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Essential Japanese Words

Updated on January 13, 2011

A Collection of Essential Japanese Vocabulary

The following words are included in this set of essential Japanese words due to their usefulness in conversation. If you plan on visiting Japan, or intend on staying in the Land of the Rising Sun, for any amount of time, you will soon see why these particular Japanese words are "essential".

Essential Japanese Words

If you plan on visiting Japan, these words should prove useful!

The usefulness of these words will depend on whether you can hear them as they are in their natural (native) state or tongue; and, while it is one thing to see a word on paper, it is yet another matter whether your ears can hear it as it is used in its natural setting. In other words it is important when studying Japanese to devote a specific portion of your study to the art of pronunciation. Learning to pronounce words will get you understood. Natives who hear correct pronunciation have only one choice as to their comprehension, and that is they will understand you and they will understand what you are saying. As long as you pronounce the words you learn as a native would pronounce them, you shouldn't have any problems getting your message understood.

First on the essential list of Japanese words are:

I. Greetings - Aisatsu

1. O-hayo^ Gozaimasu - Good morning!

2. Konnichi Wa! - Good afternoon!

3. Konban Wa! - Good evening!

II. Words For Goodbye

1. Sayo^nara - Goodbye (For a long while)

2. Ja Ne! - Goodbye (later dude)

3. Ja Mata - Goodbye (Talk at ya later, See ya next time, Until next time)

Japanese phrases for asking how someone is...

1. O-Genki Desu Ka? - How is it going?;How are you?

Genki Desu. - I'm fine thank you.

2. Ikaga Desu Ka? - How are things going? Would you like some ____ or, How would ____ be..?, where you _____ is filled in with some beverage or food item or occasionally is used as, "How are you?"

III. Essential Japanese phrases when eating:

1. Itadakimasu - I humbly partake (You Must say this before you eat a meal in a Japanese household, weird to westerners, but if you neglect to say this before you eat you could be considered weird yourself. Don't be bashful amd, just say Itadakimasu and eat away no problems.)

2. Go-Chiso^ Sama Deshita! - Excellent meal, or that was a feast thankyou. (Say this after you eat so to show appreciation of the feast you just partook of.)

Essential Japanese Phrases to express your gratitude. Any of the following Japanese expressions or combination of expressions can be heard in Japan

1. Arigato^ Gozaimasu - Thank You

2. Arigato^ - Thanks

3. Do^mo - Right On, Thanks

4. Do^mo Arigato^ - Thank You

5. Do^mo Arigato^ Gozaimasu - Thank You Very Much

Other Essential Survival Phrases for Visitors to Japan

1. Ki o tsukete kudasai - please be careful

3. O-Jama Shimasu - I humbly invade or intrude. To be said as one passes through the threshold of the Genkan, the place where shoes are taken off before entering a Japanese dwelling signifying your respect to the home, and the arrival of your presence.

4. Irrashai(mase)! - "Welcome!", or "Come on in!". This is verbalized loudly at outdoor markets or lively indoor restaurants.

Irrashaimase is shouted to any potential customers within listening distance to invite them to patron their shop. In America this might seem strange at first, even shocking.

Irrashaimase is also used to welcome you, even at Japanese gas stations you will be greeted with this phrase, meaning, "Come on in! and get serviced!"

Great Japanese Stuff on Amazon - Why do you need a dictionary?

To look up the definition of an unknown word . . . who you gonna call?

Sanseido 5th going on 6th Edition!

If you don't have one yet, go ahead amazon won't bite.

Essential Japanese Comments

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      kashmir 9 years ago

      I remember but two words in Japanese, Do Itashimashite or Don't touch my mustache and goat cheese so sama deshita!

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      hearthealth lm 9 years ago

      wow, its going to be an interesting week mastering the japanese terms above! thanks for the cool info and vids, Im going to be back here!

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      anonymous 10 years ago

      Thanks for joining my travel group!

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      Bloggeritaville 10 years ago

      Hi there, welcome to the coolest group on squidoo!! Glad to have you on board!