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20 Essential Japanese Phrases for Travelers to Japan

If you’re visiting Japan and a little worried about the language barrier (or you simply love languages), we’ve got you covered with these essential Japanese phrases for travelers.

In our guide to what we believe are the most important Japanese phrases for travel, we’ll introduce you to a selection of key words and phrases — and explain why the Japanese language barrier is not as worrisome as you might think.

The truth is, you do not need to speak any Japanese to have a successful, wonderful trip to Japan (and if you’re looking for travel inspiration, check out our favorite destinations in Japan ). However, learning a few key Japanese phrases can make your trip just that much better. So let’s get into it!

Download our Free Japanese Phrasebook:

Originally written in 2014, this post was updated and republished on November 1, 2019.

japanese travel words

The Most Essential Japanese Words & Phrases for Your Trip to Japan

Learning Japanese can seem daunting, but don’t worry. You don’t need to learn any of these words or phrases to have a great time (see why we love Japan ).

However, as any seasoned traveler knows, making a little linguistic effort can go a long way, and it can be helpful to learn even a little of the local language for your travels. We’ve narrowed it down to a small selection of key words and phrases, divided by category:

  • The Basics: Key Japanese Words and Phrases
  • Food and Drink: Eating Your Way Around Japan
  • Now or Later: Time-Related Phrases in Japanese
  • Getting Around Japan: Transportation-Related Phrases

Here is a quick look at the words and phrase you’ll find below:

Top 20 Essential Japanese Travel Phrases:

  • Konnichiwa (こんにちは) – Hello
  • Arigatou Gozaimasu (ありがとうございます) – Thank you
  • Sumimasen (すみません) – Excuse me
  • __ o Kudasai (__をください) – I would like __, please
  • __ wa Doko Desu ka? (__はどこですか) – Where is __?
  • Itadakimasu (いただきます) – An expression of gratitude for the meal you’re about to eat
  • Omakase de (お任せで) – Used to order chef’s recommendation (often for sushi)
  • O-sake (お酒) – General term for alcohol
  • Nihonshu (日本酒) – Japanese sake
  • Kinen Seki (禁煙席) – Non-smoking seat
  • Ima Nanji Desu ka? (今何時ですか) – What time is it now?
  • Nanji ni? (何時に?) – At what time?
  • Asa (朝) – Morning
  • Kyou (今日) – Today
  • Ashita (明日) – Tomorrow
  • __ ni Ikitai (__に行きたい) – I want to go to __
  • Tomete Kudasai (止めてください) – Stop, please
  • Kippu (切符) – Ticket
  • Shinkansen (新幹線) – Bullet train
  • Dono Densha? (どの電車?) – Which train?

If you’re concerned about memorizing all this Japanese, or want to learn even more words and phrases, download Boutique Japan’s Tiny Phrasebook for free.

And for an introduction to how to say these words and phrases, see our bonus video to help you practice your Japanese pronunciation .

Basic Japanese Words and Phrases

Let’s start with a few of the most basic-yet-essential Japanese words and phrases. Even if you only remember how to say hello or thank you , you’ll find that Japanese people will be appreciative of your efforts!

1. Konnichiwa (こんにちは) – Hello

Let’s start with one you’ve probably heard before: the word for hello is konnichiwa .

Konnichiwa is typically used during the day, and there are other phrases for good morning and good evening ( ohayou gozaimasu , and konbanwa , respectively). But when you’re starting out it’s best to keep things simple, and if you simply learn konnichiwa you can use it throughout the day to say hello !

konnichiwa hello

2. Arigatou Gozaimasu (ありがとうございます) – Thank you

In Japan, etiquette is no joke, and chances are you’ll be saying thank you a lot (learn more in our guide to Japanese etiquette ).

The word for thank you in Japanese is arigatou gozaimasu (in Japanese, the u at the end of some words is barely pronounced to the point of being nearly silent). You can usually simply say arigatou , which is a little more casual but usually perfectly fine. In Japan, where politeness is such a key part of the culture, you’ll be saying arigatou gozaimasu a lot!

arigatou thank you

3. Sumimasen (すみません) – Excuse me

Excuse me is an important expression in any language, and Japanese is no exception.

The word for excuse me in Japanese is sumimasen . Chances are you’ll also be using this one quite a bit, so if you can try and memorize it! It’s a doubly useful word, as it can be used both to get a person’s attention, and also to apologize.

For example, use sumimasen at an izakaya (a Japanese-style gastropub) to get a waiter’s attention. At izakaya , it’s often called out as sumimaseeeeee~n ! On the other hand, if you accidentally walk onto a tatami floor with your shoes on (something you’re likely to do at some point) you can use sumimasen to say I’m sorry .

sumimasen excuse me

4. __ o Kudasai ( をください) – I would like , please

Now that we’ve covered three basic essentials, we can move onto two key sentences that will hopefully help you a lot.

First is I would like __, please . This is useful in a variety of situations: at restaurants, in stores, and on many other occasions you’ll encounter while traveling. In Japanese, it’s __ o kudasai (simply fill in the __ [blank] with the item of your choice).

To get the most out of this phrase, you may want to learn a few vocabulary words, such as water (mizu), beer (biiru) , sake , and others you think you may need.

kudasai i would like japanese phrase

5. __ wa Doko Desu ka? ( はどこですか) – Where is __?

Last but not least, we think it’s quite useful to be able to ask Where is the __? This is useful even if you can’t understand the answer, because once you ask, people will be able to point you in the right direction, or even help you get to where you’re going!

In Japanese, it’s __ wa doko desu ka? (simply fill in the __ [blank] with the place you’re trying to reach, such as the Ghibli Museum ). One key vocabulary word that often goes along with this phrase for travelers is eki , which means station (for example, Shinjuku eki is Shinjuku station ).

doku desu ka where is

Eating Your Way Around Japan: Food and Drink Phrases

For many travelers, Japanese food is a top priority! From classic Tokyo sushi restaurants to the legendary food culture of Okinawa , there’s a lot to take in. For alcohol afficionados, Japan also offers sake , Japanese whisky , shochu , and other traditional beverages.

While you don’t need to speak any Japanese to enjoy eating and drinking in Japan, these key words and phrases will help you make the most of your culinary experiences.

6. Itadakimasu (いただきます) – An expression of gratitude for the meal you’re about to eat

Certainly not required, but if you say itadakimasu before you begin eating, whether in a restaurant or at a person’s home, they will surely be impressed with your manners.

Essentially, this phrase expresses humility and thanks for the meal you are about to enjoy. The website Tofugu does a very nice job of explaining the meaning of itadakimasu .

bon appetit itadaki-masu Japanese phrase

7. Omakase de (お任せで) – Used to order chef’s recommendation (often for sushi)

If you’re a passionate sushi enthusiast, you probably already know the meaning of omakase .

When you tell a chef omakase de , you’re letting them know that you’re placing the meal in their hands. Especially for travelers with adventurous palates, this is the best way to experience a meal at a Tokyo sushi shop , for example.

However, the phrase is not only used at sushi restaurants, and can often be used at other types of establishments as well.

your recommendation omakase de

8. O-sake (お酒) – General term for alcohol

Technically osake , this word has tripped many a non-Japanese speaker up! While in English the word sake means, well, sake , in Japanese the word sake — more politely, osake — refers to alcoholic beverages in general.

( Sake and osake are virtually interchangeable; the “o” is what is known as an honorific prefix, but unless you’re studying Japanese in more depth, you really don’t need to worry about this!)

So if you’re looking for sake (which in Japanese is called nihonshu) , it’s best to ask for nihonshu (see below). If you’re simply looking for an adult beverage (such as nihonshu , shochu , or Japanese whisky ), the catchall term sake will do the trick.

alcohol osake

9. Nihonshu (日本酒) – Japanese sake

See above for the distinction between sake and nihonshu !

10. Kinen Seki (禁煙席) – Non-smoking seat

Encountering cigarette smoke is somewhat of an unavoidable aspect of traveling around Japan. This being said, most of our travelers are quite averse to smoke, and fortunately it’s possible to travel around Japan without smoke becoming too much of a nuisance.

In some places, such as restaurants, you may have a choice between the smoking and non-smoking sections. Kinen means non-smoking, and seki means seat : put them together and you’ve just conveyed that you’d like to be seated in the non-smoking area!

non smoking area kinen seki Japanese phrase

Time-Related Phrases in Japanese

Time-related phrases can be extremely helpful in certain travel situations, and below you’ll find a few of the most practical Japanese words and phrases on this topic.

11. Ima Nanji Desu ka? (今何時ですか) – What time is it now?

Chances are you’ll have a watch or cell phone on you, but once in a while you may need to ask a stranger for the time.

The basic phrase is simply nanji desu ka? which means, What time is it? People also commonly say ima nanji desu ka? which simply means, What time is it now? ( Ima means now.)

what time is in ima nanji desu ka

12. Nanji ni? (何時に?) – At what time?

This is a particularly useful phrase while traveling. It can be helpful when purchasing rail tickets (see more on getting around Japan below), making meal reservations, or arranging tickets to events.

Sure, you could just ask nanji? ( what time? ) and hope your point gets across, but by adding the preposition ni you can be assured of much more clarity!

at what time nanji ni

13. Asa (朝) – Morning

This one is fairly self-explanatory: asa means morning . While it’s no surprise that a food-loving culture like Japan has multiple words for breakfast , one of the most common is asagohan ( gohan literally means rice , but is more generally used to mean food ).

morning asa

14. Kyou (今日) – Today

Words like today and tomorrow can be particularly useful when buying train tickets, for example. For more on transport, see the transport-related phrases below.

today kyou

15. Ashita (明日) – Tomorrow

When pronouncing the word for tomorrow, ashita , the i is virtually silent, so it ends up sounding more like ashta . If you need to express the day after tomorrow, the word is asatte .

tomorrow ashita

Getting Around Japan: Transportation-Related Phrases for Travelers to Japan

For some travelers, one of the biggest concerns about not speaking the language is the prospect of getting around the country, navigating the trains, and trying to avoid getting lost.

Fortunately, Japan has an incredibly efficient and easy-to-use rail network, and you can read all about it in our guide to train travel and getting around Japan . And here are some key Japanese words and phrases to help you on your way.

16. __ ni Ikitai ( に行きたい) – I want to go to __

On its own, ikitai means, I want to go .

To express that you’d like to go somewhere, use the phrase __ ni ikitai (simply fill in the __ [blank] with the place you’re trying to reach). For example, Kyoto ni ikitai means, I want to go to Kyoto .

i want to go to ni iki-tai Japanese phrase for travelers

17. Tomete Kudasai (止めてください) – Stop, please

Tomete means stop , and is particularly useful in taxis. The kudasai here means please , and makes the phrase much more polite ( tomete on its own would come off as quite brusque).

stop here please tomete kudasai

18. Kippu (切符) – Ticket

Kippu means ticket (as in train tickets). As you can easily imagine, when purchasing rail tickets it can be very useful to be able to tell the ticket agent that you’d like a ticket to a certain place!

Made means until or to (in this case, to your destination). For example, Osaka made means to Osaka . Thus, Osaka made no kippu means ticket to Osaka . Put it all together with kudasai (for politeness) and you have Osaka made no kippu o kudasai .

tickets to made no kippu o kudas

19. Shinkansen (新幹線) – Bullet train

Ah, the shinkansen . One of the utter joys of traveling around Japan is the world-famous shinkansen (bullet train).

Whether you have the well-known Japan Rail Pass or not, if you’re doing any domestic travel within Japan, chances are you’ll end up on the incredible (and incredibly pleasant) shinkansen for at least one if not more of your journeys. Enjoy, and grab a bento and some nihonshu (see above) for the ride!

bullet train shinkan sen

20. Dono Densha? (どの電車?) – Which train?

Wondering which train you need? Imagine you’re in Kyoto Station, headed for Tokyo. You’re on your shinkansen’s departure platform, but you see two trains.

You show your ticket to a friendly Japanese person, and ask, dono densha? They take a look at your ticket and the two trains, and point you to the right one. And you’re on your way – happy travels!

which train dono densha

Download our Free Japanese Phrasebook PDF

For those of you who want to learn even more Japanese for travel, we’ve created the Boutique Japan Tiny Phrasebook.

Our Tiny Phrasebook features carefully selected Japanese words and phrases designed to help you get the most out of your trip to Japan. You’ll find all of the words and phrases featured above, and many more!

The phrasebook is a beautifully designed PDF (it may take a few moments to load depending on your internet speed).

Simply save it to your smartphone, tablet, or computer. We suggest using an app like iBooks (or another PDF reader) so you can search for words and navigate easily.

Bonus Video: Practice your Japanese Pronunciation

One of the best things about Japanese is that it’s surprisingly easy to pronounce. Unlike several other languages throughout Asia, Japanese is not a tonal language.

In the video below, we go over basic pronunciation for some of the most useful Japanese words and phrases for your trip to Japan.

Do you need to speak any Japanese to travel around Japan ?

Absolutely not. You can travel to Japan without learning any of these words and have a great time.

People ask us about the Japanese language barrier all the time, with common questions such as, Do Japanese people speak English? How much (or how little)? The language barrier is a common myth that shouldn’t get in your way. Most of our travelers don’t speak a single word of Japanese, yet come back with testimonials of how much they love Japan .

The truth is that most Japanese people speak at least a little bit of English. These days, all Japanese students study English for a minimum of six years in secondary school, and many students — as well as adults — also take English-language classes after school or on weekends.

English-language fluency is not widespread, so most people you meet probably won’t be fluent in English, but almost everyone you meet will know at least a few English words – and many will know anywhere from hundreds to thousands.

Sometimes you may find that the people you meet are hesitant to try their English on you, but you’ll likely find that you can communicate in basic English in a huge variety of situations while traveling around Japan.

Japanese language barrier signs Fushimi Kyoto Japan

The Japanese Written Language

You may also be worried about the written language. The good news is that you don’t need to be able to read or write Japanese to enjoy Japan.

Japanese people don’t expect you to be able to read the Japanese language, and you’ll find English-language signage throughout the country. This is especially true in places frequented by travelers, such as sightseeing spots, shopping areas, train stations, airports, and often even on the street.

As for at restaurants, though it’s not always the case, in some cases you will find English-language menus. When English-language menus are not available, photos are often included to make pointing and ordering possible.

Despite Japan’s travel-friendliness, every visitor to Japan at some point finds him or herself in a situation in which linguistic communication is simply not possible, and sign language and gesturing are required.

Getting lost in a foreign country where you don’t speak the language is a fear of many would-be travelers, but if you had to pick a country in which to get lost, you couldn’t do much better than Japan! Japan is by far one of the safest countries in the world, with crime rates that are astonishingly low compared to places like the US and most of Europe. And Japanese people will often go to surprising lengths to help tourists.

Back when I first moved to Japan I spoke very little Japanese, and on my first visit to Kyoto I accidentally took the wrong train and ended up wandering around a neighborhood with no idea how to get where I wanted to go. Luckily, an older gentleman with his wife spotted me looking confused and came up to me with perhaps one of the only English phrases he knew: “ Are you lost? ” I said yes and showed him the name of the place I wanted to go.

If he had simply pointed me in the right direction it would have been helpful, but instead he started walking me in the right direction. After a few minutes of walking his wife split off, presumably to go home, and we continued. After 15 minutes of walking he had dropped me off at exactly the spot I needed to be, and – as is typical in Japanese culture – expected nothing in return. I thanked him profusely and we had a good laugh despite our inability to communicate linguistically.

Nighttime neon Osaka Japan

Why Learn Any Japanese if You Won’t Need it?

Almost everyone who has visited Japan has a similar story of a random act of kindness and generosity from a Japanese stranger (or a tale of a camera or passport left on a train being miraculously returned). So you can rest assured that even if you forget all of the words and phrases we’ve shown, you’ll be in good hands with the wonderful people of Japan.

But aside from the fact that it’s a rich and fascinating language, learning even just one or two Japanese words or phrases will help endear you to the Japanese people you meet during your trip, and enhance your overall travel experience.

Japanese people tend to be extremely appreciative of visitors who take the time to learn even just a word or phrase or two, and if you try then chances are you’ll be greeted with oohs and aahs of encouragement.

We hope you’ve found our guide to Japanese words and phrases for travelers helpful. Arigatou gozaimasu!

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japanese travel words

83 Must-Know Japanese Travel Phrases For Your Next Trip To Japan

Olly Richards Headshot

If you're learning Japanese and considering a trip to Japan, you'll probably want to learn some Japanese travel phrases so you can make the most of your trip.

Getting a feel for which expressions will be most important to you can vary depending upon your specific interests and goals while traveling. But some vocab is particularly useful no matter what.

If you spend time learning any basic Japanese phrases and words, start with these 83 Japanese travel phrases so that you can head into Japan on the right foot!

Regardless of where you are or what you’re doing, two of the most important words you’ll need to know are arigatou gozaimasu and sumimasen .

Arigatou (gozaimasu ) means “thank you,” and it’s very polite; you can use it with anyone. Sumimasen means “excuse me” (when trying to get someone’s attention) or “I’m sorry” (if you’ve inconvenienced someone, such as by misunderstanding or taking up time).

Let's discover the other Japanese travel phrases that will be a must on your next trip to Japan.

By the way, if you want to learn Japanese fast and have fun while doing it, my top recommendation is  Japanese Uncovered  which teaches you through StoryLearning®. 

With  Japanese Uncovered  you’ll use my unique StoryLearning® method to learn Japanese naturally through story… not rules. It’s as fun as it is effective.

If you’re ready to get started,  click here for a 7-day FREE trial.

At The Airport

japanese travel words

So you have arrived in Japan, and you’re in the airport. Depending on how your travels went and what you’re planning on doing next, you might have multiple places you need to visit.

To start, review your vocab and see if any of these locations apply to you for your next stop:

#1 currency exchange ( ryougaejo 両替所) #2 toilet ( toire トイレ) #3 customs ( zeikan 税関) #4 immigration ( nyuukoku shinsa 入国審査) #5 information ( desksougou annaijo 総合案内所) #6 souvenir shop ( omiyageya お土産屋) #7 Seat ( seki 席) #8 Train ( densha 電車) #9 Taxi ( takushi タクシー)

These are the most likely places you’ll need to stop next once you arrive. If you need to locate a certain establishment or find where to go, you can always ask someone:

#10 Where is the ______? (____ ha doko desu ka? __はどこですか。)

After you conclude your business wandering around the airport, you’ll probably be heading out into the city. In order to do that, you’ll most likely need to take a train out of the airport. If you feel confident using the airport’s self-service ticket machines, you can buy your own ticket.

However, if you have a JR Pass or need to use special train services, or if you don’t know how to use the machines, you can approach the manned ticket counter and ask:

#11 Can I have a ticket to _______ please? (____ made no chiketto wo kudasai. __までのチケットをください。)

If you are concerned that you may have to change trains during the process, you can ask about this too by saying:

#12 Is there a transfer? ( Norikae ha arimasu ka? 乗り換えはありますか。)

Taking A Taxi

japanese travel words

Taxis in Japan are much more economical options than people give them credit for, so if you’re overwhelmed about navigating by yourself, a taxi can be a great option. The vocabulary for taking a taxi is simple, and drivers typically go above and beyond to help you.

#13 Taxi ( takushi タクシー)

When you have located the taxis, you will see that they typically drive up in a line. Wait your turn, and when one drives up, approach. Remember: do not open or close the taxi doors yourself; the driver has an automated button to do this for you.

#14 I’d like to go to _____, please. (____ made onegaishimasu __までお願いします) #15 How much does it cost? ( Ikura desu ka? いくらですか。)

One important thing to remember is that Japan is a very cash-centric society . The use of credit cards is much rarer than you may be used to, so you should plan to carry larger than normal amounts of cash with you in general. This also means that you should be prepared to ask your taxi driver if he or she accepts credit cards at all.

#16 Is paying by credit card okay? ( Kurejitto kaado de ii desu ka? クレジットカードでいいですか。)

Checking Into Your Hotel

japanese travel words

So you have taken a taxi or train, and you’ve arrived at your hotel. Hotels have a wide array of commodities that you can take advantage of, which means that you’ll also get to use a lot of unique vocabulary.

Check out some of the words you’re most likely to use:

#17 Key ( kagi 鍵) #18 Front desk ( chouba (but furonto desuku is more common) 帳場 (フロントデスク)) #19 Lobby ( robii ロビー) #20 Dining room ( shokudou 食堂) #21 Hall ( rouka 廊下) #22 Towel ( taoru タオル) #23 Soap ( sekken 石鹸) #24 Toothbrush ( ha-burashi 歯ブラシ) #25 Toothpaste ( ha-migaki 歯磨き) #26 Razor ( kamisori かみそり) #27 Television ( terebi テレビ) #28 Housekeeping ( kaji-gakari かじがかり) #29 Laundry ( sentaku 選択)

If you are looking to do laundry at a hotel, be aware that Japanese dryers are not as powerful as most countries’, so you may need to run the dryer multiple times or simply hang your clothes to dry.

When you are ready to check in, you can approach the front desk. Depending on what you need to do next, you can use phrases such as:

#30 I’d like to check in. ( Chekku in wo onegaishimasu .チェックインをお願いします。) #31 My name is _______. ( Namae wa _____desu .名前あ___です。) #32 I’d like to make a reservation. ( Yoyaku wo shitai desu .予約をしたいです。) #33 Is there wifi? ( Wi-Fi ga arimasu ka? WIFIがありますか。) #34 What time is checkout? ( Chekku auto wa nanji desu ka? チェックアウトは何時ですか。`) #35 Can you hold my luggage for me? ( Nimotsu wo koko ni oite itte mo ii desu ka? 荷物はここに置いていってもいいですか。)

Japanese Greetings

japanese travel words

Now that you have settled into Japan a little bit, you’ll probably enjoy going for a walk to see the sights. As you interact with other people, the phrases you’re most likely to hear them say are:

#36 Ohayou/konnichiwa/konbanwa

These are the “daily” greetings that mean “hello.” Ohayou (good morning) is typically used until about 11:30 or noon, then people switch to konnichiwa (good afternoon). At about 5pm, most people will switch to konbanwa (good evening).

#37 Itterasshai/Okaeri

When you leave and return for the day, you may be greeted with unique phrases. Itterasshai means “have a safe trip” or simply “goodbye for the day,” said as you leave. Your hotel staff may say this to you. They may also greet you with okaeri (welcome back) when you return.

#38 Irasshaimase

Whenever you enter a business, you’ll likely be greeted with irasshaimase , a very formal welcome. You are not expected to say anything in response; it’s sort of like the staff saying hello while also thanking you for shopping or visiting.

Japanese Vocab Power Pack

Buying Coffee

smart phone next to coffee mug

If you can’t go a day without your morning brew, take heart—Japanese coffee shops are everywhere, and the vocabulary is actually almost identical to what you may be used to ordering.

#39 Coffee shop ( kissaten 喫茶店) #40 Hot coffee ( hotto kohi ホットコーヒー) #41 Iced coffee ( aisu kohi アイスコーヒー) #42 Cafe latte ( kafe rate カフェラテ) #43 Drip coffee ( dorippu kohi ドリップコーヒー) #44 Soy milk ( soi miruku ソイミルク)) #45 Espresso ( Esupuresso エスプレッソ)

When it comes time to order your drink, you can specify what you want via the following format:

#46 I’d like to order [number] of [item]. ([item] wo [number] onegaishimasu .[item] を [number]お願いします。)

The [item] can be kohi, mizu (water), or any other item you would like to order. If you don’t know how to say what you want to order, you can point to a menu and simply say “kore” (this) in the [item] place. You can fill the [number] slot with the quantity you would like; the words hitotsu, futatsu , and mitsu mean one, two, and three, respectively.

For example:

  • I’d like one hot coffee, please. ( Hotto kohi wo hitotsu onegaishimasu. )

After this, the waitress may ask what size you would like. You can typically choose from small (S), medium (M), and large (L).

Use the letter to indicate which size you would like:

#47 Size ( saizu サイズ) #48 Medium M ( saizuM サイズ)

In A Japanese Restaurant

japanese travel words

If you’ve decided to stop by a Japanese restaurant instead of a café, you might need a wider variety of words to make sure you can get by.

The good news is that many restaurants—especially in large cities—have pictures on their menus, and no one will be upset if you point and simply say “this, please.”

To start, the vocabulary you’re most likely to need include:

#49 Fish ( sakana 魚) #50 Meat ( niku 肉) #51 Vegetables ( yasai 野菜) #52 Vegetarian ( begitarian ベジタリアン) #53 Beer ( biiru ビール) #54 Water ( mizu 水) #55 Tea ( ocha お茶)

As you enter a restaurant, you will likely be asked how many people are in your party. Using basic Japanese numbers 1-10, you can create the following sentence:

#56 There are [number] people. ([number] mei desu .___名です)

Once you have been seated, you may need to use some of the following phrases:

#57 Do you have an English menu? ( Eigo no menyu arimasu ka? 英語のメニューありますか。) #58 What is this [while pointing]? ( Kore ha nan desu ka? これは何ですか。)

When you have decided what you would like to order, you can simply state:

#59 [item] please. (____ onegaishimasu .__お願いします。)

If you do not know the name of the item and would like to order just by pointing at the menu, you can use:

#60 I’d like to order [number] of [item]. ([item] wo [number] onegaishimasu .[item] を [number]お願いします。)

When your meal is over, your next step is to pay. Important phrases that can get you through this phase of the interaction include:

#61 Could we have the bill, please? ( Okaikei kudasai. お会計ください。) #62 Can I pay with a credit card? ( Kurejitto kaado de daijoubu desu ka? クレジットカードで大丈夫ですか。)

In A Convenience Store

japanese travel words

If you don’t feel like stopping by a restaurant, or if you’d just like a quick bite to eat or other item, the thousands of convenience stores (called konbini , short for konbiniensu sutoa , “convenience store”) that appear on nearly every street corner are ready to serve you.

The easiest meals in terms of simplicity will be bento boxes, or small boxes (in the cold section) that serve as a whole meal. If you pick one of those up and stand in line, you will almost always hear the following three phrases (to which you can answer yes or no, which keeps things simple):

#63 Next in line, please! ( Otsugi no kata douzo! お次の方どうぞ。) #64 Do you have a point card [a rewards card for the convenience store]? ( Pointo ka-do ha omochi desu ka? ポイントカードはお持ちですか。) #65 Would you like your bento warmed up? ( Obento atatamemasu ka? お弁当温めますか。)

Getting Directions And Getting Lost

Almost inevitably, you’ll find yourself turned around once you start exploring. That’s not such a bad thing! Japan is full of small, tucked away secrets, and the people are eager to help you get back to a familiar place much more often than not.

If you need to ask directions, the phrases that will serve you best are:

#66 Where is [place]?( ____ ha doko desu ka? __ はどこですか。) #67 Can I ask you for directions? ( Michi wo kiite mo ii desu ka? 道を聞いてもいいですか。) #68 Can you help me? ( Tasukete kudasaimasen ka? 助けてくださいませんか。)

In response, Japanese people are likely to use the following words:

#69 Next ( totonari となり) #70 In front of ( mae 前) #71 Behind ( ushiro 後ろ) #72 Nearby ( chikaku 近く) #73 North ( kita 北) #74 South ( minami 南) #75 East ( higashi 東) #76 West ( nishi 西) #77 Right ( migi 右) #78 Left ( hidari 左) #79 Street/road/path ( michi 道) #80 Bridge ( hashi 橋) #81 Corner ( kado 角)

Thanks to the consistent presence of trains and other forms of public transport, you should feel emboldened to explore as much as you like. There will always be a train station or bus nearby where you can ask directions or head back to a familiar place!

Japanese Travel Phrases

So there you have it – 83 Japanese travel phrases to hit the ground running on your next trip to Japan. From the airport to the convenience store and from the hotel to Japanese restaurants these knowing these Japanese travel phrases will help you feel less like a tourist.

And who knows, maybe getting started with these Japanese travel phrases will be your gateway into learning the language.

By the way, if you'd like to learn some more Japanese phrases before your trip, make sure you check out this post on basic conversational Japanese for your first chat with a native speaker. You might also like this list of Japanese conversation starters.

japanese travel words

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25+ Easy Japanese Travel Phrases for Beginners to Say

Looking to learn some Japanese travel phrases?

Well, if you’re traveling to Japan, then you’ll likely need some of these phrases about toilets, money, English and much more.

By the way, if you want to hear REAL Japanese, check out this audio lesson by JapanesePod101. Press play below. Why? It’s one thing to read about Japanese and another to hear native speakers — you learn faster!

  • “Survival Phrases S2 #1 – Thank You!”
  • Lesson by  by JapanesePod101.com  (click here for more fun audio lessons)

So, here are the most useful Japanese travel phrases.

1. Konnichiwa こんにちは Hello/Good Day

japanese travel phrase

You’re probably somewhat aware of this word “Konnichiwa.” A very common Japanese greeting . You can use it to greet people during the day. This means, you wouldn’t use it during the morning or evening.

2. Ohayou Gozaimasu おはようございます Good Morning

japanese travel phrase

This is a good Japanese greeting to know. So, if you’re entering a hotel, a shop or some other place in the morning, you can say this first. Use this before 11AM.

Now, what about evening?

3. Konbanwa こんばんは Good evening

japanese travel phrase

Feel free to use this Japanese greeting after 6PM or so.

4. Hai  はい Yes, いいえ iie No

These are just basic words you and every one should know.

japanese travel phrase

If you’re curious, you can learn more ways to say yes in Japanese here , and more ways to say no in Japanese here . But, as a traveler, “hai” and “iie” are good enough.

5. Arigatou Gozaimasu.  ありがとうございます Thank you very much

You’ll likely want to say thank you to shop staff, airline staff or a water at a restaurant.

So, just say “Arigatou Gozaimasu.” This is pronounced “a-ree-ga-to go-zay-mas”.

You can also check out this JapanesePod101 (they’re a Japanese learning program) audio lesson here to hear the pronunciation.

  • Lesson by  by JapanesePod101.com  (click here for more fun lessons at JapanesePod101.com)

japanese travel phrase

There are several ways to say thank you depending on the politeness level. Obviously, the longer, the more polite. Use “Arigatou gozaimasu” to be on the safe side.

  • Thanks (super casual – only with friends)
  • Thank you (casual, okay to use with most people)
  • Thank you very much (polite, standard, most common way to say it – the SAFEST phrase to use)
  • Thank you very much (MORE polite, because it’s in past tense).

So, these were some really basic phrases.

Now, we’re going to go from 0 to 100 and cover more complex ones.

6. Toire wa doko desu ka? トイレはどこですか? ) Where is the bathroom?

This is probably one of the most useful Japanese travel phrases.

You’ll always need the toilet, right? That’s why it’s good to know

Since Japan uses very different characters from English, it’s possible that you may not recognize the sign for the bathroom. Also, keep a look out for the high-tech toilets when visiting Japan!

japanese travel phrases

  • Pronounced: Toy-re
  • Doko – where

7. Ikura desu ka? いくらですか? – How much is it?

If you’re out shopping or on the street buying food, this is the perfect phrase to use. Keep in mind that Japan is a country that doesn’t haggle so there is usually a set price. If you’re lucky, some local shops might give you some extra products or food for free.

japanese travel phrases

  • Pronounced: ee-koo-ra

8. Betsu betsu de onegai shimasu. 別々でお願いします。) – We would like to pay separately.

When travelling as a group, it’s nice to be able to split the cost when you’re about to pay for your meal at a restaurant.This is a great phrase to use before they bring the bill.

japanese travel words

  • Betsu betsu – separately

9. Sumimasen! すみません! – Excuse me! (or thank you!)

This phrase can be used for multiple purposes. It’s possible to use it to say “excuse me”, if someone is in your way or to ask a stranger a question. It also works as a “thank you”. In some cases, it’s more common to say “Sumimasen!” than to say “Arigato!”. “Sumimasen!” acknowledges someone going out of their way for you.

japanese travel phrases

  • pronounced (soo-mee-ma-sen)

10. _____wa doko desu ka? _____はどこですか? – Where is _____?

japanese travel phrases

If you’re on the street trying to find a place or you get lost, simply ask this question. You can put any location in the blank part of the phrase. It could be a restaurant, landmark, or a train station.

11. _____wo kudasai.  _____をください。 – I would like to have _____. 

Use this phrase when asking for something. In the blank, you can add things like what you want on the menu, train tickets, or anything you might be looking to buy. Keep in mind that this phrase only works when asking for items or food, and it doesn’t work with verbs.

japanese travel phrases

  • Pronunciation: Koo-da-sai

12. Osusume wa nan desu ka? オススメはなんですか?  What do you recommend?

This is useful for anyone who likes to explore food culture. If you’re confused with what to order on the menu, you can use this phrase to ask the waiter’s recommendation. It’s also useful, if you just need some advice on what is recommended. For example, if there are two trains you can take to get somewhere and you need to decide.

japanese travel phrases

  • Pronunciation: oh-soo-soo-me

13. Shashin totte moratte mo ii desu ka? 写真とってもらっても良いですか? Could you take a picture for me (or us)? 

This probably the second most useful Japanese travel phrases

If you’re at a beautiful landmark, you might want a picture as a keepsake. Use this phrase to ask a stranger to take a picture for you. Taking pictures is a big part of Japanese culture so someone will definitely help you out.

japanese travel phrases

  • shashin – picture

14. Yoyaku ga arimasu. 予約があります。I have a reservation.

This phrase can be used if you’ve made a reservation for a restaurant or any other kind of service. They’ll usually need to check your confirmation number or name to verify your reservation.

japanese travel phrases

  • Yoyaku – reservation

15. Chizu o kudasai. 地図をください。 Could I have a map?

The train and metro lines in the big cities of Japan can be crazy. Use this phrase if you want to have a train or metro map. It’s also useful if you’re in need of a map at a landmark, museum, or other location.

japanese travel phrases

  • Chizu – map

16. Takushii noriba wa dokodesuka? タクシー乗り場はどこですか? Where can I grab a taxi?

There are often designated locations that taxi’s can be picked up in Japan. They’re usually in front of airports, train stations and in busy city centers. If you see taxis parked one after another and try to approach one of them, they’ll refuse you because you’ve come across a taxi line, and somewhere at the front is a taxi stand. So, you’ll have to find it. Or you can ask someone using this phrase. That being said, you can always wave down a cab.

japanese travel phrases

  • Takushii – taxi
  • Noriba – Taxi stand

17. Okaikei onegaishimasu  お会計お願いします。 Could I have the bill? 

This phrase is useful if you’re at a restaurant and want to get the bill. In Japan, depending on the restaurant, they have many small dishes that they will need to calculate for you.

japanese travel phrases

  • Kaikei  – bill/check

18. Eigo shaberemasuka? 英語喋れますか? Can you speak English?

Even if you’re trying to practice your Japanese, it might be necessary to speak in English if you get confused. Ask this phrase to see if the other person can speak with you in English. These days, it’s common that many shops or train stations will have English speaking representatives.

japanese travel phrases

  • Eigo  – English

19. Shichaku shite mo ii desu ka?  試着しても良いですか? Can I try this on?

This is a useful phrase for clothes shopping. Clothing shop assistants are usually very attentive in Japan. It’s important to keep in mind that it can be considered rude if you end up not buying anything after trying on lots of clothes.

japanese travel phrases

  • Shichaku  – try on

20. Wai fai wa arimasu ka? ワイファイはありますか?Do you have Wifi?

Internet connection is important to navigate an unknown city or to stay connected with friends and family. Ask this phrase to check if a place has any Wi-Fi connection. Convenience stores and train stations will usually have free Wifi!

japanese travel phrases

  • Wai Fai  – WiFi

21. Kaado uketsuke masuka? カード受け付けますか? Can I use card payment?

It’s important to check if a restaurant accepts credit cards in Japan. In some restaurants, it is possible that it would be cash only.

japanese travel phrases

  • Kaado  – (credit) card

22. _____no arerugii ga arimasu. ______のアレルギーがあります。I have an allergy to ______.

If you have any allergies it’s essential to learn this phrase. It’s also recommended to learn the names of the specific allergens in Japanese. These days, many restaurants in Japan are very sensitive to food allergies. They will have a chart with all of the menu items and the common food allergens in each dish.

japanese travel phrases

  • Arerugii  – allergy

23. Menyuu, onegai shimasu. メニュー、お願いします。Menu Please.

Here’s one of the more easier Japanese travel phrases.

Menu in Japanese is… “menyuu.” Yes, it sounds pretty much the same. So if you’re at a restaurant and need a menu, you won’t go wrong.

japanese travel phrases

  • Menyuu – menu

24. Kore wo kudasai. これをください。 This please.

This another one of the most useful Japanese travel phrases.

It’s likely you’ll go shopping and want something out of reach. So, you can point to the object and say “kore wo kudasai” and the shop staff will help you out. You can also use this phrase while pointing at a menu – in case you can’t read it and are going by pictures.

japanese travel phrases(19)

  • Kore  – this
  • Kudasai – please

25. Mizu, onegai shimasu. 水、お願いします。Water, please.

What if you’re at a restaurant and need water?

Or, what if you’re feeling dehydrated? Remember the word “mee-zoo” meaning water. You can tell this to a waiter, a bartender, or whoever can provide you with water.

japanese travel phrases

  • Mizu – Water

Now you know a whole bunch of Japanese travel words and phrases.

Also, if you want to learn some  beautiful Japanese words, then check my other post  here .

Do you know any other Japanese travel phrases?

Leave a comment below.

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Japanese Travel Phrases for an Enjoyable Trip to Japan

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Are you traveling to Japan and want to learn practical Japanese travel phrases? This article is designed to help you learn the most useful Japanese words for travel.

It’s always good to learn basic words when you travel to a foreign country. Not only does it make getting around easier, but it also allows you to enjoy communicating with the locals.

In general, Japanese people are not so good at speaking English , free wifi services aren’t very prevalent (especially outside of the central cities), and Japan is still more of a cash-based society than you may think. However, Japanese people are very kind; they’ll listen to you patiently and do their best to help. So just use these basic Japanese travel phrases to talk to Japanese people when you want to ask something.

When you speak even a little bit of Japanese, locals will appreciate your effort and will be more friendly. Here’s JapanesePod101’s list of practical Japanese travel phrases for your travels to Japan!

Table of Contents

  • Greeting/Communication
  • Asking for Directions
  • Restaurants
  • When You Need Help
  • Conclusion: How JapanesePod101 Can Help You Learn More Japanese

Log

1. Greeting/Communication

Airplane Phrases

To begin our list of essential Japanese travel phrases, we’ll go over greetings and basic travel phrases in Japanese for solid communication. These simple Japanese travel phrases can make a world of difference in your conversations and overall experience in Japan.

  • Romanization: Kon’nichiwa
  • English Translation: Hello

In terms of must-know Japanese travel phrases, you probably already know that this is the most common Japanese greeting word . You can say this to anybody for any occasion during the daytime.

  • Romanization: Hai / Iie
  • English Translation: Yes / No

Hai is “Yes” and it’s pronounced like the English word “Hi.” In Japan, saying yes also means that you understand. Iie is “No” and it’s pronounced ‘EE-eh.’

3- ありがとうございます

  • Romanization: Arigatō gozaimasu
  • English Translation: Thank you

Arigatō gozaimasu is the polite way to say “Thank you” in Japanese, and you can use this for any occasion. In case of a casual situation, you can just say Arigatō , or even more casually, Dōmo (どうも) which means “Thanks.”

4- いいえ、いりません

  • Romanization: Iie, irimasen
  • English Translation: No, thank you.

It literally means “No, I don’t need it,” in Japanese. At a restaurant, say this phrase when a waiter offers to fill your glass of water and you don’t want more.

  • Romanization: Sumimasen
  • English Translation: I’m sorry / Excuse me

This word is usually used to say “sorry” or “excuse me” . Say this when you bump into someone in a crowd or when you ask someone for directions. Japanese people also use this to mean “thank you,” in some cases, such as when someone picks up something you dropped.

  • Romanization: Onegai shimasu
  • English Translation: Please

When you request something, it’s polite to say Onegai shimasu . When someone offers you something and says please, she/he would say Dōzo (どうぞ) in Japanese.

  • Romanization: Watashi wa XX desu.
  • English Translation: I am XX.

Watashi is “I,” wa is “am/is/are,” and desu is a present-tense word that links subjects and predicates; it’s placed at the end of a sentence. You can put your name, or your nationality, such as: Watashi wa Amerika-jin desu (私はアメリカ人です) which means “I am American.”  

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8- 私は日本語がわかりません

  • Romanization: Watashi wa nihongo ga wakarimasen.
  • English Translation: I don’t understand Japanese.

Nihongo is stands for the Japanese language, and Wakarimasen means “I don’t understand.” If you don’t know something, you can just say Wakarimasen meaning “I don’t know.”

9- 英語を話せますか

  • Romanization: Eigo o hanasemasu ka
  • English Translation: Can you speak English?

This is one of the most useful Japanese phrases for travelers. Eigo means “English,” Hanasemasu is a polite way to say “I speak,” and ka is a word that you add to the end of a complete sentence to make a question.

10- 英語でお願いします

  • Romanization: Eigo de onegai shimasu
  • English Translation: English, please.

This is another important Japanese travel phrase. De is the particle, and in this case it means “by” or “by means of.” The phrase literally translates as “English by please.” You can also say M saizu de onegai shimasu (Mサイズでお願いします) which means “Medium size, please.”

2. Asking for Directions

Preparing to Travel

One of the most important Japanese travel phrases you should know are directions . Here are some useful vocabulary words and two Japanese language travel phrases you need to know!

1- Vocabulary

  • 駅 ( Eki ) : Station
  • 地下鉄 ( Chikatetsu ) : Subway/Metro
  • トイレ ( Toire ) : Toilet
  • 銀行 ( Ginkō ) : Bank
  • 切符売り場 ( Kippu uriba ) : Ticket machine/Office
  • 観光案内所 ( Kankō annaijo ) : Tourist information office
  • 入口 ( Iriguchi ) : Entrance
  • 出口 ( Deguchi ) : Exit
  • 右 ( Migi ) : Right
  • 左 ( Hidari ) : Left
  • まっすぐ ( Massugu ) : Straight
  • 曲がる ( Magaru ) : Turn
  • 交差点 ( Kōsaten ) : Intersection
  • 角 ( Kado ) : Corner

2- XXはどこですか

  • Romanization: XX wa doko desu ka
  • English Translation: Where is XX?

Doko means “where” and you replace XX with the name of where you want to go.

For example

  • Toire wa doko desu ka (Where is the toilet?)
  • Deguchi wa doko desu ka (Where is an exit?)

3- XX e wa dō ikeba ii desu ka (XXへはどう行けばいいですか) : How can I go to XX?

  • Romanization: XX e wa dō ikeba ii desu ka
  • English Translation: How can I go to XX?

Dō is “how,” e is “to,” and ikeba ii can be translated as “good to go.” When you want to know how you can get somewhere, replace XX with where you want to go.

For example:

  • Eki e wa dō ikeba ii desu ka (How can I go to the station?)
  • Ginkō e wa dō ikeba ii desu ka (How can I go to the bank?)

4- Other Examples

1. この道をまっすぐ行きます ( Kono michi o massugu ikimasu. ):Go straight on this street.

Kono michi is “this street” and ikimasu is the polite way to say “Go.” O is a Japanese postpositional particle which indicates an object (in this case, kono michi ).

2. 次の角を右へ曲がります ( Tsugi no kado o migi e magarimasu. ):Turn right at the next corner.

Tsugi no kado means “next corner” and magarimasu is the polite way to say “Turn.” E is another postpositional particle that indicates direction; this can be translated as the English word “to.”

3. 交差点を渡って左へ行きます ( Kōsaten o watatte hidari e ikimasu. ):Cross an intersection and go to the left (direction).

Watatte is a conjugated form of wataru which means “cross.”

3. Shopping

Basic Questions

You’ll definitely love shopping when traveling in Japan, and some of the best Japanese phrases for travel are those related to this fun past-time. Knowing some useful Japanese words will make your shopping even more enjoyable.

1- XXはありますか

  • Romanization: XX wa arimasu ka
  • English Translation: Do you have XX?

When you’re at a store and looking for something, you can use this phrase by replacing XX with what you want.

  • Romanization: Ikura desu ka
  • English Translation: How much is it?

This is probably one of the most useful Japanese words for traveling and shopping. You can say Ikura desu ka in many situations, such as when you’re shopping, buying tickets, paying for a taxi, etc.

  • Romanization: Menzei dekimasu ka
  • English Translation: Can you do a tax exemption?

Did you know that, as a traveler, you can get a sales tax exemption when you purchase things greater than 5,000 yen? Menzei is “tax exempted” and dekimasu means “can do.” Don’t forget to say this when you buy something big!

  • Romanization: Kore wa nan desu ka
  • English Translation: What is this?

Kore is “this” and nan is another form of nani which means “what.” There are many unique foods, gadgets, and things which are unique to Japan, so when you wonder what it is, point to it and say this phrase.

  • Romanization: Kore o kaimasu
  • English Translation: I’ll buy this.

Kaimasu is the conjugation of the verb kau , which means “buy.”

6- カードは使えますか

  • Romanization: Kādo wa tsukaemasu ka
  • English Translation: Can I use a credit card?

Kādo is “card” and you pronounce it just like the English word “card.” Tsukaemasu is a conjugation of the potential form of the verb tsukau which means “use.” This phrase is useful when you want to use your card at small shops and restaurants.

Man and Woman Shopping

4. Restaurants

Japan has an array of delicious foods, of which sushi and ramen are just the tip of the iceberg. Amazingly, Tokyo is the city with the most Michelin-starred restaurants in the world, for several consecutive years. Enjoy yummy food at restaurants with useful Japanese words for restaurants and easy Japanese travel phrases related to food.

  • 英語のメニュー ( Eigo no menyū ) : English menu
  • ベジタリアンのメニュー ( Bejitarian no menyū ) : Vegetarian menu
  • 豚肉を含まないメニュー ( Butaniku o fukumanai menyū ) : Menu without pork
  • 水 ( Mizu ) : Water
  • 白/赤ワイン ( Shiro / Aka wain ) : White / Red wine

2- XXはありますか

When you want to ask if the restaurant has something you want, say this phrase (replacing XX with what you want).

  • Eigo no menyū wa arimasu ka (Do you have an English menu?)
  • Aka wain wa arimasu ka (Do you have red wine?)
  • Romanization: XX o kudasai
  • English Translation: Can I have XX?

This is another very useful phrase. Simply replace XX with what you want. You can also use this versatile phrase in various occasions, such as when shopping, choosing something, etc.

  • Kore o kudasai (Can I have this?)
  • Mizu o kudasai (Can I have water?)

4- お会計お願いします

  • Romanization: O-kaikei onegai shimasu
  • English Translation: Check, please.

O-kaikei means “check.” In Japan, people often cross their index fingers in front of their face as a gesture to indicate “check, please” at casual restaurants. However, when you’re at a nice restaurant, simply tell a waiter: O-kaikei onegai shimasu .

5. When You Need Help

Survival Phrases

Sometimes you get faced with unexpected emergencies while you’re traveling. Japan is famous for being one of the safest countries in the world, but you might fall very ill or be caught in a great earthquake.

1- Vocabularies

  • 警察 ( Keisatsu ) : Police
  • 病院 ( Byōin ) : Hospital
  • 救急車 ( Kyūkyūsha ) : Ambulance
  • ドラッグストア/薬局 ( Doraggu sutoa / Yakkyoku ) : Drug Store/Pharmacy
  • タクシー ( Takushī ) : Taxi

2- XXを呼んでください

  • Romanization: XX o yonde kudasai
  • English Translation: Can you call XX?

When you’re severely ill or in case of emergency, let people know by using this phrase. Japanese people will kindly help you.

  • Yūkyūsha o yonde kudasai (Can you call an ambulance?)
  • Keisatsu o yonde kudasai (Can you call the police?)

3- どこでインターネットを使えますか

  • Romanization: Doko de intānetto o tsukaemasu ka
  • English Translation: Where can I use the internet?

Although large cities in Japan provide free public wifi at major stations, metros, and cafes, you may need to find internet access in smaller cities. Remember that there will be kind Japanese people who will share their personal hotspots, or look things up for you with their own phones, as well.

4- 電話を貸してください

  • Romanization: Denwa o kashite kudasai
  • English Translation: Can I use your phone?

Denwa is “phone” and kashite is a conjugation word of kasu , which means “lend.” This phrase is literally translated as “Please lend (me) a phone.”

  • Romanization: Tasukete kudasai
  • English Translation: Please help me.

I believe this phrase is the last thing you would ever use in Japan, but in case something does happen, this is useful survival Japanese for tourists.

Japanese Landmark

6. Conclusion: How JapanesePod101 Can Help You Learn More Japanese

I hope this article of Japanese travel phrases is helpful and that you’ll enjoy your trip to Japan!

If you would like to learn more about the Japanese language, you’ll find more useful content on JapanesePod101.com . We provide a variety of free lessons for you to improve your Japanese language skills.

We also have YouTube channel: JapanesePod101 . It’s fun to learn Japanese through watching videos and listening to actual Japanese pronunciation, so we recommend you check it out!

Don’t forget to study with our free Japanese vocabulary lists , read more insightful blog posts like this one, and download our mobile apps to learn anywhere, anytime! Whatever your reason for learning Japanese , know that we’re here to help and you can do it ! Keep in mind that the best way to learn Japanese phrases for travel is repetition and practice.

Before you go, let us know in the comments how you feel about using these useful travel phrases in Japanese after reading this article. More confident, or still a little confused about something? Feel free to ask questions in the comments!

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73+ Essential Japanese Travel Phrases for Tourists Visiting Japan & Free cheat sheet

List of essential Japanese travel phrases for tourists traveling to Japan, with Japanese language basics and free Japanese travel phrases pdf. Easy Japanese travel words for anyone interested in learning Japanese language. From how to say thank you in Japanese, to Japanese phrases for ordering food and words for going around for easy navigation on your holiday in Japan. Japan | Visit Japan | Japanese Phrases for Travel | East Asia | Nippon #traveljournal #language #download #travelphrases

Disclosure: This essential Japanese travel phrases for tourists article may contain affiliate links. If you click it and buy something you like, I’ll earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you! Read more in  Disclaimer .

Going to Japan? Searching for essential Japanese travel phrases for tourists ? Look no further! When in Japan, being familiar with common Japanese phrases for tourists will be beyond helpful! Trust me! I have been to Japan and knowing basic Japanese phrases helped me to enjoy exploring the vibrant streets of Tokyo , serene temples of Kyoto , or the natural beauty of Mount Fuji during sakura.

Before you travel to the land of the rising Sun, learn Japanese travel phrases which will help to order ramen, and to deepen your understanding of Japanese culture and their way of life. Curious, what are some common phrases I need to learn before my trip to Japan ?

🥘 If you have been wondering “What is Anja’s favorite Japanese food?”, you will find the answer hidden in the blog.

anja on Adventure

Japan is one of the most sought-after and visited countries in Asia, known for its fascinating blend of tradition and modernity, breathtaking landscapes, and renowned cuisine. Especially popular in Spring at sakura or in Autumn for fall foliage.   There are people in Japan, who speak English. But it is not as common as you would think. Thus, japanese phrases to know when traveling will come in handy. By knowing basic Japanese words you will also be able to show respect to the locals. In this common travel phrases Japanese language guide , you are going to find useful phrases in Japanese for tourists. From typical Japanese phrases for greetings, Japanese hotel phrases and Japanese words for simple conversation. Inside the post you will also find a FREE Japanese travel phrases pdf , that you can download and bring with you to Japan.   Let’s begin your Japanese adventure by learning essential Japanese phrases for travel .

for ESSENTIAL TRAVEL PHRASES: • 73+ Essential ENGLISH Travel Phrases and Words You Should Know • 73+ Essential ARABIC Travel Phrases for Tourists in Arab Countries & Free PDF • 73+ Essential GREEK Travel Phrases for Tourists on a Greek Holiday & Download • 73+ Essential JAPANESE Travel Phrases for Tourists Visiting Japan & Free cheat sheet • 73+ Essential SLOVENIAN Travel Phrases for your trip to Slovenia & Free Download • 73+ Essential SWAHILI Travel Phrases for Travelers to East Africa + Free Download for WORDS & PHRASES in 101 different languages: • How to say You have beautiful eyes in 101 different languages • How to say What is the WiFi password in 101 different languages • How to say Hello in 101 different languages spoken around the World • How to say Love in 101 different languages spoken around the World • How to say I love you in 101 different languages spoken around the World • How to say Thank you in 101 different languages spoken around the World • How to say Happy Birthday in 101 different languages spoken In the World • How to say Happy New Year in 101 different languages spoken around the World • How to say Friend in 101 different languages spoken around the World with Pronunciation

for general JAPAN TRAVEL TIPS: • GET OVER JET LAG WITH THESE 19 EASY-TO-FOLLOW TIPS • ULTIMATE TRAVELER SAFETY GUIDE: WHAT TO DO DURING AN EARTHQUAKE for JAPAN TIPS: • Ultimate List of 23 Best Apps for Travel to Japan • JAPAN COST OF TRAVEL AND DETAILED BUDGET BREAKDOWN • HOW TO SPEND SEVENTEEN DAYS IN JAPAN: FIRST TIME ITINERARY • 73+ Essential Japanese Travel Phrases for Tourists Visiting Japan & Free cheat sheet for best TOURS IN JAPAN: • TOP 5 RAMEN TOURS IN TOKYO TO UNLOCK YOUR TASTEBUDS • 10 STUNNING JAPAN CHERRY BLOSSOM TOURS THAT YOU WILL ABSOLUTELY LOVE for INSTAGRAM CAPTIONS about JAPAN: • 55 BEST KYOTO CAPTIONS FOR INSTAGRAM – GOLDEN AND KAWAII • 55 BEST TOKYO CAPTIONS FOR INSTAGRAM – KAWAII AND CUTE • 73 Best Ramen Captions for Instagram – Delicious Like Broth • 87 Simplistic Cherry Blossom Captions for Sakura – Sweet and Dreamy • 135 Best Japan Captions for Instagram – Puns, Quotes, Riddles & Jokes

Table of Contents

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List of essential Japanese travel phrases for tourists traveling to Japan, with Japanese language basics and free Japanese travel phrases pdf. Easy Japanese travel words for anyone interested in learning Japanese language. From how to say thank you in Japanese, to Japanese phrases for ordering food and words for going around for easy navigation on your holiday in Japan. Japan | Visit Japan | Japanese Phrases for Travel | East Asia | Nippon #traveljournal #language #download #travelphrases

1. Where is Japanese spoken?

Did you know that more than 125 million people speak Japanese? Japanese is primarily spoken in Japan. It is the official language of Japan and is spoken by the majority of the population there. Due to globalization and the popularity of Japanese culture, Japanese is studied and spoken by learners in many countries worldwide. There are Japanese-speaking communities in countries around the world, particularly in the United States, Brazil, Canada, Australia, and the Philippines. The best way to learn Japanese for travel is by using apps like Duolingo or Memrise. If your Japan itinerary is longer than 2 weeks, maybe sign up for a language course. To master the basic Japanese phrases for conversation the best way would be going on a language exchange but if you don’t have time, just download Japanese cheat sheet in this blog post.

List of essential Japanese travel phrases for tourists traveling to Japan, with Japanese language basics and free Japanese travel phrases pdf. Easy Japanese travel words for anyone interested in learning Japanese language. From how to say thank you in Japanese, to Japanese phrases for ordering food and words for going around for easy navigation on your holiday in Japan. Japan | Visit Japan | Japanese Phrases for Travel | East Asia | Nippon #traveljournal #language #download #travelphrases

2. Japanese language basics: alphabet and pronunciation

Before you start learning common Japanese phrases for tourists, you have to familiarize yourself with the basics of the Japanese language . The Japanese writing system consists of three alphabets: Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji . Hiragana and Katakana are native to Japan. They both use 46 characters , each representing one syllable and a specific phonetic sound . Hiragana is used for native Japanese words and Katakana for words borrowed from foreign languages. Kanji is a writing system borrowed from China, where each ideogram stands for a certain meaning and can have multiple pronunciations.  Don’t get scared, let me tell you that Japanese alphabet has fewer letters than English alphabet, 21 in total. It uses the same sounds that you use in the English language. Each character represents a specific sound , and once you grasp the sounds, you will be able to read and pronounce Japanese with ease.   Below you will find a guide for Hiragana and Katakana symbols and a similar sound in English language.

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japanese travel words

3. Essential Japanese travel phrases

3.1. basic japanese phrases for travelers.

Basic Japanese phrases for conversation that showcase politeness and cultural respect, encouraging positive interactions with locals and are a base for every communication. Those are basic phrases to know when visiting Japan.

ALSO READ: • HOW TO SPEND SEVENTEEN DAYS IN JAPAN: FIRST TIME ITINERARY

3.2. Essential Japanese phrases for greetings and introductions

Japanese words and phrases for greetings lay the foundation for any interaction, allowing you to initiate conversations and make a positive first impression. They are easy Japanese words to learn.

ALSO READ: • How to say You have beautiful eyes in 101 different languages around the World

3.3. Essential Japanese travel phrases for directions and getting around

Japanese travel phrases when asking for directions will enable you to navigate unfamiliar streets and find your way around.

ALSO READ: • Japan Cost of Travel and Detailed Budget Breakdown

3.4. Useful Japanese phrases for tourists when ordering food and drinks

Japanese language phrases for ordering meals, asking for recommendations, and specifying dietary preferences ensure enjoyable dining experiences and help you explore local cuisines.

japanese travel words

3.5. Essential phrases in Japanese for shopping

Japanese basics terms for inquiring about prices, negotiating, and Japan tourist phrases for asking for sizes or colors are handy when exploring markets and boutiques.

ALSO READ: • Ultimate List of 23 Best Apps for Travel to Japan

🥘 “What is Anja’s favorite Japanese food?” It is ramen. I love ramen and could eat it every day.

3.6. Useful Japanese hotel phrases

Japanese language words and hotel phrases you will need when checking in a hotel, asking for towels, fixing air conditioning, enquiring what time is breakfast, and what is included in your room rate.

ALSO READ: • How to say Thank you in 101 different languages in the World

3.7. Survival Japanese phrases and Japanese travel terms in case of emergencies

Here you will find helpful Japanese travel terms in case of emergencies, natural disasters, or if you will be needing assistance in difficult or dangerous situations.

ALSO READ: • Best Japan Captions for Instagram – Puns, Quotes, Riddles & Jokes

3.8. Beyond tourist Japanese phrases

If you’re like me and really love learning a few phrases in new languages, expand your study beyond the essential travel phrases . I always learn how to say please and thank you, never visit a country without knowing the local word for “coffee” and never leave without knowing how to say;

japanese travel words

4. Best language App for traveling abroad

Learning a language is a long process. If you think you won’t have time to learn basic Japanese phrases , or if the situations come your way when above mentioned Japanese travel phrases won’t be enough, use Google Translate. This is my favorite language app, that I use on (almost) every trip.

4.1. Google Translate

Google Translate is the most popular language travel app that can be used everywhere. I personally use it on all my travels, when going to Tanzania to learn what some Swahili words mean, when in Mexico to help with my not-the-best Spanish, when in Italy, in Japan and other places. I’m sure you are familiar with the language app already. The most obvious feature is it will help you translate the destination language into your own one. But the absolute best feature is that it can translate the text using ‘ camera translation ’. All you have to do is open the app, point your camera toward the text in a foreign language and Google Translate will do the rest. Perfect for menus! It also translates text from the photos on your camera roll. And it also works offline, when you download the language pair on your phone. Language: 133 languages Download: iOS | Android | Website Price: Free

japanese travel words

5. Final Thoughts on Essential Japanese Travel Phrases for Tourists

Whether it’s a warm greeting, ordering a meal, or expressing gratitude, this travel japanese guide and Japanese for tourists not only open doors to easier communication, but also show respect and will help you to understand Japanese culture in a different way. Before traveling to Nippon, learn Japanese words for tourists that will help you to navigate through this modern but culturally entwined land, full of history, sushis, shrines, and geishas. How to say Hello in Japanese and how to say thank you in Japanese language. Basic Japanese phrases for directions, ordering food, and checking in a hotel. And don’t forget to download Japanese travel cheat sheet . Which of these must know Japanese phrases for travel have you managed to memorize so far? Let me know in the comments! Safe travels = 安全な旅行 [anzen’na ryokō], Anja

➤ What you should read next …

• How to spend 17 days in Japan • Japan Cost of Travel and Detailed Budget Breakdown • Ultimate List of 23 Best Apps for Travel to Japan • 135 Best Japan Captions for Instagram – Puns, Quotes, Riddles & Jokes • How to say Hello in 101 different languages

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Essential Japanese Phrases for Tourists visiting Japan  + FREE cheat sheet

✈ Travel like a PRO

Are you ready to travel like a PRO? Save time and money with these travel tips and resources . I personally use these companies to save time and money. They do the work by providing a list of options, prices, and reviews from actual guests, for anywhere I am traveling worldwide. ✈️ FLIGHTS: I use Google Flights where the explore feature is perfect to find amazing flight fares. I book directly with an airline or pair it with Iwantthatflight for the best deals. 🏨 ACCOMMODATION: Booking.com is my favorite site for finding great hotel deals. They return the best rates and reviews are from actual guests! 🚘 RENTAL CARS: Discover Cars are my go-to, when planning an epic road trip. 🗽 TOURS & ACTIVITIES: I like to wander around on my own, but when I want to explore with a group, skip the line with an entrance ticket, I book it with GetYourGuide or Viator . ❤️‍🩹 TRAVEL INSURANCE: I never, under any circumstances travel without insurance. In most cases, I use yearly global travel medical insurance. But, if you don’t have that and some impromptu travel plans occur, use SafetyWings . With them, you can buy travel insurance even when you are already abroad. Better be safe, than sorry! 📲 PHONE AND ONLINE SAFETY: NordVPN keeps your devices browsing safe and malware free. Stream shows from around the world, access social media in countries where they are blocked and buy cheap flights by changing your virtual location.

Where is Japanese spoken?

Japanese is an official language in Japan. There are some Japanese-speaking communities in various other countries around the world, like the United States, Brazil, Canada and Australia.

How to say Good Morning in Japanese?

おはようございます pronounced as “ohayou gozaimasu” Learn basic Japanese words and quick Japanese phrases easy on Anja On Adventure blog. Here you can also FREE DOWNLOAD Japanese phrases for travelers pdf and key Japanese phrases for tourists.

How to say Thank you in Japanese?

Thank you in Japanese is ありがとうございます, which is pronounced as “ arigatou gozaimasu”. Learn more Japanese language basics and easy Japanese phrases for tourists on Anja On Adventure blog. Here you can also FREE DOWNLOAD basic Japanese travel phrases pdf and coloring pages with Japanese words.

How to say Hello in Japanese?

こんにちは pronounced as “konnichiwa” Learn basic Japanese for tourists and important Japanese phrases for travel on Anja On Adventure blog. Here you can also FREE DOWNLOAD Japanese for travelers pdf and Japan basic words.

How to say My name is in Japanese?

わたしのなまえは …, pronounced as “ Watashi no namae wa …”. Learn Japan travel phrases and top Japanese phrases for tourists on Anja On Adventure blog. Here you can also FREE DOWNLOAD basic Japanese words pdf and Japanese phrases while travelling Japan.

How to say How are you in Japanese?

おげんきですか? , pronounced as “ Ogenki desu ka?” Learn more Japanese phrases to know and basic Japanese phrases for tourists on Anja On Adventure blog. Here you can also FREE DOWNLOAD Japanese phrase cheat sheet pdf and useful kanji for tourists.

How do you say Hi in Japanese?

Hi in Japanese language is やあ , pronounced as “ya”. Learn learn basic Japanese for travel and Japanese phrases for travelling on Anja On Adventure blog. Here you can also FREE DOWNLOAD japanese cheat sheet tourist pdf and Japan phrases for travelers.

❥ About Anja On Adventure

anja on Adventure

Anja On Adventure is a travel blog, a collection of insider tips and information on destinations, that I visited as a solo female traveler, tour guide, teacher, yacht stewardess, and Survivor challenge tester. Anja, is a thirty-something adventure-seeking, sun chasing, beach hopping, gin-loving, tropics enthusiast with a creative mind and sarcastic spirit, who loves coconut and mango but doesn’t like chocolate and sweets. I am passionate about all things travel, maps, and puzzles. Click here to learn more About me .

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Survival Japanese for Travelers

October 31, 2022 by Robert Schrader Leave a Comment

So, you’re on the hunt for Japanese travel phrases besides “ konnichiwa ” and “ arigatou “? Great—you’re in the right place.

Learning basic Japanese is relatively easy, whether you practice phrases before your flight to Tokyo, or print them out on a cheat sheet. The hard part? Putting them into action when you get to Japan. Japanese people don’t speak much English , but it’s easy enough to get by if you don’t speak Japanese.

It’s my hope that reading through this post will inspire you not only to learn some Japanese, but to use it as often as possible as you’re traveling. Doing so will greatly enhance your trip, even if only in the form of more smiles and goodwill. 

You Can Travel in Japan Without Knowing Japanese, But…

In the lead up to the doomed Tokyo 2020 Olympics, many Japanese people (especially those in the travel and tourism industry) greatly improved their English skills. As a result, it become easier than ever to travel throughout the country without speaking a lick of Nihongo , not even the everyday Japanese phrases I’m going to be describing as we get deeper into this post.

There are a few problems with this approach, however—and I’m not just talking about the fact that Japanese people largely lost their hard-fought English aptitude during the country’s nearly three years of covid closure. Not speaking even a word of Japanese can make you seem impolite or even arrogant; being able to communicate even on a basic level will unlock a huge number of experiences and interactions. 

Essential Japanese Travel Phrases

Japanese greetings.

japanese travel words

The bad news? Konnichiwa (こんにちは) doesn’t mean “hello” in Japanese—it means “good day.” The good news? Even if you forget to use ohayou (おはよう) in the morning or konbanwa (こんばんは) in the afternoon, you’re still likely to be understood. Sayounara (さようなら) is another confusing one; it’s usually only used when you will never, ever see someone again. Instead, say mata ne (またね), which basically means “see you later.” Youkoso (ようこそ) means “welcome,” although Irrashaimase (いっらしゃいませ) is just as commonly used.

Restaurants and bars

japanese travel words

Not surprisingly, a lot of useful Japanese relates to eating and drinking. When sitting down, keep in mind Japan’s unique counting rules: Hitori de (rather than ichi jin ) means “one person”: futari de means “two people” and so forth. When ordering food or drink items, say the name of the item, how many you want ( hitotsu , futatsu , etc) and kudasai (ください) or onegaishimasu (お願いします) to add a “please” at the end, i.e. tekka maki futatsu, onegaishimasu (two tuna rolls, please). If you want to ask whether something is delicious or express that it does, say oishi desu (美味しいです) or ask oishi desu ka ? (美味しいですか). Most importantly, kanpai (乾杯) means “cheers!”. Another interesting fact? Sake (酒) technically just means alcohol, not Japanese rice wine (which is Nihonshu /日本酒 – literally “Japanese alcohol”).

Payment words and phrases

japanese travel words

If you’re curious about how much something costs, simply ask ikura desu ka ? (いくらですか). Keep in mind, however, that unless you learn Japanese numbers , the information you receive in response might not be useful to use. Want to know whether a place accepts credit cards? Ask kaa-do de haraemasuka ? (カードで払えますか), or simply hold your card up and ask dai joubu desu ka? (大丈夫ですか). Meanwhile, to ask for a bill, you can say o kaikei onegaishimasu or, more informally, chek-ku onegaishimasu .

Getting around

japanese travel words

Not surprisingly, a lot of travel Japanese relates to, well, travel. These include basic vocabulary words like eki (駅 – station), hikouki (飛行機 – airplane) and Shinkansen (新幹線 – bullet train), as well as practical phrases and questions. For instance, if you want to ask where to board the Yamanote Line at a busy train station in Tokyo, you may ask Yamanote-sen wa (山手線は) doko desu ka (どこですか – where is it?) or nanban sen desu ka (何番線ですか – which platform?).

Life and death

japanese travel words

This one isn’t dramatic as it sounds—doctors ( isha – 医者), first responders, staff at the hospital ( byōin – 病院), police ( keisatsu – 警察) and other people tasked with your safety in Japan can usually speak some English. However, having some key words in case of the worst-case scenario probably isn’t a bad idea, whether that’s knowing the words for common disasters— taifu (台風 – typhoon) or jishin (地震 – earthquake), or being able to located the emergency exit, represented by the characters 非常口 ( hijouguchi ).

Other Survival Japanese for Travelers

Here are some other Japanese words and phrases you might find helpful as you travel:

  • Sugoi (すごい) : Awesome or cool, often used in combination with the particular Ne (ね).
  • Nihon/Nippon (日本) : Japan
  • Inu (犬) : Dog, i.e. Shiba inu  (柴犬)
  • Neko (猫) : Cat, i.e. Maneki neko (招き猫; beckoning cat)
  • Hontou ni (本当に) : Really/really?
  • Sou desu ne/Sou da ne (そうですね/そうだね) : I see.
  • Dai joubu (大丈夫) : Often used in conjunction with desu (です), this phrase means “that’s good” or “that’s fine.”
  • _____ wa doko desu ka (____はどこですか) : Where is ______? (i.e. toilet or toi-re /トイレ)
  • Sakura (桜) : Cherry blossoms; see also hanami (花見), cherry blossom viewing
  • Tenki (天気) : Weather; see also ame (雨; rain), yuki (雪; snow); hare (晴れ; sunny); kumori (曇り; cloudy)
  • Dera/Tera or Ji (寺) : Temple, i.e. Kyoto’s Kiyomizu-dera  (清水寺)
  • Shinsetsu (親切): Kind
  • Taisetsu (大切): Important
  • Tomodachi (友達): Friend

Other FAQ About Japanese Travel Phrases

What are some popular japanese phrases.

Most travelers will only learn the most basic phrases, such as greetings like konnichiwa and konbanwa (good day or good evening) and arigatou gozaimasu , which means “thank you very much.” However, learning a wide variety of Japanese phrases will better prepare you for your trip.

How do you respond to “Irasshaimase”?

You can response to Irasshaimase (which you will often hear entering shops and restaurants) with a greeting appropriate for the time of day: Ohayo ( gozaimasu ) in the morning; konnichiwa during the daytime; or konbanwa in the evening. Or you can choose not to respond at all; many people (including Japanese people) sometimes don’t.

What is “Itadakimasu”?

Itadakimasu literally means “I receive” or “we receive.” In practice, however, it serves the same roles as “bon appetit” does in Western countries; it’s said after you receive your food, but before eating it. When someone says “ itadakimasu ,” they’re literally saying “I receive this food.”

The Bottom Line

Looking for useful Japanese travel phrases? You’re in the right spot. From greetings and dining vocabulary, to phrases you can use when using planes, trains and automobiles, having a variety of practical Japanese under your belt will make your trip a lot easier. It will also make your interactions with Japanese people more meaningful—they’ll respect you more, and maybe even treat you more kindly. Need help with more than just your language skills, as you plan your trip to Japan? Commission a custom Japan itinerary , and let me sweat all the details of your travel on your behalf.

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21 Essential Japanese Travel Phrases

gundantravelphrases

Are you planning a trip to Japan soon?

Worried you won’t have time to learn Japanese before you go? While learning Japanese might seem daunting, rest assured that you can get by on your trip with the Japanese travel phrases below, along with hand motions and a lot of bowing. You might run into people who speak English, especially in cities like Tokyo, but don’t count on it. Using Japanese, even if it’s only to say “please” or “thank you”, goes a long way–people will appreciate your efforts.

Essential Japanese Travel Phrases

The following Japanese travel phrases and words will get you through almost any situation in Japan. This list isn’t all-inclusive, but in my experience you will use these the most.

1. ありがとうございます ( arigatou gozaimasu )

Useful in many situations. You’ll find yourself saying this one often.

2. お願いします ( onegaishimasu )

Use when ordering food, asking for something or requesting help.

3. すみません ( sumimasen )

If you bump into someone or want to get someone’s attention, such as a waiter or hotel staff or a stranger on the street, say “ sumimasen” . You will probably use this phrase and “ hai ” the most in Japan.

4. はい ( hai )

Saying yes can also mean “I understand”.

5. いいえ ( iie )

6. ごめんなさい ( gomen nasai ).

Sumimasen will help you in most situations, but if you do something more serious, like roll over someone’s foot with your suitcase, you should say “ gomen nasai ” while bowing repeatedly. After apologizing, ask if they are all right by saying, “ daijoubu desu ka? ”

7. わかりません ( wakarimasen )

I don’t understand.

If you don’t understand what someone is saying to you, use “ wakarimasen “.

8. 日本語がわかりません ( nihongo ga wakarimasen )

I don’t understand Japanese.

If someone is speaking to you and you have no idea why, or if you are trying to do something, at a hotel, for example, use this phrase.

9. 英語を話せますか? ( eigo o hanasemasu ka? )

Can you speak English?

Alternatively, you can ask “ eigo ii desu ka ?” or “ eigo OK ?” and this usually gets the message across.

10. もう一度お願いします ( mou ichido onegai shimasu )

Could you repeat that, please?

Don’t be surprised if you say this and the person says something completely different than they did the first time. In my experience, asking someone to say something slowly doesn’t work. They usually try to rephrase in simpler Japanese and use hand motions. So, try asking them to repeat it, and hope for the best.

11. _______ はどこですか?( ______ wa doko desu ka? )

Where is _____ ?

For example, you can ask, “where is the train station?” by saying “ eki wa doko desu ka? ”

Fill in the blank with whatever place you are trying to find:

  • police station = 交番 ( kouban )
  • convenience store = コンビニ ( konbini )
  • hotel = ホテル ( hoteru )
  • bathroom / toilet = トイレ ( toire )
お手洗い ( otearai ) is another word for bathroom or toilet, but it isn’t used everywhere, although you will see it in kanji in some places to indicate the bathroom.

12. いくらですか? ( ikura desu ka? )

How much is it?

You can also say “ sore wa ikura desu ka ” for “how much is that?” when pointing at something near the other person. When pointing at something close to you, say “ kore wa ikura desu ka ” for “how much is this?”

13. ______ はありますか? ( ______ wa arimasu ka? )

Do you have ______?

14. ごちそうさまでした ( gochisousama deshita )

Thank you for the meal.

This phrase is polite and used after a meal if you’re eating at a place that requires you to turn in your dishes, such as in a cafeteria, or when visiting someone’s home.

15. どこでインターネットを使えますか? ( doko de intaanetto o tsukaemasu ka? )

Where can I use the internet?

16. いらない ( iranai )

I don’t need it.

When shopping, you might be asked if you want a ふくろ ( fukuro , bag). If you don’t need one, say “いらない .”

Phrases You Might Hear

While some of the Japanese travel phrases below are good to know how to say, you should try to become familiar with them.

17. いらっしゃいませ ( irasshaimase ) or いらっしゃい ( irasshai )

When entering any store, restaurant or shop at least one voice, if not a chorus, will enthusiastically call out “irasshaimase!”

18. 店内でお召し上がりですか? ( tennai de omeshiagari desu ka )

Will you be eating here?

When ordering at a place that also offers takeout, someone might ask you if you plan to eat there (they also might rephrase as koko de if they sense you don’t understand). Answer “hai” if you are, or “omochikaeri” if you want takeout.

19. お持ち帰りですか? ( omochikaeri desu ka )

Is this takeout?

As I wrote under number 18, you might be asked this when ordering at a place that does takeout. Answer “yes” if takeout, or “iie” if you plan to eat there.

20. 喫煙ですか ( kitsuen desu ka ) or 禁煙ですか ( kinen desu ka )?

Smoking or Non-Smoking?

Although the majority of Japan’s restaurants allow smoking, some are separated, family restaurants in particular. Simply state which you prefer: kinen desu for non-smoking or kitsuen desu for smoking.

21. 大丈夫ですか?( daijoubu desu ka ) or 大丈夫 ( daijoubu )?

Are you OK?

If you trip, fall, run into something, or look lost, chances are someone will ask if you are all right by using 大丈夫.” If you’re fine, answer “大丈夫です.” Or, if you are lost or confused, ask your question.

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Basic greetings and phrases  

Scene in Japan with Japanese travel phrases

Here are some essential travel phrases you would need when travelling in Japan.

“ Ohayou gozaimasu (おはようございます)” means “good morning”. You can shorten it to just ‘ohayou’ if you’re speaking to a friend or someone you know well. 

“ Konnichiwa (こんにちは)’ is usually translated as “good afternoon”, but it’s also understood as ‘hello’ and you’ll hear it throughout the day. 

“ Konbanwa (こんばんは) means “good evening” and is used throughout the evening and night. 

“ Arigatou gozaimasu (ありがとうございます)” means “thank you”. Similarly to “ohayou gozaimasu”, you can omit ‘gozaimasu’ if you’re speaking to a friend or someone you know well. 

“ Douzo (どうぞ)’ means “please go ahead”. You can use this when opening the door for someone, offering a seat to someone, or asking someone to eat. 

“ Sumimasen (すみません)’ has been said to be one of the most difficult Japanese words to translate as it can mean several things. It can mean “I’m sorry” or “thank you”, but it’s most commonly translated as “excuse me”. 

For example, when a waiter refills your glass, you’ll use ‘sumimasen’ to say “thank you” (instead of “arigatou gozaimasu”) in a roundabout way: “excuse me for making you fill my glass.” Or, if you accidentally bump into someone, you use ‘sumimasen’ to say “I’m sorry”: “excuse me for bumping into you.” You’ll probably use it more commonly to get someone’s attention or to get past someone. 

“ Gomennasai (ごめんなさい)’ means “I’m sorry”. We’ve just discussed that ‘sumimasen’ can also mean “I’m sorry”, but unlike ‘sumimasen’ that has more humble connotations, ‘gomennasai’ has more sorrowful, guilty connotations. If you were to cause a person great distress, for example if you spilled a drink down their shirts or if you lost something of theirs, you would use ‘gomennasai’ instead of ‘sumimasen’. 

Essential phrases

Japanese useful everyday phrases for visiting tokyo

When you are travelling in Japan, these Japanese common daily phrases are very important for you. Check these Japanese travel phrases so your travel in Japan will be more convenient.

Both “ onegaishimasu (お願いします)” and “ kudasai (ください)” mean “please”, but “onegaishimasu” is tied more to actions, while “kudasai” is tied more to things. For example, if a cashier in a convenience store asks if you’d like them to microwave your meal (an action), you would use “onegaishimasu” to say “yes, please do this.” In a restaurant, if you’d like a glass of water (a thing), you would say “mizu (水) kudasai” to say, “water, please.”

They’re used interchangeably in some situations so don’t worry too much about using the “correct” one; you’ll be understood just fine either way. 

“ Daijoubu (大丈夫)” means “okay” or “fine”. For example, if a cashier asks if you’d like a plastic bag, you can say “daijoubu desu” to say “I’m fine, thanks.” Or you may ask a cashier, “kurejitto kaado (クレジットカード) wa daijoubu desu ka” to ask, “Is [paying with] a credit card okay?”

For the following few phrases, remember these basics.

~masu is positive.  ~masen is negative.  ~ka is a question mark. 

For example: 

“ Ari masu (あります)” means “I have” or “there is”.  “ Ari masen (ありません)” means “I do not have” or “there isn’t”. “ Arimasu ka (ありますか)” asks “do you have” or “is there”. 

For example, you may ask a bar owner, “toire (トイレ) wa arimasu ka ” to ask, “is there a toilet?”, and he/she may reply, “toire wa ari masu /ari masen ” to answer “there is/isn’t a toilet.” This will be particularly handy in shops and restaurants when you’re looking for a particular product or food item. 

“ Deki masu (できます)” means “I can”.  “ Deki masen (できません)” means “I cannot”.  “ Dekimasu ka (できますか)” asks “Can you”.

For example, someone may ask you “tenisu (テニス) dekimasu ka (can you play tennis)”, and you can reply with “tenisu deki masu /deki masen ” to answer “I can/cannot play tennis.” 

“ Wakari masu (わかります)” means “I understand”.  “ Wakari masen (わかりません)” means “I do not understand”.  “ Wakarimasu ka (わかりますか)” asks “do you understand.” 

For example, you may ask someone, “eigo (英語) ga wakarimasu ka (Do you understand English?)”, and they will reply “eigo ga wakari masu /wakari masen ” to answer “I do/do not understand English.” 

Restaurant Phrases

Japanese useful everyday phrases for visiting shrines and temples

Here are some amazing travel phrases you would need in a restaurant to easily communicate with the waiters and restaurant staff. You can use these Japanese common daily phrases everyday in Japan.

‘ Yoyaku (予約)’ means ‘reservation’. To tell someone you have a reservation, you say, “yoyaku ga ari masu ”. 

‘ Otooshi (お通し)’ refers to an appetiser that you receive in exchange for paying a mandatory entry/table fee that some restaurants will charge. These entry/table fees range anywhere between 300 and 1000 yen (USD$2.8 to $9.35). 

‘ Omakase (お任せ)’ is derived from the verb “omakase masu” which means to “leave it up to” someone. When asking for ‘omakase’ in a restaurant, you are “leaving it up to” the chef to decide what to serve you. This is usually available only in high-end restaurants, especially sushi restaurants. 

‘ Osusume (おすすめ)’ means ‘recommendation”. This is really useful if you visit restaurants that don’t have English menus; you can simply ask the waiter/waitress for a recommendation, which is usually the restaurant’s signature dish. 

Japan scene Useful Japanese travel phrases for your everyday life in Japan

“___ wa nan desu ka (___はなんですか)” asks “what is”. For example, “kore (これ) wa nan desu ka” means “what is this?”

“___ wa doko desu ka (___はどこですか)” asks “where is”. For example, “eki (駅) wa doko desu ka” means “where is the station?”

“___ wa ikura desu ka (___はいくらですか)” asks “how much is”. For example, “biiru (ビール) wa ikura desu ka” means “how much is a beer?”

Which of these Japanese travel phrases do you like the most? Let us know which Japanese common daily phrase you will use in the comment section below.

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japanese travel words

Useful Japanese Travel Phrases to Learn Before Visiting

japanese travel words

If you’re planning a trip to Japan , it’s important to know some basic Japanese travel phrases to help you navigate the country and communicate with the locals.

A few Japanese speak English, especially in major cities, but using Japanese phrases can make a big difference in showing respect and building relationships with the locals.

From simple greetings to ordering food in a Japanese restaurant , a basic understanding of local phrases can go a long way. To help you get started, we’ve compiled some essential Japanese words and phrases for travelers, courtesy of Boutique Japan.

First, greetings such as “ Konnichiwa ” (hello) and “ Arigatou ” (thank you) are a great way to show respect and politeness when interacting with locals.

Simple phrases like “ Sumimasen ” (excuse me) and “ Onegaishimasu ” (please) can also be helpful in various situations.

When it comes to ordering food in a restaurant, phrases like “ Chuumon wo onegaishimasu ” (I would like to order, please) and “ O-mizu wo kudasai ” (Can I have some water, please?) can help make your dining experience smoother. In addition, asking “ Nani wo osusumeshimasu ka? ” (What do you recommend?) can lead to the discovery of new and delicious Japanese dishes .

These are just a few examples of essential Japanese phrases for travelers. By learning some basic Japanese travel phrases, you can enhance your travel experience and make meaningful connections with locals.

So start practicing and have a wonderful trip in Japan!

Here are useful Japanese travel phrases and words which will help you to explore Japan

  • こんにちは ( Konnichiwa ) – Hello
  • ありがとう ( Arigatou ) – Thank you
  • すみません ( Sumimasen ) – Excuse me/I’m sorry
  • はい ( Hai ) – Yes
  • いいえ ( Iie ) – No
  • お願いします ( Onegaishimasu ) – Please
  • どうも ( Doumo ) – Thanks/Thank you very much
  • ごめんなさい ( Gomen nasai ) – I’m sorry
  • おはようございます ( Ohayou gozaimasu ) – Good morning
  • こんばんは ( Konbanwa ) – Good evening
  • さようなら ( Sayounara ) – Goodbye
  • いくらですか?( Ikura desu ka? ) – How much is it?
  • おいくらですか?( Oikura desu ka? ) – How much is it? (more polite)
  • どこですか?( Doko desu ka? ) – Where is it?
  • お手洗いはどこですか?( Otearai wa doko desu ka? ) – Where is the restroom?
  • おいしいです ( Oishii desu ) – It’s delicious
  • 英語が話せますか?( Eigo ga hanasemasu ka? ) – Do you speak English?
  • わかりません ( Wakarimasen ) – I don’t understand
  • すみません、もう一度言ってください ( Sumimasen, mou ichido itte kudasai ) – Excuse me, could you please say that again?

Here are some additional Japanese travel phrases, which you could use at a restaurant

Japanese travel phrases, which you could use at a restaurant

  • メニューを見せてください ( Menyuu wo misete kudasai ) – Could you show me the menu, please?
  • 何をお勧めしますか?( Nani wo osusumeshimasu ka? ) – What do you recommend?
  • 注文をお願いします ( Chuumon wo onegaishimasu ) – I would like to order, please.
  • これを注文します ( Kore wo chuumon shimasu ) – I’ll have this one, please.
  • お水をください ( O-mizu wo kudasai ) – Can I have some water, please?
  • お酒はありますか?( Osake wa arimasu ka? ) – Do you have any alcohol?
  • 焼き鳥を二本ください ( Yakitori wo nihon kudasai ) – Can I have two skewers of grilled chicken, please?
  • お勘定をお願いします ( Okaikei wo onegaishimasu ) – Can I have the bill, please?
  • もう少し辛くしてください ( Mou sukoshi karakushite kudasai ) – Can you make it a little spicier, please?
  • お会計は、クレジットカードで払えますか?( Okaikei wa, kurejitto kaado de haraemasu ka? ) – Can I pay the bill with a credit card?

I hope these additional phrases help you navigate ordering food and drinks at a restaurant in Japan!

Related read: The Different Flavors of Japan: What Makes Japanese Cuisine so Special

Here are some additional Japanese travel phrases, which you could use when looking for directions

It's useful to learn a few Japanese travel phrases to navigate the streets in Japan

  • ここはどこですか?( Koko wa doko desu ka? ) – Where am I?
  • この地図を見てください ( Kono chizu wo mite kudasai ) – Could you please look at this map?
  • ここに行くにはどうすればいいですか?( Koko ni iku ni wa dou sureba ii desu ka? ) – How do I get to this place?
  • この場所には、どうやって行けますか?( Kono basho ni wa, douyatte ikemasu ka? ) – How can I get to this place?
  • 左に曲がってください ( Hidari ni magatte kudasai ) – Turn left, please.
  • 右に曲がってください ( Migi ni magatte kudasai ) – Turn right, please.
  • まっすぐ行ってください ( Massugu itte kudasai ) – Go straight, please.
  • どのくらい遠いですか?( Dono kurai tooi desu ka? ) – How far is it?
  • この地域の交通情報はどこで調べられますか?( Kono chiiki no koutsuujouhou wa doko de shiraberaremasu ka? ) – Where can I find information about transportation in this area?
  • 申し訳ありませんが、もう一度教えていただけますか?( Moushiwake arimasen ga, mou ichido oshiete itadakemasu ka? ) – I’m sorry, could you please tell me again?

I hope these additional phrases help you navigate to what you want to see in Japan!

Here are Japanese travel phrases when using the public transport or a taxi

  • このバスは〇〇行きですか?( Kono basu wa ○○-yuki desu ka? ) – Does this bus go to ○○?
  • どこでバスに乗れますか?( Doko de basu ni noremasu ka? ) – Where can I catch the bus?
  • これで〇〇駅に行けますか?( Kore de ○○-eki ni ikemasu ka? ) – Can I go to ○○ station with this?
  • 次の駅で降りる予定です。( Tsugi no eki de oriru yotei desu ) – I plan to get off at the next station.
  • 何駅目ですか?( Nanboku-me desu ka? ) – What stop is this?
  • 駅はどちらですか?( Eki wa dochira desu ka? ) – Where is the station?
  • この電車は何番線ですか?( Kono densha wa nanbansen desu ka? ) – What platform is this train?
  • この電車は〇〇に行きますか?( Kono densha wa ○○ ni ikimasu ka? ) – Does this train go to ○○?
  • タクシーを拾いたいのですが。( Takushii wo hirotai no desu ga ) – I’d like to hail a taxi, please.
  • 〇〇に行ってください。( ○○ ni itte kudasai ) – Please take me to ○○.

I hope that these additional phrases will make it easier for you to find your way around public transportation or taxis in Japan!

Related read: Traveling by Rail in Japan with JR Pass

So you’ve taken a taxi or train and arrived at your hotel. You’re going to find that hotels have a lot to offer you, which means you’re also going to get to use a lot of unique vocabulary.

Here are some of the words you’re most likely to use when checking into your hotel

  • チェックインをお願いします。( Chekkuin wo onegaishimasu ) – I’d like to check in, please.
  • 予約をしています。( Yoyaku wo shiteimasu ) – I have a reservation.
  • 〇〇で予約をしています。( ○○ de yoyaku wo shiteimasu ) – I have a reservation at ○○.
  • 予約名は〇〇です。( Yoyaku-me wa ○○ desu ) – The reservation is under the name of ○○.
  • 一泊〇〇円の部屋を予約しています。( Ippaku ○○en no heya wo yoyaku shiteimasu ) – I have a reservation for a room at ○○ yen per night.
  • シングルルーム/ダブルルーム/ツインルームを予約しています。( Shinguru ruumu/daburu ruumu/tsuin ruumu wo yoyaku shiteimasu ) – I have a reservation for a single/double/twin room.
  • ルームキーをお願いします。( Ruumu kii wo onegaishimasu ) – May I have my room key, please?
  • チェックアウトは何時ですか?( Chekkauto wa nanji desu ka? ) – What time is check-out?
  • 禁煙ルームを希望します。( Kinen ruumu wo kibou shimasu ) – I would like a non-smoking room.
  • 何階に部屋がありますか?( Nankai ni heya ga arimasu ka? ) – On which floor is my room?

I hope these additional phrases are of help to you during your hotel check-in process in Japan!

Here useful phrases to order coffee or tea

  • コーヒー/紅茶を一杯お願いします。( Koohii/koucha wo ippai onegaishimasu ) – I would like a cup of coffee/tea, please.
  • ホットコーヒー/アイスコーヒーをお願いします。( Hotto koohii/aisu koohii wo onegaishimasu ) – I would like a hot/cold coffee, please.
  • 砂糖を入れてもらえますか?( Satou wo irete moraemasu ka? ) – Can I have some sugar, please?
  • ミルクを入れてもらえますか?( Miruku wo irete moraemasu ka? ) – Can I have some milk, please?
  • ホイップクリームを入れてもらえますか?( Hoippu kuriimu wo irete moraemasu ka? ) – Can I have some whipped cream, please?
  • アイスカフェラテをお願いします。( Aisu kafe rate wo onegaishimasu ) – I would like an iced cafe latte, please.
  • カフェモカをお願いします。( Kafe moka wo onegaishimasu ) – I would like a cafe mocha, please.
  • アールグレイをお願いします。( Aaru gurei wo onegaishimasu ) – I would like Earl Grey tea, please.
  • デカフェをお願いします。( Dekafe wo onegaishimasu ) – I would like decaf coffee, please.

Hopefully, these additional phrases will make your coffee or tea ordering in Japan a lot easier for you!

Let’s go shopping in Japan

  • これはいくらですか?( Kore wa ikura desu ka? ) – How much is this?
  • これをください。( Kore o kudasai. ) – Please give me this.
  • ありがとうございます。( Arigatou gozaimasu. ) – Thank you very much.
  • これはどこですか?( Kore wa doko desu ka? ) – Where is this?
  • すみません、見てもいいですか?( Sumimasen, mite mo ii desu ka? ) – Excuse me, may I have a look at this?
  • まだ見たい物があります。( Mada mitai mono ga arimasu. ) – Do you have something else I can see?
  • このサイズがありますか?( Kono saizu ga arimasu ka? ) – Do you have this in my size?
  • 買いましょうか?( Kaimashou ka? ) – Shall I buy this?
  • かりとお願いします。( Karito o kudasai. ) – Could you wrap it up, please?
  • クレジットカードが使えますか?( Credit card ga tsukaemasu ka? ) – Do you accept credit cards?

Related read: Hankyu Very Much: Non-bargain-shopping in Japan

Knowing a few basic Japanese travel phrases can make your trip to Japan much more enjoyable and rewarding.

Whether you’re asking for directions, ordering food, checking into a hotel, or simply interacting with the locals, using a few key phrases can go a long way in making connections and showing respect for Japanese culture .

With these additional phrases added to the list, you now have a solid foundation of essential Japanese travel phrases to use during your trip.

Remember to practice and be patient, as language barriers and cultural differences can sometimes present challenges. But with a friendly attitude and a willingness to learn, you’ll be able to navigate your way around Japan with confidence and ease.

Enjoy your travels and have a wonderful time in Japan!

Travel Dudes

I'm sure you've had similar experiences I had whilst traveling. You're in a certain place and a fellow traveler, or a local, tip you off on a little-known beach, bar or accommodation. Great travel tips from other travelers or locals always add something special to our travels. That was the inspiration for Travel Dudes.

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TravelWanderGrow

Japanese Phrases for Travelers (A Cheat Sheet)

When traveling through Japan, it is VERY helpful to have some Japanese phrases under your belt. On my visit there, I found that many people I encountered did not speak English, so I’m so glad that I took some time to a (little) bit of Japanese before my visit.

Keep reading for a list of the top Japanese phrases for travelers, as well as some general information on the language and tips on how to start learning on your own! Your trip to Kyoto , Tokyo , and beyond will be better because of it.

Table of Contents

The Top Resources for Learning Japanese

  • iTalki : Practice with Live Teachers at a low cost
  • LingoPie : Learn the language by watching videos in Japanese
  • Writing Practice Book : Learn how to write in Japanese script

START LEARNING TODAY!

Japanese Language Overview

Language history.

The exact origins of Japanese are disputed by top linguists, as there is evidence that it could have originated from either the Polynesian, Chinese, or the Ural-Altaic languages. For a time, many scholars agreed that Japanese is part of the Ural-Altaic language family, which also includes Turkish, Korean, Manchu, and Mongolian. Japanese has been compared with Korean due to similarities in structure, use, and grammar, but the relation is still debated. Today, it the only major language whose origin is still unknown.

japanese travel words

Get your free download!

Japanese phrases pdf.

This free download includes all the key Japanese phrases that you will need for your travels to Japan. In addition, get details on the best resources to improve your speaking and listening skills as well.

Japanese language history can be split into five main periods:

  • Old Japanese (Prior to 8th Century)
  • Late Old Japanese (9th – 11th Century)
  • Middle Japanese (12th – 16th Century)
  • Early Modern Japanese (17th-18th Century)
  • Modern Japanese (19th Century – now)

Japanese has been a recognized language for the past 1200 years, from around the 8th century AD, where the earliest Japanese writings have been found. Some earlier evidence of the Japanese language has appeared in Chinese writings from as early as the 3rd century AD, but it is not known how long the language has existed on the island.

japanese travel words

The Language Today

Today, Japanese is spoken by over 125 million people, most of whom reside in Japan. It is not the official language of Japan, but is the de facto national language of Japan. The standard form of the language is called hyojungo “standard Japanese or kyostugo “common language”. This is the variety of the language that is taught in schools and used in TV and official communications.

There are dozens of dialects spoken throughout Japan, as with many old languages. Some differences are more minor (e.g., changes to pronunciation or words used), while other dialects are so distinct from each other that they are mutually unintelligible. This is most often the case for dialects coming from peripheral regions, mountain villages, or isolated islands in the country.

I will also note, there are other languages spoken in Okinawa, as well as the Ryukyu and Amami Islands, known as the Ryukyuan languages. These languages are part of the Japonic language family, and some are considered endangered languages by UNESCO. Their decline is use is due to a shift in greater use of Standard Japanese and other dialects.

RELATED: Kyoto Travel Guide

Japanese Script

An interesting fact about Japanese that did not know until recently, is that Japanese has no genetic relationship to Chinese. Which was surprising to me because the language does use mostly Chinese characters in its written script. There have been two methods of using Chinese script – the first by using them as characters to represent an object or idea. The second method involves using the script to pronounce Japanese words phonetically – which is not widely done today.

Over time, the Japanese script has been modified from the traditional Chinese characters with the overall simplification of some characters. Additionally, there has been the incorporation of hiragana characters, which are also simplified and have a more rounded appearance.

Japanese for Travelers

Additional Observations on Japanese

For the true language nerds out here are a few interesting facts about Japanese:

  • There are no diphthongs in Japanese, only monophthongs, demonstrating that all Japanese vowels are “pure”
  • Word order is classified as subject-object-verb, but the only strict rule there is that the verb must be at the end of the sentence
  • The culture in Japan is VERY polite, and that is also represented in the spoken language as there is an extensive grammatical structure to express politeness, formality, and even differing levels of social status

Basic Japanese Words and Pronunciation

Japanese greetings – formal.

Here are some basic formal greetings (hi / goodbye) that you’d use on a regular day.

  • Hello/Good day – Konnichiwa (こんにちは今日は)
  • Good morning – Ohayō Gozaimasu (おはよう ございます お早う御座います)
  • Good evening – Konbanwa (こんばんは)
  • Good night – Shitsurei shimasu (しつれい します 失礼します)
  • Goodbye – Sayōnara (さようなら)

Note, when greeting others in Japan be sure to accompany your words with a slight bow. This bow is often done again when saying goodbye as well.

Japanese Greetings – Informal

If you stay in Japan for a time and make friends, it may be appropriate for you to incorporate informal greetings into your vocabulary:

  • Hi – Yā (やあ)
  • Hey/Yo – Yō (よう)
  • What’s Up? – Saikin dō? (さいきんどう最近どう)
  • Bye – Jā / Jā ne (じゃあ / じゃあ ね)
  • See you soon – Mata ne (また ね)
  • See you again – Jā mata (じゃあ また)
  • See you tomorrow – Mata ashita (また あした また明日)
  • Be well – Genki De (げんき で 元気で)

Ginkaku-ji Temple in Kyoto, Japan

Top 30 Japanese Phrases

Outside of Japanese greetings, here are the top 30 phrases that you should learn before visiting Japan:

  • Hello – Kon’nichiwa (こんにちは)
  • Yes – Hai ( はい)
  • No – Iie (いいえ)
  • Thank you – Arigatō* (ありがとう)
  • Excuse me – Sumimasen* (すみません) – This phrase is important when trying to get the attention of your waiter in restaurants, and when passing people in tight quarters.
  • Please – O-negai shimasu (おねがいします)
  • You’re welcome – Dōitashimashite (どういたしまして)
  • I’m sorry – Gomennasai (ごめんなさい)
  • Do you speak English? – Eigo o hanasemasu ka (えいごをはなせますか。)
  • I only speak a little Japanese – Watashi wa nihongo ga sukoshi shika hanasemasen. (わたしは にほんごがすこししか はなせません。)
  • What is your name? – O-namae wa nan desu ka. (おなまえはなんですか。)
  • My name is __ – Watashi no namae wa ___ desu. (わたしのなまえは かおりです)
  • How are you? – O-genki desu ka. (おげんきですか。)
  • I’m fine, thanks – Genki desu. (げんきです)
  • I’m very glad to meet you – Oaidekite ureshī desu. (おあいできて うれしいです。)
  • I don’t understand – Wakarimasen (わかりません。)
  • What did you say? – Nante iimashita ka. (なんていいましたか。)
  • Can you speak more slowly? – Motto yukkuri hanashite kudasai. (もっと ゆっくりはなしてください。)
  • I understand you perfectly. – Yoku wakarimasu. (よくわかります。)
  • How much is it? – Ikura desu ka? (いくらですか?)
  • Do you have ___? – ______ wa arimasu ka? (はありますか)
  • Help! – Tasukete (助けて。)
  • I don’t need it. – Iranai (いらない)
  • Great! / I’m glad! – Yokatta (良かった)
  • Are you okay? – Daijoubu desu ka. (大丈夫ですか)
  • What happened? – Doushitanda. (どうしたんだ)
  • Welcome – Irasshaimase. ( いらっしゃいませ)
  • How much does it cost? – Ikura kakarimasu ka? (いくらかかりますか?)
  • It costs. .. – Hiyō ga kakarimasu (費用がかかります)

Note: I’ve put an asterisk by the phrases that I used the most while traveling through Japan.

Counting to 10 in Japanese

There are two methods of counting in Japanese: 1) Sino-Japanese and 2) Native Japanese. Sino-Japanese is used most often (by far), so this is what is demonstrated in the tabel below:

RELATED: The Link Between Languages and Travel

Pronouncing Japanese the Right Way

Check out this video from a native speaker that covers pronunciation for many of the phrases listed above. For best results, practice saying the words out loud so that you get used to speaking them.

Japanese Travel Phrases PDF

Keep your learning going by downloading this Japanese Phrases PDF. You will be able to practice as needed before your trip!

FAQs about Learning Japanese for Travel

Before your trip to Japan, some common phrases you should learn are “Arigatou gozaimasu” (Thank you very much), “Sumimasen” (Excuse me/I’m sorry), “Konnichiwa” (Hello), “O-genki desu ka?” (How are you?), and “Eigo o hanashimasu ka?” (Do you speak English?).

Japanese people often say “Ittekimasu” (I’ll go and come back) before leaving their home, which is a polite way of saying they are heading out. Similarly, upon returning, they say “Tadaima” (I’m back) to announce their arrival.

The Japanese word for travel is “tabi” (旅).

Some must-know phrases for Japanese travel include “Doko desu ka?” (Where is it?), “Ikura desu ka?” (How much does it cost?), “Eki wa doko desu ka?” (Where is the train station?), “Kudasai” (Please/give me), and “Osusume no o-sake wa arimasu ka?” (Do you have any recommended sake?).

Some cool Japanese phrases include “Yoroshiku onegaishimasu” (Please take care of it/Thank you in advance), “Kawaii” (Cute), “Oishii” (Delicious), “Ganbatte” (Good luck/Do your best), and “Natsukashii” (Nostalgic).

Learning Japanese for Travel | Final Recommendations

That wraps my list of essential Japanese phrases for travelers. Now that you know WHAT you need to learn, the next step is to take it into practice. I suggest that you do that by downloading the attached PDF of key Japanese phrases, and practice the phrases daily for at least a month before your trip.

To complement learning these phrases, there are a few additional resources that you may find helpful:

  • iTalki – On this site you can practice with a tutor, formal teacher, or others just seeking to do a language exchange (for free!). The paid lessons have very cheap options, with some as low as $5 an hour. Check it out!
  • LigoPie – Practice listening and reading Japanese with videos. You can make changes to the speed you are listening to as well. This is the best way to rapidly increase your comprehension skills!
  • Japanese Pod – There are so many free resources on the website and through the podcast they offer. There are paid options as well.
  • Duolingo – I don’t find this app useful for practicing spoken language, but it will help you remember key phrases through repetition.

Have you studied Japanese before? Let me know if you have any additional tips in the comments below!

Related Posts on Japan:

  • 2 Days in Kyoto
  • 4 Days in Tokyo
  • Hakone Travel Guide
  • The Best Samurai Experience in Kyoto
  • Ninja Akasaka Review

Additional Travel Language Guides:

  • Portuguese for Travel
  • Spanish for Travel
  • Italian for Travel
  • Thai for Travel
  • Greek for Travel
  • Language and Travel

Don’t forget to pin this for later!

japanese travel words

Christen Thomas is the founder of TravelWanderGrow, established in 2018. She has lived abroad and traveled extensively to over 30 countries. In addition, she is a certified Travel Advisor and is an expert in planning trips focused on city history and culture. As a frequent traveler, she also shares tips on how to prepare to travel well and how to save money while doing so.

Pinning this for later as we’re hoping to visit Japan in the next few years. Great breakdown of the common phrases. I had a Japanese roommate in high school so I’ve heard a lot of these phrases, but never knew how to spell them – so interesting!

Glad you have found the guide helpful, Emily! Hope you get to practice the phrases soon :).

I am Korean-American & can speak conversational Korean. I feel I would be able to easily pickup Japanese but they seem to talk so fast! Thanks for sharing this post! My husband & I hope to visit Japan later this fall…it will come handy!

Doesn’t it always seem that others speak so fast when you are learning a language? Hopefully you can put these to good use on your trip to Japan!

Very useful and interesting. Thank you! Keep it coming

Glad you found it helpful, Oliver!

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Home » Articles » 25 Essential Japanese Phrases for Travellers and Tourists

japanese travel words

Full disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. ?

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written by Caitlin Sacasas

Language: Japanese

Reading time: 12 minutes

Published: Dec 30, 2019

Updated: Sep 17, 2021

25 Essential Japanese Phrases for Travellers and Tourists

Getting ready to travel to Japan? You’ll need to know a few Japanese phrases before you go!

Learning even a few travel phrases in Japanese will break down a lot of barriers during your stay.

Japan is becoming more foreigner-friendly — you’ll notice updated signage includes English in main cities. And many Japanese people have spent some time learning English in school. But most people aren’t comfortable talking in English.

Japanese people know how hard it is to learn their language. They highly respect anyone who tries to learn and they appreciate your effort. Your willingness to try speaking Japanese will encourage them to try speaking the English they know. It’ll help you get by, and make your stay much more enjoyable.

Besides, it’s incredibly rewarding to visit a foreign country and connect with locals in their native language . And it shows a lot of respect for their culture, which the Japanese highly value.

So here are 25 essential Japanese phrases for all you travelers out there. All these phrases will be in formal, standard Japanese speech so they’re appropriate in any situation.

If you blast through these and you’re ready to learn more, check out JapanesePod101 . It’s the best podcast for learning Japanese, with courses dedicated to learning Survival Japanese — everything you need to know in Japanese to get by. Plus, there are culture classes, beginner to advanced lessons, and more. It’s definitely my favorite for getting started.

Okay, let’s start speaking Japanese!

1. “Hello” in Japanese – こんにちは ( Konnichiwa )

In Japanese, you can greet someone with こんにちは. It means “hello,” but there are many ways to greet someone in Japanese .

Konnichiwa also translates as “good afternoon,” so it’s best used during the day. In the morning, you can use おはようございます ( Ohayou gozaimasu ), and in the evening, こんばんは ( konbanwa ).

Konnichiwa actually means “This day is…” but it’s used now to say hello.

2. “Please” in Japanese – ください ( Kudasai )

There are a couple of ways to say “please” in Japanese. The most universal one is ください. It means “please,” and you’d use it to ask a favor of almost anyone.

For instance, if you’re at a restaurant, you can say メニューをください ( Menyu- o kudasai ) to say “Please give me a menu.”

If you want to be more polite, you could use お願いします ( Onegai shimasu ). Either version of “please” is okay, but this one is better if you’re asking something of someone with higher status, or if you’re asking for a service. At a restaurant, both ください and お願いします are acceptable. Another example: if you’re ready for the check, you say お会計お願いします ( o-kaikei onegai shimasu ).

Unlike English, where “please” can be at the beginning or end of the sentence, it always comes at the end of the sentence in Japanese.

3. “Thank You” in Japanese – ありがとうございます ( Arigatou gozaimasu )

To thank someone in Japanese, you say ありがとうございます. That’s the most common way.

But maybe you learned “thank you” was “ Domo arigatou , Mr. Roboto.” from the song. どもありがとう does mean “thank you” as well, but more like “Thank you very much.” And it’s a little less formal without the ending ございます ( gozaimasu ).

4. “Excuse Me” in Japanese – すみません ( Sumimasen )

When you want to get someone’s attention, you can say すみません, followed by your question or request.

You can also use this to ask someone (politely) to move, or even to apologize in place of “sorry.”

5. “Let’s Eat” in Japanese – いただきます ( Itadakimasu )

いただきます is a unique Japanese phrase. It’s used like “let’s eat” in English or “bon appetit” in French. But it’s original meaning is “I humbly receive” and it’s always said before every meal, even when you eat alone. It’s a way to give thanks for the food, almost like saying grace.

When eating with others, it’s the signal to begin eating. You clap your hands together in a prayer position and say “いただきます!”

But, if you wanted to suggest grabbing a bite to eat, the polite way to ask would be 食べませんか ( Tabemasen ka , “Would you like to eat?”).

6. “Thank You for the Food” in Japanese – ごちそうさまでした ( Gochisousama deshita )

After a meal, you always say ごちそうさまでした. It means “thank you for the food,” and you’d say it to whoever treated you to your meal or cooked your food. Even if you paid for or made your own meal, you say this as an expression of gratitude to have food to eat.

7. “One” in Japanese – 一つ ( Hitotsu )

There are two different ways to count in Japanese , but for most basic phrases you’ll need to know “one” as 一つ. Hitotsu is the universal counter for the number 1, meaning you can use it to specify how many of anything you want or have.

The phrase 一つをください ( Hitotsu o kudasai ) means “one, please.” You can use it to ask for one ticket, one pastry, one of anything while you’re out. Simply point and say Hitotsu o kudasai .

8. “Yes” and “No” in Japanese – はい ( Hai ) and いいえ ( Iie )

To say “yes” in Japanese, you say はい and “no” is いいえ. Both of these are the polite, formal way to say them. However, you’ll more often hear うん ( un ) and ううん ( uun ) even though these are informal. Since you’re learning the basics, stick to hai and iie for now, but just know you may hear un and uun from others.

There’s another way to say “no” that’s more common because it’s less direct than iie . I’ll get to that in a moment.

9. “What’s Your Name?” in Japanese – お名前は何ですか ( O-namae wa nan desu ka )

In Japanese, you can ask for someone’s name by saying お名前は何ですか. “Ka” is a question particle, so it takes the place of “?” at the end of a sentence in Japanese.

When replying, Japanese people say either only their last name or their last name and then first name. If you want to answer this question, you can simply say your name followed by です ( desu ). So here's how that exchange might look:

“お名前は何ですか。” ( O-namae wa nan desu ka ) “たけうちなおこです。お名前は何ですか。” ( Takeuchi Naoko desu. O-namae wa nan desu ka. ) “サカサスケイトリンです。” ( Sakasasu Keitorin desu. )

In that example, the other person is Naoko Takeuchi (if only I was so lucky as to introduce myself to the creator of Sailor Moon!). But in Japanese, she’s known by her family name first: Takeuchi Naoko.

As a 外国人 ( gaikokujin , “foreigner”), I could say my name as either Keitorin Sakasasu or Sakasasu Keitorin . Either way is fine.

After meeting someone, it’s respectful to say よろしくお願いします。( Yoroshiku onegai shimasu , “Nice to meet you.”)

10. “How are you?” in Japanese – お元気ですか ( O-genki desu ka )

In Japanese, you can ask someone how they are with お元気ですか. But it’s more common to say お元気でした ( O-genki deshita ), which is past tense for asking someone “How have you been?” You don’t often ask how someone is doing in Japanese, but rather how they have been since you’ve seen them last (when it’s been a while).

11. “I’m Sorry” in Japanese – ごめんなさい ( Gomen nasai )

To apologize in Japanese, you can say ごめんなさい ( gomen nasai ) or ごめんね ( gomen ne ). Gomen ne is more casual, but still quite common even in semi-formal situations. すみません ( Sumimasen ) works, too, or you could ask someone “Excuse me” and then follow with “Sorry” – ごめんね!

12. “What’s This?” in Japanese – これは何ですか ( Kore wa nan desu ka )

Chances are, in Japan, you’ll stumble across some wild and totally different things. There are a lot of things unique to Japanese culture , from the toilets to the vending machines. So this is a good phrase to have ready!

If you don’t know what something is, ask これは何ですか and someone will explain it to you or help you out.

13. “I Don’t Understand” in Japanese – わかりません ( Wakarimasen )

Still don’t know what that thing is? Or is someone trying to talk to you in Japanese, and you don’t follow along? Then reply with ごめんなさい。わかりません。( Gomen nasai. Wakarimasen ).

Don’t be embarrassed to explain that you don’t understand. It won’t hurt the other person’s feelings — and you’re just starting out! It’s better to be honest than to run into trouble because you pretended to understand .

14. “What Does _ Mean?” in Japanese – は何意味ですか (*__ wa nan imi desu ka*)

Didn’t understand a certain word in particular? You can then ask “ _ は何意味ですか. “ Insert the word you didn’t understand into the blank.

For instance, if someone told you that thing in the vending machine is a 傘 ( kasa ), and you don’t know what kasa means, then you can ask 傘は何意味ですか ( Kasa wa nan imi desu ka ). The other person can either explain it’s for rain — “雨のためですよ” ( Ame no tame desu yo ) — or they’ll tell you “umbrella” if they know it in English.

15. “Say it Again More Slowly, Please” in Japanese – もう一度ゆっくり言ってお願いします ( Mou ichido yukkuri itte onegai shimasu )

If you still don’t understand or can’t keep up, use this phrase. Japanese people talk very fast, and the words can run together easily. So if you didn’t understand because you need to hear it slower, say すみません、わかりません。もう一度ゆっくり言ってお願いします ( Sumimasen, wakarimasen. Mou ichido yukkuri itte onegai shimasu ).

Or, you could shorten it to ゆっくりお願いします ( Yukkuri onegai shimasu ). This is just “more slowly, please.”

16. “How do you say ?” in Japanese – _ は日本語で何と言いますか (*__ wa nihongo de nan to iimasu ka*)

If you don’t know the word for something in Japanese, you don’t have to completely revert back to English! You can say _ は日本語で何と言いますか and fill in the blank with the English word.

Using our umbrella example again, you could say “Umbrella は日本語で何と言いますか” and the other person can tell you it’s kasa .

17. “Do you speak English?” in Japanese – 英語を話せますか ( Eigo wo hanasemasu ka )

You can ask someone if they speak English with 英語を話せますか. You could use this phrase with any language, and swap out eigo (“English”) for any other language. 日本語を話せますか ( Nihongo wo hanasemasu ka ) means “Do you speak Japanese?”

If you’re really trying to learn the language, not just get by briefly on a trip to Japan, then I would encourage you to keep trying to speak only in Japanese . This is your chance to learn and really speak! Don’t waste it by reverting back to English. You can always use phrases like the last one – “ _ は日本語で何と言いますか” – over and over again to learn how to say what you need!

18. “Where is ?” in Japanese – _ はどこですか (*__ wa doko desu ka*)

If you’re lost or looking for something, and all the signs are in kanji that you can’t read yet, then ask someone for help with “ _ はどこですか.” Some words you might want to fill in the blank with:

  • トイレ ( toire ) – Bathroom
  • 駅 ( Eki ) – Train station
  • 地下鉄 ( Chikatetsu ) – Subway
  • バス停 ( Basu tei ) – Bus stop
  • ホテル ( Hoteru ) – Hotel
  • 地図 ( Chizu ) – A map
  • 入口 ( Iriguchi ) – Entrance
  • 出口 ( Deguchi ) – Exit
  • レストラン ( Resutoran ) – Restaurant

19. “How Much is This?” in Japanese – これはいくらですか ( Kore wa ikura desu ka )

When you’re out shopping, you can find out the price of something by asking これはいくらですか. Keep in mind yen — represented by 円 ( en ) in Japan — is like counting pennies. If someone said 1000 yen ( sen en in Japanese), that’s actually about $10.

20. “It’s a bit…” in Japanese – ちょっと… ( Chotto… )

Ah, yes. The universal phrase, ちょっと. Chotto means “a little” or “a bit.” As a phrase by itself, it shows hesitation, and means “It’s a bit… (inconvenient, not good for me).”

You’ll hear this phrase used in place of no ( iie ) more than you hear a direct “no.” One thing you’ll learn is that Japanese is not a very direct language, and relies heavily on context and body language.

So, if you asked how much something was with “これはいくらですか” and it was too expensive, you can say “Aaa… chotto…” to say “Ah, that’s a bit pricey.” To be more direct, you could say ちょっと高い ( Chotto takai ), “It’s a bit expensive.” You may be able to score a cheaper price by being direct, but directness like that isn’t considered polite.

21. “What do you recommend?” in Japanese – おすすめは何ですか ( Osusume wa nan desu ka )

If you don’t know what’s good at a restaurant or shop, you can ask someone おすすめは何ですか to get their opinion.

This is a nice phrase to know because then you can ask locals what’s good around here, where you should eat, or what the house specialty is. It’s a good way to truly experience the country!

22. “Does this go to __?” in Japanese – これは__に行きますか ( Kore wa _ ni ikimasu ka)

This is another helpful phrase to know if you plan on using any of the public transportation. The train system can be especially confusing, so if you’re not sure you’re hopping on the right line, ask! “これは__に行きますか” will get a yes or no answer from someone. Fill in the blank with the destination of where you want to go.

23. “Do you have ?” in Japanese – __はありますか (* wa arimasu ka*)

If you’re looking for something, you can use the phrase “__はありますか” to ask. But this is also helpful if you’re at a restaurant and you’re wondering if they can meet your dietary needs. For instance, if you’re vegetarian, you could ask ベジタリアンメニューはありますか ( Bejitarian menyu- wa arimasu ka ).

If you can’t eat something specific, use the phrase “ は食べられません。” ( wa taberaremasen) For example, I can’t eat gluten. So I could say グルテンは食べられません。( Guruten wa taberaremasen. ) If it’s an allergy, you can say にアレルギーがあります。 (* ni arerugi- ga arimasu.*)

Here’s a few things you may not be able to eat:

  • 肉 ( niku ) – Meat
  • 牛肉 ( gyuuniku ) – Beef
  • 豚肉 ( butaniku ) – Pork
  • 鶏肉 ( toriniku ) – Chicken
  • ピーナッツ ( pi-nattsu ) – Peanuts
  • 小麦 ( komugi ) – Wheat
  • 卵 ( tomago ) – Eggs
  • 大豆 ( daizu ) – Soy
  • 魚 ( sakana ) – Fish
  • 貝類 ( kairui ) – Shellfish
  • 乳製品 ( nyuuseihin ) – Dairy

24. “Can you take my picture, please?” in Japanese – 写真を撮ってもらえますか ( Shashin wo totte moraemasu ka )

Of course, you’ll want to capture your journey to Japan! So if you’re walking about and need someone to take your picture, you can politely ask them for the favor with 写真を撮ってもらえますか. Or you could simplify it with 写真ください? ( Shashin kudasai? )

25. “I’ll have a beer to start, please” in Japanese – とりあえずビールをください ( Toriaezu bi-ru wo kudasai )

This classic phrase is a must-know. Anytime you go out in Japan, you’ll hear people say とりあえずビールをください, or just とりあえずビール ( Toriaezu bi-ru )! It’s such a set phrase, everyone picks it up quickly. Drinking culture is a big part of Japan, and it’s rude to turn down a drink. Usually, everyone starts off the first round with beer, which is why this phrase is so common. When it’s time to toast, say かんぱい!( Kanpai , “Cheers!”)

Enjoy Your Trip to the Land of the Rising Sun with these Japanese Phrases!

These Japanese phrases will help you put the right foot forward during your stay in Japan, and help you have a deeper cultural experience.

Can you think of any other helpful Japanese phrases for travelers to know? Share them in the comments! 気を付けて ( Ki wo tsukete ) — or “Be safe!”

Caitlin Sacasas

Content Writer, Fluent in 3 Months

Caitlin is a copywriter, content strategist, and language learner. Besides languages, her passions are fitness, books, and Star Wars. Connect with her: Twitter | LinkedIn

Speaks: English, Japanese, Korean, Spanish

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Basic Travel Phrases in Japanese (with Etiquette)

Lorena Macedo

Irasshaimase! (いらっしゃいませ), or "welcome!" to your guide to Japanese travel phrases.

If you're planning a trip to Japan or simply interested in learning Japanese , this guide to using and understanding Japanese travel phrases is a must-read.

You don't need to learn the entire language before you make the trip of a lifetime. Still, knowing some key phrases, cultural differences and mannerisms will make Japan more accessible for English speakers.

Related: Saying Hello in Japanese: Pronouncing Japanese Greetings

First, we'll discuss the Japanese language and writing styles. Then, we'll cover some essential Japanese travel phrases, including "please", "thank you", "excuse me" and "I don't understand Japanese". Formality in Japanese will be explained, followed by restaurant vocabulary and etiquette.

Next, we'll cover certain phrases related to transport and travel, followed by pronunciation tips for common phrases used in Japan. Finally, we will answer frequently asked questions about Japanese phrases and travel to Japan.

The Japanese Language

Japanese words can be written in symbols or in Romanized characters, so beginners can still read and write before they learn the Japanese script.

However, when you learn Japanese characters you can better understand the nuances of the language.

Kanji are Chinese characters taken from the Chinese script and used in Japanese writing. This writing system was introduced to Japan in the 4th or 5th century, as Japan had a talking system but no means to write it down. Kanji are complex symbols that represent words or ideas.

However, Kanji characters are used along with the more recently created syllabic scripts of Hiragana and Katakana, which represent sounds.

Some people find these scripts easier to read as the symbols are simpler. Hiragana is generally used to represent Japanese words, while Katakana represents foreign words imported into the Japanese language.

While it is possible to write everything in Hiragana or Katakana, i t w o u l d l o o k l i k e t h i s . So, it is better to replace words with Kanji when possible. Japanese people use the three scripts interchangeably, as they are needed.

japanese travel words

10 Essential Japanese Phrases

  • Konnichiwa (こんにちは) – Hello/ good afternoon
  • Ohayo Gozaimasu (おはよう ご ざ い ます) - Good morning
  • Konbanwa (こんばんは) - Good evening This phrase is made up of Ohayo (おはよう), meaning "early" and Gozaimasu (ご ざ い ます) meaning "is"/"am"/"are". So, its literal translation is "it is early". As you can see below, Gozaimasu can be added to Arigatou, meaning "thank you", to make it more polite.
  • Arigatou (Gozaimasu) (ありがとう (ご ざ い ます)) – Thank you (polite way)
  • Onegaishimasu (お願い し ます)/ Kudasai (くだ さい) - Please
  • Sumimasen (すみません) – Excuse me
  • Hai (はい) - Yes/ I understand
  • Iie (いいえ) - No
  • Nihongo ga wakarimasen (日本語がわかりません) - I don't understand Japanese
  • Gomen nasai (ごめんなさい) - I'm sorry

Formality In Japanese

Social hierarchy, or your rank compared to others, determines how you will talk to someone in Japanese.

The generally accepted pecking order puts parents above children, teachers above students, customers above shopkeepers, bosses above employees, and elders above younger people.

Moreover, familiarity plays a part in how formal or informal you are with someone. Families will speak more casual Japanese with one another, while strangers use formal terms. Good friends drop formalities entirely and use slang to communicate.

Japanese words are conjugated based on formality. Formal Japanese can be divided into three categories: polite language, honorific language, and humble language.

There is also an informal way of communicating in Japanese, but when you learn Japanese, you often learn the formal first as the conjugation is easier.

Gozimasu and Arigatou

You do not need to worry too much about this as an absolute beginner. Just remember that you can make simple adjustments such as adding gozimasu (ご ざ い ます) to ohayō (おはよう) when saying "good morning" to make it more formal, or to arigatou (ありがとう) to say "thank you" the formal way.

Domo arigato (共 ありがとう) "thank you so much" is also formal. This is a phrase many westerners are familiar with due to the song Mr Roboto by Styx!

Arigato or domo used in isolation are two ways to say "thanks", informally. Use the latter two with friends and family.

japanese travel words

Onegaishimasu and Kudasai

Finally, let's revisit when we use Onegaishimasu (お願い し ます) and Kudasai (くだ さい) for "please".

  • Kudasai is the more familiar term, while onegai shimasu is more polite and honorable.
  • So, you can ask for water, for instance, by using Kudasai (ください) or onegai shimasu ( を お願い し ます), depending on who you are talking to. For example:
  • Mizu o onegai shimasu ( 水を お願い し ます) - I would like water, please (formal)
  • Mizu o kudasai (水 お ください) - Give me water, please (informal)

Kudasai is a familiar request word that you use when you know you are entitled to something.

For instance, asking a friend or peer for something, or making a request from someone of a lower rank than you. Take a look at the following phrases:

  • Mō yamete kudasai (もう やめて くだ さい ) - Please stop
  • Chotto matte kudasai (ちょっと 待って くだ さい) - Wait a minute, please
  • Kutsu o nuide kudasai (靴を脱いで くだ さい) - Please remove your shoes
  • Shio o watashite kudasai ( 塩を渡して くだ さい) - Pass the salt, please

If you are speaking to a teacher, elder, or boss in Japan and don't understand something, you can ask: Mou ichido onegai shimasu (もう一度お願いします) - Could you repeat that, please?

As well as language, gestures also play a part in formality and respect in Japanese culture. One such gesture is the bow, and it matters how deep you bend!

A short bow at 15° is appropriate for a casual greeting. A 30° bow is good for greeting strangers and bosses, while a 45° bow conveys deep respect or an apology.

10 Food & Drink Basic Phrases in Japanese

  • Menyū (メニュー) - Menu
  • O-sake (お酒) – General term for alcohol (not to be confused with the below)
  • Nihonshu (日本酒) – Japanese saké (rice wine)
  • Bīru (ビール) - Beer
  • Mizu (水) - Water
  • Gohan (ご飯) - Rice
  • Misoshiru (みそ汁) - Miso Soup
  • Sushi (すし) - Sushi
  • Mochi (餅 ) - Mochi (a traditional Japanese glutinous rice cake)
  • ___ o Kudasai ( をください) – I would like __, please ___ o onegai shimasu (を お願い し ます) - I would like ___ please

In addition to food and drink, you might want to know how to ask for other specific services in a Japanese restaurant.

  • Kin'en seki (禁煙席) - Non-smoking seat
  • Kurejittokādo wa tsukaemasu ka? (クレジットカードは使えますか) - Do you accept credit cards?

japanese travel words

Japanese Restaurant Etiquette

It is not enough simply to know a few polite phrases in Japanese. You will also need to understand a bit about restaurant etiquette.

In many Japanese restaurants, there are low tables with cushions, rather than or in addition to western-style tables and chairs.

Cushions will be placed on tatami floors, which are a traditional kind of mat flooring in Japanese restaurants. You should never wear shoes or slippers on tatami flooring, and avoid stepping on anyone's cushion except your own.

Japanese Restaurant Vocabulary in Context

When the food comes, it is customary to wait for everyone's meals to arrive, then say:

  • Itadakimasu (いただきます) - "I gratefully receive (this meal)"

You should say this before starting to eat. This is similar to the French "bon appetit".

However, if a dish is best eaten hot and it arrives before the others, the following phrase can be used:

  • Osaki ni douzo (お先 に どうぞ) - "Please go ahead"

Other useful Japanese resturant phrases include:

  • Daijyoubu Desu (だいじょうぶです) - "I'm fine now" (this is a polite way to decline something from a waiter offering you more water or food).

You can conclude the meal by saying the phrase:

  • Gochisousama deshita (ごちそうさま でした) - "Thank you for the feast."

This expresses gratitude to the chef and for the ingredients of the meal.

At the end of your meal, you should use the following:

  • Okaikei wo onegaishimasu (お会計 を お願いします) - "The check, please."

Manners in Convenience Stores

The following piece of vocaulary will be useful:

  • Konbini (コンビニ) - Convenience store

In Japan, simple things like unfolding your bills before you hand them over to the cashier and not throwing down your coins are considered polite as they make the worker's job easier.

Customer service in Japan is famously excellent, so treat the clerk with respect and kindness, as you should in any other foreign country.

japanese travel words

10 Transportation-Related Phrases to Get Around Japan

  • ___wa doko desu ka ( は どこ です か) – Where is __?
  • Eki (駅) - Train station eg. Eki wa doko desu ka (駅 は どこ です か) - Where is the train station?
  • Basu noriba (バスのりば) - Bus stop
  • Dono Densha (どの電車)/ Dono basu (どのバス) – Which train?/ Which bus?
  • (Tōkyō) ni ikitai ( ([東京) に行きたい) – I want to go to (Tokyo)
  • Kippu (切符) – Ticket
  • Katamichi kippu (片道切符)/ Kaeri no kippu (帰りの切符) - One-way ticket/ return ticket
  • Hoteru (ホテル) - hotel
  • Toire ( = トイレ) - Bathroom / toilet
  • Ikura desu ka (いくら です 化) - How much is it?

Japanese travel phrases in context

Now, you can start to put some of the words we have learned together to create a proper phrase.

  • Hiroshima e no kaeri no kippu o onegai shimasu, ikura desu ka (広島への帰りの切符をお願いします、いくらですか) - "I would like a return ticket to Hiroshima, how much is it?"

These essential Japanese travel phrases will come in handy when visiting Japan, as an estimated 70% of the population does not speak English.

You'll find more people with some level of English in the top destinations, such as Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka, while you might hit a language barrier in smaller towns.

Basic Japanese Phrases and Pronunciation in Japanese

An important phrase you will likely say a lot is desu ka ( です か).

This indicates a question when placed at the end of a sentence. So, let's make sure you can say it correctly, as it may not be pronounced as you'd expect.

You want to pronounce desu like “dess.” Remember, the “u” sound at the end is dropped.

This happens a lot with words that end with “u” sounds, including:

  • Arigatou Gozaimasu (ありがとう ご ざ い) - "thank you" (which is pronounced "arigatou gozaimas").

We have already seen desu ka in the phrase ikura desu ka, " how much is it?", and wa doko desu ka , "where is it?".

It is also used in the following key Japanese phrases:

  • O genki desu ka (お元気 です 化) - How are you? (Pronounced "o genki dess ka").
  • Nani desu ka (何ですか なにですか) - (polite) What?
  • Sou desu ka (そうですか) - Is that so?/ Really? The response, Sou desu (そうです), pronounced "so dess", means "that is so" or "yes, really".
  • Kore wa na ndesu ka (これ わ なん です か) - What is this?

You can create many more Japanese phrases for asking questions by using desu ka , so try to remember this pronunciation as it will get you a long way.

Basic Greetings Tourists Should Know in Japan

If you only have a short time before your trip to Japan, at the very least learn these simple greetings and make sure you know the dos and don'ts of public affection.

  • Kon'nichiwa, watashinonamaeha ___ (こんにちは、私の名前は) - "Good afternoon, my name is ___"
  • Konbanwa, hajimemashite (こんばんは、はじめまして) - "Good evening, nice to meet you."
  • Namae wa nandesu ka? (名前はなん です か) - "What is your name?"

Making Friends in Japan

Now that you know how to greet Japanese people appropriately, you can start to build a relationship with them.

Generally, when you meet people while traveling abroad, you ask:

  • Eigo o hanashimasu ka? (英語を話せますか) - "Can you speak English?"
  • Anata wa doko no kuni no shusshindesu ka (あなたはどこの国の出身 です か) - "Which country are you from?"
  • Doko no shusshindesu ka? ( どこの出身 です か) - "Where are you from?" (more simple phrase).
  • Anata wa doko ni sun deru nodesu ka? (あなたはどこに住んでるの です か) - "Where do you live?"

If you would like to become friends or make a date, you might want to gauge the person's interests:

  • Anata wa (eiga ga) sukidesuka? (あなたは (映画が) 好き です か) - "Do you like (the cinema)?"

japanese travel words

Travel Tips for Japan

Remember Japanese manners! This includes restaurant etiquette, limiting public displays of affection, using polite language, and respecting the culture.

You cannot expect everyone in the world to speak your language, but by using a simple Japanese phrase here and there you can show that you are willing to try and meet them halfway.

Choose the season wisely. Visit Japan in Winter for the ski season, or in Spring for unforgettable views of cherry blossoms.

Or, choose an Autumn trip to avoid tourist crowds and peak travel seasons. The same applies to Summer, though this is typhoon season, which puts a lot of tourists off.

What is Ryokou?

Ryokou (旅行) is a Japanese noun meaning "travel" or "trip".

Broken down, 旅 is the kanji character meaning "travel", "trip", or "journey", and 行 is the kanji character used to express the act of going or visiting.

Use this next phrase if you want to impress your new Japanese friends by using their local language:

  • Watashi wa ryokou ga sukidesu (私は旅行が好きです) - "I love traveling".

If you're studying Japanese so you can take a trip to Japan, this is undoubtedly true!

How to Learn Japanese Naturally

If you are looking for additional resources for learning Japanese, check out Lingopie .

This is an online streaming platform that is designed to get you speaking Japanese and learning Kanji with ease through immersion in Japanese TV and movies.

Lingopie provides an authentic and natural way to learn other languages and makes learning Japanese fun.

This is a great tool for busy people who cannot sit through hours of Japanese classes every week.

Simply relax in the evening and watch half an hour of Japanese TV. Allow your brain to absorb the language naturally and pick up useful phrases and pronunciation.

And if you want to keep binge watching awesome shows check out our other Japanese articles. We listed 9 Japanese Movies on Netflix that can help your studies and we also did a guide to learning Japanese with anime ! We also recommend you to check out our free guide " Best way to learn Japanese ".

japanese travel words

Summing up: Basic Travel phrases in Japanese

Now you can travel to Japan armed with some useful Japanese phrases and a basic understanding of the culture and mannerisms of the country.

You will be able to conduct yourself appropriately while dining, make your way around train stations, and if you speak slowly and clearly, begin to build relationships.

Remember, nobody will expect you to speak Japanese fluently, but if you can use these simple phrases, your travels will be simplified.

The average Japanese native speaker is unlikely to speak English fluently. You may hit a language barrier, but if you remember your polite gestures and restaurant etiquette, you can still do very well in Japan and impress the locals.

Hopefully, this guide has given you some travel inspiration. Have a wonderful time on your trip and good luck on your path to learning Japanese!

Lorena Macedo

Lorena Macedo

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50 Essential Japanese Phrases for Travel

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Common Japanese phrases can help you travel

You Need to Know a Few Japanese Phrases

Japan is a tourist hot spot . And a lot of Japanese people speak English. But, not all. So, if you want to make sure you can communicate with all Japanese people you meet, you need to know at least a few phrases. Or have them in your pocket in case you need them. These 50 basic Japanese phrases are the perfect sentences for any traveler.

Speaking a little Japanese can get you further than you think. Even with these sentences, you can ask for directions, get better opportunities, and show that you appreciate Japanese culture. Japanese people will definitely appreciate your effort, and they’ll probably give you better customer service. Discover Japan better than normal tourists, and see this beautiful country through the eyes of its locals .

50 Common Japanese Phrases

The trick to reaching japanese fluency fast.

These 50 phrases are the perfect start to speaking Japanese. That’s because they’re very common. Japanese people use them every day. And Japanese locals don’t actually use a lot of their vocabulary.

In fact, they only use 20% of the words they know for 80% of their conversations.

It’s called the Pareto Principle , and it’s the trick you need to use to become fluent in Japanese fast. By focusing on only the most common Japanese words and phrases, you can cut your study time significantly, and still partake in most conversations with locals. Less study time, more benefits.

japanese travel words

How to Learn Useful Japanese Phrases

You could always have these 50 survival Japanes phrases on a piece of paper. But, if you want to really impress people, you should definitely learn them. Luckily, it’s not difficult at all to master these. Here are a few tricks that can help you commit Japanese words and phrases to memory.

  • Space them out : don’t try to learn all 50 phrases at once. Learn 5-10 every day instead. You won’t overwhelm yourself, and you’ll remember more the next day .
  • Review them often : of course, by the time you wake up the next day, you’ll have forgotten most of your lesson. No worries, just repeat them. Then again the next day. The more you review, the more you’ll remember.
  • Say them out loud : You need to speak to reach fluency . So, with these Japanese phrases, the more you say them when you practice, the more comfortable you’ll be. By the time you’ll have to say them to a Japanese local, you’ll be confident.

japanese travel words

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You’re only one click away!

Learn More Japanese Easily

These 50 phrases will definitely help you as you’re traveling Japan. And, who knows? Maybe you’ll fall in love with the people and the culture, and you’ll continue learning Japanese. If so, you need the most useful Japanese phrases to get you to fluency fast. Much like these ones. You can find them all on OptiLingo.

OptiLingo helps you get to Japanese fluency the fastest. This app won’t waste your time with unnecessary vocabulary. With guided pronunciation practice, OptiLingo can surely help you communicate with locals effortlessly. Achieve your dream of speaking Japanese by downloading OptiLingo !

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10 Japanese Travel Vocabulary Words for First-time Visitors in Japan

japanese travel words

Traveling in Japan can be an adventure, but language barriers can sometimes make things more difficult than they need to be. Luckily, learning a related to transportation can go a long way in helping you navigate the country’s bustling streets and efficient transportation systems . In this post, we’ll cover 10 Japanese terms that will come in handy during your travels.

空港 (koukou): Airport

When arriving in Japan, you’ll likely start at one of the country’s many airports. Remembering the word 空港 (koukou) can help you navigate signs and announcements. (You can check out a more complete list of airport-related Japanese vocabulary here ).

空港 で荷物をとったあと、タクシーを探しましょう。 Kuukou de nimotsu o totta ato, takushii o sagashimashou. After retrieving your baggage at the airport, let’s look for a taxi.

駅 (eki): Train station

Japan’s train system is one of the most efficient in the world, and when you’re traveling to Japan on a budget, you’ll be relying on trains more than other methods of transportation like taxi — or even shinkansen .

Unfortunately, you’ll be hearing mostly Japanese announcements inside the train station, which makes navigation even more overwhelming. You can learn about common train announcements in Japan here , but make sure you know the word 駅 (eki) beforehand!

東京 駅 から渋谷駅までどの電車に乗ればいいですか? Toukyou eki kara shibuya eki made dono densha ni noreba iidesu ka? Which train should I take from Tokyo Station from Shibuya ?

切符 (kippu): Ticket

When traveling by train or shinkansen, you’ll typically need either of two things: a prepaid IC card or one-way ticket to your destination.

We recommend getting IC cards like PASMO or Suica (which you can easily get in the ticket counter) for regular train rides, or even a JR Pass so you can hop from a bullet train to a JR line with ease.

With the announcement of price increase on JR Pass, however, some of us might just opt for one-way tickets. Remember the word word 切符 (kippu) to make sure you purchase the right ticket.

京都までの 切符 をお願いします。 Kyouto made no kippu o onegaishimasu. I want to buy a ticket to Kyoto.

Bonus : See our infographic on how to read Shinkansen tickets in Japan!

ホーム (hoomu): Platform

Once you have your ticket, you’ll need to find the right platform. The word ホーム (ho-mu) means platform in Japanese.

電車は1番 ホーム から発車します。 Densha wa 1-ban hoomu kara hassha shimasu. The train departs from platform 1.

発車 (hassha): departure

If you see the word 発車 (hassha) on a sign, it means the train is departing. Make sure you’re on board before the train leaves!

電車はいつ 発車 するんですか? Densha wa itsu hassha surundesu ka? When does the train depart?

到着 (touchaku): Arrival

On the flip side, 到着 (touchaku) means arrival. Keep an eye out for this word so you know when you’ve reached your destination. You’ll here this Japanese travel vocabulary word on both airplane and train announcements.

駅に 到着 したら、どこに行けばいいですか? Eki ni touchaku shitara, doko ni ikeba iidesu ka? Where should I go once I arrive at the station?

Note: You’ll also hear official announcements using the word 参ります (mairimasu), which implies the same thing as 到着 (touchaku). 参ります (mairimasu) is the humble verb form of 入る (hairu), which means “to come”. Don’t be confused when you hear some train conductors or bus drivers in Japan using this word instead of 到着 (touchaku)!

間も無く渋谷駅にまります。 Mamonaku shibuya eki ni mairimasu. We will arrive shortly at Shibuya Station.

You can learn more about Japanese polite form, or keigo, here.

時刻表 (jikokuhyou): Timetable

If you’re not sure when your train is departing, check a 時刻表 (jikokuhyou) for the latest information.

時刻表 を見て、次の電車の時間を調べましょう。 Jigokuhyou o mite, tsugi no densha no jikan o shirabemashou. Let’s check the timetable and find out the time of the next train.)

乗換 (norikae): Transfer

Most Japanese train systems are integrated well, but there will be times when you’ll need to change trains to reach your destination when you are visiting Japan as a tourist.

Transfers happen when you need to use a different train line. In Tokyo, for example, the biggest passenger railway is the JR East, which covers Shibuya, Shinjuku, and most well-known wards in Tokyo — but it doesn’t cover all stations. This means that you can’t go from Shibuya straight to areas like Nakameguro and Roppongi, which are two upscale areas that uses the Tokyo Metro and subway line.

To get there, you’ll need to make a transfer to a train station that has both JR and Tokyo Metro or subway line. If you get confused and ask the train staff, take note if they mentioned the word 乗換 (norikae), means transfer in Japanese.

次の駅で 乗換 が必要です。 Tsugi no eki de norikae ga hitsuyou desu. You need to transfer at the next station.)

バス (basu): Bus

While Japan’s train system is extensive, sometimes taking a bus is the better option. Remember the word バス (basu) to make sure you get on the right bus.

バス に乗る前に、時刻表を確認してください。 Basu ni noru mae ni, jigokuhyou o kakuninshite kudasai. Please check the timetable before getting on the bus.

どこ (doko): Where

Finally, we can’t end our travel to Japan vocabulary article without include one of the most essential Japanese question words for first-time visitors: Where? Navigating popular cities in Japan like Tokyo and Osaka can be challenging, especially when it comes to finding small restaurants and shops. When Google Maps fails to provide accurate directions, you can rely on practicing your Japanese language skills and asking a local for assistance by using the question: “Where is (the name of the place)?”

すみません、地下成増鉄駅は どこ ですか? Sumimasen, chikatetsu narimasu eki wa doko desu ka? Excuse me, where is the subway station?

地下鉄成増駅はここからまっすぐ行って、右に曲がってください。 Chikatetsu narimasu eki wa koko kara massugu itte, migi ni magatte kudasai. The Narimasu subway station is straight ahead from here, please turn right.

ありがとうございます。 Arigatou gozaimasu. Thank you very much.

While it may seem intimidating at first, learning a few key Japanese words can make traveling in Japan as a tourist much easier. Knowing these transportation-related vocabulary words will allow you to confidently navigate Japan’s extensive train and bus systems and make the most of your time in the country.

Travel and Study in Japan with Coto Academy!

Coto Academy offers short-term courses that are perfect for individuals who want to learn Japanese while on their vacation in Japan. However, whether you are visiting Japan or searching for flexible Japanese classes to fit into your busy work schedule, we have a course that will cater to your level, availability, and preferences!

If you want to study Japanese in Shibuya , Iidabashi, or Yokohama, fill out the form below, and our staff will get in touch!

What Japanese travel vocabulary do you need to know when traveling in Japan?

Most travelers should learn a few greetings and basic phrases , such as こんにちは (konnichiwa) and ありがとうございます (arigatou gozaimasu), which mean “hello” and “thank you”. Other important phrases include asking for directions, how to order food at restaurants , and phrases used while shopping in Japan.

Can you visit Japan if you only speak English?

You can certainly get around in the big cities without using Japanese. However, the further you get outside of the city, the less people speak English. It is generally recommended for most foreign visitors to learn the basics of Japanese to travel within Japan with ease and get a complete Japanese cultural experience !

What is the word for travel in Japan?

旅行 (ryokou) means travel. This term can refer to any type of trip or journey.

What are 4 phrases commonly spoken in Japanese when traveling?

  • こんにちは (konnichiwa) – hello
  • ありがとうございます (arigatou gozaimasu) – thank you
  • どういたしまして (douitashimashite) – you’re welcome
  • すみません (sumimasen) – I’m sorry/excuse me

Read more about traveling in Japan:

  • How to Travel, Work, and Study in Japan on a Working Holiday Visa
  • Life in Japan Tip: Deals on Japan Train Travel (Tokyo Rail Pass & Kansai Rail Pass)
  • How to Get Around Japan with Public Transportation: Buses, Taxis and Train

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Japanese Travel Phrases Useful for Your Trip to Japan

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Japanese Travel Phrases

Japanese is regarded as one of the most difficult languages for English speakers to learn, however, it is actually easy to pronounce it. Here are easy Japanese travel phrases for your trip to Japan!

Japanese, the official language only in Japan, is a quite unique language around the world, and almost all of over 100 million people in Japan speaks Japanese. Anyone can communicate with each other in the same language in Japan while there are a large number of dialects by area.

japanese travel words

Looking back into history, it is said that Japanese is an isolated language since it is not able to trace of its history and does not have no decisive genealogical relationship with other languages. English speakers all over the world think Japanese is one of the most difficult languages to learn as well as Chinese and Arabic.

On the other hand, you can use Japanese on a trip to Japan in fact. You have trouble traveling in Japan without understanding Japanese language? It’s not like that at all. It is much easier to pronounce Japanese words rather than read and write. Some Japanese phrases have become famous since they were used in lots of foreign movies like Sayonara (which means Goodbye in Japanese).

Today, I’d like to introduce easy but essential Japanese travel phrases and tips for speaking Japanese. Japanese people feel pleased and an affinity with you when you speak even a word in Japanese.

Writing System

japanese travel words

Japanese is totally different from other languages in that it is divided into 3 types of letter in the modern writing system: kanji, hiragana and katakana.

Kanji, a Chinese character, has its origin in China and each Kanji has its original meaning. For example, this kanji “木” means a tree. Many kanji are consist of combination with multiple kanji. “林” with 2 trees means grove and “森” with 3 trees mean forest. It is harder for foreign people to read and write kanji than hiragana and katakana since there are countless kanji with various combinations.

Hiragana and katakana were born in Japan to simplify the complicated kanji. Each of hiragana and katakana does not have its meaning as opposed to kanji and just represents phonetic sound.

Pronunciation

In contrast with the difficulty of writing Japanese, it is much easier for English speakers to pronounce Japanese words. Japanese phonetic sound can be replaced with the sounds from the alphabet. There are a few points for telling Japanese people a word.

One is a pitch which Japanese pronunciation is based on while English pronunciation is based on an accent. The same hiragana word sometimes has different meanings depends on which part a high or low pitch is located at.

For instance, a Japanese word “あめ (ame)” stands for two distinct nouns with different kanji: “雨 (rain)” “飴 (candy)”.

“雨 (rain)” starts off with a high pitch accent with “あ (a)”, and “飴 (candy)” with a high pitch accent with “め (me)”.

Another is how to pronounce a Japanese word, more exactly, how slow you can speak. It is important to clearly say a letter one by one. Please try to pronounce one letter at a time with the following phrases below.

Then, this is the list of essential Japanese phrases for a trip to Japan below. Here are also Japanese words useful in various scenes like at restaurants and stores and on the street. The pronunciation symbol below is composed of the alphabet and macrons (a straight bar ¯ placed above a letter like “ā ē ī ō ū”) which means a long vowel.

Essential Phrases

japanese travel words

Good morning: o ha yō (おはよう)

Hello: kon ni chi wa(こんにちは)

Good Night: o ya su mi(おやすみ)

Bye: sa yō na ra(さよなら)

How are you?: o gen ki des ka(おげんきですか/お元気ですか)

Thank you: a ri ga tō(ありがとう)

Excuse me?: su mi ma sen(すみません)

Sorry: go men na sai(ごめんなさい)

Do you speak English?: ei go wa ha na se mas ka (えいごははなせますか/英語は話せますか)

I don’t understand: wa ka ri ma sen (わかりません)

japanese travel words

Where is ~?: ~ wa do ko des ka(~はどこですか) -Station: e ki (えき/駅) -Bus Stop: ma su tei (バスてい/バス停) -Restroom: to i re (トイレ) -Tourist Information Center: kan ko an na i jo (かんこうあんないじょ/観光案内所)

I’m lost: mi chi ni ma yoi ma shi ta (みちにまよいました/道に迷いました)

japanese travel words

I’d like to make a reservation: yo ya ku wo o ne gai shi mas (よやくをおねがいします/予約をお願いします)

What would you recommend?: o su su me wa nan des ka (おすすめはなんですか)

Do you have any vegetarian dishes?: be ji ta ri an ryō ri wa a ri mas ka (ベジタリアンりょうりはありますか/ベジタリン料理はありますか)

Do you have any Halal dishes?: ha ra ru ryō ri wa a ri mas ka (ハラルりょうりはありますか/ハラル料理はありますか)

It’s delicious: oi shī des (おいしいです)

Do you have an English menu?: Ei go no me nyū wa a ri mas ka (えいごのメニューはありますか/英語のメニューはありますか)

japanese travel words

How much is this?: ko re wa i ku ra des ka (これはいくらですか)

Can I try it on?: shi cha ku shi te mo ī des ka (しちゃくをしてもいいですか/試着をしてもいいですか)

Can I get this one?: ko re wo ku da sa i (これをください)

japanese travel words

Help!: ta su ke te (助けて)

Call the police: ke i sa tsu wo yon de (けいさつをよんで/警察を呼んで)

Call the ambulance: kyū kyū sha wo yon de (きゅうきゅうしゃをよんで/救急車を呼んで)

I’m allergic to ~: ~ no a re ru gi des (~のアレルギーです)

▽Learn more essential Japanese phrases in other situations!▽

Useful Japanese Phrases to use at Train Stations

Don’t hesitate to use those Japanese words above on your stay in Japan! It is no problem that you cannot speak Japanese at all, but it will be more enjoyable to communicate with Japanese people with a couple of Japanese phrases. For more info about Japan, please check out these articles below, too!

japanese travel words

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JRailPass.com » Japan Travel Blog » 20 basic Japanese phrases for travellers

20 basic Japanese phrases for travellers

June 15, 2022

Lost in Translation

If you are traveling to Japan for the first time, you may be concerned about something known as the “language barrier” – that inexplicable inability to communicate with others due to speaking a different language. Should you stress if you don’t speak any Japanese? Simply put, the answer is no!

If you’ve pictured yourself lost in Japan, wandering around with no way to ask directions to the airport, you can put those fears to rest. Thousands of travelers enter the country each day, many knowing very little Japanese or none at all. While a few key phrases can be useful, you can travel successfully even if you don’t know any Japanese words. English is taught in Japanese schools, so even if they are not fluent, most people you meet will speak some English as well. In areas frequented by tourists, signs may also be written in English.

If you’d like to learn some words for travel, however, you’ve come to the right place. The following words and sentences are common in everyday use and will aid you in getting around, ordering at restaurants, and greeting those you may meet.

The word for “hello” in Japanese is often used in popular culture , so don’t be surprised if you or your children already know it. If you want to say “hi,” simply say kon-nichiwa .

Ogenki desuka?

In order to say “how are you?” you will ask Ogenki desuka? If someone asks this question of you, say Genki desu. Arigato! That means, “I’m fine. Thanks!”.

Watashi wa no namae wa…

If you’d like to introduce yourself, say Watashi no namae wa (insert your name) desu. In this sentence, watashi means “I” and namae means “name.”

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Thank you, please and sorry

The simplest way to say “thank you” in Japanese is Arigatou . If you are in a formal situation, you would elongate the thanks to Arigatou gozaimasu. Most people bow while saying thank you in order to add emphasis to their words of gratitude.

Similar to saying “please” in English , (name of item) wo kudasai is a way of politely asking to look at or purchase an item. If you don’t know the item’s name – such as when ordering food from a display case – feel free to point or gesture.

Whenever you immerse yourself in an unfamiliar culture, you are bound to make a few mistakes. If you bump into someone, forget to take off your shoes, or find some other reason to apologize, simply say sumimasen  for “excuse me” . This word can also be used to get someone’s attention, such as when you wish to summon a waiter in a restaurant or to ask someone to repeat something they’ve said.

Getting around and shopping

Doko….

When asking “where is (something)?” in Japanese , you will notice that the “something” comes first in the sentence. For example, if you ask “Where is Tokyo Station?” you will say Tokyo eki wa doko desu ka? In this phrase, eki means “station” and wa doko desu ka means “where is?” You may also want to know how to ask, “Where is the bathroom?” That’s Otearai wa doko desu ka?

Even though you may not understand the spoken answer, you will likely be pointed in the right direction. Don’t be surprised if the person you asked walks with you to show you where to go – even if that means walking several blocks or more!

Ikura desuka?

A good vacation calls for souvenirs, but you’ll likely wish to know what an item costs before you buy. If you don’t know what the item in question is called, hold it up or point to it and ask “ Ikura desuka?”,  Japanese for “How much does it cost?”. If you know the name of the item, insert it before the question.

Wi-fi arimasuka?

Since we live in a technological society, this question can be important, especially if you are traveling for business purposes. To ask for access to wi-fi in a store, restaurant, hotel, train station, or café, say Wi-fi arimasuka? If you’re in need of something besides the internet, replace “wi-fi” with the word for the item you need. Although you won’t need to ask if you have your Pocket Wi-Fi or Japanese Data SIM Card with you!

“Do you speak English?”

Finally, to ask if someone speaks English, say Eigo wo hanashimasu ka? In this sentence, eigo is the word for “English.” But really, it is ok (and easier) to simply ask it in English!

Other useful phrases

You’re welcome: Dō itashimashite . Yes: Hai . No: Iie . I’m sorry: Gomen’nasai. Good morning: Ohayō. Good evening: Konbanwa.  Good night: O-yasumi nasai.  I don’t understand: Wakarimasen. I understand you perfectly: Yoku wakarimasu.  That’s all right:  Dai jōbu desu.

“Honorifics” are a common part of Japanese speech. These are words that show respect in social situations. Don’t worry – all the useful phrases listed in this article are in teineigo , or “polite language. ”

Your attempts at speaking Japanese will be appreciated by the local residents that you meet. If all else fails, gesturing – such as pointing to a photograph in a menu – may be of help. And most importantly, have fun using these common Japanese phrases during your upcoming travels!

Related posts

Related tours & activities.

You said kudadai in the kudasai definition. Is that a typo? Searching other sites, it doesn’t seem to be a common word.

Sorry, that was just a typo. Thank you for pointing out!

What is most live at new beautiful places because why Japanese was than friendly all so official language native”countries” how to focus better practically greetings useful difficultly how to understand communicative vowel accent sound along “Japanese character per-sentence pronoun non-actions”.

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Hollywood Reporter

Japan's Embassy Issues Statement About Taylor Swift's Super Bowl Plans

This is getting silly.

It was already silly, to be sure, but now the whole Taylor Swift/NFL/Travis Kelce/Super Bowl thing is truly getting surreal and more than a little off the rails.

Here's the latest: Japan's embassy in Washington, D.C., has released a statement about Swift's travel plans.

In other words: Because a pop singer has to fly from performing shows in Tokyo to Las Vegas to watch a football game on a relatively short schedule, the Embassy of Japan has something to say - and it includes the requisite Swift song puns.

"The Embassy of Japan in the United States is aware of recent media reports concerning the steps Taylor Swift will need to take to travel from Tokyo after her concert on February 10th to Las Vegas in time to watch the Kansas City Chiefs play in Super Bowl LVIII," the statement solemnly begins . "Despite the 12-hour flight and 17-hour time difference, the Embassy can confidently Speak Now to say that if she departs Tokyo in the evening after her concert, she should comfortably arrive in Las Vegas before the Super Bowl begins. We know that many people in Japan are excited to experience Taylor Swift's Eras Tour, so we wanted to confirm that anyone concerned can be Fearless in knowing that this talented performer can wow Japanese audiences and still make it to Las Vegas to support the Chiefs when they take the field for the Super Bowl wearing Red."

Swift's travel plan has been discussed rather endlessly since the Chiefs won their AFC Championship game on Sunday, assuring their place in the big game.

Perhaps the best explainer came from this viral clip from The West Wing , where the president's team grappled with a similar Japan-to-U.S. travel schedule.

This week, Swift has also been the focus of right-wing conspiracy theories , with some really believing that her romance with the Chiefs tight end is all a Pentagon psychological operation to inject the singer's left-of-center politics into the NFL. The conspiracies also include that this season's football games have been secretly rigged to assure that the Chiefs will win the Super Bowl, where Swift will take the field during the halftime show to announce her endorsement of Joe Biden's reelection campaign.

And none of that is even getting into the whole AI deepfake nude images scandal from just last week.

Super Bowl LVIII will be broadcast on CBS and streamed live on Paramount+ starting at 3:30 p.m. PT on Feb. 11.

Who will win the game is anybody's guess, but it's a safe bet that, until then, the level of Swift obsession is only going to keep increasing.

If you purchase an independently reviewed product or service through a link on our website, The Hollywood Reporter may receive an affiliate commission.

More from The Hollywood Reporter

  • Travis Kelce Says Taylor Swift Is "Rewriting History" as He Shares Thoughts on Her New Album
  • Usher on Performing at the Super Bowl and Almost Leaving Music: "Should I Continue to Do This, or Should I Pivot?"
  • The Best Apple Music Deals Ahead of Usher's Apple Music Super Bowl Halftime Show

Japan's Embassy Issues Statement About Taylor Swift's Super Bowl Plans

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    When arriving in Japan, you'll likely start at one of the country's many airports. Remembering the word 空港 (koukou) can help you navigate signs and announcements. (You can check out a more complete list of airport-related Japanese vocabulary here ). 空港 で荷物をとったあと、タクシーを探しましょう。. Kuukou de ...

  22. Japanese Travel Phrases Useful for Your Trip to Japan

    18 Best Cooking Classes in Tokyo! Best Japanese Cooking Class in Tokyo : Sushi, Ramen, Vegetarian Dish and more! jw-webmagazine.com. Japanese language is actually easy for English speakers to speak. Here are essential Japanese travel phrases including famous words like Sayonara and Arigato and tips useful for your trip to Japan.

  23. 20 Japanese Phrases for Travellers

    I'm sorry: Gomen'nasai. Good morning: Ohayō. Good evening: Konbanwa. Good night: O-yasumi nasai. I don't understand: Wakarimasen. I understand you perfectly: Yoku wakarimasu. That's all right: Dai jōbu desu. "Honorifics" are a common part of Japanese speech. These are words that show respect in social situations.

  24. Japan's Embassy Issues Statement About Taylor Swift's Super Bowl ...

    Here's the latest: Japan's embassy in Washington, D.C., has released a statement about Swift's travel plans. In other words: Because a pop singer. ADVERTISEMENT. Hollywood Reporter.