For a traveler who selected Japan, he or she must at least should be aware of few Japanese words. Japan is very different when compared to other countries where they use their native language Japanese for almost everything. Traveling in Japan can be confusing if you can’t read the signs or understand the instructions you’re given. Learning a few useful travel-related words and phrases in Japanese before you travel can save you from several aspects. So it will be good if you can review essential Japanese words and phrases — including vocabulary for shopping, dining, asking directions, and meeting new people before you travel to a Japan.

In the case of Japan, it is very important to learn (and use) at least a few words. The reason is that some Japanese people are not very comfortable with English. By using a few words of Japanese you may be able to make people more comfortable. When they’re comfortable the English starts flying out and you’re suddenly communicating.

These are some simple words that you can use while you are traveling. In japan, By mastering the basics of polite conversation, you can put yourself and the person you’re talking with at ease. There are some essential conversation words and phrases that everyone should master before traveling to Japan. These words and expressions are sure to come up in most everyday conversations. Being polite are just as important in Japan as they are in America. The following words and phrases cover most of the pleasantries required for polite conversation. After all, learning to say the expressions of common courtesy before traveling to Japan is just good manners.

Basic Japanese words to make you polite

  • Hai. (yes). Hai is best translated “I’m satisfied”. It doesn’t necessarily mean yes. For example, if you ask someone if they want more beer and they say “I’m satisfied” — they’re saying no. It’s used a great deal in Japanese. It sounds polite.
  • Īe. (no; Oh, it’s nothing)
  • Dōzo. (please)
  • Arigatō. (Thanks [informal])
  • Dōmo arigatō gozaimasu. (Thank you very much)
  • Dō itashimashite. (You’re welcome)
  • Tabun. (Maybe)
  • Mochiron. (of course)
  • Ā, sō desu ka. (Oh, I see)
  • Gomennasai. (Sorry!)

The multiple meaning and usefulness of the word, “sumimasen”

If there’s one multipurpose Japanese word that gets you a lot of mileage it’s Sumimasen. It can be used to:

  • say excuse me
  • call the staff in a restaurant or shop
  • an intro to ask someone a question (“pardon me”)
  • say thank you

Agreement and disagreement, “hai” and “iie”

  • “Hai” shows agreement, and “ Īe  shows disagreement. They correspond to “yes” and “no” in English if the question is affirmative, but they become reversed when the question is negative.

Essential words and phrases to ask directions, “doko”

Doko means “where”. When you are traveling,  you’ll end up using this word a great deal. A few examples:

  • doko? (where?)
  • ~ wa doko desu ka (where is ~?)
  • eki wa doko desu ka (where is the station?)
  • toire wa doko desu ka (where is the toilet?)

This is useful even if you can’t understand the answer, because once you ask, people will be able to point you in the right direction, or even help you get to where you’re going!

Essential words and phrases for shopping in Japan, “en” and “ikura”


The Japanese word for Yen is en. Just take the “y” sound off. Here are the denominations of Japanese currency:

  • ichi en (1 yen)
  • go en (5 yen)
  • juu en (10 yen)
  • go juu en (50 yen)
  • hyaku en (100 yen)
  • go hyaku en (500 yen)
  • sen en (1,000 yen)
  • go sen en (5,000 yen)
  • ichi man en (10,000 yen)


Ikura means how much.

  • Ikura desuka? (How much is this?)

List of other particular phrases for travelers


Interrogative words are important when traveling.” Itsu” means when.

  • itsu (when?)
  • basu wa itsu desu ka (when is the bus?)
  • densha wa itsu desu ka (when is the train?)


Eigo is the Japanese word for English.

  • eigo ii desu ka (is English okay?)
  • eigo ga hanasemasu ka? (can you speak English?)
  • eigo no menu wa arimasu ka? (Is there English menu available?)


Wakarimasen can mean either “I don’t know” or “I don’t understand.” When you mean I don’t know, add “ chotto “ to soften it.

It’s important to be able to indicate you don’t understand.

  • chotto wakarimasen (oh, I don’t understand)
  • nihongo wa wakarimasen (I don’t understand Japanese)

Other useful phrases

There are some phrases that are particularly helpful to international travelers. Below are several phrases that might come in handy during your stay in Japan. The following phrases too will help an individual to get around Japan without any difficulty.

  • Nihongo ga wakarimasen. (I don’t understand Japanese)
  • Nihongo ga amari hanasemasen. (I don’t speak Japanese well)
  • Mō ichido itte kudasai. (Can you say it again?)
  • Mō ichido onegai shimasu. (One more time, please)
  • Yukkuri onegai shimasu. (Slowly, please)
  • Chotto tasukete kudasai. (Help me, please)
  • Eigo ga wakarimasu ka. (Do you understand English?)
  • Daijōbu desu ka. (Are you all right?)
  • Hai, daijōbu desu. (Yes, I’m all right)
  • nan ji desu ka (what time?)

The above mentioned basic Japanese words and phrases will help you to make your travel in Japan a success. Aside from the fact that it’s a rich and fascinating language, learning even just one or two Japanese words or phrases will help endear you to the Japanese people you meet during your trip, and enhance your overall travel experience.

Japanese people tend to be extremely appreciative of visitors who take the time to learn even just a word or phrase or two, and if you try then chances are you’ll be greeted with oohs and aahs of encouragement!