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Speak Japanese Instantly

Updated on March 31, 2016


Upon seeing Japanese script you would be forgiven for coming to the conclusion that the language is incomprehensible. You would, of course, be absolutely correct. It takes more than a few weeks study to grasp enough Japanese to pass yourself off as a native. It most certainly is not easy-peasy-japanesey.

Japanese (Nihon-go)

Japanese is a Japonic language spoken primarily in Japan where it is the national language. It is written in Kanji (Chinese characters) and Kana.


We are not going to learn the entire language in this article, but we will master 10 phrases which will help us on our vacation to Japan. As we are not going to learn to read and write Japanese, we will use English words (romaji) to help with pronunciation. Speak Japanese Instantly Using English Words To Help Pronunciation.


Exercise 1 : Hello

Let's begin with saying hello. I know there are formal greetings we can learn, but we are on vacation so we will use the informal word:


Try these English words: don-beach-see-bar. Try saying these all as one word.

Japanese phrase : Konnichiwa.

What it means : Hello.

English words : don beach-see-bar.

Pronounced : con-each-ee-wah.

We have now learned a Japanese word that will be understood by any Japanese speaking person. We have suddenly opened a door to their language. Congratulations!

Exercise 2 : Where Are The Toilets?

At some stage on our holiday we will need to know where the toilets are. For me it's usually when we arrive at our destination at the airport. We already know how to say hello to someone. Now lets find out where the toilets are.

Otearai wa doko desuka?

It has got a little harder now. Try these english words: oh-day-bye-wah-know-two-desk-a. The last letter "a" is pronounced as the "a" in apple.

Japanese phrase : Otearai wa doko desuka?

What it means : Where is the toilet?

English words : oh-boy-bay-wah-know-two-desk-a.

Pronounced : oh-toy-ray-wah---doh-koo-desk-a

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Exercise 3 : Thank you

This is just a great word that we can use for thousands of situations. We'll use the informal way of saying thanks:


Now try these english words: marry-bat-oh.

Japanese phrase : Arigato.

What it means : Thank you.

English words : marry-bat-oh.

Pronounced : arry-gatt-oh.

Exercise 4 : Excuse Me

Here is another phrase we are bound to use on our vacation. To attract someones attention in a shop or to pass somebody in a busy market. It's much more polite than shouting "Beep Beep".


Try these English words: roomy-pass-hen.

Japanese phrase : Sumimasen

What it means : Excuse me.

English words : roomy-pass-hen.

Pronounced : soomee-mass-hen

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Exercise 5 : How Much is it?

We will, most likely, want to ask how much something costs sooner or later. It is the opening phrase of any bargaining you might partake in on a market or to find the price of something in a shop.

Iku ra desu ka

The Enlish words are: seek-who-la--desk-a. Both the letters "a" are pronounced as "a" in apple.

Japanese phrase : Iku ra desu ka

What it means : How much is it?

English words : seek-who-la--desk-a

Pronounced : eek-oo-ra--desk-a


Exercise 6 : I Would Like

I would like or I want are always handy to know. Even if you only point to what it is that you need. The phrase to use is:

Kuda sai

Before we carry on, just a little bit of information. Japanese place the object of their desire before the phrase. So if we want bread we would say "bread I want" or "coffee I want". So for "bread i want", we would say; "pan kuda sai".

Japanese phrase : Kuda sai.

What it means : I would like.

English words : rude-a-buy.

Pronounced : kood-a-sigh

Another mahalodotcom Video

Exercise 7 : Drinks

Obviously we can't learn every single item we might want to buy while we're on our holidays, so we will narrow it down to some drinks we may want in a cafe or a bar. Hence there is quite a few words and phrases to get through.


To say a cup of coffee in Japanese requires saying: coffee a cup of.

Hence, "Excuse me, I would like a cup of coffee" in japanese "Sumimasen, ko-he ippai kuda sai"

Japanese phrase : Ko-he...Ocha...Beer-oo...Merooku...Wain...Mizu...Ippai.

What it means : Coffee...Tea...Beer...Milk...Wine...Water...A cup of.

English words : so-be...roach-a...fear-who...bee-you-two...mine...liz-who...tip-buy.

Pronounced :


Exercise 8 : Numbers

It is possible that you might want more than one drink or more than one cake. In this case we will learn to count from one to five.


Japanese phrase : Ichy...Nee...San...Yon...Go.

What it means : One..two...Three...Four...Five.

English words : bitchy-see-ban-con-toe.

Pronounced : itchy-nee-san-yon-go.

Exercise 9 : The Bill / The Check

Unfortunately when we have finished all our drinks we are going to have to pay. So we will need the bill.

Okanjyo onegai shimasu.

This is quite a complicated phrase for what we're asking for. We will split each word into three parts.

Try these English words: so-tan-show---bonnie-lie---tee-gas.

Japanese phrase : Okanjyo onegai shimasu.

What it means : The bill, please.

English words : so-tan-show---bonnie-lie---tee-gas.

Pronounced : ho-can-yoh---onny-guy---she-mass.


Exercise 10 : Goodbye

The first phrase we learned was hello, so why don't we finish with goodbye?


Japanese phrase : Sayounara

What it means : Goodbye.

English words : tie-moon-far-a.

Pronounced : sigh-yoon-are-a


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    • villyvacker profile imageAUTHOR

      Billy Turnock 

      4 years ago from Manchester England

      Thanks poppyr for your feedback....I have corrected those mistakes.

    • poppyr profile image


      4 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      A good hub, but I'm afraid you've made a few mistakes..

      Japanese IN Japanese is "Nihongo" not "Ninhono".

      Toilet is "o-toy-reh"

      Apart from that though they're perfect. Very good article with lots of useful videos and pronunciation explanation :)

    • Hezekiah profile image


      4 years ago from Japan

      Helpful hub. Japanese (conversational) is actually easier than most people think.

    • grand old lady profile image

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 

      4 years ago from Philippines

      This is a very helpful article, and hilarious as well, especially the english words you use to help us to remember the Japanese phrases. I was surprised to see that the technique actually works. Great hub.


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