When it comes to communicating in Japan, the most obvious barrier is getting a grasp of its complex language, and learning Japanese at one go can be an arduous task. Here are 10 easy Japanese words for travellers, which will make your life easier while travelling in Japan.
In fact, speaking Japanese also helps the locals feel comfortable interacting with you, and by using a few words or phrases you can also win their hearts. This would go far in helping you understand the Japanese culture and people better.
How do you say ‘excuse me’ in Japanese? “Sumi-masen” is the word. It is said to be a multi-purpose phrase and is used in different contexts to call the staff in a restaurant or shop, say ‘thank you’, and also to apologise with a formal tone- “sumi-masen deshita” meaning “sorry for what I did”.
This phrase means “thank you very much” and is used in extremely formal situations with elders in the family, teachers, strangers, and acquaintances. Just saying “arigatou” on the other hand is an informal way of saying “thank you”, which is used with friends and other close members of the family.
For a traveller, this word is a must. It means “where”. For example: “toire wa doko desu ka” means “where is the toilet?” You can also try “[name of location] wa douyatte ikimasu ka”, meaning “how can I get to [name of location]”, for more specific instructions, such as the transportation or directions to get to your destination.
In Japanese “ii” means good. It’s often used to ask or indicate if something is okay. For example: “ii desu ka” (is it ok?).
You cannot survive without water anywhere in the world. “Mizu” is the Japanese term for water. If you want to get some water just say “O-mizu o kudasai” (I would like some water, please.)
“Nani” or “Nan” means “what”. So if you want to ask “what is the time?” just say “nan ji desu ka”. If you want to ask “what is this?” just say: “Kore wa nan desu ka?” And “Sore wa nan desu ka?” means “what is that?”
“Itsu” means when and is most commonly used while travelling. If you are at a train or a bus station you can say, “basu wa itsu kimasu ka” (when is the bus coming?) or “densha wa itsu kimasu ka” (when is the train coming?)
“Eigo” is the Japanese word for English. So if you want to ask someone if they are familiar with English you can say “eigo ga hanasemasu ka?” (can you speak English?), “eigo de ii desu ka” (is English ok?).
This word means “I’m sorry” and is used if you have offended someone.
When in Japan it is also important to be able to indicate that you don’t understand. Just say “Wakarimasen” (I don’t understand) to indicate the same. To say I don’t understand Japanese use the phrase, “nihongo wa wakarimasen” (I don’t understand Japanese).
So once you’re familiar with these basic words you are sure to survive your sojourn in Japan.