Japanese Survival Phrases: 20 Phrases for Real Life. Pt4

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Hello Junkies! (Part 3 here)

Here, you’re going to learn the must-know Japanese survival phrases. That’s right – you need to them to survive. If you were suddenly dropped in the middle of Japan, I think these would probably save your life.

Prepare yourself. This Top 20 Survival Phrases List is long! If you’re interested in learning more Japanese, rather than reading phrases online – be sure to visit JapanesePod101.com & learn how to speak and understand Japanese.

And away we go.

Japanese Survival Phrases by Linguajunkie.com

1. Thank you.

We’re going to cover 3 levels here. Super polite, normal, and very casual. Feel free to use the first 2 but reserve the 3rd one for friends.

  • どうもありがとうございます。(super polite)
    • Doumo arigatou gozaimasu.
    • Thank you very much.
  • ありがとう。(Polite/casual)
    • Arigatou.
    • Thank you.
  • どうも。(Very casual.)
    • Doumo
    • Thanks

2. You’re Welcome

  • どういたしまして。
    • Dou itashimashite.
    • You’re welcome.
  • いいえ、いいえ。
    • Iie, Iie.
    • Literal meaning: No, no.

The actual meaning for the 2nd one is “Not at all.” You’re just saying “no, no need.” It’s a way be humble and downplay yourself.

3. This please.

When you’re ordering things from a menu or merely pointing at something.

  • これ下さい。
    • Kore kudasai.
    • This please.
  • それ下さい。
    • Sore kudasai.
    • That please.

4. Japanese Greetings

  • お早うございます。
    • Ohayou gozaimasu.
    • Good morning.
  • 今日は。
    • Konnichiwa.
    • Hello/Good day.
  • 今晩は。
    • Konbanwa.
    • Good evening.

5. Saying Bye or Goodbye.

  • さようなら。
    • Sayounara.
    • Goodbye.

This is a long term goodbye. Possibly even forever! Careful with using this unless you’re never coming back or talking to them again.

  • 失礼します。(Super polite)
    • Shitsurei shimasu.
    • Excuse me.
      • Literal translation: I will be rude.

This is said to people of higher position. Like bosses and teachers. It’s a way to say “please excuse me” as you excuse yourself out. However, the word Shitsurei means “rude.” So, you’re saying that it’s rude of you to go, but you’d like to be excused.

  • お疲れ様でした
    • Otsukare sama deshita.
    • Many thanks/Enough for today.

This a Japanese phrase that has no English equivalent. This is used at the end of the day when you and others have been doing something like… Working, Practicing, Studying, Eating, Drinking… etc. And it’s used to say “bye” even though it literally means “we are tired.” There is a feeling of “we worked hard, good job all, thanks for your effort, see ya!” that’s involved in this phrase.

6. Where is the bathroom?

Indeed a survival phrase. One needs to know where a toilet is.

  • トイレはどこですか?
    • Toire wa doko desu ka?
    • Where is the toilet?

7. I don’t understand.

Sometimes you have to admit defeat. There’s only so many Japanese words you know. Eventually you start running out.

  • 分かりません。
    • Wakarimasen.
    • I don’t understand.
  • 日本語は分かりません。
    • Nihongo wa wakarimasen.
    • I don’t understand Japanese.

8. Can you speak English?

And when you stop understanding, you’ll need an English speaker. Here’s how you ask.

  • 英語を話せますか?
    • Eigo wo hanasemasu ka?
    • Can you speak English?

As another example, you can also try the phrase below:

  • 英語を話せる人がいますか?
    • Eigo wo hanaseru hito ga imasu ka?
    • Is there an English speaking person?

9. Can you say it again?

Sometimes you may not understand what they say. This is a very useful and common question.

  • もう一度言って下さい。
    • Mou ichidou itte kudasai.
    • Please say it one more time.

10. What does it mean?

And when you come across a Japanese word, this a great question to ask.

  • どういう意味ですか。
    • Dou iu imi desu ka?
    • What does it mean?

11. Is there an English version?

Whether you’re looking for an English menu, map or an information pamphlet – but everything seems to be in Japanese – use this question.

  • 英語版がありますか。
    • Eigo ban ga arimasu ka?
    • Is there an English version?

10. Apologizing in Japanese

  • すみません。
    • Sumimasen.
    • Excuse me.

This “excuse me” can be used for any situation you’d use “excuse me” in English. For example, if you’d like to pass through or if you stepped on someone’s shoe.

  • ごめんなさい。
    • Gomennasai.
    • I’m sorry/I bed your pardon.

This is a more serious form of apology. You may not need to use it unless you’ve spilled hot coffee on someone’s white shirt at a wedding. And no, I haven’t done that. Yet. Soon.

  • 申し訳ございません (Super polite)
    • Mou shiwake gozaimasen.
    • I have no excuse.

You may not need to use this. This phrase is mostly used by businesses, by employees apologizing to bosses… and you’ll hear it from train announcements if there’s a delay. There’s no excuse!

11. Business Greetings

  • いらっしゃいませ。
    • Irrashaimase!
    • Welcome!

You won’t need to use this. But, you WILL hear it everywhere – in every store, restaurant and coffee shop you enter. The staff will always greet you with this. Irrashaimase!!!

12. How much is this?

  • いくらですか。
    • Ikura desu ka?
    • How much?
  • これはいくらですか。
    • Kore wa ikura desu ka?
    • How much is this?

13. How do you say this in Japanese?

Definitely an important phrase for Japanese learners. Just point to something and ask. You’ll be learning Japanese IN Japanese.

  • これは日本語で何と言いますか。
    • Kore wa nihongo de nanto iimasu ka?
    • How do you say this in Japanese?

14. How’s the weather?

  • 天気はどうですか。
    • Tenki wa dou desu ka?
    • How’s the weather?

15. Can you take our picture?

Important tourist phrase. That is, unless you have a selfie stick!

  • 写真をとってくれますか。
    • Shasshin wo totte kuremasu ka?
    • Can you take my/our picture?

Don’t worry about “my” or “our.” Personal pronouns are understood in most contexts and thus are omitted in Japanese. Mostly.

15. Please tell me the way to the hotel.

Alright, this can be used for other things than the hotel. However, the general point is that you’re asking for directions. Just substitute “hotel” for something else. Also, remember to use the Hotel’s name. “Hotel” is too general and there are tons of them.

  • ホテルへの道を教えてくれませんか。
    • Hoteru e no michi wo oshiete kuremasenka?
    • Can you tel me the way to the hotel?

16. Where is the train station?

You may also want to add the name of the station before “eki” if you’re looking for one in particular.

  • 駅はどこですか。
    • Eki wa doko desu ka?
    • Where is the train station?

Or, if you need the closest station, just ask this:

  • 一番近い駅はどこですか。
    • Ichiban chikai eki wa doko desu ka?
    • Where is the closest train station?

17. Where can I get a taxi?

Alright, taxis are EVERYWHERE in Japan. But if you’re having a hard time flagging one down – it happens on occasions – such as busy nights where every Tom, Dick and Harry has hailed every cab in town  or you’re on a dead empty street – this will be useful.

  • タクシー乗り場はどこですか。
    • Takushii noriba wa doko desu ka?
    • Where is the taxi pick-up spot?

Yes, “noriba” is a place where cabs line up and wait for customers. “Noru” means to get on. This is the prime spot to catch one. Usually they’re lined up outside train stations and other popular places. But you can’t pick just anyone – you’ll need to take the one at the front of the line. It’s very orderly.

18. Please go to the XYZ Hotel (for taxi drivers)

Or, replace XYZ with anything else. A landmark. A certain neighborhood. A certain station.

  • XYZホテルまでお願いします。
    • XYZ hoteru made onegaishimasu.
    • To the XYZ hotel please.

“Made” is pronounced as “mah-deh” and means “to” or “until.” And if you arrive at your spot, you can simply say:

  • ここで止まってください。
    • Koko de tomatte kudasai.
    • Please stop here.

19. Check Please!

You’ll need this for restaurants. Or, you can establish eye-contact with the waiter and make an X sign with your index fingers. Whichever is easier.

  • お会計お願いします。
    • O-kaikei onegaishimasu.
    • Check please!

20. Thank you for the food!

It’s polite to say this at restaurants as you leave.

  • ごちそうさまでした.
    • Gochisousama Deshita
    • Thank you for the food

Again, this is one of those phrases that Japanese only. English doesn’t have a direct translation of this. However, it’s something you say before you leave the restaurant. Kind of like “compliments to the chef” or “thank you for the food.”

Here’s a quick review picture! Feel free to share it!

Japanese Survival Phrases by Linguajunkie.com

And let me know what you think?

Did I miss any phrases?

Leave your comments below!

– The Main Junkie

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