Japanese Lessons

10 Plus Japanese Phrases You Need to Know


A gang of Japanese taiko drummers seems to have taken over your chest. Or maybe it’s just a slight flutter of butterfly wings in your stomach. Fear is just excitement in disguise. You are determined to step onto that plane bound for Japan. But wait! How will you communicate? No worries. See below for the 10 Plus Japanese phrases you need to know. You don’t even need to memorize them. Jot down the words on your iPhone Notes!

Your flight attendant will speak some English. Once you land in Narita or Haneda (in Tokyo) or Kansai or Itami (in Osaka) or the New Chitose Airport (in Sapporo), you’ll want to say hello or good evening. Maybe you’ll meet a cute guy or gal, you’ll want to know if they are saying hello or goodbye! Right?

Greetings 挨拶あいさつ
Hello こんにちは
Good evening こんばんは
Goodbye さようなら


Once you’ve cleared customs, you may need a few directions.

Excuse me but where is… すみませんが________はどこですか。
Excuse me but where is the restroom? すみませんがお手洗てあらいはどこですか。
Excuse me but where is the train station? すみませんがえきはどこですか。

Note 1: You get a zillion gold stars if you use “sumimasen-ga” (excuse me) before asking anything. It’s a true mark of one who is sensitive to Japanese culture and tradition.

Note 2: Refer to Midori app or another Japanese-English dictionary for the place or object you’re looking for. Sandwich the word between sumimasen-ga and doko-desu-ka?

Note 3: Remember “doko-desu-ka” (where is it?) and you can always point at an address written in Japanese for you by a friend or hotel concierge.


Directions 方向ほうこう 行き方
Right みぎ
Left ひだり
At the end of the street (corridor) たり
This side 手前てまえ
Street みち
Opposite side 反対側はんたいがわ


No shame either in asking twice or requesting that your helpful friend slow down.



Replies こた
One more time please. もう一度いちどねがいいたします。
A little more slowly please. もうちょっとゆっくりにはなしてください。


Many Japanese (if not rushing off to work or an appointment) may offer to take you to the tourist spot or temple or train station. Even if you want to grab them by the arm and yell, “Yes, please!” Best PC reply is 本当に大丈夫ですか。(Is it really all right?)

Now you can say, お願いします。(Yes, please.) 

ご親切どうもありがとうございます。(Thank you for your kindness.) 

P.s. When the lovely McDonald’s lady brings your Mega Tamago to the take-out window, you can simply say どうもありがとう。(Thank you.) What is a Mega Tamago?

Basically a super delicious BLT with fried eggs and cheese.

Just in case you explore eateries other than McDonald’s or KFC…

Just in case you’ve been a tad too adventurous, here are a few health terms.


Health 健康けんこう
Are you well? 元気げんきですか。
(I’m) not feeling well. 具合ぐあいわるいです。
Pharmacy 薬局やっきょく
Medicine くすり
I understand. わかりました。

The Wasabi team definitely wishes only good health during your trip. We wish that your time in Japan will be spent soaking in the vast array of beauty, culture and supercool sights.

Here are a few terms to help you express your joy!

Wow! (Amazing!) すごい!
Wonderful! (Splendid!) 素晴すばらしい
Lovely, beautiful 素敵すてき
Cute 可愛かわい
Fun (also Interesting) 面白おもしろ


Good luck & Go For It!!!

Kim Watkinson, The Ninja Baker
Follow me on Twitter @NinjaBaking
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