How to Travel in Japanese

Traveling to Japan can be daunting for first-timers due to language barriers. Learning a few basic phrases will be invaluable; for instance, words related to transportation will prove very helpful.

Hiragana is a phonetic alphabet used for Japanese words native and loanwords alike, comprising 46 sounds and characters that make up this phonetic script.


Konnichiwa (kon-ni-chi-wa) is an informal Japanese greeting that can be used in almost all situations. This greeting, also known as “hello,” means hello and is typically accompanied by bowing or nodding. Proper pronunciation requires treating each individual n as its own syllable; for example.

Japanese is a language founded upon respect and politeness, making it essential to learn its greeting etiquette properly. When saying konnichiwa it’s essential to take into account context, tone, relationship with person you are greeting as saying this phrase incorrectly may come across as rude or insensitive.

When in doubt, it is best to use “ohayou gozaimasu,” which translates as “good morning” in Japanese. This standard greeting should be spoken out loud with nod or bow; alternatively you could say osakonichiwa for less formal greetings often used in the afternoon; when greeting someone you already know personally (e.g. family members or coworkers), shorten it by saying osakonichiwa konbanha instead – which can also be shortened as “osakonichiwa konbanha.” This greeting would work with anyone: friends, family members or coworkers alike!


Sayonara is an international word that often translates as goodbye or farewell, yet is actually used more as an informal greeting and to indicate an impending meeting in Japan – it can also serve as an informal way of saying ‘See You Soon’!

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Japan uses three written scripts – Hiragana (rounded letters), Katakana (used for foreign-sounding words with spikey shapes) and Kanji (written using an intricate cyrillic script). Travelers to Japan should learn basic phrases such as konnichi wa and arigatou gozaimasu in order to navigate around and survive there more comfortably.

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If it appears likely that it’s unlikely you will see someone again, Sayonara may not be appropriate. Instead, it would be more appropriate to say Qi kiwotsukete which translates as Take care! in English.

If you are leaving the country for an extended period, use Qi kunokaze instead of oDashi daizini. It has similar connotations but more strongly indicates that you are on an extended trip and will return home shortly.

Ikura desu ka

Ikura (or salmon/trout egg) is a popular Japanese food. Often featured in sushi dishes, it can also be enjoyed alone as part of a light snack or eaten on its own as part of an appetizer or light lunch option. Commonly referred to in English as salmon roe, Ikura can also be found in various forms such as Ikura Sashimi or Nigiri sushi rolls.

Step one in learning hiragana is mastering its four basic vowels: a (ah), i (ee), u (oo) and e. Each letter in this script has a distinct sound that can be found on its chart below, although certain letters, like y and w, do not correspond directly.

There are multiple ways hiragana can be modified to alter the sound of words. A dakuten marker, for instance, can turn voiceless consonants into voiced ones: k-g, s-t, s-z, t-d and h-b; while handakuten markers can convert j-sounds to p-sounds: ch-sh, d-p and n-p.

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Katakana is a phonetic writing system created to represent words from foreign languages in Japan. Originally intended for travelers and merchants, katakana has since become widespread usage for names, onomatopoeia and scientific terms relating to foreign countries; although not as prevalent as its more well-known counterpart, Kanji.

Iroha desu ka

Traveling to Japan? Knowing some Japanese is essential, and its language is relatively straightforward: Hiragana (rounded letters), Katakana (used for foreign-sounding words with spiked letters), and Kanji (Chinese characters). Of these scripts, Hiragana and Katakana are easier than Kanji; its first two scripts contain 46 characters each representing one syllable; when people ask you for assistance it’s polite to respond with “arigatou gozaimasu” (or casual “arigatou”) than saying anything else; Japanese culture expects their speakers to be courteous towards them as this language requires them.

If the person with whom you’re speaking doesn’t fully grasp your reply, using phrases such as nani ka desu ka? is an effective way of showing respect for their language.

Traveling in Japan can be exciting, yet difficult at the same time. One of the greatest difficulties when ordering food can be communicating with locals. Thankfully, Japanese has an easy system of counters which make communication with locals much simpler; one such counter being “homu”, meaning platform. When seeing “1ban homukaraFa Che shimasu,” that indicates the train has left from platform 1. Additionally, learning some basic phrases such as ikura desu ka? or “ikura na nani ka desu Kawai Ka? ” will make life much simpler.

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