Whether you are visiting the big cities or quaint rural towns, language barriers in Japan can be tough to overcome. Even though most schools in Japan have a fantastic English language curriculum, locals are hesitant and shy when it comes to using their English language skills.
As a result of this, it can be difficult when trying to navigate around Japan. Learning basic Japanese phrases can go a very long way; not only will it make your trip easier but it will also gain respect amongst locals who may even be inspired to use their English to help you. Do not be put off by Japanese writing as most restaurants and transport hubs offer English translations. Learning a language, even a small amount can really unlock more cultural experiences for you, making your time in Japan even more memorable.
Simple Basic Japanese Phrases
Below is a list of simple phrases that will help you get started. Japan can be a difficult language to read, but it is easy to speak once you practice. These phrases are used most frequently and will help you with simple questions, however, if you wish to learn this language in more detail then there are a large number of audio lessons and phrase books.
Hello – Konnichiwa
Konnichiwa is used to say hello during the day time whilst other phrases are used for ‘good morning’ and ‘good evening’. During your first visit a simple ‘konnichiwa’ any time of day will be appreciated.
Hello (General greeting) – Moshi moshi.
How are you? – O genki desu ka
Reply to ‘How are you? – Hai, genki desu. anata wa?
What’s your name? – O-namae wa nan desu ka?
My Name is – Watashi no namae wa (your name) desu.
Thank you – Arigatou gozaimasu
You will hear this phrase a lot. It is also acceptable and more common to use ‘Arigatou’ to say thank you to someone.
Goodbye – Sayonara
Excuse Me – Sumimasen
Use this word to grab someone’s attention or to apologise.
I would like – […] o kudasai
Always be sure to put the object that you would like at the beginning of the sentence, e.g. ‘biiru o kudasaia’ – I would like a beer.
Water – Mizu
I’m lost – Mayotte shimai mashita.
Can I help you? – Otetsudai shimashouka?
Where is? – […] wa doko desu ka?
Similarly to ‘I would like’, always place the destination that you are looking for before the question.