Five phrases to know when travelling in Japan

Did you know that amongst the cities around the world, Tokyo has the largest population? With 37 million people in the metropolitan area, there is an incredible diversity of things to do and friends to meet.

We’re lucky to have Yuka Kitajima share five phrases to help us communicate better with locals in Japan. Handy tip: Yuka mentions that generally, people in Japan can speak a little bit of English, so if you speak slowly and clearly (emphasising on the key words), they should be able to understand you just fine 🙂  

1. "Kudasai" - I will have

In the Japanese language, the grammar is different from English. The noun comes first! In the case of an example phrase “Can I have some coffee?”, we can see that coffee is the last word. However, in Japanese, the ordering would be “coffee kudasai”.

2. "Onegaishimasu" - Making a request

If you wanted someone to take a picture for you, you can say “Picture onegaishimasu”.

3. "Sumimasen" - Excuse me

This phrase can be used in different situations. If you bump into someone by accident and want to apologise, you can say “Sumimasen”. If you are trying to talk to someone, or get their attention, you can also say “Sumimasen”. An example is if you are in a Japanese restaurant and you would like to get the waiter’s attention.

4. "Arigato" - Thank you

Use this to express gratitude.

5. "Doko desu ka" - Where is ... ?

Remember that in the Japanese language, the noun always comes first. If you’re asking “Where is the bathroom?”, the correct phrase is “Bathroom doko desu ka?”.

It takes just a minute 🙏

My name is Garry Ho, I’m the founder.
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