travel tips for you. If you’re visiting Japan for the first time, then this is your go-to book. This book is also a rather small-sized one, so you can easily fit it in your travel bag. Keep it with you and read it while you’re in your hotel room.
3. Japanese Phrase Book – Latest Prices Here
This book can help you get familiar with everything you need to know about the Japanese language. It has all the possible phrases that any traveler will need. This book is also extremely useful for those people who are already aware of the basics of Japanese, to get to know all about travel-specific language. Moreover, this is a pocket-sized book that you can easily carry around with yourself wherever you go.
4. Lonely Planet Phrasebook & Audio CD – Latest Prices Here (New Updated Version Here)
This is another book that can help you with Japanese travel phrases. More than anything, you will enjoy reading this book. It also has an audio CD that can help you pronounce the words in the correct way. It also has a very friendly layout that makes it all the more attractive with categories that have travel scenarios. This too is pocket-sized, so carrying it around is extremely easy.
5. Lonely Planet Fast Talk Japanese – Latest Prices Here
This book, too, has all relevant phrases that can help you get through your trip without getting stuck at any instance. Again, just like a few of the books mentioned above, you can carry this one around in your pocket.
6. Remembering Kanji – Latest Prices Here
This is a book that is different from the rest in terms of the fact that the Japanese government approves of it. This book will help you differentiate between the writing and the meaning of different Japanese characters so that it is easier for you to remember. However, this book is not meant for beginners; you need to have a basic understanding of the Japanese language to use this book to its fullest.
III- Wrapping Up
I really hope that you find these Japanese travel phrases guide useful. You can have a wonderful time in Japan if you know some common phrases that you can use all throughout your trip. These can help you make basic conversations with native speakers. Using these phrases, you can ask for help, get directions, ask people to translate certain phrases for you, and other things that will only add to your trip to Japan.