Category Archives: JAPANESE

Making Reservations in Japanese

Source: Gaijin Pot

Nothing beats getting out of the house and traveling somewhere new in Japan — even if it’s just a one-night expedition.

Yet, unless you plan on staying up all night like it’s your first night out in Shibuya, you’re going to have to make proper overnight reservations. If you’re like me, this can be a daunting task even if you’re speaking English. Why can’t everything be automated? Outside of the impersonal digital connections, let’s go over how to make some reservations in Japanese so you can get out of the house and explore Japan to your heart’s content.

In Japan, you will also find you have a third lodging option outside of a hotel or a hostel: a ryokan.

Most places here take credit cards and Visa (or JCB or MasterCard) debit cards. I would still advise to err on the side of caution and bring cash with you to your destination — just in case. Especially if you plan on booking in more remote locations. In Japan, you will also find you have a third lodging option outside of a hotel or a hostel: a ryokan. A ryokan is a traditional Japanese-style inn that has tatami rooms, typically an onsen (communal bath) and your own personal yukata to shuffle around in.

Luckily, you can book most hostels here in English and can conveniently do so from Hostel World. Additionally, JapanICan lets you book ryokan and hotels in English as well. Let’s not forget that Airbnb also allows bookings in English if you’re seeking a more personal and lived in experience. For the remaining establishments that don’t support this service let’s go over a typical interaction.

Reservation dialogue





Hotel staff: もしもし東京ホテルでございます。 Moshimoshi, Tokyo hoteru de gozaimasu. Hello, it’s Hotel Tokyo.
You: 予約お願いします。 Yoyaku onegai-shimasu. I would like to make a reservation.
Hotel staff: いつからお泊りになりますか?

…continue reading


Words for Spring Cleaning in Japan

Source: Gaijin Pot

The winter is almost over and if you’re anything like us, you spent so long huddled under the duvet that you probably have an apartment full of bulky jackets that need a good dusting or throwing out and a couple of dark places that haven’t seen a vacuum cleaner in far too long (hint: if it starts moving, it has been waaaaay too long… ).

If this sounds familiar, it’s time to 断捨離(だんしゃり) (throw some things out), 部屋(へや)を片付(かたづ)ける (clean your room), roll up your sleeves and get involved in some hardcore 大掃除(おおそうじ) (housecleaning).

Of course, when it comes to the life changing magic of tidying up in Japanese, not only are the tasks difficult and time consuming, but you’ll also have to learn some tricky nouns and verbs to describe it at the same time.

The first words are, of course, the names of some of the weapons that are needed for this monumental task of fighting that ゴミ (trash). These include:

  • ホウキ (broom)
  • ちりとり (dustpan)
  • 雑巾(ぞうきん) (dust cloth)
  • バケツ (cleaning bucket)
  • 掃除機(ぞうじき) (vacuum cleaner)
  • エプロン (apron)
  • はたき (feather duster)
  • ゴム手袋(てぶくろ) (rubber gloves)
  • ブラシ (brush)

And, of course, plenty of ゴミ箱(ばこ) (trash bags).

As well as cleaning, it can also be a useful time to expand your vocabulary with some of the weird and wonderful verbs that are associated with cleaning in Japanese.

As well as cleaning, it can also be a useful time to expand your vocabulary with some of the weird and wonderful verbs that are associated with cleaning in Japanese. Likely you recognize the verbs 捨(す)てる (throw away), かける (to turn on or set a machine), 取(と)る (take) and 磨(みが)く (polish) from other uses. However, which of the aforementioned nouns — so far we’ve studied ほうき, ゴミ, ちりとり, 雑巾, バケツ, 掃除機, エプロン, はたき, ゴム手袋 and ブラシ — do you think these verbs go with?

Some examples:

  • ゴミをさらう (throw out the trash)
  • 掃除機をかける (clean the …continue reading

Japanese to Know: Common “Matsuri” Words

Matsuri, or festivals, are held all over Japan. They’re lively, fun, entertaining, and a great way to experience Japanese culture. Are you thinking of checking out a Japanese festival when you visit Japan? Here are the words to know before you go!

1. Matsuri (祭り)

The Japanese word for festival is matsuri (祭り), or when used with the honorable “O” is Omatsuri (お祭り). Matsuri are Japanese festivals, and have been held in Japan for thousands of years.

2. Jinja (神社)

The Japanese word for shrine. Traditionally, matsuri were first held in and around Shinto shrines to honor the deity of that shrine. To this day, many Japanese festivals revolve around a specific shrine.

3. Kami (神)

Kami is the Japanese word for “god”. Each shrine is dedicated to a specific kami. According to Shinto tradition, there are eight million kami in Japan.

4. Mikoshi (神輿)

An important element of many traditional matsuri is the procession of the mikoshi (神輿). Mikoshi are beautiful, elaborate, portable shrines that are carried through the streets surrounding the Shinto shrine. It is believed that the shrine’s diety is contained within the mikoshi itself during the festival period, and this procession through the streets is the only time of the year when the kami leaves the shrine.

5. Dashi (山車)

Many festivals also feature large, elaborately decorated floats called dashi (山車). These massive structures cannot be carried, but are instead pulled through the town, accompanied by drum and flute music that is played by people sitting on the floats. Often, dashi are covered in lanterns that are lit at night.

6. Kagura (神楽)

Kagura (神楽, かぐら), which literally means “god-entertainment”, is a type of traditional music that has been played in Japan for centuries as an offering to a deity. Kagura …continue reading


Back to Basics: Self-Introduction & Useful Japanese Verbs

When learning a new language, no matter how long you’ve been studying, it’s important to review the basics every once in awhile. Let’s review how to introduce yourself in Japanese for the first time, as well as the ten most useful Japanese verbs!

Introduce Yourself

When you visit Japan, it’s very likely that a friendly Japanese person will ask you what your name is, or what country you came from! In preparation for this situation, it’s good to practice how to introduce yourself in Japanese. In Japan, a typical, simple self-introduction consists of the following parts:

Hajimemashite! はじめまして! (Nice to meet you!)

This is the usually very first thing you say to someone when introducing yourself. Just like “Nice to meet you” in English, you can say Hajimemashite when meeting a new person for the first time, as Hajime is “the beginning” in Japanese.

Then, you can tell them your name:

Watashi wa _______ desu. わたしは_________です。(I am _________.)


Watashi no namae wa ______ desu. わたしのなまえは_______です。(My name is ___________.)

In English, people usually say “My name is ______”, but in Japanese, people also commonly say “I am ____.” Either phrase is okay!

Next, the question you will probably most commonly get is what country you came from. Here’s how you say it in Japanese.

[Country name] kara kimashita. _________からきました。I came from [country name].

For example, if you came from Canada, you would say, “Canada kara kimashita.” Pretty simple, right?

And finally, you should finish your self-introduction with the following polite Japanese phrase:

Yoroshiku onegaishimasu! よろしくおねがいします!

After your introduction, you end with yoroshiku onegaishimasu. There is no English equivalent to this phrase, but it’s a polite phrase commonly used like “Please take good care of me” or “I look forward to our relationship.” Unlike hajimemashite, you can say yoroshiku onegaishimasu to anyone at any time!

Ten …continue reading