To make your travels through Japan as seamless as possible, it is recommended to learn some essential Japanese phrases. This will enable you to travel more comfortably by greeting people and asking directions when needed.
Utilize this worksheet and record romaji for each hiragana column below, in order to improve your pronunciation. Continue practicing to increase fluency.
If you plan on traveling through Japan, certain words should become an invaluable asset for communicating more easily with its people. To start learning the language effectively, start off with learning basic hiragana and katakana before progressing further to more difficult kanji characters.
Hiragana is one of the three components of Japanese writing system: Katakana and Kanji are its other constituents. Hiragana is considered more feminine than both forms and thus makes writing in Japanese easier for women. Furthermore, Hiragana represents all syllables within Japanese.
Hiragana uses four basic vowels – a, e, i and o – as its core vowels. All other letters in Hiragana are consonants-based or composed of multiple consonant sounds that do not correspond directly with individual letters; some letters can even have more than one sound within each character written out in cursive style.
Once you’ve mastered hiragana, try mastering katakana as well. Katakana is used for certain grammatical words and particles as well as native Japanese words that do not have their equivalent in kanji characters. Furthermore, its font features more angular letters; many characters resemble their hiragana counterparts in some instances.
If you plan on staying for an extended period, an IC transportation card such as Kitaca or PASMO could prove invaluable in terms of both travel convenience and payment for food on trains. Once purchased from a machine it will become an excellent way to access public transport systems across Japan and pay for food during trips.
Railways are an integral component of Japan’s transport infrastructure, connecting all corners of the nation through trains such as the iconic Shinkansen bullet train. Travelling at speeds up to 320 km/h, its punctuality makes this train one of the hallmarks of excellence!
Cities generally feature extensive networks of buses for different uses such as commuting, shopping and sightseeing. These buses are very efficient; often arriving every minute at train stations and are typically reasonably priced. Highway buses that can travel long distances – sometimes overnight – are known as “y bian”.
Note that during rush hour trains often reserve seats specifically for women to avoid any incidences of inappropriate touching between passengers. These seats are clearly marked in pink so passengers can easily identify them.
Japanese food is frequently prepared using dashi, a fish stock composed of konbu (kelp), bonito flakes, shrimp or sardines. Many vegetarian and vegan products sold in Japan have dashi as their foundation; thus it’s essential to check this before ordering anything. Mirin is another alternative used as an ingredient in dishes like sashimi, sushi and tempura as an additive ingredient.
Oishii (, meaning delicious in Japanese) is another frequently-used word to indicate something tastes delicious. When ordering Japanese cuisine from restaurants or taking home delivery services, using Oishii when viewing menu items such as grilled vegetables or sashimi will show your willingness to sample it!
Natto is one of the most famous Japanese dishes and it can either win you over or turn you off completely. Made of fermented soybeans with stringy texture and strong flavor resembling moldy cheese or ammonia, its taste may seem off-putting at first, but you should give it a try as its taste truly unique! Other items worth trying include takoyaki (fried octopus balls), yakitori chicken skewers and Kare Pan (deep-fried bun filled with curry). These dishes can all be found at Japanese street food stands known as Wu Tai; unfortunately however most contain meat so if vegetarianism is an issue don’t hesitate to check on what dishes there might be available before.
Accommodation can be an daunting challenge for foreign students studying in Japan, but they should know there are various accommodation options available to them ranging from guest houses and foreigner houses to monthly lease apartments and weekly lease apartments. Finding an appropriate place that will give them a rich cultural experience should also be top of their priority list.
Ryokan are traditional Japanese inns that offer exceptional hospitality, offering authentic food and sleeping on futons. Most often housed in older traditional buildings with long histories – for instance Dougoya Ryokan in Matsuyama serves up traditional Japanese breakfast and is close to public onsen baths that were the inspiration behind Ghibli movie Sento no Chihiro.”
If you are staying in a ryokan, it is a wise move to learn the following phrases, from checking in to leaving on your last day. Also be familiar with asking for shuttle buses or trains from nearby stations or points of interest and how much WiFi access costs. Finally it would be beneficial if you could estimate taxi charges to reach your hotel.