Common Japanese Phrases & Words You Need To Know

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Written By Jessica Knight

Founder of Linguatics. Passionate multilinguist.

Are you planning a trip to Japan? Want to be able to communicate with the locals and navigate your way through the country with ease? Look no further!

In this article, we will provide you with a comprehensive guide to common Japanese phrases and words that you absolutely need to know.

From basic greetings and expressions to ordering food, asking for directions, and even shopping and bargaining, we’ve got you covered.

We’ll also delve into numbers and counting, as well as health and medical terms, ensuring you have all the tools necessary for everyday conversations.

Plus, we’ll touch on cultural etiquette and customs, so you can navigate Japan’s unique customs with confidence.

Get ready to enhance your travel experience and immerse yourself in Japanese culture by mastering these essential phrases and words.

Greetings and Basic Expressions

Now, let’s dive into greetings and basic expressions that you need to know! Don’t worry, we’ve got your back.

When greeting someone in Japanese, it’s important to be polite and respectful. The most common greeting is ‘Konnichiwa,’ which means ‘Hello’ or ‘Good afternoon.’ If it’s morning, you can say ‘Ohayou gozaimasu,’ and in the evening, you can say ‘Konbanwa.’

When introducing yourself, you can use the phrase ‘Watashi wa [your name] desu,’ which means ‘I am [your name].’

To say ‘Thank you,’ you can use ‘Arigatou,’ and to say ‘You’re welcome,’ you can say ‘Douitashimashite.’

Remember to always bow slightly when greeting someone as a sign of respect.

With these basic expressions, you’ll be able to navigate through simple conversations in Japanese. Good luck!

Ordering Food and Drinks

When dining out in Japan, be sure to use these essential phrases for ordering food and drinks!

To start, you can say ‘Sumimasen’ to get the attention of the waiter.

When you’re ready to order, you can use the phrase ‘____ o kudasai’ to request a specific dish or drink. For example, if you want to order sushi, you can say ‘Sushi o kudasai.’

If you have any dietary restrictions or preferences, it’s important to mention them using the phrase ‘____ ga arimasu ka?’ For instance, if you’re vegetarian, you can ask ‘Yasai ryori ga arimasu ka?’ to inquire about vegetarian options.

To ask for the bill, you can say ‘Okaikei onegaishimasu.’

Remember to be polite and use these phrases to have a smooth dining experience in Japan!

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Asking for Directions

Discover the secrets of navigating the bustling streets of Japan effortlessly by mastering the art of asking for directions! When in Japan, it’s essential to know how to ask for directions to ensure you reach your destination smoothly.

Start by using the phrase ‘Sumimasen’ to get someone’s attention. Then, you can ask ‘Doko desu ka?’ which means ‘Where is it?’ If you’re specifically looking for a train station, say ‘Eki wa doko desu ka?’

To understand the response, familiarize yourself with common directional words like ‘right’ (migi), ‘left’ (hidari), ‘straight’ (massugu), and ‘turn’ (magaru). It’s also helpful to know the word for ‘near’ (chikai) and ‘far’ (tooi).

Practice these phrases and words, and you’ll be able to confidently ask for directions in Japan, making your travels much easier.

Numbers and Counting

Get ready to dive into the world of numbers and counting, because knowing how to express quantities in Japanese will make your interactions and transactions much smoother and more enjoyable!

In Japanese, numbers are relatively straightforward to learn.

The basic numbers from one to ten are: ichi (1), ni (2), san (3), yon (4), go (5), roku (6), nana (7), hachi (8), kyuu (9), and juu (10).

To form larger numbers, you simply combine these basic numbers. For example, to say 11, you say juu ichi. To say 21, you say ni juu ichi.

When counting objects, you use the counter system, which varies depending on the type of object being counted. For example, to count small objects, like pencils, you use the counter -pon. So, to say ‘three pencils,’ you say san bon.

Mastering numbers and counting will greatly enhance your ability to communicate effectively in Japanese!

Shopping and Bargaining

Immerse yourself in the vibrant world of shopping and bargaining, where you’ll uncover the secrets to scoring the best deals and navigating Japanese marketplaces like a seasoned pro!

When shopping in Japan, it’s important to know a few key phrases to make your experience smoother. Start by greeting the shopkeeper with a friendly ‘Konnichiwa’ (hello) and ‘Arigatou’ (thank you) when leaving.

If you’re looking for something specific, ask ‘Kore wa ikura desu ka?’ (How much is this?). To bargain, you can say ‘Yasuku shite kudasai’ (Please make it cheaper) and negotiate the price. Remember to be polite and respectful throughout the process.

When you’re ready to make a purchase, say ‘Kore o kudasai’ (I’ll take this). With these phrases in your arsenal, you’ll be well-equipped to navigate the bustling Japanese marketplaces and snag some amazing deals.

Happy shopping!

Time and Dates

Planning a trip to Japan? Be sure to familiarize yourself with the unique way time and dates are expressed in the country.

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In Japan, the 24-hour clock system is commonly used, so it’s important to understand how to read and say the time in this format.

When it comes to dates, the Japanese use a year-month-day format, with the year being stated first, followed by the month and then the day.

Additionally, it’s worth noting that the Japanese calendar is based on the Gregorian calendar, but also incorporates elements from the traditional Japanese calendar. This means that there are different eras in Japan, each with its own unique name.

Understanding how to express time and dates correctly will not only help you navigate your way through Japan but also ensure effective communication with the locals.

Introducing Yourself and Others

When meeting someone in Japan, it’s essential to gracefully introduce yourself and others, portraying cultural understanding and respect. In Japanese culture, it is customary to bow when introducing yourself or when being introduced to someone.

To introduce yourself, you can say ‘Hajimemashite,’ which means ‘Nice to meet you.’ Then, state your name by saying ‘Watashi wa [your name] desu,’ which translates to ‘I am [your name].’

To introduce someone else, you can say ‘Kochira wa [name] san desu,’ which means ‘This is Mr./Ms. [name].’

It is also polite to exchange business cards when meeting someone for the first time. Remember to receive the card with both hands and take a moment to read it before putting it away.

By following these customs, you will show respect and create a positive impression when meeting new people in Japan.

Making Reservations and Bookings

To ensure a smooth experience, it’s crucial that you familiarize yourself with the process of making reservations and bookings in Japan.

When making a reservation, it is important to be polite and respectful. Start by greeting the staff and stating your intention to make a reservation.

Provide the necessary details such as the date, time, and number of people. If you have any specific requests or preferences, communicate them clearly. It’s also common to provide your name and contact information.

Keep in mind that some places may require a deposit or advance payment. Once the reservation is confirmed, make sure to note down the details and double-check them for accuracy.

Remember to arrive on time and be prepared to pay any remaining balance. By following these steps, you can ensure a hassle-free experience when making reservations and bookings in Japan.

Talking about Hobbies and Interests

Imagine yourself engaged in a lively conversation with a local in Japan, effortlessly discussing your hobbies and interests.

When talking about hobbies, it is important to use the correct vocabulary. For example, if you enjoy playing sports, you can say ‘supotsu o suru no ga suki desu’ which means ‘I like playing sports.’

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If you are a fan of music, you can say ‘ongaku ga daisuki desu’ which means ‘I love music.’

It is also helpful to know some common hobby-related words such as ‘eiga’ for movies, ‘dorama’ for TV dramas, and ‘bungaku’ for literature.

By learning these phrases and words, you will be able to express yourself and connect with locals on a deeper level, creating memorable experiences during your time in Japan.

Health and Medical Terms

Understanding health and medical terms in Japanese will greatly enhance your ability to communicate effectively and seek assistance when needed.

Whether you are traveling to Japan or live there, it is important to familiarize yourself with common phrases and words related to health and medical situations.

For instance, if you need to express that you are feeling unwell, you can say ‘Byouki desu’ which means ‘I am sick’.

To describe specific symptoms, you can use phrases like ‘Itai’ for ‘It hurts’ or ‘Nodo ga kawakimashita’ for ‘I am thirsty’.

Moreover, knowing words like ‘Iryou’ for ‘hospital’ or ‘Kusuri’ for ‘medicine’ can be helpful when seeking medical assistance.

By learning these basic health and medical terms, you will be better equipped to communicate your needs and concerns in Japanese.

Cultural Etiquette and Customs

Now that you have learned about health and medical terms in Japanese, let’s move on to another important aspect of Japanese culture: cultural etiquette and customs.

Understanding and respecting these customs is crucial when interacting with Japanese people, whether you are visiting the country or communicating with them in a professional setting.

From bowing as a form of greeting to removing your shoes before entering a home, Japanese etiquette is deeply rooted in tradition and respect.

It is also important to be aware of social norms, such as avoiding direct confrontation and maintaining a harmonious atmosphere.

By familiarizing yourself with these cultural practices, you can navigate social situations with ease and show your appreciation for Japanese customs.

So, let’s dive into the fascinating world of Japanese cultural etiquette and customs!


In conclusion, learning common Japanese phrases and words is essential for anyone traveling to Japan or interested in Japanese culture. It allows for better communication, understanding, and appreciation of the country and its people.

Whether it’s ordering food, asking for directions, or shopping, knowing these phrases will make your experience smoother and more enjoyable.

Additionally, understanding cultural etiquette and customs will help you navigate social situations with ease.

So start practicing these useful phrases and have fun exploring Japan!

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