September 6, 2013

7 Essential Japanese Words and Phrases

7 Japanese Words and Phrases Everyone Can Use

Knowing a few words in Japanese can go a long way in making it easier to live in or visit Japan. While a number of Japanese people do know some English, anyone living in Japan should know these essential words and phrases to make life easier and more fun.

7 essential basic japanese words phrases
Basic Japanese Words and Phrases
Using your Japanese, even if you only know a few words, will go a long way in making the Japanese feel like you care about their country. They will often be more willing to give you good advice and help if you are in need. It shows that you are more savvy than the average traveler, and will often bring a smile to those you try to speak to.

Many American's know a few words of Japanese, so some of these you may already know. But learning all these words and phrases will put you ahead of most foreigners in Japan.

These are just the seven basic words or phrases that are most useful to know. Read them, practice saying them, and eventually practice saying them to Japanese people. It takes practice to learn Japanese, so don't just try to memorize them.

The words below are in English - then Japanese - and then the pronunciation
  1. Hello - Konichiwa - (Ko-ni-chi-wa)
  2. Yes/No - Hai/ Iie - (Ha-i/ Ii-e)
  3. Thanks - Domo - (Do-mo)
  4. Excuse Me - Sumimasen - (Su-mi-ma-sen)
  5. Nice to Meet You - Yoroshiku - (Yo-ro-shi-ku)
  6. How Much Is This? - Ikura - (I-ku-ra?) (informal)
  7. Where is the Restroom? - Otearai wa Doko? - (O-te-a-ra-i wa do-ko?) (informal)

How did you do with those words and phrases? If you think you have them down, or already knew them, move on to these two bonus phrases that may prove useful! Also note the '(informal)'
at the end of some of the phrases. Japanese has a variety of levels of formality, and these phrases are meant for more informal situations. Like in a restaurant, store or with friends. For more formal situations, like at a business meeting or when speaking to elderly Japanese, look up the formal form.

Two more phrases that are very useful:

     8. More water please - Moto mizu onegai - (Mo-to mi-zu o-ne-ga-i) (informal)
     9. See you later - Mata ne - (Ma-ta ne) (informal)

Often when one is at a restaurant it is useful to know how to ask for more water. A simple 'Moto mizu onegai' to the waitress with 'Domo' when she comes back will go a long way in getting what you want without blundering around and gesturing at your cup.
basic japanese words and phrases
Japanese - English

Many American's know the Japanese word for goodbye - Sayonara. But this word is not often used in Japan, as it is more formal, or for more long term goodbye situations. Instead use 'Mata ne' which means 'see you later' or 'later'.

Quick Tip: A great resource for when you need to know or look up a word in Japanese, is a Japanese-English Dictionary. It will come in handy if you ever live or travel in Japan!

Now, one more phrase for the overachievers out there. This phrase is really just a direct translation of the English phrase 'have a nice day'. It will often bring a smile to stranger's faces, and can be used in many situations.

Bonus phrase for the overachievers:

Have a good day "have nice day' - Yoi ichi-nichi o - Yo-i I-chi-ni-chi o

Learn these 7 essential Japanese words, and the 3 bonus words, and you will be a head of the majority of foreigners living in Japan.

Remember to practice these words, and learn the correct pronunciation. Ask Japanese friends or coworkers for the correct pronunciation if you need help.

We hope you find this useful and practical. Leave a comment with any thoughts or questions.

If you enjoyed learning these Japanese phrases, you will love our recent post with some of the Basic Words from the Okinawan Dialect.

Also check out our recent guides to Hiking Hiji Falls as well as the Japanese Convenient Store Familymart

And if you plan to enjoy the waters around Okinawa, Learn How to Check the Water Conditions before you go.

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