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Japanese Phrases for Traveling

Updated on September 18, 2012
The Japanese Shinkansen (Actually an Experimental Version!)
The Japanese Shinkansen (Actually an Experimental Version!) | Source

This hub features everything you need to know so you can safely and comfortably travel to and around Japan!

The hub is split as follows:

  1. The Basics
  2. Japanese Phrases For The Airport
  3. Japanese Phrases For Emergencies
  4. Out and About (Directions)
  5. Japanese Phrases For Restaurants


Luckily for you, Japanese pronunciation is one of the easiest of all languages! Every word will end on either of the 5 vowels "a" "i" "u" "e" and "o" or the letter "n". Thus, after you learn how to pronounce the 5 vowels correctly, you've already learned how to pronounce Japanese!

"a" is pronounced the same way as the "a" in "cat"
is pronounced like the "ea" in "tea"
like "oo"in "food"
"e" as the "e" in "debt"
"o" as the "o" in "on"

Note: if a word ends on "e" then the "e" is still pronounced e.g. kabe means 'wall' and is pronounced "ka" and then "be" (remember the 'e' in 'be' is pronounced like the 'e' in 'debt') and not like "kayb" as you would read it in english.

Make sure to refer to the pronunciation of these 5 vowels when practising speaking so that the Japanese will understand you.

1. The Basics

The following is a list of basic japanese words in case you haven't learned them already. Be sure to check the pronunciation capsule on the right so that you speak properly! The japanese transliteration is given in bold.

Yes - hai
No - iie
Hello - kon.nichiwa
Hello (on a phone) - moshi moshi
Goodbye - sayounara

Good morning - ohayougozaimasu
Good evening - konbanwa
Good night - oyasuminasai
See you later - ja, mata

Please - onegaishimasu
Thank you - arigatou
Thank you very much - hontou ni arigatou gozaimasu
No thank you - iie kekkou desu

Pleased to meet you - hajimemashte
How do you do? - o genki desu ka?
I'm fine thanks - okagesama de

Pardon? - nante imashita ka?
I understand - naruhodo
I do not understand - wakarimasen

(note: "." signifies a quick pause before the letter it procedes. This is in order to achieve better prononciation!)

Could you speak more slowly please? - yukuri hanishite kuremasen ka?
Could you speak more slowly please? - yukuri hanishite kuremasen ka? | Source

2. Japanese Phrases For The Airport

Excuse me (getting past someone) - shitsureishimasu
Excuse me (to get someone's attention) - chotto sumimasen
Sorry - gomen.nasai
Could you speak more slowly? - yuk.kuri hanashite kuremasen ka?
Could you repeat that please? - mou ichido it.the kuremasen ka?

I would like to rent a car - watashi wa kuruma o karitai desu
Where are the taxis? - takushi wa doko desu ka?
How much is it to X ? - X made ikura desu ka?
How much is it to Osaka? - Osaka made ikura desu ka?

I am lost - michi ni mayot.temasu
May I use the phone? - denwa o karitemo iidesuka?
I would like to go to Narita Airport - watashi wa narita kuukou ni ikitai desu

Where are the toilets? - toire wa doko desu ka?

Airport - kuukou
Aeroplane - hikouki

I've lost my wallet - watashi no saifu o nakushimashita
I've lost my wallet - watashi no saifu o nakushimashita | Source

3. Japanese Phrases For Emergencies

Help! - tasukete!`
Stop! - tomare!
I need a doctor! - Ishya ga irimasu!
Call a doctor! - ishya o yonde!

I've lost my X - watashi no X o nakushimashita
I've lost my passport/camera/wallet - watashi no pasupooto/kamera/saifu o nakushimashita
It's an emergency! - kinku desu!
Fire! - kaji da!
I've been mugged - watashi wa goutou ni aimashita

Where is the nearest X? - ichiban chikai X wa doko desu ka?
Where is the nearest hospital/police station?" - ichiban chikai byouin/keisatsushyo desu ka?
Kyuukyuushya o yonde - call an ambulance

Could you help me please? - tasukete kuremasen ka?
I've run out of gasoline - gasorin ga nai desu

I'm really sorry - ayamarimasu

Can I use your phone? - anata no denwa ga karitemo ii desu ka?

My X is missing! - Watashi no X ga yukuefumei desu!
My child/wife/husband is missing! - watashi no kodomo/ tsuma/ shyujin ga yukuefumeidesu

Can I have a lawyer who can speak english? - eigo ga hanaseru bengoshi wo onegai dekimasuka?

I didn't do it! - watashi wa shiteimasen!

How far is it? - Dono kurai tooi desu ka?
How far is it? - Dono kurai tooi desu ka? | Source

4. Out and About (Directions)

Where is x? - X wa doko desu ka?
Where is the train station? - eki wa doko desu ka?
How far is it? - dono kurai tooi desu ka?
Can you show me where it is on the map? - soko ga dokoka chizu de oshiete kudasai
How do you read this kanji? - Kono kanji no yomikata wa nan desu ka?

How do I get there? - watashi wa douyatte ikeba ii desu ka?
Turn left - migi ni magaru
Turn right - hidari ni magaru
Go straight - massugu iku
It's on the corner - kado de wa

Here - koko
There - soko
Over there - asoko

Bus stop - basutei
Train station - eki
Bank - ginkou
Police station - keisatsushyo
Cinema - eigakan
School - gakko
House - ie

It's really delicious! - Totemo oishii desu!
It's really delicious! - Totemo oishii desu! | Source

5. Japanese Phrases For Restaurants

Restaurant - restoran
I'd like a table for two please - futoriyou no seki ga ii desu.
Could I have a menu please? - Menyuu o kudasai
Can I order some food? - kyuumon shitemo iidesu ka?
What's good here? - koko wa nani ga oishii desu ka?
What do you recommend? - dore ga ososume desu ka?

Chopsticks - hashi
Fork - fooku
Knife - naifu
Spoon - supuun
Could I have a knife and fork please? - naifu to fooku o kudasai
Glass - gurasu

I don't eat X - watashiwa x o tabemasen
Do you have vegetarian food? - bejitarian no ryouri wa arimasu ka?
I don't eat meat - watashiwa niku o tabemasen
I'm allergic to x - watashi wa x no arugi desu
I'm allergic to nuts - watashi wa natsu no arugi desu
Could I have some butter/sugar/water please? - bataa/satou/mizu o moraemasuka?

It's very delicious! - totemo oishii desu!
More water please - mizu o motto kudasai
Bill please! - okaike onegaishimasu

A Moment Please!

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The Comment Section Below

Hopefully this article has proven useful to you and you'll take on board the phrases you have learned here. If you have any criticisms or improvements that can be made, including vital phrases that you feel I have missed out, feel free to post them below.

Don't forget to vote and share,

Happy Traveling!


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    • Philanthropy2012 profile image

      DK 5 years ago from London

      Thank you very much to both Bishop and Glimmer Twin Fan! Sorry for such a late response, I've just come from a music festival!

      An additional thank you to Bishop for your input, I'll add 'kono kanji no yomikata wa nan desu ka?' into the hub! :)

      Have a great day to both of you.


    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Claudia Mitchell 5 years ago

      This is an awesome and useful hub. I love the way you have presented the different sections as well as the pronunciation box.

    • bishopkmb profile image

      bishopkmb 5 years ago from Maryland

      Oh my gosh!! I love Japan! I studied abroad there my junior year of college and it was, hands down, the best experience of my life. Another phrase that might be helpful would be:

      How do you read this kanji(Chinese character) : Kono kanji no yomikata wa nan desu ka?

      Though most places have the romaji to help you not all places do. Kyoto is an absolutely beautiful place full of history, culture and charm! I absolutely recommend a visit there.

    • Philanthropy2012 profile image

      DK 5 years ago from London

      Thank you very much! And I noticed that they really like foreigners taking an interest in their language too!

    • tipstoretireearly profile image

      tipstoretireearly 5 years ago from New York

      This would be a super-handy guide for visiting Japan! I wish I'd had it a few years ago when I made a number of trips to Japan to work with some of my Japanese colleagues and friends. Just attempting to speak a word or two in their native tongue makes a wonderful impression on them!


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