Japanese Phrases

…For Sightseeing

Japan is a wonderful place for your next trip. It’s pricey, but well worth the money, and the people are so friendly and the food so good, you’ll be planning your next Japan trip the minute the plane touches down back home!

Bad Japanases word

Only one problem: It’s hard to get around without a guide or interpreter. Most people you meet, especially in more remote areas, don’t speak English. So, here are some phrases for tourists that will help you get around:


First off, "arigato" is "thank you" in Japanese. Most people know that already, but you can also say "domo," which is less polite. It’s okay to be less polite. For example, if the guy at 7-11 gives you your change, you can just say "domo."

Getting around

Here’s a great thing about Japanese: a lot of words are the same. For example, bus is "basu," taxi is "takushii" and hotel is "hoteru." That makes things easier! And one more important one: "toire" means bathroom!

Here’s a simple phrase you can use, "Doko desu ka." This means, "Where is…" So, if you’re looking for a place like, for example, Shinjuku, you can say, "Shinjuku, doko desu ka?" and everybody will understand what you are trying to say.

A good place to know is "eki." This means "train station." Again, you can just say, "Eki, doko desu ka?" and everybody knows exactly what the lost tourist is looking for!

Outside almost every station is a "koban," or police box. It’s good to know where those are. The cops are helpful, and they have tons of maps and area information.


Remember how I said lots of words are close to English? Same with food! "Coffee" is "co-hii," "beer" is "beeru," and lots of your favorite western dishes, like pasta and sandwiches, are called by their English names.

When ordering food, tuck "kudasai" on the end and you just got more polite. "Kudasai" is kind of like saying please, and you can use it when you want something.

A word everybody should know before they land in Japan is "oishii." This means "delicious." If somebody serves you food at their house, you should say this over and over again. Also, you’ll hear people saying this a lot. Much more than we say it back home.

After the meal, tell the cook or the waiter, "Go chiso sama desh’ta." This basically means, "That was some good grub!" And, they’ll be surprised to hear a foreign tourist say it. I guarantee you’ll get a smile and a couple bows for that one.


Whenever you go into a shop, somebody will probably say "Irrashaimase!!" to you. They may shout it at you, actually. This is something like, "May I help you." But don’t worry, you don’t have to respond. A smile and a nod will do. They are just welcoming you to their shop.

A good question when shopping is, "Ikura desu ka?" This means "How much is it?" I’m sure that one will come in handy.

These are just a few phrases that will help you get around and enjoy your trip!

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