How to Bargain in Japanese

Source: Gaijin Pot

As a general rule, bargaining is not the “done thing” in Japan. Countless plucky tourists have received nothing but blank stares as they try to negotiate with the staff of even the biggest companies.

However, this can lead to the false impression that bargaining never happens. Especially in my adopted hometown of Osaka, bargaining is actually pretty common —if you know how to do it in a Japanese way. The Osaka おばちゃん (elderly ladies) are so deft at striking a bargain that they have become (in)famous in other prefectures. It is said that no major piece of electrical equipment is ever sold without a bargain being done in Kansai.

It is said that no major piece of electrical equipment is ever sold without a bargain being done in Kansai.

So how do they do it?

Know where to bargain

One way is to know the types of places that will be more open to bargaining. At flea markets or specialist stores, it may actually be unusual not to bargain! One easy solution for these smaller stores is to try and get a discount for cash, saving both parties from credit card fees.

Next time you’re out shopping, try 現金( genkin )で払( hara)うと安( yasuku )くなりますか (Could I get a discount if I pay in cash?).

Another phrase that learners should endeavor to remember is the (少( suko)し)安くなりませんか phrase. This is a somewhat indirect way to ask for something to be made a little cheaper. You will also hear the similar まけてくれませんか used for the same purpose.

More intermediate learners should learn the word 値引( nebi)き (a price cut) such as in the question 値引きしてもらえませんか (Could you give me a price cut?). Those that prefer to negotiate more directly may also want to try どのぐらいなら値引きできますか (How much of a price cut can you give for this?).

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