Japanese Language for Travel: Useful Words and Phrases

After each of our tours, we ask our guests if there was anything they wished they’d known before coming to Japan. More than half say they wished they’d known more Japanese language for travel.


Japanese Language for Travel

This article is designed to help you get the ball rolling on your Japanese language quest.

If you’re on our Itinerary Planning Course or one of our Small Group Tours, then you’ll have full access to our video with 100 useful words and phrases. If you’d like to get full access, you can join here.

Vowel Sounds

Japanese is not a tonal language, so it’s easy to pronounce the words once you know the basics. Like English, there are five vowel sounds.

Five Vowel Sounds

A Father
I Feet
U Tool
E Pet
O So


Consonants are put together with vowels to form a syllable.

Example Syllables


Single vowels, and the consonant n, can also create a syllable.

For example, the word for hello is konnichiwa [Ko • n • ni • chi • wa]. There are five syllables.

L & R Sounds

The letters L and R make the same sound in Japanese. It’s neither an L nor an R. Instead, it’s somewhere in-between.

Ten Useful Words and Phrases

Here is a short list of some helpful words and phrases for Japan.

English Japanese Syllables
Station Eki [E • ki]
Subway Chikatetsu [Chi • ka • te • tsu]
Train Densha [De • n • sha]
Ticket Kippu [Ki • p • pu]
Genkin [Ge • n • ki • n]
Where is the station? Eki wa doko desu ka [E • ki • wa • do • ko • de • su • ka]
How much? Ikura desu ka [I • ku • ra • de • su • ka]
Do you speak English? Eigo ga hanasemasu ka [E • i • go •  ga • ha • na • se • ma • su • ka]
Excuse me. Sumimasen [Su • mi • ma • se • n]
I don’t understand. Wakarimasen [Wa • ka • ri • ma • se • n]

That should get the ball rolling for you. If you’d like to get the full list of our 100 most helpful Japanese language for travel with video for pronunciation, be sure to join our Itinerary Planning Course.

For a deeper dive into the Japanese language with online lessons, we highly recommend JapanesePod101. It’s what we use to keep up with our Japanese while we’re out of Japan.

We hope you find this helpful. Have a wonderful trip to Japan!

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