Japanese Language Guide For Beginners

Are you planning on visiting Japan anytime soon? Then I’m sure you must be feeling a whirlwind of emotions right now. You’re probably very excited and happy about your upcoming abroad experience… but maybe you’re also a little bit scared about the language. It’s no lie that most Japanese people don’t speak English – even in Tokyo. But fear not! I’m here to help you with some need-to-know words to make your stay in the Land of the Rising Sun go as smoothly as possible!

Japanese language guide Rakbo

In the list below I will also include the Japanese pronunciation of a word (in the Japanese writing hiragana) for those already studying Japanese.


Japanese word  Pronunciation in hiragana and roman alphabet  Meaning



おはようございます ohayōgozaimasu Good morning
こんにちは konnichiwa Hello
こんばんは konbanwa Good evening
ありがとう arigatō Thank you
ありがとうございます arigatōgozaimasu Thank you (polite)
すみません sumimasen Sorry / excuse me (light apology or stopping someone in the street)
ごめんなさい gomennasai Sorry (real apology)
お願いします おねがいしますonegaishimasu Please
…どの辺ですか? dono hen desuka? Around what area is…?
…どこですか? doko desuka? Where is…?
…なんですか? nan desuka? What is …?
…いくらですか? ikura desuka? How much does … cost?
これ・それ・あれ kore / sore / are This / that / that (farther away)




空港 くうこう kūkō Airport
成田空港 なりたくうこう narita kūkō Narita Airport
成田 なりた narita Narita
羽田空港 はねだくうこう haneda kūkō Haneda Airport
羽田 はねだ haneda Haneda
税関 ぜいかん zeikan Customs
荷物 にもつ nimotsu Luggage
お手洗い おてあらい ote arai Bathroom



Local travel

電車 でんしゃ densha Train
ホーム hōmu Platform
切符 きっぷ kippu Ticket
行き ゆき yuki In the direction of
から kara From
まで made To
注意 ちゅうい chūi Be careful
ドア doa Door
開く ひらく hiraku Open
閉まる しまる shimaru Close
急行 きゅうこう kyūkō Express train
準急 じゅんきゅう junkyū Semi express train
普通 ふつう futsū Local train
各駅停車 かくえきていしゃ kaku eki teisha Local train (stops at every train station on the line)
快速 かいそくkaisoku Rapid train
新幹線 しんかんせん shinkansen Shinkansen (bullet train)
せん sen (train)line




いらっしゃいませ irasshaimase Welcome (staff will say this when entering a restaurant or shop)
何名さまですか? なんめいさまですか nanmeisama desuka? How many people? (staff will ask you this)
少々お待ちください しょうしょうおまちください shōshō omachi kudasai Please wait (staff will ask you this)
ベジタリアン bejitarian Vegitarian
砂糖 さとうsatō Sugar
牛乳 ぎゅうにゅう gyūnyū (Cow) milk
乳製品 にゅうせいひん nyūseihin Dairy products
麩質 ふしつ fushitsu Gluten
寿司 すし sushi Sushi
天ぷら てんぷら tenpura Tempura
ラーメン raamen Ramen
暖かいそば・冷たいそば あたたかいそば・つめたいそば  atatakai soba / tsumetai soba Warm soba / Cold soba noodles
お好み焼き おこのみやき okonomiyaki Okonomiyaki
鮭・サーモン さけ・サーモン sake / saamon Samon
マグロ maguro Tuna
豚肉 ぶたにく buta niku Pork meat
枝豆 えだまめ edamame Edamame (beans)
おにぎり onigiri Onigiri (rice ball)
醤油 しょうゆ shōyu Soy sauce
お酒 おさけ osake Alcohol
梅酒 うめしゅ umeshu Plum wine
ワイン wain Wine
生ビール なまびーる nama biiru Beer
お茶 おちゃ ocha Tea
ウーロン茶 うーろんちゃ ūroncha Oolong tea
お水 おみず omizu Water
お冷 おひや ohiya Cold (drinking) water
替え玉 かえだま kaedama Second serving
お会計 おかいけい okaikei Bill


Let us know if you are planning on using this list or if this list helped you in any way! Do you think there are more words that could have been added to the list? Be sure to mention it in the comments below!

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Hanna B

Hanna is a 22 year old Japanese Studies student who majored in Japanese literature in Tokyo, Japan last year. She founded her blog,, where she documents her travels and daily life in Japan. In her spare time she loves to read and write. She also has a big passion for food and fashion.

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