If you’re traveling to Japan, knowing a few Japanese phrases will prove very useful and make your stay even more pleasurable.
Hiragana, or Japanese alphabet, consists of 46 characters organized around vowels (a, i, u and e). Below is a chart which displays these 46 characters along with their romanized pronunciation (romaji).
Konnichiwa, or simply hello in Japanese, is an essential phrase. Pronounced kon-nichi-chi-wa with emphasis placed on the “wa” part for pronunciation purposes as much of Japan uses ha as an introduction word or particle that introduces topic of sentence or phrase.
When someone greets you with Konnichiwa, respond by greeting them back with it in return. This applies whether talking with someone at home or a stranger in public. Keep in mind that some may consider this an impolite form of greeting someone so be wary when using it.
If you are traveling in Japan, learning basic Japanese phrases will not only help you communicate more easily with locals but will also demonstrate your effort and allow people to appreciate that effort – they may even offer assistance should something arise that requires assistance.
One useful phrase to learn in Japanese is how to say numbers. This will come in particularly handy when shopping, as cashiers frequently ask customers how much money they wish to spend; although their amount will appear on the register. Practice numbers before entering a store! Also be sure to know at least the basic counting from one through ten; this may come in handy should something need be purchased from stores.
Sayonara is a formal word used to say farewell to friends or family members. It can also be used in an ironic context when someone leaves their job or school permanently, however this form of goodbye should be reserved for formal occasions; otherwise more informal forms like (Mata ne) or (Oyasuminasai), both meaning “see you later”, may suffice.
Learn some essential phrases that can come in handy in various scenarios, for instance when asking if something is okay or how far a destination is away. Use phrases such as Daijyoubu desuka? and Eigo wa hanasemasu ka? to ask someone how they are feeling or “Doko desuka?.”
Travel-related words and phrases, like (Mata ane) and (Matane), which mean late, are also beneficial when traveling as part of a group; they will allow you to communicate more efficiently with locals while making your trip less stressful.
After greeting people during the day with konnichiwa and konbanha, this phrase can be used in the evening or night as another greeting option. Pronounced exactly like konnichiwa but used when the sun begins setting and day starts winding down, this friendly greeting can be used on anyone – including superiors – as it signals its end. Also great to use to greet friends or family though may sound too formal for casual conversations.
Sumimasen (pronounced sum-mah-sen), also known as “excuse me,” can be an indispensable travel phrase when needing to politely ask someone about the time, cost of transportation or where something specific can be found. You could even use it when greeting store employees!
Remembering Japan’s culture and traditions places great value on politeness, including respecting rank and age. Therefore it is best to use more formal greetings when speaking to older or higher status individuals as well as refrain from jokes that could cause offense such as military personnel and people working for government positions.
If you’re planning a visit to Japan, it would be prudent to learn some basic Japanese phrases and read Kanji characters; these will make your trip much more enjoyable and help get around easier. Furthermore, numbers 1-10 must also be read aloud with correct pronunciation using phonetic languages such as Japanese. Pronunciation differs drastically from that in English since words use phonetics to represent sounds made by each character; familiarizing yourself with these sounds will enable easier pronounciation of Japanese words.
Kudasai (, literally “please”) is an essential Japanese phrase used for polite requests such as asking directions or seeking assistance at restaurants. Typically combined with other expressions to show an air of politeness; for example: one could say: o yuan ishimasu (please lend me your hand) or o kuni ni masukan onegaishimasu (please give me a lift).
Another widely used expression is yamete kudasai, a more formal Japanese expression that should be used when speaking to someone you do not know directly or addressing superiors or strangers. You could use this when conversing with them directly.
Sumimasen is another key phrase to keep in your repertoire: it can show your appreciation and get someone’s attention, as well as serve as an apology if something tourist-y goes awry – such as bumping into someone or rolling your suitcase onto their foot – using it can show how thoughtful you are of others and reduce awkward situations! Say sumimasen onegaishimasu when this occurs to express regret!