Japan Travel Language

Traveling to Japan can be exciting and exhilarating. From the culture to the food, there’s something for everyone to explore. Language is, however, an aspect of Japan travel that can give way to communication difficulty. Being informed and learning key Japanese terms and phrases before your trip is an important part of your journey’s success.

Right now, more and more people are visiting Japan from abroad for a variety of reasons. Whether it’s for a vacation, business, or care work, having a basic understanding of Japanese language before traveling can be very useful. Even knowing the most basic words and phrases can go a long way to helping you navigate and enjoy your stay in Japan.

Conversational Japanese is essential for daily interactions, such as when asking for directions, ordering food, or making small talk with locals. A few useful terms to learn include the word for ‘please’—which is ‘Onegai shimasu’ —and ‘thank you’, which is ‘Arigatō gozaimasu’. Most Japanese people will be incredibly understanding if you are unable to speak fluent Japanese, so don’t be afraid to attempt use the language.

Japanese is a complex language and it can be difficult to get to grips with the fundamentals. However, with the right resources at hand, learning Japanese for travel can be made much easier. There are a number of great online courses which can help you build your Japanese travel language skills, such as the popular Duolingo course. For beginners, there are also plenty of apps and trial programs available.

When speaking to locals in Japan, it is important to note that politeness is vital. Japanese people are known for their high standards of etiquette, so it is important to be aware of the correct phrases to use when speaking to different people. Saying ‘Dono’ instead of ‘Sugoi’ when expressing admiration, for example, indicates respect. Japanese language has numerous levels of politeness in its grammar, and understanding these forms is key to success while traveling in Japan.

Additionally, if you are planning on taking a trip to Japan, it’s important to have an idea of the language differences between standard Japanese and regional dialects. Standard Japanese is not usually spoken by the local people in the rural ken of Japan, and so some prior research into the language in those areas is essential before traveling there.

In conclusion, becoming informed on Japanese language before you embark on a journey to Japan can be a great asset. To make sure you get the most out of your travel experience, consider taking a course or using a language app to help you understand the basics. There are many resources available, and with dedication and practice, you can become a proficient Japanese speaker in no time.

Writing in Japanese

Aside from speaking, understanding written Japanese is also important when travelling in Japan. Knowing how to read and write the language will ensure that you can comprehend labels, signs, and menus with ease. Japanese writing is composed of two different types —hiragana and katakana.

Hiragana is the more basic form which consists of 46 characters, and is used mainly for Japanese words and grammar. Katakana consists of another 46 syllables, and is usually reserved for foreign words and names. Although this system takes some getting used to, understanding even a small amount of characters will make navigating Japan considerably easier.

There is also kanji which is composed of Chinese characters. Kanji is used to write nouns and verbs, and so is an important part of learning the Japanese language. It is possible to recognize kanji with a bit of practice and dedication. Generally speaking, the more kanji you can recognize, the more comfortable you will be while travelling in Japan.

Understanding Culture & Customs

In Japan, culture and customs are closely intertwined with language. To ensure you are on the right track for communication success, it’s important to be aware of the cultural nuances of Japan. For example, punctuality is a widely recognized formality in Japan and being on time for your appointments is a sign of respect. Ensuring you do your research and respecting the customs of the country is essential when travelling in Japan.

Additionally, it’s beneficial to be aware of the concept of honorific titles. It is polite to address someone by their surname, and if you do not know their family name, ending your sentence with the respectful ‘san’ is considered appropriate. There are other level of politeness such as ‘sama’, but it is better to avoid these in everyday speech. Paying attention to the language structure of the Japanese culture will help you better communicate with those around you.

That being said, gestures and body language can also be helpful if you find yourself struggling to make yourself understood. Although Japanese is different from your native language, being able to use non-verbal communication techniques can help in difficult conversations.

Educational Opportunities

If you find that you are enjoying your stay in Japan and would like to learn more of the language, there are plenty of educational opportunities to do so. From after-school clubs to university courses, there is an educational program for everyone. Regular study groups and language classes are also available to help you learn the basics of Japanese quickly and easily.

Language exchange is also a great way to practice your Japanese speaking skills. Joining a group such as International Exchange and Language Exchange is a great way to practice Japanese with those with a similar level of proficiency. It’s also a great way to make friends with those who are also interested in learning the language.

When looking for a place to study, the best way to find out what is available in your area is to search for language schools and programs. Many of these programs offer intensive classes for those who need more help or just want to learn at a faster pace. Additionally, there are plenty of online language tutors who specialize in teaching Japanese to travelers, so you can get the individual help you need to become a proficient speaker.

Advantages of Learning Japanese

Learning Japanese for travel is a rewarding experience, and provides a range of benefits. For starters, having a basic understanding of the language will make your stay in Japan much easier and more enjoyable. Knowing the phrase for ‘eraser’ or ‘copy machine’ if you want to buy stationery is a great asset, and will ensure you are able to get whatever you need quickly and easily.

Additionally, learning Japanese can lead to something much deeper than communication when travelling. Learning the language can enhance your understanding of the culture, and the people you meet. Being able to speak with locals and make small talk in their language can be very rewarding, and it is a great way to make friends and deepen your understanding of the country.

Finally, having this skill can also help when it comes to future travels. Knowing Japanese means that you can communicate with people from Japan and other countries where the language is spoken. This is very useful if you intend to visit places where English is not commonly spoken, or if you would like to stay connected with those you meet along the way.


Learning Japanese for travel can open many doors and is an incredibly useful skill to have. With the right resources and dedication, anyone can become fluent in Japanese with ease. It is also important to note that you do not have to be fluent in the language to travel in Japan, but having a basic understanding is key to ensuring your trip is a success.

Margarita Nelson

Margarita M. Nelson is a Japan-based writer and researcher. She has written extensively on the culture, history, and current events of Japan for various publications. She holds an MA in Asian Studies from the University of Tokyo, and is currently writing a book on the history of the Ainu people of northern Japan.

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