Taiken Japan

Autumn Leaves 2016

Useful Japanese Phrases for Foreigners

Photo: Nicola on Flickr

Useful Japanese Phrases for Foreigners

Sanny Soedjatmiko Hartanto

First of all, if you want to go to Japan, it is better to learn some of the more useful Japanese phrases. Why do I recommend that? It is because many local Japanese people do not understand English and they can’t speak English too. So, you need to learn some of their language or commonly used phrases. Here are the most commonly used phrases in Japan, which will be helpful during your travel or stay in Japan.

 GOOD MORNING(お早うございます)

Misty Morning

Misty Morning
Photo: Richard Walker on Flickr
The Japanese people usually say “Ohayou Gozaimasu” in the morning. The word お早う ”Ohayou” means early in Japanese, and the word ございます “Gozaimasu” means to be or to exist in Japanese. So, it literally means, “Here it is! Morning!” in Japanese. Actually, you can also use “Ohayou” only for casual greetings. “Ohayou” means “Morning” in Japanese. So, how does it differ from “Ohayou Gozaimasu” then? Gozaimasu is for the polite version of it, which means “Good Morning” in Japanese. Please get used to saying “Ohayou Gozaimasu” for greeting everyone who is older than you. If you use “Ohayou” to greet your teacher or manager, they will think that you disrespect them, and maybe they will also think that you are rude.


Photo: Scott Smith on Flickr
Konnichiwa means “Good Afternoon” in Japanese. Different with “Ohayou”, these phrases can’t be attached with “Gozaimasu”. Besides, it means “Good Afternoon”, it can also be used for a “Hello”. In Japanese the word 今日 “Konnichi” means “this day”.


Photo: Lucas Lin on Flickr
Konbanwa means “Good Evening” in Japanese. It also differs with “Ohayou”, these phrases can’t be attached with “Gozaimasu”. The word “Konban” means this evening in Japanese.


Photo: SaraTen on Flickr
Please notice that “Oyasumi” is used for saying “Good night, have a nice dream” in Japan. The word “Yasumi” means to take a rest in Japanese.

THANK YOU(ありがとうございます)

Photo: Shih-Chieh "Ilya" Li on Flickr
I think this phrase is really basic! “Arigatou Gozaimasu” which means “Thank You” in Japanese. As I described earlier, the word “Gozaimasu” is used to greet anyone who is/are older than you. You can simply use “Arigatou” to say “Thanks” to your friends and colleagues. Nowadays, there are so many versions of saying “Thanks” among teenagers some of them are “Azaman”, “Azamashi” and “Azasu”. These are the  modified Japanese phrases by the teenagers.


Photo: Brian Talbot on Flickr
Maybe the Japanese words of directions can be helpful during your trip to Japan. First, 上 “Ue” means “Up”, 下 “Shita” means “Down”, 右 “Migi” means “Right”, and 左 “Hidari” means “Left” in Japanese.


Photo: Joey Rozier on Flickr
Maybe it is better for you to know about beef, chicken, and pork in Japanese. For Muslim, you need to know that the meat inside of the dish is not pork. So, 豚肉 “Butaniku” means “Pork” in Japanese. For Muslim, If you every menu contains this word, you can avoid it. Next, 牛肉 “Gyuuniku” means “Beef” in Japanese. For last, 鶏肉 “Toriniku” means “Chicken” in Japanese.