Asia, Blog Post
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A first timer’s survival guide to basic japanese for travel

Although getting around Tokyo hasn’t been nearly as difficult as I thought it would be, being in a foreign country with a language so different from any that I speak can get difficult at times. In Japan it’s been even more so because literally everything is in japanese, every single thing, and not a lot of people speak or understand english. I bought a small dictionary for travel in Japan a couple of weeks back, and I started thinking what the best way to use it would be because sorting through the pages every time I need something is just not practical, and decided that the best way to explore Japan easier, and learn something really awesome at the same time, would be to keep a list of the most basic phrases at hand. It turned out 1) Japanese is a really beautiful language, and 2) Japanese people find it really entertaining when you try.

What are the japanese phrases that every traveller should learn / keep at hand when travelling in Japan? Here are the phrases I’ve been learning and using the past few days:

  1. Hello (good afternoon): konnichiwa
  2. Goodbye: sayonara
  3. Excuse me: sumimasen (it has many uses, it can be used to catch someone’s attention before asking for something, or to make your way through crowds)
  4. Yes: ii desu ne / hai 
  5. No: chotto / iie
  6. How are you?: ogenki desu ka
  7. Thank you: arigatoo gozaimasu
  8. I don’t understand: wakarimasen
  9. Where is…?: – place – wa doko desu ka?
  10. What does this mean?: kore wa doo iu imi desu ka
  11. We are lost: Michi ni mayoimashita
  12. Could you show me on a map?: chizu de shimeshite moraemasu ka
  13. Entrance: iriguchi
  14. Exit: deguchi
  15. What does it cost?: ikura desu ka?
  16. Can you help me?: tasukete moraemasu ka?
  17. The bill, please: (o)kanjoo onegai shimasu

That last one, along with arigatoo which I love saying, is my personal favourite because it is the first one where I didn’t have to repeat it twice, I got it right the first time! Hopefully by the time I am in Osaka I’ll know plenty more and may this short survival guide be of help to all and any travellers out there journeying gorgeous Japan.


Have you ever been to Japan? Was there anything that you wished you knew how to say during your travels? Tell me about your experience in a comment below!

1 Comment

  1. Pingback: Yogi On The Go: the best travel apps for yoga – Fernanda Was Here

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