If you decide to explore the Japanese language and culture, prepare to embark on a truly enriching journey.

Japan encompasses one of the oldest cultures in the world, and remains a place of alluring mystic. You have likely witnessed incredible masterpieces from the renowned Japanese painter Hokusai. Hokusai’s most popular artistic collection is the Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji series. The Great Wave off Kanagawa painting is widely used today in home décor and apparel designs. Speaking of the seas, the culinary portion of Japanese certainly favors fresh fish. You will be delighted to know that sushi finds its origins back in ancient Japan. That delicious bowl of ramen is also Japanese. Clearly, there are plenty of worthy rewards if you choose to embark on this journey. The first step? Learn some basic Japanese phrases. Of course, as you educate yourself on all things Japanese, you certainly do not want to overlook the beautiful language. Especially if you are planning a trip to Japan soon, knowing basic Japanese phrases is quite important.

Here is all you need to know when you learn basic Japanese phrases.

Tips for learning Japanese, or any new language.

Maybe you have tried to learn a language before and failed. Perhaps you do not have anything to show for those four years of Spanish in high school except for how to awkwardly mumble “Gracias.” Rest assured, you are not alone. If language learning was easy, everyone would do it and international communication would be effortless. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Acquiring a new language is quite complex and requires extensive effort and consistency. Surely the incentive far outweighs the trouble, as you reap the opportunity to communicate with individuals of a new culture. Not only does foreign language fluency get you farther when you travel, you also have many more opportunities. You can become a translator or teacher with your newly obtained linguistic skill.

How badly do you actually want to learn a new language?

Steve Kaufmann, a resourceful linguist and popular polyglot, believes that motivation is the most important factor in succeeding with your language learning endeavors. Kaufmann notes that there are several types of individuals when it comes to learning a new language. There are those who are not interested in the slightest. These are the people who spend their time looking for someone who knows their language whilst visiting a foreign country. They are the ones forever typing into Google Translate and probably wondering where the nearest Starbucks is. We say this not to insult this type of person, but to illustrate a point. We all have likely made the mistake of slighting a new culture with our ignorance.

Next, there are people who often remark how they would love to learn a new language, but rarely make any effort towards doing so. Spending all your time talking about your plans gets you nowhere closer to your goal. So obviously, if you truly want to learn a new language, you need to be this third person. The last person here is someone who is willing to put in the time and effort needed for proper language learning. These people are motivated to stick with their goal, even through the initial awkwardness of foreign language integration. There is that word again: motivation.

Understanding Japanese Words and Grammar.

basic japanese phrases - Grammar

If your native language is Latin-based, you likely might feel a little out of your comfort zone when it comes to Asian languages. Obviously, the products utilized to formulate words and sentences are immensely different from our own Latin structure. Don’t let this discourage you. When it comes to these types of languages, your brain needs to adjust to this new way of communication. Furthermore, this means the methods you use to study Japanese are entirely different from your own language. With this, Japanese learners quickly realize that they cannot learn this new language in the same manner they learned their native tongue.

At the very beginning, Japanese particles are one of the smallest portions of the language structure. Particles are small words that serve as a guide for the relations within the sentence. You should first learn these particles and meanings in order to accurately build your phrasing. From here, explore common Japanese nouns, adjectives, and verbs and begin constructing your first basic Japanese phrases.

Personal and Formal Japanese Greetings.

Japan is an honor-oriented culture. This means that there is a higher expectation to conduct yourself well within social interactions. Here, much weight goes into your politeness and manners, so act your best. Behaviors such as pouring your friend’s drink for them, staying quiet on the train, and not snacking in public are all important to learn and employ. Additionally, here are some personal and formal Japanese greetings you should know.

Ohayō gozaimasu. Good morning.おはようございます。

Konbanwa. Good evening.こんばんは。

O-yasumi nasai. Good night.おやすみなさい。

O-namae wa nan desu ka. What is your name?おなまえはなんですか。

Watashi no namae wa ( ) desu. My name is ().わたしのなまえは かおりです。

O-genki desu ka. How are you?おげんきですか。

Genki desu. I’m fine. Thank you.げんきです。

Oaidekite ureshī desu. I am very glad to meet you.おあいできて うれしいです。

Popular Japanese Phrases You Should Know.

basic japanese phrases

Now that you know how to start a conversation, you probably want a hint at what to say next. Whether you are shopping at a local market or asking for directions, here are some popular basic Japanese phrases that are helpful to know.

Eigo o hanasemasu ka. Do you speak English?

えいごをはなせますか。

Sumimasen. I’m sorry.

すみません。

Eigo wa hanasemasen. I do not speak English.

えいごは はなせません。

Watashi wa nihongo ga sukoshi shika hanasemasen.

Unfortunately, I speak only a little Japanese.

わたしは にほんごがすこししかはなせません。

Dai jōbu desu. That’s all right.

だいじょうぶです。

Wakarimasu. I understand you.

わかります。

まよって しまい ました、 たすけて くれません か?

迷ってしまいました、助けてくれませんか?

Mayotte shimai mashita, tasukete kuremasen ka?

I’m lost, can you help me?

ゆっくり はなして もらって も いい です か?

Yukkuri hanashite moratte mo ii desu ka?

Could you speak slowly for me?

にほんご が はなせます か?

Nihongo ga hanasemasu ka?

Can (you) speak Japanese?

スーパー は なんじ に あきます か

スーパーは何時に開きますか

Sūpā wa nanji ni akimasu ka?

When is the supermarket open?

でんしゃ は なんじ に はっしゃ します か

電車は何時に発車しますか

Densha wa nanji ni hassha shimasu ka?

When does the train leave?

かんこう あんない じょう は どこ です か

観光案内場は何処ですか

Kankō annai jo wa doko desu ka?

Where can I find the tourist information center?

Embrace the language, embrace the culture.

Clearly, truly embracing a new language is much more than just memorizing a few key phrases. Yes, it helps to know basic Japanese phrases for when you visit, but to truly learn Japanese you need to dedicate yourself to the process. Learning a foreign language includes exploring the culture’s customs and politics. It is entirely an immersion experience. As you learn Japanese, buy children’s books written in this language and watch television programs in Japanese. Go to the Asian market and purchase ingredients to make a whole Japanese meal (Hint: Matcha tea is delicious). Find people who speak Japanese and take the time to have a conversation with them in their language. As we said, motivation is the number one factor in your language learning success. Go ahead and decide today that you want to broaden your linguistic repertoire. If you begin now, think about how far you will get in a year. Start by learning a few basic Japanese phrases and then see where that takes you. 

Related Article: Chinese Words And Phrases Travelers Should Know

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Faith is a writer and social media manager residing in Virginia Beach, Virginia. She is passionate about people and currently attends university in pursuit of a degree in Clinical Psychology and Counseling. A nomad by nature, Faith finds utmost joy in trekking around the globe and strongly advocates backpacking as the best way to explore anywhere. Being a bookworm and an avid coffee drinker, she is likely to be found sipping an Americano and mulling over a classic novel.

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