Top 10 Japanese Words to Learn
Learn Japanese Like a Boss,
Build Your Foundation with The Basics
The Secrets of Japan - 101
Sign up today for our newsletter to learn about upcoming opportunities on how to live, work, visit or go to school in Japan you won't find anywhere else!
Anybody who plans to go to Japan ought to possess a nodding acquaintance using the vocabulary to be able to communicate the locals a bit more bearably. It was discovered out that 75% vacationers who frequent Japan have no understanding of Japanese at all. And if you believe it or not, even the easy words that are utilized daily by the locals. These guests frequently discover it difficult to interact with the native Japanese people, particularly when they are lost or if they want some thing done for them.
These are in my opinion the top 10 Japanese words (categories more so) that can help you while you’re in Japan.
1. Yes and No
These are no brainers when you get down to, you should at least know these words right?
The word for ‘Yes’ is ‘hai‘ (sounds similar to the word ‘high’ but a more pronounced and strong ended)
The word for ‘No’ is ‘iie‘ (which pronounced is ‘E..A’ basically)
It’s better to always answer in a specifics then hand gestures or nodding in Japan.
2. Greetings in Japanese
Japan is a very polite place and it’s known for it’s greetings. Knowing these simple greetings through out the day is a great start to speaking simple Japanese.
• “Ohayou Gozaimasu” is used before about 10:30 am in the morning
• “Kon-nichiwa” — is used after 10:30 am for good afternoon
• “Konbanwa” — is used for Good Evening
• “Oyasuminasai” — this is used for when you or someone is leaving late at night, or going to sleep. For family you can simply say ‘Oyasumi‘
3. Is it Arigato or Arigato Gozaimasu?
“Arigatou” is brief for thank you. The total type is “Arigatou Gozaimasu“. A few of the locals make use of the slang “domo” once they are inside a hurry.
Arigatou (Ah-ri-ga-tou) (R’s are pronounced like an R and L put together) is thank you. But there is a way to make it more polite and by doing so you just have to add ‘Gozaimasu‘ (Go-Zai-Mas). You can also use ‘domo‘ but it’s mostly for in a hurry or for family.
4.Oh Excuse me, “Sumimasen”
If you happen to bump into someone slightly on a train or while walking about you would the word ‘Sumimasen‘ (Sue-Me-Mas-Sen). You can also use this word to get someones attention, which you could then use to ask a question. You would ‘gomenasai‘ if you ran into someone really hard or hurt someone, or did something a bit more abrasive then what you would ‘sumimasen‘ for.
5. Asking for certain things in Japan
Here is a list of commonly asked question statements you can use while traveling in Japan.
• ‘Korewa nan desuka?‘ — asking what a particular object is
• ‘Wa doko desuka?‘ — asking for path or direction
• ‘Nanji desuka?‘ — asking for the present time
• ‘Ikura desuka‘ — just how much will be the item/service? (monetary)
6. Time to say goodbye – “Sayonara”
This is the most ‘Goodbye’ word in Japanese, there are many other words that indicate a fair-well, but ‘Sayonara‘ (saw-yo-na-ra) (remember the r+l pronounciation) is for if you are leaving for a long while (mostly).
You can use ‘jane‘ (Jah-Nay) for friends and for short goodbyes if you will. If you are saying goodbye to a teacher or boss you would use ‘Dewa Mata‘ (Day-Wah Ma-Ta).
7. “Tasukete” — ‘Help’
This word is another way to ask for assistance or to make it simple it’s the word for ‘Help’, similar to ‘Sumimasen’, but it’s mostly used to request for assistance with something in particular you in the present time need assistance with. ‘Tasukete‘ (Tah-Su-Kay-Tay)
8. Pretty Please with Sugar on Top! … okay just please…
There are a few ways you can say please in Japan. One way is by saying ‘Dozo‘ (Doe-Zoh), which is mostly used to request an action from someone, like. Come inside, please drink, please eat.
You can also use ‘Zehi‘ (Zeh-He) to express hope and request. (this is a little advanced, just ‘know it’ for now)
But when in doubt use ‘Onegai shimasu‘ (Oh-nay-guy shi-mas) for please when asking for something.
When beginning to speak Japanese you will be slow to hear words and to speak them, you can say “Wakarimasen” when being talked to and you don’t understand what they are saying. It means basically ‘I don’t know/I don’t understand). (Wa-Ka-ri-Mas-Sen).
To avoid leaving a mess in your pants, the best way to ask for a bathroom in Japan is to say “Toire wa doko desuka?”
To-e-ray wa do-ko des-ka
‘Toire‘ is toilet
‘Wa‘ is a particle for is in this case
‘Doko‘ is where
and ‘desu‘ indicates that the ‘wa‘ is used as an ‘is’
and ‘ka‘ is a statement of a question.
‘Toilet where is?‘
If you are ready to learn more basic Japanese I highly suggest checking out my favorite free learning source ‘Nihongo Master’ or you can check out my article on all my favorite learning sites for Japanese online.
About the Author
I've been interested in Japanese as a language and as a culture since I was about 15 years old. In April 2017 my wife and I moved to Fukuoka, Japan to go to school for 2 years. We've since returned to America and now are looking to expand Nihon Scope further for future visitors of Japan to get in touch with the best school they can. We're also here sharing our experiences of Japan and the culture. Get in touch with us on Facebook for the quickest response!