Visiting any new country can be daunting, but visiting one that speaks a whole other language can make it more scary. And that’s what I imagine people feel in regards to Japan. Having learnt Japanese for 10 years when I was younger, I was fairly confident that it would come back to me, however, I still carried a dictionary everywhere with me! This post is going to try make you feel a little more comfortable by teaching you some basic phrases.
Before I get into it, I want to stress that the Japanese are some of the most polite and courteous people I’ve ever come cross when travelling. If they have any inkling that you are lost or confused or just need some help, they will go out of their way to try help. I was once looking at a train station map to work out my exit and had 4 different people help me in 5mins to try help me find my way! I have known people to go to Japan without any knowledge of the language and survive just fine. If you take nothing from this post, take this – there are a lot of English signs, so you will be ok!!
One of the most basic and common courtesy phrases is obviously “Thank You”. It’s written as ありがとう and spoken as arigato. Even just saying a simple thank you will endear any Japanese people to you and will result in them pronouncing that you are super cute!
The next important one is hello. I could get into a long-winded explanation about how different times of the day have different words, but instead, let’s just learn the most well-known and the one used for the greater portion of the day. It is こんにち, or pronounced as Konichiwa.
Another one to stay polite is Please! Strictly speaking, it gets said at the end of a statement, phrase or question, but you could say it after pointing to a food selection at a restaurant, or other situation like that. It is spoken as kudasai.
A handy phrase to know is to be able to say to someone where you want to go. You just tack “e ikitai des” onto the end of where ever you want to go. The Japanese will forgive you if you can’t say the place name in Japanese! For example, if you want to go to Disneyland and need directions, you can tell a worker at the station: Disneyland e ikitai des.
Along those lines, another handy one is asking where somewhere is, say the toilet. You just add “wa doko deska” onto where ever it is you want to go. For example: toilet wa doko deska, will have you asking someone where the toilet is, hopefully they don’t reply to you in Japanese 😉
If you’re like me, shpping is an essential part of any holiday, so this next phrase is an important one for you! It is “how much is…?”. If you were to point at something and say this phrase, a Japanese speaker should completely understand you. It’s quite simply: ~ ikura deska? Happy Shopping!!
Have you been to Japan before? Got any good everyday phrases I’ve missed?