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Survival Japanese

Know a word or two before you embark on your Japan journey!

One could live in Japan without speaking a word of the language. Street signs and station names are written in romaji (the alphabet). Many government agencies can provide documents in English. Of course, your Japan experience will be all the richer if you do learn the language, even if it’s just the basics. If you are at square one, the following phrases will be handy for getting by in Japan. Once you’re settled, look to Japanese Lessons with NOVA to further your skills!

General Phrases

Phrase Romaji English
こんにちは Konnichi wa Hello/Good afternoon.
おはようございます Ohayou gozai masu Good morning
よろしくお願いします Yoroshiku Onegai shimasu It’s nice to meet you.
(Lit. “Please take care of me.”
Said at the end of a self-introduction.)
こちらこそ Kochira koso Likewise.
(Response to “It’s nice to meet you.”)
はじめまして Hajime mashite How do you do?
(Lit. “It’s the first time.”
Said when meeting someone for the first time.)
お元気ですか? O genki desu ka? How are you?
(Lit. “Are you healthy?”)
元気です Genki desu I’m fine
ごめんなさい Gomen nasai I’m sorry
ありがとうございます Arigatou gozai masu Thank you
どういたしまして Dou itashi mashite You’re welcome
さようなら Sayounara Good bye
おつかれさまです Otsukare sama desu Thank you for your hard work.
(Said at the end of the work day to coworkers or friends.)
英語ができますか? Eigo ga dekimasuka? Can you speak English?
はい Hai Yes.
いいえ Iie No.
いただきます Itadaki masu Thank you for the (food/meal).
(Said prior to a having a meal or receiving food.)
ごちそうさまでした Gochisousama deshita Thank you for the (food/meal).
(Said after a having a meal.)
だめ Dame That’s bad. (That’s no good.)
大丈夫 Daijyoubu It’s (That’s) OK. / I’m OK


Phrase Romaji English
どこから来ましたか? Doko kara kimashita ka? Where are you from?
(country) から来ました (country) kara kimashita I am from (country).
名前は何ですか? Namae wa nan desu ka? What is your name?
私は (name) です Watashi wa ~ desu My name is ~.
何が好きですか? Nani ga suki desu ka? What do you like?
~が好きです ~ ga suki desu I like ~.
何歳ですか? Nan sai desu ka? How old are you?
(age) 歳です (age) sai desu I am (age).
誕生日はいつですか? Tanjoubi wa itsu desu ka? When is your birthday?
(month)月(day)日です (Month) gatsu (day) nichi desu It’s on (month)(day).


Phrase Romaji English
~はどこですか? ~wa doko desu ka? Where is ~?
これはいくらですか? Kore wa ikura desu ka? How much is this?
これは何ですか? Kore wa nan desu ka? What is this?
これを下さい Kore o kudasai This one please.
今何時ですか? Ima nan ji desu ka? What time is it now?
すみません Sumimasen Excuse me./I’m sorry.
~がありますか? ~ga arimasu ka? Do you have ~?

If you would like more resources on learning Japanese, we will be able to share more information prior to your start with GABA.

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