Five Japanese phrases that gets you friendly responses

During my travels, I usually try to speak some simple sentences in the native tongue. It usually result in people treating you better. This is especially true for Japanese people, which English skills can be a bit uneven. Young people or shopkeepers usually can speak some English, but those are the exceptions.

If you are like me, you would want to greet the hotel front desk when you pickup your keys. Or say thank you to the waiter, in Japanese. But what to say? And when to say it? Here’s five phrases that will made your Japanese host feels better for the day.

For clarity, I had recorded the pronunciations of the phrases for easy reference. The spelling of these words in Roman characters are also included. Click on the Japanese phrase or link below to hear the pronounciations.

1/ jpword1_ohayo (ohayougozaimasu) / jpword2_konichi (konnichiwa) / jpword3_konbanwa (konbanwa)

“Good morning/day/evening” in this order. The most polite way to start a conversation. After the greeting, I usually switch back to English so that they know I am not native people. For Caucasians, this won’t be an issue.

2/ jpword4_sumimasen (sumimasen)

“Excuse me” or “I am sorry”. Useful when you bump into someone in the street. Also use as substitute for “Coming through!”, or getting a waiter/shopkeeper for service.

3/ jpword5_arigato (arigatogozaimasu)

“Thank you” in the full form. You will hear this phrase speak to you many times during your travel, as Japanese say this when you pay them. As a customer, you can use the short form (arigato) instead when you thank them for service.

4/ jpword6_ojyama (ojyamashimasu)

“Sorry to bother you”. Useful phrase to say when you step into a shop and saw the shopkeeper not at the counter. Or you are in someone’s house and want to let him know you are there.

5/ jpword7_gochiso (gochisousamadesu)

“Thank you for cooking the meal for me”. Usually said to the chef after finishing a meal, as a polite way to thank them for serving you. I said this when I pay for my meal at restaurants where I can see the kitchen staff.

And one bonus phrase:

jpword8_oyasumi (oyasuminasai), which is “Good night”. Short form is oyasumi.

If you know how to speak Japanese, great. Yet, you can have a different experience if you can use these phrases in conversations with a Japanese.

So, for those of you who had visited Japan before, do you have other phrases that are useful to your travel? Let us know in the comments, and also comment on what do you think about my selection.