Basic Japanese Phrases You Can Use While In Japan!
  • Basic Japanese Phrases You Can Use While In Japan!

Basic Japanese Phrases You Can Use While In Japan!

2016.11.02

In this article, we've put together some convenient phrases that you can use to make communication during your trip in Japan a little easier. All the phrases you would need to use for daily conversation are here, so please check them out!

Translated byTakuya Erik Watanabe

Japanese-English Translator from OC California.

Written by Mayo Nomura

Enjoy Japan Even More! Basic Japanese Phrases for Travelers


In this article we'll be introducing some convenient Japanese phrases you can use for survival in Japan. They're all easy phrases for beginners, so it's okay if you have no knowledge in Japanese.

*For how to read the pronunciations within the [ ], check the following article: Japanese Basics: English In Japan And Japanese Pronunciation

Read also:

Japanese Basics: English In Japan And Japanese Pronunciation

Greetings

Ohayo gozaimasu / Good morning

[ohayo: gozaimas]

The greeting you use in the morning.

Konnichiwa / Hello

[konnichiwa]

The greeting you use during the day.

・Make the [n] sound in [nni] long. It's a little unnatural if you say [konichiwa].

Konbanwa / Good afternoon

[kombanwa]

The greeting you use in the afternoon, after the sun has gone down.

・[w]… Is close to the English "w" sound in "went", but pronounce it gently without curling your lip.

Oyasuminasai / Good night

[oyasumi nasai]

The greeting you use before going to sleep, or when saying goodbye at night.

Dewa, mata / See you again

[dewa mata]

A polite greeting you can use when saying good-bye. Remember to smile when saying this phrase.

Responses

Hai / Yes

[hai]

A positive answer. Unlike "Hi!" in English, The [a] and [i] are both pronounced shortly.

Un[un] is a word that's used casually between friends, and it's a little impolite to use at a store or hotel.

Iie / No

[ie]

This is a negative reply.

Arigato gozaimasu / Thank you

[arigato: gozaimas]

This is a phrase for expressing your thanks.

Ie ie / No no (No problem)

[ieie]

This is a reply you can use when someone thanks you.

In Town And Shops

Sumimasen / Excuse me

[sumimasen]

This is a phrase you can use in many situations, such as when you want to call someone, slightly apologize, or express your thanks. If it's hard to pronounce, you can also say:

Suimasen
[suimasen]

Omizu, arimasuka? / Do you have water?

[omizu arimaska]
○○, arimasula? / Do you have ○○?
[○○ arimaska]

Insert whatever you're looking for in the blank. We recommend you raise the pitch at the end when asking.

Transportation

asakusa

Kore, doko desuka? / Where is this?

[kore doko deska]

You can use this one when you have a map and want to ask for directions.

Massugu, Migi, Hidari / Straight, Right, Left

[massugu] [migi] [hidari]
・[hi]… Make a narrow shape with your mouth and breathe out as if to rub your upper jaw (if you've ever studied German, it's the "ch" sound in "ich") and combine with the vowel [i].

It's a great experience when you can understand the directions someone has given you!

Kore, Asakusa ni ikimasuka? / Will this go to Asakusa?

[kore asaksani ikimaska]

This is a phrase you can use when you want to make sure the bus or train in front of you is headed to your destination.

Kore, ◯◯ ni ikimasuka? / Will this go to ◯◯?
[kore ◯◯ni ikimaska]

Insert your destination name in the blank!

Skytree ni ikitaindesu / I want to go to the Skytree

[skai tsuri:ni ikitaindes]

You can use this one to convey where you want to go. You can use it when you want to ask someone how to get to your destination, for example at the station.

◯◯ ni, ikitaindesu / I want to go to ◯◯
[◯◯ni ikitaindes]

Insert where you want to go in the blank!

For more phrases on how to ask directions, check out this article: Ask For Directions In Japanese! 14 Phrases You Want To Know When Traveling

Sightseeing

Iidesuka? / Can I?

[i:deska]

When you want to ask if whatever you're doing is not a problem, you can use "iidesuka?"

You can also use this phrase when you want to ask someone if you can take a photo or want someone to take yours, when you want to sit down, or when you want to pass by. Try combining it with some gestures.

When you want to ask for permission to take a photo, you should ask:

Shashin, iidesuka? / Can I take a photo?
[shashin i:deska]

There are many art museums in Japan that don't allow photos even without flash. You should make sure with this phrase before taking any pictures.

You can also use the same phrase when you want someone to take your picture. Just say "shashin, iidesuka?" while handing them your camera.

Kyo, aitemasuka? / Are you open today?

[kyo: aitemaska]

You've reached your destination restaurant or museum, but can't tell if they're open or not... In that case, use this phrase.

For more convenient Japanese phrases you can use at tourist spots, read this article: Ten Japanese Phrases to Use at Museums and Sightseeing Spots

Shopping

japan shopping 0826a

Oikura desuka? / How much?

[oikura deska]

This is how you ask the price of something. There are two types of price tags in Japan: price including tax and price without tax. There may be times you can't tell for sure just how much something costs, so this phrase should come in handy.

Menzei, dekimasuka? / Can this be exempted from taxation?

[menze: dekimaska]

If your stay in Japan is less than six months, and you're paying more than 5000 yen at once, you might want to check.

Kore, onegai shimasu / This one, please

[kore onegai shimas]

A polite way to ask for something is "onegai shimasu." When you want to order at a restaurant or ticket booth, you can point at an item and say "onegai shimasu."

For more Japanese phrases you can use while shopping, check here: 13 Japanese Phrases For Shopping In Japan

Restaurants

japanese restaurant 160816a

Osusume wa nandesuka? / What do you recommend?

[ossumewa nandeska]

If you can't read Japanese, you might not know what to order. In that case, you can use this convenient phrase.

Butaniku, haitte masuka? / Does this have pork in it?

[butaniku haitte maska]

◯◯, haitte masuka?
[◯◯ haitte maska]

You can ask what ingredients are in a dish if there are certain things you can't eat.

For more phrases you can use at a restaurant, see: 13 Japanese Phrases You Can Use At Restaurants

Feelings

Kirei! / Beautiful!

[kire:]

For beautiful scenery or art. The word can also be used toward women.

Kawaii! / Cute!

[kawai:]

For when you see cute animals, or Japanese "kawaii" girly or lolita items. This is another word that can also be used toward women.

In some countries, it might be impolite to call an adult woman "cute", but not many women in Japan would feel offended if you told them they are "kawaii".

Sugoi! / Wow! (Amazing!)

[sugoi]

A word for expressing surprise, for example when you see some cutting-edge technology or something amazing. You can use this phrase for something positively surprising.

Osushi ga suki desu / I like sushi

[osushiga skides]
◯◯ ga suki desu / I like ◯◯
[◯◯ga skides]

When you want to convey that you like something. If you want to add emphasis, say:

◯◯ ga daisuki desu / I really like ◯◯
[◯◯ga daiskides]
Sushi [sushi] is known around the world, but it's often referred to as osushi [osushi] in Japan.

When You Need Help

Chugokugo ga wakaru hito wa imasuka? / Is there someone who can understand Chinese?

[chu:gokugoga wakaru htowa imaska]
[h]… Make a narrow shape with your mouth and breathe out as if to rub your upper jaw (if you've ever studied German, it's the "ch" sound in "ich")

◯◯ ga wakaru hitowa imasuka? / Is there someone who can understand ◯◯?
[◯◯ga wakaru htowa imaska]

Use this phrase if you ever need help.

Insert a language you can speak in the ◯◯.

Ex.

・Eigo [e:go] / English

・Kankokugo [kankokugo] / Korean

・Betonamugo [betonamugo] / Vietnamese

・Taigo [taigo] / Thai

・Indoneshiago [indoneshiago] / Indonesian

Tasukete! / Help!

[taskete]

You can use this one in an emergency. Shout "Tasukete!" to ask for help.

For more phrases for when you need help, check out these articles: 14 Japanese Phrases For When You Need Help (Japanese) and Japanese Phrases For When You're Sick (Japanese)

Review

・Ohayo gozaimasu / Good morning.
[ohayo: gozaimas]

・Konnichiwa / Hello.
[konnichiwa]

・Kombanwa / Good afternoon.
[kombanwa]

・Oyasuminasai / Good night.
[oyasumi nasai]

・Dewa, mata / See you again.
[dewa mata]

・Hai / Yes.
[hai]

・Ie / No.
[ie]

・Arigato gozaimasu / Thank you.
[arigato: gozaimas]

・Ie ie / No no (No problem).
[ieie]

・Sumimasen / Excuse me.
[sumimasen]

・Omizu, arimasuka? / Do you have water?
[omizu arimaska]

・Kore, doko desuka? / Where is this?
[kore doko deska]

・Massugu, Migi, Hidari / Straight, Right, Left
[massugu] [migi] [hidari]

・Kore, Asakusa ni, ikimasuka? / Will this go to Asakusa?
[kore asaksani ikimaska]

・Skytree ni, ikitaindesu / I want to go to the Skytree
[skai tsuri:ni ikitaindes]

・Iidesuka? / Can I?
[i:deska]

・Kyo, aitemasuka? / Are you open today?
[kyo: aitemaska]

・Oikura desuka? / How much?
[oikura deska]

・Menzei, dekimasuka? / Can this be exempted from taxation?
[menze: dekimaska]

・Kore, onegai shimasu / This one, please.
[kore onegai shimas]

・Osusume wa, nandesuka? / What do you recommend?
[ossumewa nandeska]

・Butaniku, haitte masuka? / Does this have pork in it?
[butaniku haitte maska]

・Kirei! / Beautiful!
[kire:]

・Kawaii! / Cute!
[kawai:]

・Sugoi! / Wow!(Amazing!)
[sugoi]

・Osushi ga suki desu / I like sushi.
[osushi ga skides]

・Chugokugo ga wakaru hito wa imasuka? / Is there someone who can understand Chinese?
[chu:gokugo ga wakaru hto wa imaska]

・Tasukete! / Help!
[taskete]

What did you think? We hope these phrases will help make your trip in Japan a great one!

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