Learn Japanese Hiragana and Katakana When Travelling in Japan

If you’re travelling to Japan, it would be beneficial to learn some basic Japanese phrases to help navigate and order food at restaurants.

Hiragana is composed of 46 characters representing basic sounds in Japanese language, along with combinations and diacritics.

An effective approach to learning hiragana is starting slowly with one series and gradually moving through them – this will enable you to recall their sounds more easily.


If you’re visiting or already in Japan, knowing some basic phrases will be key in communicating with locals and building relationships that demonstrate respect – something integral to Japanese culture. Furthermore, knowing some phrases will also make navigating its unique transportation system much simpler.

Konnichiwa, which can be translated to “good morning or afternoon”, is an extremely common Japanese greeting that means hello. While this phrase can be said throughout the day, its usage tends to peak between morning and afternoon – when spoken at nighttime it often shortened down to “konbanha”.

Japanese is an exquisite language to study. Its alphabet is comprised of kanji (adapted Chinese characters), katakana (for foreign words) and hiragana (used with kanji for everything else). Unfortunately, however, learning Japanese can be one of the more challenging languages to master but the rewards will make the effort worth your while if you take your time and start with basic phrases such as Konnichiwa before progressing on to more complex ones.

At major tourist destinations, many people speak English; however, learning some basic Japanese phrases will make your travels much more pleasant and polite. Knowing these phrases will also assist in navigating train and bus systems and communicating with locals more effectively. You should also remember other cultural expectations, including restaurant etiquette and public displays of affection.


Sayounara is the Japanese word for farewell. It is typically used when saying farewell to someone or something you do not expect to see again in an extended timeframe, such as elementary school children learning it to say farewell to their teachers or as part of breaking up an engagement or saying farewell to a friend who is dying.

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Traveling in Japan? Knowing how to pronounce numbers in Japanese will come in handy when purchasing items in stores, since many prices are in numerical form. While most stores provide English translations, knowing how to say numbers in Japanese will allow you to communicate better with employees.

Konbanwa konbanha, which translates to “thank you for your service”, is another key Japanese travel phrase you should learn. This expression will come in handy when dining at restaurants and thanking their staff upon leaving, as well as when asking directions or inquiring about transportation information. It may also come in handy for communicating with locals directly; knowing these phrases ahead of time could save time when speaking directly with locals!

Another helpful Japanese travel phrase is kudasai koukousuku (I’m lost). This can help express any confusion you’re feeling while trying to understand the language – particularly useful when visiting rural areas where English may not be as widely spoken.


Konbanwa, which means “good evening,” should be used during late afternoon or early evening greetings. Similar to ohayou gozaimasu but more casual, this greeting may serve both as an introduction or goodbye at night; its use should be limited with individuals with whom you do not share familiar relations.

This greeting is one of the most commonly used ways to greet someone in Japan and can be translated as either “hello” or “good day,” depending on context. Although commonly used with acquaintances and close family, ohayou gozaimasu should only be used with those you know well as this greeting can be taken as too casual and would not be appropriate when greeting a teacher or boss in an office setting.

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Add extra politeness by saying arigatou gozaimasu or arigatou (), which means thank you very much, to your greetings. Typically written as one word but you may wish to write five syllables (a, ri, ga, to, and u).

While this list of travel Japanese phrases may not be exhaustive, it should prove invaluable for anyone planning a visit to Japan. Learning some basic phrases will ensure that you make the most of your journey – make sure you practice and remember them before setting off – this way they’ll eventually become second nature!


Learning Japanese can be daunting, but learning some key phrases will make your trip much smoother. To help with that process, the Japan Foundation offers a free online platform with everything from grammar to listening lessons – as well as an audio component you can download if needed for beginners! In addition, pronunciation guides exist for all the hiragana letters and katakana characters used within Japanese text.

“Onegaishimasu” () is another important phrase to know; this polite request word, known as kudasai, can be used when asking someone who is below you in rank or social status for favors. Additionally, this phrase can also be used when approaching someone new who you don’t yet know well enough.

Spring in Japan is famed for the breathtaking Sakura, or cherry blossom, season. Tourists and locals flock to areas with these trees during this period for photography opportunities and to take pleasure in the picturesque scene. Autumn travel season also offers great weather as leaves transform colors.

Though many people in larger cities speak English, traveling to smaller towns may present you with a language barrier. Knowing some simple Japanese phrases will make your visit much more pleasurable and help make friends among local residents.

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