Practical life hacks · Reviews & Features · Travel bug

5 Useful Phrases For Your Japan Vacay


If you have been following my IG account, surely, you are fairly acquainted with my recent trip to the Land of the Rising Sun. True enough, I have not been posting of late (because of sheavy workload and priorities) but public (a.k.a. friends) demands that I write posts about tips & tricks I had during the trip. Thus, these posts in series. Oh, how I miss writing!

The language

First of the series is language. Japan’s language is Nihongo while the alphabet is composed of Hiragana, Katakana and Kanji. Some people are deterred of visiting Japan because they are afraid of the language barrier. Well, the good news is, technology saves. You can go with Google Translate or rent a pocket translator. For our trip, we relied much on Google. It is not 100% accurate but speaking with a smile on your face and some gestures go a long way.

How to study the language

I know a few Japanese sentences as a kid because I read my dad’s Nihongo book but it was mostly forgotten. LOL Three months prior to the trip, I tried re-learning the language thru the internet, Duolingo, Learn Japanese app for Android, and Learn Japanese:Japanese Survival Phrases on Spotify. I also learned to read a bit of Hiragana thru Duolingo.

You do not need to be an expert unless you intend to live in the country. I just really pushed myself because I want to imbibe their culture, and I want to be ready for emergencies like having allergies and all that.

Five phrases to help you get along

Anyway, you need not study everything but here are some of the most useful phrases I utilized A LOT during the trip.

  1. Eigo ga hanasemasuka? (Do you speak English?)

Our tour was DIY. Once we were off the plane and in order to get to our hotel, we had to ride the most complicated subway system in the world – the Tokyo subway! It was an incredibly fun experience.

Asking the Japanese for directions is a bit tricky if it’s not in the language you understand, and you might end up getting on the right track but the wrong train!

Possible answers: Hai! (Yes) – This is your cue to shift to English.

Eigo no (No) – This is your cue to bring out your translator.


It’s quite a jungle out there (at first 🙂 )

  1. Toire wa doko desuka? (Where is the toilet?)

Admit it. You cannot enjoy any tour or sightseeing if your tummy is aching or about to pee in your pants.

Their toilets or washrooms are everywhere and have adequate signs but still better safe than sorry. LOL

Possible answers: Don’t worry. They’ll point you to where the toilet is, and there are signs everywhere.

  1. Arigatou! (Thank you)

Japan is a country which values gratitude. If you do not know this phrase yet, memorize it and use it often. If you do, never forget to say thank you 😊

Possible response: Domo arigatou! (Thank you very much)

Do itashimaste! (You’re welcome)


Our tour guide inside the Impreial Palace
  1. Kore wa oishiidesu! (This is delicious!)

In Japan, food is prepared with such care and passion. If you really like the food served to you, do thank the chef or the server by telling them how delicious the food is. They greatly appreciate that. ❤

Possible response: Domo arigatou! (Thank you very much)


The very first meal we had in Japan! This is from a very humble ramen shop called Iwamotocho Sutando Soba
  1. Shashin wo tottemo iidesuka? (Can I take a picture?)

Some places, especially in temples, are off limits. If you are not sure if taking photos are allowed, better ask permission first before bringing in your camera.

Possible answers: Hai! (Yes)

Iie (No)


Up the stairs (on our right), taking photos and videos are strictly prohibited.

A bit of caution: I once took a photo of different obi (sash worn with kimono) carefully organized in a shelf. I loved the colors and the organization, and the experience I had but they called me weird for taking a photo of something so simple LOL I still took a photo though. HAHA

Other relevant words

Sumimasen (Excuse me)

Use this when catching the attention of the other person.

E.g. When asking for an English menu from a server who is away from you.

“Sumimasen! Eigo no menyuu arimasuka?” (Excuse me. Do you have an English menu?)

Gomenasai (I’m sorry in the apologizing manner)

Use this when you want to apologize.

E.g. You blocked someone’s path.

When are you going to Japan? What other Nihongo words do you know? Share your thoughts! Comment below or drop me an email at

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P.S. All posts in this blog reflect the view of the author alone and do not include the views of the office she is employed in. Moreover, the blog is not income-generating and only for purposes of sharing the thoughts of the author.

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