Japan is known for many things but English speakers are not one of them.
As a result, we always tell tourists who are going to a foreign country to be prepared. It’s the best way to make sure you are not caught in a situation where you are making someone uncomfortable or you are unable to get your point across.
Even knowing how to say hello in a foreign language is a good starting point. It makes you appear more welcoming in a country like Japan.
During our trip to Japan, we picked up on specific phrases and words that were important to get by.
Here are the most important Japanese phrases for tourists.
Important Japanese Phrases For Tourists
- Hello: Konnichiwa
- Yes/No: Hai/iie
- I don’t speak Japanese: Nihongo ga hanasemasen
- Do you speak English?: Eigo ga hanasemas ka?
- Thank you: Arigatō gozaimas
- What is this?: Kore wa nan des ka?
- Nice to meet you: Hajimemashte
- Thank you for the meal: Gochisōsamadeshta
- Goodbye: Sayōnara
- Good morning: Ohayō/ohayō gozaimas
- Excuse me: Sumimasen
- How are you?: O genki des ka
- Good evening: Konbanwa
- Do you have an English menu?: Eigo no menyuu wa arimas ka?
- Please (when asking for something): Onegaishimas
- How much does this cost?: Kore wa ikura des ka?
- Help!: Taskete!
- Can you translate this?: Yakushite kudasai?
- See you later (casual bye): Matane
- Sorry: Gomennasai
- I am [name]: [name] des ([name])
- I don’t understand: Wakarimasen
- You’re welcome: Dōitashimashte
- I would like…: XX o kudasai
- Cheers!: Kanpai!
- Can I have the bill, please?: O kaikei onegaishimas
- No, thank you (gentle): Kekkō des
- I’m fine: Genki desu
- This is delicious: Oishi des
- Do you accept credit cards?: Kurejittokādo wa tsukaemaska？
- Enjoy your meal (before eating): Itadakimas
- I would like… and …: XX to XX o kudasai
- Where is the toilet?: Toire wa doko des ka?
Tips For Speaking Japanese Phrases As A Tourist
Always Have A Smile On Your Face
Learning Japanese phrases is wonderful and it’s a step in the right direction but this does not mean residents are going to welcome you with open arms regardless of your approach.
They are also leading their lives and are going to help those who are gracious.
We cannot forget our manners in a new country and that applies to all phases of traveling. You need to be on your best behavior and this includes having a smile on your face when speaking to someone. This will let them relax too.
You might have a million thoughts on your mind but that does not mean the other person is going to understand what’s coming out of your mouth!
Be smart and talk slowly.
This is how you are going to make sure you are on top of things and the other person can help.
Pay Attention To The Other Person’s Mood
You need to have social awareness in all settings.
This includes taking the time to pay attention to the other person’s mood as best as possible. You can’t create a situation where the other person does not want to talk to you and you keep forcing the issue.
This is looked down upon in Japan.
Don’t Be Afraid To Walk Away
There is nothing wrong with walking away when you sense trouble or the conversation is not going to your liking.
Just say a quick thank you and move forward.
This is essential as you also don’t want to get stuck in a tough situation. A lot of tourists will start to extend a conversation when that is unnecessary. You should feel comfortable walking away whenever you want to as long as you are willing to show manners during the process.
Learn The Numbers In Japanese
Sometimes, you are going to be standing in line and want to get one of something. You are going to attempt to use your fingers and that will work but you should also attempt to know what the Japanese equivalent is for the number.
We are going to highlight a few of the numbers for you here.
- 1: Ichi
- 2: Ni
- 3: San
- 4: Yon/Shi
- 5: Go
- 6: Roku
- 7: Nana or Shichi
- 8: Hachi
- 9: Kyuu
- 10: Juu
For most situations, these are the numbers you are going to want to be aware of and this will get you through most scenarios in Japan.
Keep Google Translate Handy
Having lived in Tokyo as an expat, it’s easy to want to learn the language in complete detail within weeks. It’s not always as easy as you think!
You are going to want to have Google Translate handy.
This is going to get you out of tough situations and you will be able to express yourself better. Plus, it will also make it easier to read Japanese signs!
These are the Japanese phrases tourists should know.
You are going to find it a lot easier to get through situations when you have these phrases in mind. Whether it is going to a restaurant, speaking to someone for directions, or just mingling, you will be able to use these phrases.
Take advantage of this as a tourist in Japan.
Amanda Harper is a travel enthusiast with 10+ years of traveling experience across the planet. Her passion for writing and travel makes her a walking bibliography on modern-day tourism.