Japanese Language Resources

Daily Useful Phrases

Japanese Language Resources

The phrases below you will hear and hopefully use everyday while in Japan. The Japanese are a very polite people and appreciate it when foreigners are as well. Using Japanese greetings and courtesies is well received by the Japanese. Using phrases such as, excuse me (Sumimasen) when you need assistance, please (Onegai Shimasu) when asking for something, and thank you (Arigato) are always appreciated.

Expressions of Gratitude
In Japanese culture, expressing gratitude is considered an essential aspect of social interaction. The language contains several expressions of gratitude, such as "Arigatou" (Thank you, informal) and "Arigatou gozaimasu" (Thank you, formal), which are commonly used in daily conversations. Japanese people often express gratitude through actions as well, such as giving gifts or performing kind deeds without any expectation of reciprocity. Overall, gratitude is deeply ingrained in Japanese culture and plays a significant role in interpersonal relationships.
Arigatou gozaimasu (ありがとうございます) Thank you (Most common). Note: The "u" at the of end of gozaimasu is silent.
Arigatou gozaimashita (ありがとうございました) Thank you past tense.
Doumo arigatou gozaimasu (どうもありがとうございます) Thank you very much. Note: The "u" at the of end of gozaimasu is silent.
Arigatou (ありがとう) Thank you (Casual). Use with family and friends.
Dou itashimashite (どういたしまして) You're welcome
Iie, iie (いいえ、いいえ) No, no, it was nothing
Greetings and Goobyes
Japanese greetings are an essential part of the culture and are based on respect and politeness. The most common greeting is "Konnichiwa," which means "hello" or "good afternoon." Japanese greetings are an essential part of the culture and reflect the importance of respect and politeness in social interactions.In Japanese culture, there are several ways of saying goodbye, each with its own level of formality and context. One common way to bid farewell is by saying "sayonara," which is a more formal and final goodbye. Another popular phrase is "ja, mata," which is a more casual way of saying "see you later."
Ohayou gozaimasu (おはようございます) Good morning. Note: The "u" at the of end of gozaimasu is silent.
Konnichiwa (こんにちは) Good afternoon or hello. Used during daytime.
Konbanwa (こんばんは) Good evening.
Oyasuminasai (おやすみなさい) Good night.
Sayounaya (さようなら) Good bye (formal)
Ja mata (じゃあまた) See you later.
Excuse me, I'm sorry
"Sumimasen" (すみません) and "gomen nasai" (ごめんなさい) are two common Japanese expressions used to convey apologies or show gratitude. "Sumimasen" can be translated as "excuse me" or "I'm sorry," and is often used in situations where one needs to get someone's attention, make a polite request, or apologize for a minor inconvenience. On the other hand, "gomen nasai" can be translated as "I'm sorry" or "forgive me," and is typically used to convey a more heartfelt apology for a mistake or an offense.
Sumimasen (すみません) Excuse me or I'm sorry.
Gomen nasai (ごめんなさい) I'm sorry.
Yes and No
“Hai” (はい) and “iie” (いいえ) are fundamental Japanese expressions that indicate affirmation and negation, respectively. "Hai" can be translated as "yes," and is used to express agreement, acceptance, or confirmation in response to a question or statement. Conversely, "iie" can be translated as "no," and is employed to convey disagreement, denial, or refusal. These two expressions form the basis of affirmative and negative responses in Japanese communication However, it is important to note that the use of "はい" and "いいえ" can sometimes be more nuanced than a simple "yes" or "no" in English, as they may also convey the speaker's level of politeness or reflect cultural subtleties in communication.
Hai (はい) Yes
Iie (いいえ) No
Mealtime Expressions
In Japanese culture, there are a few expressions that are often used during mealtime to show gratitude and appreciation for the food. Before starting a meal, it is customary to say "いただきます" (itadakimasu), which translates to "I humbly receive" and conveys gratitude for the meal that has been prepared. During the meal, if you find the food delicious, you can compliment it by saying "おいしい" (oishii), which simply means "delicious" or "tasty." Upon finishing the meal, you can express your appreciation for the dining experience by saying "ごちそうさま" (gochisousama) or "ごちそうさまでした" (gochisosama deshita), both of which can be translated as "thank you for the meal." These expressions are deeply rooted in Japanese culture, reflecting the importance of gratitude, respect, and the enjoyment of food in daily life.
Itadakimasu (いただきます) Said before eating or drinking.
Oishii (おいしい) Delicious
Gochisosama deshita (ごちそうさまでした) Thank you for the meal.
At A Restaurant
In a Japanese restaurant, there are several common phrases and expressions that can help you navigate the dining experience with ease and politeness. Upon entering, you will likely hear the staff greeting you with "いらっしゃいませ" (irasshaimase), which means "welcome." To get the attention of the serving staff, you can use the phrase "すみません" (sumimasen) shown above, which means "Excuse me" in Japanese. You can request an English menu by saying “えいご の メニュー が あります か ?” (eigo no menyū ga arimasu ka?). When ordering food, you may use "これをください" (kore o kudasai), which translates to "please give me this," while pointing at a menu item. To ask for the bill,  you can say "お会計お願いします" (o-kaikei onegaishimasu), which means "please give me the bill." Finally, after finishing your meal, it is customary to thank the staff by saying "ごちそうさまでした" (gochisosama deshita) shown in Mealtime Expressions, which is a polite expression of gratitude for the meal. These phrases are key to ensuring a smooth and enjoyable dining experience while showing respect for the local customs and traditions.
Irasshaimase (いらっしゃいませ) Welcome
Eigo no menyuu ga arimasu ka? (えいご の メニュー が あります か ?) Do you have an English menu?
Kore o kudasai (これをください) Please give me this.
O-kaikei onegaishimasu (お かいけい おねがい します) Please give me the bill.

Going Beyond Daily Useful Phrases

is japanese hard

Becoming conversational in any foreign language can be challenging. Fluency presents even greater challenges. Japanese has its own unique challenges. The grammatic format is very different than English. Japanese uses three distinct alphabets, two are phonetic alphabets and  the other is based on Chinese pictograms.

However, learning some Japanese will increase your understanding of Japanese culture and increase your enjoyment while visiting Japan. If you’re planning your first trip to Japan, you should start by memorizing the Daily Useful Phrases. 

If you want to go further, there are many resources on the web available to increase your knowledge of Japanese. Many of them focus on Japanese phrases useful to travelers. I have listed one of these resources, below. A simple Google search for ‘learn Japanese’ will produce many more. Many individuals have benefitted from using systems such as Rosetta Stone and Duolingo to learn Japanese.

Many Universities and Colleges offer Japanese language classes both as official curriculum and continuing education. I started my Japanese language journey in continuing education courses at my local University and found it a great place to get started.


The Japan Broadcasting Corporation also known as NHK, is the Japanese public broadcasting service. They have a well organized website to help you get started learning Japanese. The website address is  NHK Learn Japanese and they have a site specializing in travel Japanese NHK Easy Travel Japanese which is very good. All NHK Japanese language learning resources are free to use.

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