So you’re in Japan, but you don’t speak a word of Japanese. Fear not, here are a few essential phrases which will help you get by when you visit Japan. There are a lot of phrases that is useful to know. If you plan to go to Japan and you are not fluent, remember that it is also helpful to bring a Japanese-English dictionary to better understand what your Japanese counterparts are saying to you. One thing to remember is that the japanese have distinct ways of speaking, depending on who the speaker is addressing and the situation. Nihongo can either be formal or informal, such as when talking to friends or family the informal form is usually used. Most of the phrases here are in their informal form. When speaking in a formal event or to one’s elders, it is imperative to use the formal way of speaking.
Good morning – Ohayou
Good evening – Kombanwa
Good day – Konnichiwa
Good night – Oyasumi
How do you do? – Ikaga desu ka?
Nice to meet you – Hajimemashite
I am very well – Genki desu
Thank you – Arigatou
Many thanks – Domo arigatou
Goodbye – Sayounara/ Ja ne
Best regards – Yoroshiku
By all means – Douzo
WHEN IN A TAXI OR PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION
What is the fare? – Ryokin wa ikura desu ka
Are we almost there? – Mo sugu desu ka
Please stop – Tomete kudasai
Please hurry up – Isoide kudasai
WHEN LOOKING FOR A PLACE/VISITING SOMEONE
Will you show me the way? – Michi o oshiete kudasai
What time does the bus pass? – Itsu bus ga koko o torimasu ka
Where do i have to get off? – Doko de orimasu ka
Is [name] in? – [name]-san wa uchi desu ka?
Will he return soon? – Sugu okaeri desho ka?
AT A HOTEL
I want two rooms – Futaheya iri masu
How much is the room rate? – Kono heya nedan wa ikura desu ka?
Have you any rooms? – Heya ga arimasu ka?
Where is the bathroom? – Furo wa doko desu ka?
That room is too small – Kono heya wa semasugi masu
That room is too large – Ano heya wa okisugi masu
Give ma a quiet room – Shizuka na heya wo kudasai
AT A RESTAURANT
When can I have breakfast/lunch/dinner? – Itsu asameshi/hirumeshi/yuushoku ga deki masu ka?
Give me some [food] – [food] o sukoshi kudasai
Let me look at the menu – Menu o misete kudasai
I want [food] – [food] ga hoshii
I want to buy [item] – [item] ga kakitai no desu
Let me try it on – Kabuttemasho
Please show me that – Are o misete kudasai
This is too small/large – Kore wa chiisai/ookii sugai masu
I will take this – Kore o moraimasho
I want some other color – Hoka no iro ga hoshii
One – Ichi
Two – Ni
Three – San
Four – Yon/shi
Five – Go
Six – Roku
Seven – Nana
Eight – Hachi
Nine – Kyuu
Ten – Juu
Hundred – Hyaku
Thousand – Sen
Remember that other numbers are based on the numbers above. For example:
Thirteen – Juu-san
Thirty-five – Sanjuu-go
One hundred eighty three – Hyaku hachi juu-san
Also, it would be helpful to learn about the Japanese way of writing. We shall discuss the Japanese way of writing in detail next time but in the mean time, why not start memorizing the Japanese alphabet table for both Hiragana and Katakana below: