Want to get the ultimate Japan travel guide, quick tips & tricks, language course and more?
It’s free! Click here 👋

Flip Guide Logo

40 most commonly used Japanese abbreviations

Useful Japanese travel phrases for your everyday life in Japan

If you are planning to travel or move to Japan and don’t speak any Japanese, here are some common daily Japanese phrases you can memorise easily and quickly to get by every day! 

If you are learning Japanese phrases or want to grasp the Japanese language quickly and easily, check out our FREE Japanese language 5-day challenge! You will be able to master simple casual Japanese conversation in just 5 days!

Want to find out more about Japan language? Check out:

One of the best ways to explore Tokyo is to visit the local areas and immerse yourself in the local culture. If you want to explore local areas, we have created scavenger hunt adventures personalised to your interests, filled with fun facts, clues and puzzles. If you’re curious, you can check out the games here!

Check out the Flip Japan Games here!

Japanese travel phrases

Basic greetings and phrases  

Scene in Japan with Japanese travel phrases

Here are some essential travel phrases you would need when travelling in Japan.

Ohayou gozaimasu (おはようございます)” means “good morning”. You can shorten it to just ‘ohayou’ if you’re speaking to a friend or someone you know well. 

Konnichiwa (こんにちは)’ is usually translated as “good afternoon”, but it’s also understood as ‘hello’ and you’ll hear it throughout the day. 

Konbanwa (こんばんは) means “good evening” and is used throughout the evening and night. 

Arigatou gozaimasu (ありがとうございます)” means “thank you”. Similarly to “ohayou gozaimasu”, you can omit ‘gozaimasu’ if you’re speaking to a friend or someone you know well. 

Douzo (どうぞ)’ means “please go ahead”. You can use this when opening the door for someone, offering a seat to someone, or asking someone to eat. 

Sumimasen (すみません)’ has been said to be one of the most difficult Japanese words to translate as it can mean several things. It can mean “I’m sorry” or “thank you”, but it’s most commonly translated as “excuse me”. 

For example, when a waiter refills your glass, you’ll use ‘sumimasen’ to say “thank you” (instead of “arigatou gozaimasu”) in a roundabout way: “excuse me for making you fill my glass.” Or, if you accidentally bump into someone, you use ‘sumimasen’ to say “I’m sorry”: “excuse me for bumping into you.” You’ll probably use it more commonly to get someone’s attention or to get past someone. 

Gomennasai (ごめんなさい)’ means “I’m sorry”. We’ve just discussed that ‘sumimasen’ can also mean “I’m sorry”, but unlike ‘sumimasen’ that has more humble connotations, ‘gomennasai’ has more sorrowful, guilty connotations. If you were to cause a person great distress, for example if you spilled a drink down their shirts or if you lost something of theirs, you would use ‘gomennasai’ instead of ‘sumimasen’. 

Essential phrases

Japanese useful everyday phrases for visiting tokyo

When you are travelling in Japan, these Japanese common daily phrases are very important for you. Check these Japanese travel phrases so your travel in Japan will be more convenient.

Both “onegaishimasu (お願いします)” and “kudasai (ください)” mean “please”, but “onegaishimasu” is tied more to actions, while “kudasai” is tied more to things. For example, if a cashier in a convenience store asks if you’d like them to microwave your meal (an action), you would use “onegaishimasu” to say “yes, please do this.” In a restaurant, if you’d like a glass of water (a thing), you would say “mizu (水) kudasai” to say, “water, please.”

They’re used interchangeably in some situations so don’t worry too much about using the “correct” one; you’ll be understood just fine either way. 

Daijoubu (大丈夫)” means “okay” or “fine”. For example, if a cashier asks if you’d like a plastic bag, you can say “daijoubu desu” to say “I’m fine, thanks.” Or you may ask a cashier, “kurejitto kaado (クレジットカード) wa daijoubu desu ka” to ask, “Is [paying with] a credit card okay?”

For the following few phrases, remember these basics.

~masu is positive. 
~masen is negative. 
~ka is a question mark. 

For example: 

Arimasu (あります)” means “I have” or “there is”. 
Arimasen (ありません)” means “I do not have” or “there isn’t”.
Arimasu ka (ありますか)” asks “do you have” or “is there”. 

For example, you may ask a bar owner, “toire (トイレ) wa arimasu ka” to ask, “is there a toilet?”, and he/she may reply, “toire wa arimasu/arimasen” to answer “there is/isn’t a toilet.” This will be particularly handy in shops and restaurants when you’re looking for a particular product or food item. 

Dekimasu (できます)” means “I can”. 
Dekimasen (できません)” means “I cannot”. 
Dekimasu ka (できますか)” asks “Can you”.

For example, someone may ask you “tenisu (テニス) dekimasu ka (can you play tennis)”, and you can reply with “tenisu dekimasu/dekimasen” to answer “I can/cannot play tennis.” 

Wakarimasu (わかります)” means “I understand”. 
Wakarimasen (わかりません)” means “I do not understand”. 
Wakarimasu ka (わかりますか)” asks “do you understand.” 

For example, you may ask someone, “eigo (英語) ga wakarimasu ka (Do you understand English?)”, and they will reply “eigo ga wakarimasu/wakarimasen” to answer “I do/do not understand English.” 

Restaurant Phrases

Japanese useful everyday phrases for visiting shrines and temples

Here are some amazing travel phrases you would need in a restaurant to easily communicate with the waiters and restaurant staff. You can use these Japanese common daily phrases everyday in Japan.

Yoyaku (予約)’ means ‘reservation’. To tell someone you have a reservation, you say, “yoyaku ga arimasu”. 

Otooshi (お通し)’ refers to an appetiser that you receive in exchange for paying a mandatory entry/table fee that some restaurants will charge. These entry/table fees range anywhere between 300 and 1000 yen (USD$2.8 to $9.35). 

Omakase (お任せ)’ is derived from the verb “omakase masu” which means to “leave it up to” someone. When asking for ‘omakase’ in a restaurant, you are “leaving it up to” the chef to decide what to serve you. This is usually available only in high-end restaurants, especially sushi restaurants. 

Osusume (おすすめ)’ means ‘recommendation”. This is really useful if you visit restaurants that don’t have English menus; you can simply ask the waiter/waitress for a recommendation, which is usually the restaurant’s signature dish. 


Japan scene Useful Japanese travel phrases for your everyday life in Japan

“___ wa nan desu ka (___はなんですか)” asks “what is”. For example, “kore (これ) wa nan desu ka” means “what is this?”

“___ wa doko desu ka (___はどこですか)” asks “where is”. For example, “eki (駅) wa doko desu ka” means “where is the station?”

“___ wa ikura desu ka (___はいくらですか)” asks “how much is”. For example, “biiru (ビール) wa ikura desu ka” means “how much is a beer?”

Which of these Japanese travel phrases do you like the most? Let us know which Japanese common daily phrase you will use in the comment section below.

Learning a new language can be challenging but with the right tools, it will be a more fun and exciting journey for you. To get your foot in the door in the world of Japanese language, we have prepared a 5-day challenge for you. Each day, we will send you an email with easy and quick tips for learning Japanese language and essential Japanese phrases straight to your mailbox. By the end of the 5-days, you will be able to hold a small conversation in Japanese! It is completely free so if you’re interested, just click here to sign up!

Want to find out more about Japan? check out Honest review on this Japanese language platform and Rocket Languages review on this Japanese learning platform  and 25 Useful Japanese descriptive words

If you want to learn more about how to introduce yourself, say “this” and “that”, “here” and “there”, and just master the casual Japanese language, come and join the Japanese language 5-day challenge.  

We host our own bar tours regularly as well! We take you to all kinds of unique and underground locations around Tokyo, with anywhere between five to fifteen international guests! We’ve also lived in Japan for years and we’re happy to answer any questions you may have, ranging from history, and culture to society and nightlife! Come join us for a great night!

Stay tuned for more information about Japan travel, Japanese culture, moving to Japan, living in Japan and more.

Flip Japan Guide
Got a question? Reach out to us through Instagram or Facebook Messenger
Connect with us: Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest
Join our Facebook community here!

We’re your local friend in Japan, helping you explore, experience and enjoy the ins and outs of Japan! When we first arrived in Tokyo, we all found this city to be overwhelming, not sure where to begin. During the years that we have lived here in Japan, we have discovered and visited countless famous tourist attractions as well as unique underground places. We are now proud to say that we are experts of Japan and would love to share the knowledge with all of you!

Tag us @flipjapanguide on Instagram and share your adventures with us!



Hey friend!

Just like you, we are foreigners from all around the world.

When we first arrived in Tokyo, we all found this city to be overwhelming, not sure where to begin.

During the years that we have lived here in Japan, we have discovered and visited countless famous tourist attractions as well as unique and underground places.

We are now proud to say that we are experts of Japan and would love to share the knowledge with all of you!


Kumano Kodo Area Guide & Itinerary: Unveiling Japan’s Ancient Pilgrimage Paths

Nestled within the captivating landscapes of the Kii Peninsula in Japan lies a network of ancient...

Koyasan Area Guide & Itinerary: Unveiling the Spiritual and Cultural Enchantment

Nestled amidst the tranquil mountains of Wakayama Prefecture, Japan, lies a mystical destination...

Uji Area Guide & Itinerary: Where Tranquility Meets Tradition

Welcome to Uji, a serene and historically rich city nestled in the heart of Japan. This charming...

Japan Do’s and Don’ts: What you need to know when visiting Japan

Welcome to Japan, fellow travellers! If it's your first time exploring this incredible country,...

Wakayama Area Guide & Sample Itinerary: History, Food, and Coastal Charm Converge

Are you ready for a journey that's part history lesson, part culinary adventure, and completely...

Autumn Leaves in Japan: Enjoy Koyo from September to December

The only season in Japan as famous as Spring for its pink cherry blossoms is Autumn, where vibrant...

10-day Japan Itinerary in summer 

Welcome to Japan, a land of captivating traditions, modern innovation, breathtaking landscapes,...

Taito City Ward Area Guide: Best things to do, History, Areas & Hotels

Have you heard about Taito Ward in Tokyo? One of the 23 wards of Tokyo, Taito has various unique...

Free things to do in Tokyo: 30+ Ways to enjoy Tokyo without spending money

Tokyo is a fantastic city, and the sheer amount of activities is endless. However, costs can add...

Hydrangea in Tokyo: 21 Best Spots + Hidden Gems for Ajisai

Are you wondering where to see Hydrangea in Tokyo? Are you in Tokyo during the rainy season and...


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *