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Basic Japanese Words You Need To Know Before Visiting Japan


Planning your next trip to Japan but afraid of the language barrier? Though there are still Japanese that speaks English, it is good to equip yourselves with some basic Japanese words and phrases, breaking down the communication barriers.

1. Yes & No

Travel141 | Basic Japanese Words You Need To Know Before Visiting Japan | Yes & No

Accepting or rejecting an offer, agreeing or disagreeing with something, that is the utmost basic in learning a new language. Yes in Japanese pronounce as Hai, and No is pronounce as Iye.

However, you probably won’t hear much Japanese use the word Iye. Instead, it is more commonly known by saying Daijobu. Daijobu has a few meaning, it can be translated as (That’s Ok, It’s alright, I’m Okay, I’m Fine), a more polite way in addressing No or reject.

2. Greetings

Travel141 | Basic Japanese Words You Need To Know Before Visiting Japan | Greetings

It is always polite to greet someone. The most common greeting phrase that you can use all day long would be Hello Konnichiwa (Face-to-face) or Mushi Mushi (Phone conversation) Good morning in Japanese is Ohayou Gozaimasu, Good evening is Konbanwa, and Goodnight is Oyasyminasai.

3. Apologies and Requests

Travel141 | Basic Japanese Words You Need To Know Before Visiting Japan | Apologize

The most proper way to apologize is to say I’m sorry, which is Gomennasai in Japanese. However, if you request for some help, you could use Please (Onegaishimasu) or simply saying Excuse Me (Sumimasen).

As Japan is a country that focuses on politeness, you will find that the locals will use Please and Excuse Me often. It is almost customary in their daily lives. It will be extremely useful when you would like to ask for help from others, instead of calling strangers Hey You!

4. Ask for Prices & Places

Travel141 | Basic Japanese Words You Need To Know Before Visiting Japan | Ask

Now, getting advance a bit, we will jump into the frequently asked questions in the Japanese language. So you are a shopaholic and would like to know the price of the goods, you should ask: Korewa Ikura desu ka? (How much is it?) Thinking of bargaining the price? Try asking Makate moreamasen ka? (Could you give me a discount?)

As for those who would like to enquire the location of certain places, you could ask ___doko desuka in Japanese, which means (Where is ____?) Eg: 7-Eleven doko desuka? (Where is 7 Eleven)

There’s another one that is useful for travel. ____arimasuka? (Is there____? Or Do you have____?) For example, you want to look for ATMs, so you could simply ask: ATM arimasuka?

5. Last Resort

Travel141 | Basic Japanese Words You Need To Know Before Visiting Japan | Last Resort

If you have absolutely no clue how to communicate with Japanese that doesn’t speak English, these few sentences are your last resort to seek help:

  • Eigo wakari masuka? (Do you understand English?)
  • Nihongo ga wakarimasen (I don’t understand Japanese.)
  • Just point on the map or train station and ask Doko? (Where’s this?)
  • If you are unsure, ask them with Daijobu (Is it ok?)

Don’t be surprised that the Japanese are heart-warming individuals that would stay behind and help you out. If they are unable to communicate with you, they will make sure to find somebody that could assist you before getting off.

Make sure you remember to thank them properly and politely for their kind services. A simple Arigato Gozaimasu (Thank you) will make their day.

So what are you waiting for? Gear yourselves up with these basic Japanese words and phrases so that you won’t be panicking on what to speak or say at the country of the Sun!

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