Learning Key Japanese Phrases: For Travelers to Japan

Essential Japanese Phrases by Category

The best way to learn a foreign language is by phrases. That’s why we created a collection of phrases for people planing to travel to Japan. Choose a topic below and start learning!

Why Learning Key Phrases is Essential for Travelers in Japan

Enhance Communication

Although many Japanese people understand some English, especially in tourist areas, the level of proficiency can vary widely. Knowing basic phrases like “Sumimasen” (Excuse me), “Arigatou Gozaimasu” (Thank you very much), and “Eigo Hanasemasu Ka?” (Do you speak English?) can make your interactions smoother and more pleasant. Simple greetings such as “Konnichiwa” (Hello) or “Ohayou Gozaimasu” (Good morning) can also make a positive impression and set the tone for a friendly exchange.

Show Respect for the Culture

Using Japanese phrases demonstrates respect for the local culture. It shows that you’ve made an effort to learn about the culture, which is often greatly appreciated by locals. For example, saying “Itadakimasu” before a meal or “Gochisousama Deshita” after eating shows gratitude and respect for the food and the people who prepared it. Saying these phrases can foster a warm and welcoming environment wherever you go.

Navigate Everyday Situations

Whether ordering food, asking for directions, or checking into a hotel, knowing some Japanese can make these everyday situations much easier. When navigating, “Doko?” (Where is…?) followed by the name of a place can be incredibly useful. These small bits of language knowledge can help you avoid misunderstandings and ensure you get exactly what you need.

Eating Out

Dining in Japan is a unique experience; knowing some essential phrases can make it even more enjoyable. For example, when ordering food, it will be useful to know how to say “Kore Kudasai” (I’ll have this, please), “Kore Nani?” (What is this?)  or  “Mizu Kudasai” (Please give me water), which will help you understand menus and make specific requests.

Check our dedicated page with Key Phrases to help first time visitors and second time visitors enjoy eating out.

Travel and Transportation

Navigating public transportation in Japan can be challenging, but with the right phrases, you can get around more easily. Phrases like “Kippu Uriba Doko?” (Where is the ticket counter?) or “Tokyo Ni Ikimasu Ka?” (Does this go to Tokyo?) can be your lifesavers.

Hotels and Ryokans

Checking into accommodations like hotels and traditional ryokans can also be smoother with a few key phrases. Knowing how to say “Yoyaku Shite Masu” (I have a reservation) or “Choushoku Nan-ji Desu Ka?” (What time is breakfast?) can help ensure a comfortable stay.


Shopping in Japan, whether in bustling markets or high-end stores, can be more enjoyable if you know phrases like “Ikura Desu Ka?” (How much is this?) or “Kaado Tsukaemasu Ka?” (Can I use a credit card?). 


In case of emergencies, knowing phrases like “Tasukete!” (Help!) or “Itai!” (It hurts!) can be crucial. It’s also helpful to know how to ask for directions to the nearest police station, “Kouban Doko?” (Where is the police box?). 

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