Here are some very basic Japanese words that you should know
and that I have found that I used quite a bit! (I have written English first, then how the Japanese sounds or is said, regardless of spelling, and I might have included clarification). USE THESE WORDS!
As a visitor to Japan, being polite, extending a greeting is always appreciated. One of the attendants in the Tokyo Prince Hotel told me at the very end of my three weeks stay in Japan, that he and his staff appreciated the fact that I always said “Good Morning” or extended a greeting when I saw them and always said “Thank you” to them as well. He also commented that his serving staff, wait staff, and those in serving lines also appreciated being greeted and thanked…no matter how I tried to say it. To me it seemed important to do so, not only extending what I personally believe in, but also being a representative of my country.
Remembering some of these at first…or well, anytime, might be difficult. As part of the JFMF program, I was required to wear a name badge on a lanyard the entire time. It really became a part of me, not only holding my nametags, passport, some business cards, subway ticket, I found this clear pouch useful to hide some important words, such as these, on the backside—to they were really only visible to me most of the time.
(Again, note that my spelling of the words in Japanese is most likely NOT correct. I tried to write it how I heard it and then how to say it)
I AM (FILL IN YOUR NAME) =
WA-TAH-SHI-WA (FILL IN YOUR NAME) DES
THANK YOU =
THANK YOU VERY MUCH =
YOU ARE WELCOME=
DO-ITAHS-SHI-MASHITE (DO-ITAH-SHI-MAH-SHH-TEY) almost sounds like “don’t touch your moustache”!
OHIO GOZAYMASS (OHIO GO-Z-EYE-MUSS)
KON EECHEE WAH (CON-EEE-CHEEE-WHAH)
GOOD EVENING =
KON BAN WAH (CON-BAHHH-N-WHAH)* at the extradordinary after dark program at DisneySea, just before the dragon and white witch appear out of the water, Mickey Mouse zooms across the water exclaiming “Kon banwah, kon banwah!” to all present. Honestly, that was the only part I understood, but he was setting up what was about to happen.
GOOD NIGHT =
EXCUSE ME =
SUE MAY MAH SEN (SUE-MAY-MAH-SEN) I remember one time using this on the escalators coming out of the subway. I was standing on the incorrect side riding up. A lady was coming up the stairs quickly. She had far more energy than I and probably weighed 100 lbs less! I realized I was on the wrong side, moved over, she shot by me. I said, “Suemaymahsen” rather loudly to be heard over the escalator and noise. She paused momentarily and acknowledged me, smiled, and bowed to me, before continuing her hurried pace up the steps.
THANK YOU FOR THE FOOD WE ARE ABOUT TO EAT=
EE-TAH-DAKIMAS (EEE-TAHH-DOC-E-MUSS) kind of sounds like “eat the documents”!
THANK YOU FOR THE FOOD I ATE=
The following were other words that became necessary for my own home stay with the Yamamoto Family. They taught me these words, and even how to cook some of the foods listed—such as the Kuri gohan, which I made for my entire school staff for a party back in the USA!
RAW RICE =
COOKED RICE =
COOKED RICE WITH CHESTNUTS (a traditional dish)=
KURI GOHAN (CURRY-GO-HAHN)
GRASS MAT =
TATAMI (TAT-AHH-MEE) this is a mat of woven grasses that you would sleep on in a special traditional room of the house. Make sure you NEVER wear your slippers (or shoes) on this surface in the home or hotel!
FUTON (FOO- TAHH-N) a short chair-like seat that can unfold into a mattress sort of place where you would sleep. (not always does this have to be a seat, but just might be the mattressy-type of material).
PAPER DOOR =
FUSUMA (FOO-SOO-MAH) this traditional door normally slides as a partition…and it really is paper!
OUTSIDE/WINDOW PAPER =
SHOJI (SHO-GEE) traditional window coverings
ITALIAN FLOWERS =
THIS IS A GIFT FOR YOU =
KORE WA HONNO KIMOCHI DESU (CORE-EH-WAH-HO-NOH-KIM-OH-SHEE-DESS)
I AM PLEASED TO MEET YOU =
HAJIME MASHITE (HAJJ-EE-MAY MAH-SHH-TAH)