What are some useful Japanese phrases you also frequently use in English? Something simple like ‘Good Morning’ おはようございます・Ohayōgozaimasu and ‘I would like to order…’ これを注文したいです・Kore o chūmon shitaidesu are commonly used in both languages.
If you’ve recently moved to Japan or are planning on it, you’ll need to learn all the most useful Japanese phrases for living here. If you are a new Tokyo resident, this article, Ultimate Guide to Life in Tokyo will help you. Knowing these will make your life in Japan easier and you’ll find that you can get along with the people effortlessly as well.
This article will teach you the basics, ordering, on the phone, transportation, emergencies, special occasions, dating, work, slang, and more. Surely you will find new phrases to use yourself and help guide you through getting started in Japan. Knowing these will guarantee that you will have a good time during your stay.
This is part of a collection of helpful articles and guides that will make your life in Japan easier.
2 Ebooks to Jump Start your Japanese
Subscribe to our newsletter to get bi-weekly study tips, advice and stories on how YOU can improve your Japanese.
Basic useful Japanese phrases to get you started
First, we should always start from the beginning, knowing the greetings, pronouns, and polite words are important for learning any new language. These set the foundation for understanding and learning the most commonly used phrases in Japanese, key for surviving in Japan.
Now, before starting a conversation, greetings are always nice to break the ice. Besides こんにちは・Kon'nichiwa these are some typical greetings used for different times and settings.
はじめまして・Hajime mashite = Nice to meet you
おげんきですか・O genki desu ka = How are you?
久しぶりです・Hisashi buridesu = Long time no see
おはようございます・Ohayō gozaimasu = Good Morning
こんばんは・Kon banwa = Good evening
おやすみなさい・Oyasumi nasai＝Good night
さようなら・Sayōnara = Good bye
おなまえはなんですか・O na ma e wa nandesu ka = What is your name?
わたしのなまえは＿＿＿です・Watashi no na ma e wa ___desu = My name is _____
はい・Hai = Yes
いいえ・Īe = No
I = 私 (watashi)
You = あなた・anata
He = 彼・kare
She = 彼女・kanojo
They = 彼ら・karera
This = これ・kore
That = それ・sore
Additionally, one of the most important things to know is words to be polite. In Japanese culture, being respectful and thinking of others is crucial. Without these, you could easily offend someone and you definitely don't want to start off on the wrong foot!
ごめんなさい・Gomen'nasai = I am sorry
すみません・Sumimasen = Excuse me (this one is probably the most frequently used and can also be used to say you’re sorry)
ありがとうございます・Arigatou gozaimasu = Thank you
おねがいします・Onegai shimasu = Please
皆様にどうぞよろしく・Minasama ni douzo yoroshiku. = Please give my regards to everyone.
お体を大切に・Okarada o taisetsu ni. = Please take care of yourself.
お返事お待ちしております・Ohenji omachi shite orimasu. I look forward to hearing from you.
Want to know more basic phrases? See this article, 150+ Japanese Words and Phrases You Need to Start Speaking Now
Common Japanese Questions you will hear
If you don’t hear at least one of these phrases, are you even in Japan?
おいくつですか？・O-ikutsu desu ka. (Very polite) / 何歳ですか？・Nan-saidesu ka? = How old are you?
(This is one of the first things you will be asked, especially if you are in college, as it is a way for the other person to figure out if they should use casual or formal language with you.)
これは何ですか・Koreha nandesuka = What is this?
誰ですか・dare desuka = Who is it?
これはいくらですか・Kore wa ikura desu ka = How much is this?
なんでですか・Nande desu ka = Why?
どこにいますか・Doko ni imasu ka = Where are you?
出身がどちらですか・Shusshin ga dochira desu ka = Where are you from?
趣味は何ですか・Shumi wa nan desuka = What are your hobbies?
仕事は何ですか・Shigoto wa nan desuka = What is your job?
Questions specific to foreigners:
国はどちらですか ・ Okuni wa dochira desu ka = Which country are you from?
なんで日本へ来たんですか・Nande nihon e kitan desu ka = Why did you come to Japan?
日本ははじめてですか・Nihon wa hajimete desu ka = Is this your first time to Japan?
お箸使えますか・O hashi tsukae masu ka = Can you use chopsticks?
*Note: In Japanese, you don’t really use question marks and exclamation points in essays or typical writing unless it is casual.
Useful Japanese phrases for ordering
These are some crucial phrases to know if you don’t want to go hungry. When you go out to eat, these phrases are what you will be confronted with.
Restaurants & Cafes
Entering the restaurant:
２名です・二人です/ Ni mei desu・Futari desu = We’re two or table for two (You can replace the number of people where ‘ni’ is.
禁煙席お願いします・Kinen seki onegai shimasu = A non-smoking table, please.
喫煙席お願いします・Kitsuen seki onegai shimasu = A smoking table, please.
テーブル席をお願いします・Tēburu seki o onegai shimasu = I would like a table seat.
カウンター席をお願いします・Kauntā seki o onegai shimasu = I would like a counter seat.
個室ありますか？・Koshitsu arimasuka? = Do you have a private table?
英語のメニューありますか？・Eigo no menyu arimasuka? = Do you have an English menu?
注文をお願いします・Chūmon o onegai shimasu = I would like to order.
これは何ですか？・Koreha nan desuka? = What is this?
こちらをお願いします・Kochira o onegai shimasu = I’d like to order this.
お手洗いはどこですか？・O tearai wa doko desu ka? = Where is the restroom?
おいくらですか？・O ikura desu ka? = How much is this?
Affordable Online and Offline Morning Lessons in Tokyo
Learn Japanese with us online or offline and make your Japan Switch.
- Affordable Japanese Lessons
- Monthly Contracts
- No Entrance Fees
- No Hidden Fees
- 200+ Students
- Online or Offline Lessons
お冷お願いします・Ohiya onegaishimasu = Can I please have water? (お冷 is just another way to say water お水 ・ omizu）
乾杯・Kanpai = Cheers (When you are drinking)
いただきます・Itadaki masu = (Before eating)
お会計お願いします・O kaikei onegaishimasu = Check, please.
クレジットカードで大丈夫ですか？・Kurejitto kaado de daijobu desuka? = Can I pay by credit card?
領収書ください・Ryoshusho kudasai = Please give me a receipt.
また来ます・Mata kimasu = I will come again.
美味しかったです・Oishikattadesu = It was delicious.
There is not as much emphasis on food allergies in Japan compared to the United States so when you are out to eat, you should let the staff be aware of your allergies, especially if you can’t read the menu and ingredients.
すみません、＿＿＿のアレルギーがあるのですが・Sumimasen,___ no arerugī ga aru nodesuga = Excuse me, I have allergies to _____.
私はベジタリアンです。ベジェタリアンメニューありますか？・Watashi wa begitarian desu. Begitarian menyu arimasuka? = I am vegetarian. Do you have a vegetarian menu?
ベジェタリアンにおすすめありますか？・Bejitarian ni osusume arimasu ka? = Do you have vegetarian recommendations?
これはお肉が入っていますか？・Kore wa o niku ga haitte imasu ka? = Does this have meat in it?
お肉を食べれないです・O niku o tabe renaidesu = I can’t eat meat.
お肉と動物性食品が食べられないです・O niku to dōbutsusei shokuhin ga tabe rarenaidesu = I can’t eat meat and animal products.
Your Japanese leaving people in the dark?
Our biweekly newsletter for beginner to low intermediate learners will start guiding you to the proverbial Japanese light.
他のサイズはありますか？・Hoka no saizu wa arimasu ka? = Is there a different size?
シャツはありますか？・Shiyatsu wa arimasu ka? = Do you have shirts?
値段はいくらですか？・Nedan wa ikuradesu ka? = How much is this?
これはいかがですか・Kore wa ikaga desu ka = How about this?
試着室はどこですか・Shichakushitsu wa doko desu ka = Where is the dressing room?
Kore wa chîsasugimasu.Kore wa chīsa sugimasu.= This is too small.
何時まで空いてますか・Nanji made suitemasu ka = What time are you open unti?
There are more useful restaurant phrases here, Easy Japanese For Dining Out In Japan
Useful Japanese phrases for on the phone
Talking on the phone can be nerve-wracking, but these phrases you can learn will make your phone call go smoothly. The most customary options are the train, bus, taxi, or by foot.
When calling friends or family, when you first pick up the phone, you say もしもし・Moshimoshi which is like saying hello but it’s reserved only for on the phone.
If it’s an unknown number or a more formal phone call, you can answer with はい・hai = yes or say your last name. Example: すずきです・Suzukidesu = It’s Suzuki / スミスです・Sumisu desu It’s Smith.
Japanese phrases for making an appointment/reservation
What you may use:
予約をしたいです・Yoyaku o shitai desu = I would like to make a reservation
よろしくお願いします・yoroshiku onegai shimasu = Thank you
土曜日の夜に二人お願いします・Doyōbi no yoru ni futari onegai shimasu = Saturday night for two people please. (You can switch out the day and amount of people.)
5時半からお願いします・Goji han kara onegai shimasu = From 5 please. (Japan uses military time as well so you can also say 17時)
Here is an article to help you learn Counting in Japanese if you are still unsure about numbers or counting people.
This article, The Ultimate Guide to Learn Japanese will also be helpful for beginners.
What the other person may say:
ご希望のサービスはなんでしょうか?・Gokibōno sābisu wa nan deshouka? = What service would you like?
何時からがよろしいですか・Nanji kara ga yoroshii desuka = What time would you like?
お名前は何でしょうか？・onamae wa nan deshouka? = What’s your name?
お電話番をお願いします・Odenwabango o onegai shimasu = Your phone number please.
ご予約の確認をいたします・goyoyaku no kakunin o itashi masu = I’ll repeat your reservation.
お待ちしております・Omachi shite orimasu = We’ll be waiting.
For more useful phrases for reservations, this article will help, How to make an appointment in Japanese
Know anyone who has passed N1?
Want to escape the teaching trap?
Useful Japanese phrases for transportation
If you are coming to Tokyo, chances are, you will be using a lot of public transport. Knowing these phrases ensures that you won’t get lost or end up somewhere far away from where you intended to go.
The most commonly used type of transportation is trains and there are many people hustling and bustling at subways and train stations. The trains are typically pretty punctual and clean for how often they are used. It is good to know in advance the words and phrases that will come up as to not slow down your journey.
＿＿＿はどこですか？・___ Wa dokodesu ka? = Where is _____?
コインロッカー・Koin rokka-: Coin locker
券売機・Kenbaiki: Ticket vending machine
この電車は＿＿＿に停まりますか？・Kono densha wa ___ ni tomarimasu ka? = Does this train stop at ___?
電車が遅れています・Densha ga okurete imasu = The train is late.
Words used at the train station:
First train of the day
Last train of the day
Local train (most stops, slowest)
kaku eki densha
Express train (least stops, fastest)
Limited express train (in between express and local)
There are more phrases used at train stations, if you want to know more train station phrases, check out Japanese conversation at train stations
Many of the same words and phrases are used for buses as trains. Here are just a few that are different:
切符売り場はどこですか？・Kippu uriba wa doko desu ka? = Where is the ticket office?
( for most everyday buses, you just pay on the bus but if you are taking a long haul bus ride, you will need to buy a ticket in advance at a bus station.)
次のバスは何時ですか？・Tsugi no basu wa itsu desuka? = What time is the next bus?
バス停はどこですか？・Basu tei wa doko desu ka?= Where is the bus station?
新宿までいくらですか・Shinjuku made ikura desu ka. = How much is it to Shinjuku?
Getting lost in a big city can easily happen and may feel scary but it is no big deal. The staff at stations are helpful and can guide you to where you need to go. Even if you guys do not understand each others’ languages, knowing the name of where you want to go can typically be enough for them to lead you in the right direction. Having a map they can point to can also be helpful for both parties.
Someone may come up and ask,
何かお困りですか？・Nanika okomari desuka? = Do you need help?
If not, don’t worry. Just go up to a staff member for help.
英語わかりますか？・Eigo wakari masu ka? = Do you understand English?
＿＿＿に行きたいです。どうしたらいいですか？___ Ni ikitai desu. Dōshitara īdesu ka? = How can I get to ____ ? (name of station or place you want to go).
I lost my 〇〇”
＿＿＿をなくしました・___ wo nakushi mashita = I lost my ___.
If you are just lost in the streets, you can go up to a passer by or a conbini employee and say these things.
道に迷いました・Michini mayoi mashita = I lost my way
ここはどこですか？・Koko wa doko desu ka?I = Where are we?
東京タワーへの行き方を教えてください・Tōkyō tawā e no ikikata o oshietekudasai = Please tell me the way to Tokyo Tower.
この住所に行くにはどうすればいいですか？・Kono jūsho ni iku ni wa dōsureba īdesu ka? = How can I get to this address?
If they offer directions:
右・Migi = Right
左・Hidari = Left
真っすぐ・Massugu = Straight
突き当り・Tsuki atari = End (of the path)
Useful Japanese phrases for Emergencies
God forbid something bad happens, knowing these phrases is of utmost importance to keep you safe and worry-free. These could be used whether it is a natural disaster, criminal activity, or accident. Whether it is to help someone else or yourself, learn all the important phrases in the event of an emergency.
When offering help or needing help
助けてください・Tasukete kudasai = Please help me.
If you lost something, go to the police station or the front desk of the place you lost it and say:
落し物をしました・Otoshi mono o shimashita = I lost something.
Contacting emergency services
The number for the police in Japan is 110 and for the ambulance is 119, don't forget it!
When you call, say kyuu kyuu desu = It’s an emergency.
They may ask, どうしましたか? Dou shimashita ka? = What happened?
It’s good to say the address of where you are before anything to get the dispatch to you quicker.
I am injured
I am sick
Koutsuu jiko desu
There has been a traffic accident.
Ishiki fumei desu
(Someone) is unconscious
It is a fire
The address is...
Are you okay?
At the hospital:
具合が悪いです・Guaigawaruidesu I don’t feel good.
薬局はどこですか・Yak kyoku wa dokodesu ka Where is the pharmacy,
頭が痛いです・Atamagaitaidesu, My head hurts
一日何回薬を飲めばいいです・Tsuitachi, nan kai kusuri o nomeba īdesu。How many times a day should I take the medicine？
しんさつ を うけたいのですが・Shin satsu o uketai no desuga = I would like to have a medical examination
どのようなしょうじょうですか？・konnichiwa. Dono youna shoujou desuka? = What kind of symptoms do you have?
ねつはなんどですか？・Netsu wa nan do desu ka? = How high is your temperature
保険証・Hoken-shō = insurance card
駐車・ChūshaＩ = shot
骨折・Kossets = fracture
Feel like you want to know more? Check this article out Emergency Japanese: Necessary Japanese Words/Phrases for Use in Emergencies
Special occasion phrases
These are phrases that are specific to each occasion that will likely come up at some point. It is good to know. There is so much to know about Japanese culture, this A Comprehensive Guide to Japanese Culture will come in handy to learn more.
誕生日おめでとう (casual)・Tanjōbi omedetō = Happy birthday
誕生日おめでとうございます (formal)・Tanjōbi omedetō gozaimasu = Happy birthday
遅ればせながらお誕生日おめでとう・Okurebasenagara otanjoubi omedetou = belated happy birthday
As you may already know, Japanese people like to use humbling phrases so when giving gifts, they often use
つまらないものですが・tsumaranaimonodesuga = It's not much, but… / Please accept this little gift.
Also, there is a special coming-of-age birthday when you turn twenty years old.
In January, there is a ceremony for 20-year-olds called 成人式 seijin shiki. Everyone who turned 20 in the past year wears traditional clothing such as kimonos and celebrates with friends and family.
おめでとうございます・Go-kekkon omedetō gozaimasu = Congratulations on your wedding.
結婚式・Kekkon shiki = Wedding ceremony
夫婦・Fūfu = married couple
Get to know more about Japanese customs with this article, Ultimate Guide to Japanese Customs
卒業おめでとうございます・Sotsugyō omedetōgozaimasu = Congratulations on graduating.
卒業式・Sotsugyo shiki = graduation ceremony
今まで本当にがんばったね・Ima made hontou ni gan battane = You worked so hard up to now.
これからも頑張ってください・Kore karamo gan batte kuda sai = I wish you the best of luck in all of your future endeavors.
What people wear to graduations:
Dresses or suits
着物・kimono: traditional Japanese garment
袴・hakama: skirt for formal wear
More graduate phrases in Japanese, 10 most useful words for graduates in Japanese
Most Japanese funerals お葬式・ Ososhiki, are done Buddhist-style. There is a lot of etiquette to remember for them if you are attending.
ご愁傷様です・Goshuushou-sama desu = You must be grieving terribly.
お悔やみ申し上げます・O-kuyami moushi agemasu = I offer my condolences. (Can also be used in a letter.)
お線香・O senkō = Incense
These are used to light and set up while praying at altars. It comes in many different smells and leaves ashes.
Learn about funeral etiquette in Japan, Japanese Funeral Etiquette: Some Helpful Guidelines
The Japanese celebrate Christmas in a little bit of a unique way compared to the western world. It is less of a religious holiday and actually a couples holiday.
メリークリスマス・Merī kurisumasu = Merry christmas
The abbreviated version: メリクリ・Merī kuri
クリスマス・イブ・Kurisumasu ibu = Christmas Eve
Christmas Eve is more important than the actual Christmas Day in Japan.
サンタさん・Santa-san = Santa Claus
クリスマスイルミネーション・Kurisumasu iruminēshon = Christmas Illuminations
During the holiday season, illuminations are everywhere and a sight to behold!
フライドチキン・Furaido chikin = Fried Chicken
Oddly enough, Christmas means eating Kentucky Fried Chicken for Japanese people.
プレゼント・Purezento = Present
良い冬休みを・Ī fuyu yasumi o = Have a great winter vacation!
New years is a bigger event than Christmas in Japan!
あけましておめでとうございます・Akemashite omedetou gozaimasu = Happy New Year’s
よいお年をお迎えください・Yoi otoshi o omukae kudasai = I hope you will have a good new year.
本年もどうぞよろしくお願ねがいいたします・Hon'nen mo dōzo yoroshiku o gan negai itashimasu = I will be counting on you this year as well.
新年・Shin'nen = New Year
おせち料理・Osechi ryōri = New Year dishes
雑煮・Zōni (This is mochi cooked with vegetables)
年越しそば・Toshi koshi soba (The tradition of eating soba noodles at the end of the year. Soba noodles break the easiest so by consuming soba noodles, you break off all the bad luck before the new year comes.)
鏡開き・Kagami biraki (to eat the mochi that was given as an offering to the gods/Buddha)
新年の抱負・Shin'nen no hōfu = New year’s resolutions
More about New Year in Japan, Wishing others a Happy New Year in Japanese!
Useful Japanese phrases for dating
If you want to date a Japanese person, these phrases are good to know. If you want to learn about dating apps in Japan, check out this article, Japanese Dating Apps.
Asking someone out for dinner in Japanese
Person 1: 今度の金曜日一緒に食事でもどう？・kondo no doyōbi ishho ni shokuji demo dō? Would you like to go out for dinner with me on Friday?
Person 2: いいね、行きましょう・ ii ne, zehi ikimashō Yes, let’s go.
Asking someone to hangout in Japanese
A: 今度の金曜日空いてる？どっか遊びにいかない？・kondo no kin'yōbi aiteru? dokoka asobi ni ikanai? = Are you free this Friday? Do you want to hang out somewhere?
B: オッケー、一緒にどこかへ行こうか・ issho ni dokoka e ikou ka = Okay, let’s go somewhere.
Confessing your feelings to someone in Japanese and asking them out
好きです。良ければ付き合ってください・Sukidesu. Yokereba tsukiatte kudasai = I like you. If it’s okay, let’s date.
Telling someone you want to break up in Japanese
しばらく距離おこっか・shibaraku kyori okokka = Let’s take a break / We should have some space
わかれよう・Wakare you = Let’s break up. (This one is a little more straightforward and blunt).
Here are some other words and phrases you might use:
To ask someone out on a date
deeto ni sasou
Long distance relationship
en kyori renai
You are cute
You are handsome
koku haku suru
Want to know more about dating in Japan? See Top 10 Japanese phrases for dating.
Make the Switch to Speaking Japanese
Useful Japanese phrases for when you don’t understand
Chances are, there will be instances where you can’t clearly express yourself or remember that exact word in Japanese, or you couldn’t quite understand what someone said to you. Don’t worry, this is natural and there is no shame in asking for the other person to clarify or repeat what they said. So, how do you express that?
すみません、もう一度言ってもらえませんか？・Sumimasen, mō ichido itte morae masen ka = Sorry, could you please repeat that for me?
すいません、わかりません・Suimasen, wakari masen = I’m sorry, I don’t understand”
わかりました、ありがとうございます・Wakari mashita, arigatou gozaimasu = I understand, thank you.
ちょっと難しです・Chotto muzu kashii desu = It’s a little difficult (for me).
訳してください・Yaku shite kudasai = Can you translate this for me?
If you are having trouble at the beginning, it is good to download an app like ‘Google Translate’ because it also has a camera feature so that you can scan signs you can not read.
Still, confused? Find out more, 73 Basic Japanese Phrases to Survive Your First Conversation With a Native
Typical Japanese dialogue examples
Next, learning about phrases is helpful but it will be easier to understand if you read a real conversation and dialogue example. Here are two types of conversations you might run into. These are broken into casual and formal conversations with 2 types of formality each introduced with two examples.
Conversations with friends (casual)
Speaking with friends that you are familiar with means that you don’t have to think about using polite words or using です・desu ます・masu. The good thing about being with friends is that you have more leniency on what you say and how you say it. Even if you get a phrase wrong, you can just ask for help.
*Note: Friends usually call each other by first name and sometimes add -chan (female) or -kun (male).
Ohayō, tomī kun! Kyō wa ī tenkida ne.
Good morning Tommy! It's nice weather today.
Nana ko chan, ohayō! Sōda ne, hare teru. Kyō wa yotei aru no?
Nanako, good morning! Yeah, it's sunny. Do you have any plans today?
Yūgata wa, kazoku to eiga o mi ni iku tsumorina no. Tomī kun wa?
I'm going to see a movie with my family in the evening. What about you, Tommy?
Sōnan da, tanoshi-sōda ne. Boku wa ima kara tsuri ni iku tsumori.
Is that so? That seems fun. I'm going to go fishing right now.
Wakatta, jā mata ashita aou ne.
Okay, see you tomorrow.
Yahhō, ben. Genki?
Hey, Ben. well?
*ヤッホー is a casual way of greeting friends
Genki da yo. Kimi wa?
I am fine. What about you?
Mā mā. Tokoro de, tanomi ga arun dakedo.
So so. By the way, I have a request.
Nanika tasuke ga hitsuyōna no?
Do you need any help?
Ryokō-chū ni ore no inu no sewa o shite kurenai?
Will you take care of my dog while I am traveling?
It is definitely okay.
If you want to know how to find new friends check out this article, Top 15 Tips to Make Japanese Friends
Conversations with your senpai/someone older (formal)
Speaking politely to someone in a higher position than you or someone older is very important in Japan as a show of respect. Although most people will be likely to give some slack if they know you are a foreigner, it is still better to try your best at sounding native as it will show that you are well versed in the language. This can even be people outside of work or school.
先輩・Senpai = Senior
後輩・Kōhai = Junior
The kōhai yields to the senpai's seniority and experience and talks to the senpai using honorific language. The senpai speaks as a friend. This can be a little confusing and difficult to learn at first but once you get the hang of it, it will not be as challenging.
Matsushita, kyō bukatsu ni sanka suru no ka?
Matsushita, are you going to join club activities today?
Senpai, ohayō gozaimasu. Hai, kyō wa ikimasu.
Good morning, senpai. Yes, I will go today.
Okkē, jā atode.
Okay, see you later.
Hoshi no senpai, ohisashi buri desu!
Hoshino-senpai, it's been a long time!
A, Tamura. Genki ka? Omae zuibun yaseta na.
Oh, Tamura. How are you? You got pretty thin.
Hai, ran'ningu haji mete kara jū-kiro yase mashita.
Yes, I've lost 10 kilos since I started running.
Sōna nda, yokatta na. Ima kara baito itte kurukara, saraba.
Is that so? That’s good. I'm going to my part-time job now, so farewell.
Find out more on this topic, Hear Japanese Survival Phrases
Useful Japanese phrases in the workplace
Did you get a new job after moving to Japan and worried about what phrases to know on the job? Acing the interview is the first step. Navigating the workplace in Japan can seem difficult, figuring out what you should and shouldn’t say to certain people. However, in this section, you will find out the best Useful Japanese phrases to use with your coworkers, boss, customers, and what you should avoid using. It can get complicated quickly, so let’s stay focused!
Speaking with coworkers/boss
Much of the phrases you use at a business works for both coworkers and boss but the boss needs to be respected and it is most important to get formal phrases right when speaking with them.
When you first start working at the company:
It is important to make a good first impression at your new company so make sure to introduce yourself to everyone.
When meeting someone for the first time, ___と申します・___ to mōshimasu = My name is ___.
どうぞよろしくお願いいたします・Dōzo yoroshiku onegaī itashimasu = It’s a pleasure to meet you.
This means good morning as we learned earlier, however, the Kanji is different. We say this between coworkers or to the boss as soon as you see them first thing at work regardless of the time of day. Strange, right?
If you’re stepping out for a bit for a lunch break or something like that,
いってまいります・Itte mairi masu = I’m leaving now.
ただいま戻りました・Tadaima modori mashita = i have returned.
お先に失礼します・O-saki-ni shitsurei shimasu = Sorry to leave before you.
This is if you are leaving before your coworkers at the end of the day.
お疲れ様です・O-tsukare-sama desu = Thank you for your hard work + You must be tired
This can also be used at the end of the day or if someone did a favor for you.
お世話になっております・Osewa ni natte orimasu = Thank you for your kind cooperation.
ご苦労さまです・Gokuro sama desu = Thank you for your hard work, Good job. (You would not use this with your boss.)
すみません、今お時間大丈夫ですか・Sumimasen, ima ojikan daijoubu desu ka. = Excuse me, is now a good time?
申し訳ございません・Moushi wake gozai masen = I am terribly so sorry
Typically, you will call everybody by their last name with ～さん added to it.
For your boss, sometimes you also use their last name and ～さん or just call them 社長・Shachō = boss.
上司・Jyoushi = Superior
部下・Buka = Subordinate
Speaking with customer
Have you heard of Omotenashi?
This is uniquely Japanese because, in Japan, the culture is to wholeheartedly look after guests/customers. The Japanese mindset of hospitality revolves around care.
With customers is when you would use the highest form of respect in word choices.
You would often use お in front of words. お adds formality. ～おります。You will most likely receive amazing service. Since the standard of quality is high, it is important you give a good impression to whoever you are speaking to. It can be hard to work in customer service but knowing about these phrases can make it easier for you.
*Lots of bowing
You should call customers, ～さま・～sama, which is a more honorific way to call them by their name.
If you are working in customer services like a restaurant or a store, when a customer walks in, you say いらっしゃいませ・Irasshai mase = welcome to the store.
If you are a cashier,
次のお待ちの方どうぞ・Tsugi ni o-machi no kata, douzo = The next person waiting, please.
何かお探しですか？・Nani ka o-sagashi desu ka? = Are you looking for something?
For frequent customers, 毎度ありがとうございます。Maido arigatou gozaimasu = Thank you for always shopping with us.
What NOT to say to your boss or co-workers
There are some things that should never be said to your coworkers or boss in a professional setting like the workplace. Avoid these phrases so you don’t get a bad reputation or a write-up!
- Don’t use casual language
You most likely will not be using casual language or ため口・Tame-guchi and will be using ～です、～ます unless you are friends or the same age.
- Never call superiors or boss by their first name
Calling coworkers by their first name is a big no-no, especially if they are higher-ups because it can seem disrespectful and too friendly. You can call subordinates by their last name with no さん.
- Don’t ask personal questions
Typically you should not discuss personal matters with coworkers as many people like to be private and some can find it invasive. If you want to make friends, it is best to do it during breaks.
The main takeaway is to try and avoid offending your peers and bosses to make sure you have a good time working in Japan. Although there are probably many things that are different from your home country and you may not approve of the work culture in this country, it is good to respect it and to adhere to it.
There is more to learn, check out this article, Polite and Useful Japanese Business Phrases
Take Online Lessons at Japan Switch
Useful Japanese phrases to express emotion
Often, there are many words to express emotions, some even multiple for one feeling. You just have to determine what the situation calls for. It is key to be able to express yourself to others in Japanese. These range from negative to positive to apathetic emotions. Some can not be described the same in English as Japanese.
綺麗ですね・Kirei desu ne = You are pretty
素晴らしいですね Subarashī desu ne = That's wonderful.
立派ですね！・rippa desune = It is grand.
すごい・Sugoi = Wow/very
嬉しい・Ure shī = happy
悲しい・Kana shī = sad
恥ずかしい・Hazu kashī = shy
寂しい・Sabishī = lonely
怖い・Kowai = scary
辛い・Tsurai = painful
苦しい・Kuru shī= difficult
懐かしい ・Natsu kashī = nostalgic
安心・Anshin = relieved
感動・Kandō = moved
腹が立つ・Hara ga tatsu = get angry
うらやましい・Ura yama shī = envy/jealousy
かわいそう・Kawaisō = poor, pitiful
Useful Japanese Slang
Lastly, slang in Japanese. Slang is ever-changing and evolving rapidly. Especially if you are a young person, knowing slang is key to assimilating into Japanese culture and becoming closer with your Japanese friends. There are so many slang words and abbreviations that are used every day, even slang is used in popular media and tv. Find out useful Japanese phrases you’ll find on social media like Twitter or words you’ll see your friends text on Line messages. The easiest way to learn them is to start a Twitter account or start chatting with young Japanese people, you will quickly learn and integrate the work together.
超・chō = Super
Example: 超美味しい・Chō oishii = Super delicious
めっちゃ・metcha = Seriously/very
Example: めっちゃ楽しい・Metcha tano shī = Very fun
マジで・maji de = For real, Literally
Example: マジで熱い・Majide atsui = Literally so hot
やばい・yabai: Cool/Awful (can be used for pretty much anything)
Example: このゲームやばい・Kono gēmu yabai = This game is crazy/bad/cool.
キモい・kimoi = Gross, Ew
Example: これキモイ・Kore kimoi = This is disgusting
ダサい・dasai = Ugly/Lame/Old-fashioned
Example: その服ダサい・Sono fuku dasai = Those clothes are lame.
ガチ・gachi = Totally, Seriously, For real
Example: ガチで面白い・Gachi de omoshiroi = Seriously funny.
ウケる・ukeru = Hilarious
Example: その話ウケる・Sono-hanashi ukeru = That story is hilarious.
ムカつく・mukatsuku = Irritating
Example: あの人ムカつく・Ano hito muka tsuku = That person is irritating
This is a popular internet slang that is used jokingly and conveys the crying emoji.
Take a look at this article for more new slang, Japanese Slang: The Top 40 to Know
To conclude, hopefully, you learned a lot of new Useful Japanese phrases that you can now go out and use in the real world. You will most likely hear them a lot and when they’re used by other people, you can understand them better. These many phrases will come up in various different situations and now you will be prepared with the knowledge to understand them. Using these every day will also advance your Japanese, so do not be afraid to apply them to your life. Practice makes perfect! If you really want to get better at Japanese, check out the Japan Switch website to see your skills skyrocket!
From Beginner to Pro
Our bi-weekly emails for beginners to low intermediate students will give you the tips and motivation to self-study Japanese your way to Japanese fluency.
Japan Switch provides affordable morning and noon Japanese lessons in Tokyo. Centrally located, relaxed environment and quality textbooks. Japan Switch is your alternative option to a Japanese language school in Tokyo.
Opening Days : Monday - Friday
Shinjuku Branch : Opening Hours
9:30 - 1:30 PM - Group & Private Lessons
2:00 - 5:00 PM - Private Lessons
Online Branch : Opening Hours
9:30 - 1:00 PM - Private Lessons