Top 10 Helpful Japanese Phrases To Know When Visiting Japan

Hi! We’re Candy and Crystal. We’re sisters who grew up as military brats and spent the first half of our lives in Japan. The majority of our family resides in Japan, but we ventured out and have spent the second half of our lives mainly in the United States. We both love traveling and have always documented our travels, so we decided it was time to share our travel experiences with the rest of the world.

Most Japanese know a little bit of English since they start learning it in middle school, but every once in awhile, you might catch someone that doesn't know any English at all. Here are 10 Japanese phrases that will be helpful while you are visiting Japan. Watch the video to get a better understanding of how and when to use these phrases.

1. Sumimasen / すみません 
Translation: Excuse me

Most commonly used when you bump into someone or need someone's attention. Can also be used as "sorry".

Crystal finding her way through the train station in Tokyo, Japan.

Crystal finding her way through the train station in Tokyo, Japan.

2. Konnichiwa / こんにちわ 
Translation: Hello

Common greeting in Japan. Also means "good afternoon". To take it further, "good morning"  is "ohayou gozaimasu" and "good evening" is "konbanwa".

Our cousin's grandmother. She is the sweetest!

Our cousin's grandmother. She is the sweetest!

Being silly in our parent's neighborhood in Japan.

Being silly in our parent's neighborhood in Japan.

3. Arigatou / ありがとう 
Translation: Thank you

Most common way to say "thank you". If you want to get formal, you can say "arigatou gozaimasu".

A ramen shop in Tokyo.

A ramen shop in Tokyo.

4. Ikura desu ka? / いくらですか? 
Translation: How much is it? 

You can also go more casual and shorten the phrase by saying "ikura?", meaning "how much?".

Getting a sample of the different dango pastes at narita tample.

Getting a sample of the different dango pastes at narita tample.

5. Eigo wakari masuka? / 英語わかりますか?
Translation: Do you know English? 

When you approach a Japanese person, ask if they know English first. Chances are they know a little, but it's polite to ask.

Narita Station, Japan.

Narita Station, Japan.

6. Doko desu ka? / どこですか?
Translation: Where is it? 

When you are looking at a map and need directions, point at the map and use this phrase. To shorten the phrase, just say "doko?", which means "where?".

Waiting for the train in Tokyo.

Waiting for the train in Tokyo.

Akihabara Station, Japan.

Akihabara Station, Japan.

7. Oishii / 美味しい
Translation: Delicious

Crystal uses this