Written by Miki Takeshita
100 Phrases To Memorize Before Traveling To Japan
Want to help you trip to Japan go smoothly? Here are 100 useful expressions covering major topics like shopping, restaurants and emergencies to help you along in most situations.
Unfortunately, English is still not widely spoken in Japan, though there are many multilingual signs and information centers within train stations and major sightseeing spots. In order to make your visit go a bit more smoothly, we have picked out some useful phrases and words for you to practice in Japanese.
1. Basic Expressions
7. When in Trouble
1. Basic Expressions
おはようございます OHAYOUGOZAIMASU (Oh-ha-yo-go-za-i-mas)
こんにちは KONNICHIWA (Con-ni-chi-wah)
こんばんは KONBANWA (Con-ban-wah)
またね MATANE (Ma-ta-ne)
People may often translate 'goodbye' as being 'sayonara' in Japanese, but this is a much more formal word, and tends have a more permanent tone to it, like farewell. When speaking casually, 'matane' is typically used.
すみません SUMIMASEN (Sue-me-ma-sen)
ごめんなさい GOMENNASAI (Go-men-nah-sigh)
ありがとう ARIGATOU (A-li-gah-toe)
おおきに OOKINI (O-o-ki-ni)
Thank you (used in Kansai, especially Osaka prefecture)
わかりません WAKARIMASEN (Wa-ka-ri-ma-sen)
I have no idea/I don't know
はい HAI (Hi)
いいえ IIE (E-aye)
あなた ANATA (A-na-ta)
わたし WATASHI (Wa-ta-she)
英語 EIGO (Eh-go)
If you are trying to find information in English, you may want to ask someone for help, most easily done by saying 'Eigo?' However, you may have some trouble finding an English speaker when outside of major sightseeing areas.
これはなんですか？ KOREWANANNDESUKA? (Co-re-wa-nan-des-ka)
What is this?
Don’t hesitate to ask questions. Japanese people are quite kind in fact, and they will definitely try their best to help you.
それはどこですか？ SOREWADOKODESUKA? (So-re-wa-do-ko-des-ka)
Where is that?
◯◯に行きたい ◯◯NI IKITAI (◯◯ni I-ki-tai)
I want to go to --.
失礼します SHITSUREISHIMASU (She-tsu-ray-she-mas)
May I enter?/Thank you for your time/Good bye
This is a more formal sentence used when entering or leaving a room, hanging up the phone, or other business/formal situations. Just keep in mind that this is a formal phrase, and that it may give a better impression on particular situations.
かわいい KAWAII (Ka-wah-e [like Hawaii])
VERY useful word, it can describe any number of things, from foods to goods to people.
うれしい URESHII (U-re-she)
かなしい KANASHII (Ka-na-she)
たのしい TANOSHII (Ta-no-she)
I’m having fun.
すき SUKI (Sue-ki)
I like it/I like you.
きらい KIRAI (Ki-rai)
I don’t like it/I don’t like you.