In 2016, over 24 millions tourists from all over the world flocked to Japan for their holidays. Japan’s economy, being one of the largest in the world, also brings millions of businessmen to the country every year. Whatever reason you have for going to Japan, some knowledge of Japanese can undoubtedly be a real lifesaver!
With the help of Memrise’s exclusive Native Speaker Videos, we’ve put together 20 phrases to help you survive and even thrive on your next visit to Japan.
Want to learn more? Check out Memrise’s official Japanese courses!
Let’s start with the basics! The “nichi” in “konnichiwa” means “day” so you can use it throughout the day. For the early morning, you can say “ohayō gozaimasu”, and in the evening, you can say “konbanwa”.
The Japanese are a very welcoming people so you will no doubt here this said to you while you’re there.
Don’t forget manners are very important in Japan. “Arigatō” is how you say “thank you”, and if you want to be extra polite to the person you are saying it to, just add “gozaimasu”, and say “arigatō gozaimasu”.
Just like with “arigatō gozaimasu”, this phrase can also be shortened to just “omedetō”. If you are unsure whether to use the short form without “gozaimasu”, or the longer, more polite form, go for the polite one.
Making friends can be one of the most rewarding parts of traveling and discovering a new place. When you do, don’t forget to use this phrase.
There is no better place to learn the language than in the country with the natives. Take the opportunity to learn as much as you can using this nifty little phrase.
“Watashi-wa” means “I”, and “wakarimasen” means “don’t understand”. If you want to say that you do understand, just change the “-masen” to “-masu”, and say “watashi-wa wakarimasu”.
For those moments when you’re Japanese is so good that they start speaking to you at lightning speed. Literally “more – slowly – speak – please”.
Japanese often try to use as few words as possible when speaking, so words like “watashi-wa” can be left out when the context is clear. So, in this case, you could just say “Nihongo-o sukoshi hanasemasu”.
This is a really useful little phrase. If you want to sound extra Japanese try extending the “o” as much as you can. Sugoooooi, right?!
You can use this to talk about whatever you are eating or drinking by simply replacing “kōhī” with “rāmen” for example. “Rāmen-wa oishī desu!”
An essential phrase if you don’t eat meat.
Remember again that, when it is clear from the context, you just simply say “ikura desu-ka?”.
Notice that this works the opposite way around to the English translation. Literally, it means: “My stomach is empty, therefore I am angry”.
You can also use this to ask for other things, for example, “naifu to fōku o kudasai” (“A knife and fork, please”).
If you drink alcohol, then why not see what effects a bit of Dutch courage will have on your Japanese skills. Kampai!
This is the phrase for “there’s no problem”. Remember that you shouldn’t use this phrase when somebody says “arigatō” – to say “no problem” or “you’re welcome” in that kind of situation, you should say “dōitashimashite”.
If you don’t plan on simply doing a tour of Japan’s lavatories, then just replace the word “toire” with anywhere else that you want to go. For example, “Pokemon-sentaa-wa doko desu-ka?”.
If you get lost on your way to the Pokémon Centre, just use this phrase to ask for help from the locals.
And finally, I don’t think think this word needs much explanation. Sayōnara!