Ten Japanese Words You Should Learn For Your Trip to Japan

There’s no doubt that Japan is a pretty magical country – which is exactly why you will want to make the most out of your precious trip. Here is a list of ten Japanese words that you really should learn before going!

  1. Arigatou gozaimasu (a-ri-ga-toh go-zai-mass) – Thank you.

Of course, you need to know how to say thank you! This is the polite version, but if it’s too much of a mouthful for you, you’ll get away with the casual version “Arigatou”.


  1. Doumo (doh-moh) – Thanks.

Doumo also means thank you, but this is a lot lighter than saying number one on the list. You say this when you want a casual, off-handed thank you. For example, when you buy a snack at a shop, all you need to say is “doumo” and you’ll look like a pro!


  1. Irrasshaimasei (irra-shy-mah-say) – Welcome.

It’s unlikely that you’ll need to say this word, but oh will you hear it! This is on the list simply so you won’t get confused when you enter a shop or a restaurant. It means “welcome” and will often be shouted when you enter a restaurant. Feel free to ignore it, or just give a slight nod to the staff.


  1. Kore kudasai (ko-reh ku-dah-sigh) – This, please.

Japan often has menus with pictures on them, so when you have no idea how to say the thing you want to order in Japanese, just point to the menu and say ‘this please’!


  1. Sumimasen, [x] wa doko desu ka? (su-mi-ma-sen, x wah doh-koh dess kah?) – Excuse me, where is (x)?

I wasn’t sure if this should be on the list. Sure, it should be useful to ask where something is (i.e how to get there), but if you don’t understand the answer, it won’t be much help. Luckily, many Japanese people will try to explain it to you in what little English ability they have.


  1. Toire (toy-reh) – toilet.

It could come in handy to know how to say toilet. Use this with number 5 on the list to ask where the toilet is!


  1. Hoteru (Ho-teh-lu) – hotel.

Just in case you have trouble finding your hotel, using this with number 5 could get you out of a pinch.


  1. Konnichiwa (kon-knee-chi-wa) – hello.

Okay, so this actually means something like “good afternoon”, but this is a list to allow you to get by with the bare minimum of Japanese, so I’ll forgo morning and evening greetings – it’s not like a Japanese person won’t understand you.


  1. [x] ni ikitai (x knee ih-key-tie) – I want to go to x.

While you’re in Japan, you’re probably going to want to see the sites, meaning you might have to ask someone how to get there. This phrase would also work on staff at the train station – assuming you know how to say the name of the place you want to go!

  1. Kuukou – (kooh-koh) – airport.

The last word on the list is airport. ‘Kuukou’ and ‘airport’ sound nothing alike, so a Japanese person who doesn’t know much English might not understand, and the last thing you’d want to do is miss your plane home!


So this is the end of the list. There’s a ton of other words that you might need, but this is the bare minimum you can quickly pick up on the long plane journey to Japan. Have fun practising!