As far as languages go, Japanese falls somewhere in the middle. It’s easier than languages like Chinese and Arabic, with simple and straightforward rules, but a little less familiar than Romance languages like Spanish or French. Even if you don’t plan on mastering Japanese, learning a few phrases to know before going to Japan can help make your experience more pleasant.
- Hello- konnichiwa
- Goodbye- Sayonara
- Thank you- Arigatoo gozaimasu
- You’re welcome- Doo itashimashite
- I’m sorry- Gomen’nasai
- Do you speak English? – Eigo o hanashimasu ka?
- I don’t understand. – Wakarimasen.
- Where’s the restroom? – Ofuro wa doko desu ka?
- How much does it cost? – Kore wa ikura desu ka?
- Can you help me? – Tetsudatte itadakemasu ka?
- Where is ___? – ___ wa doko desu ka?
- I want this./I’ll take this. – Kore wo kudasai.
When in Japan, you’ll likely encounter plenty of friendly people who will be happy to help you along, and many will speak at least a little English. Nothing demonstrates your interest in Japan and Japanese culture more than speaking a little Japanese; even if your pronunciation is horrible or you miss a word, you’ll be greatly respected for trying. To ensure you don’t get yourself in a linguistic bind, consider downloading an app like Kotoba Japanese Dictionary or Human Japanese on your smart phone or tablet before you get on the plane.