Essential Basic Japanese Greetings and Phrases

The shop front of a local shot

Your introduction to some basic Japanese greetings and phrases to make your trip a little more enjoyable.

Learning some basic Japanese before your trip will ensure your well equipped to prevent stress during simple events such as navigating a taxi driver or asking where the bathroom is.

Landing in Japan is a surreal experience. If, like us, you had an overnight flight without a wink of shut-eye then you’ll be craving some sleep. Oh, and a shower after being crammed in-between two over-sized men for the past 10 hours.

All that aside, we can’t contain our excitement each time we land in Japan. we are greeted by friendly, smiling Japanese people accompanied by a courteous bow. We can’t help but feel like royalty. As it turns out, we are just your average Joe and this display of etiquette is the Japanese way of life. It’s in this instant that we wish we were multilingual. We whip out our phrase book hoping that our brains have at least retained a few key phrases from our previous trip.

Most foreigners, will have trouble reading and comprehending the Japanese language. It’s not necessary for you to learn the language, yet knowing a few important phrases can be a lifesaver. Especially, when lost in the street or ordering a meal. Any attempt to communicate in the Japanese language will be well received and appreciated.

Here is a basic language survival guide for your travels throughout Japan.

  • Hello  -  Kon-nichiwa
  • Good Morning  -  Ohayo Gozaimasu 
  • Good Evening  -  Kon ban wa
  • Good Night  -  Oyasumi Nasai
  • Goodbye  -  Sayoonara
  • Excuse me  -  Sumimasen
  • I’m sorry  -  Gomen’nasai
  • Thank you  -  Arigato Gozaimasu
  • Please  -  Onegai Shimasu
  • Yes  -  Hai
  • No  -  iie
  • The Menu, please.  -  Menyuu o onegai shimasu
  • A glass of water, please  -  Mizu o onegai shimasu
  • Where are the taxis  -  Takushii wa doko desu ka?
  • Where is the bus  -  Basu wa doko desu ka?
  • Stop here, please.  -  Koko de tomatte kudasai 

This list is by no means exhaustive. We recommend that you check out Lonely Planet’s Japanese Phrasebook. This is especially useful if you have any special needs or dietary requirements. We always carry our phrasebook with us and have found it to be worth the investment!



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