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Can You Go to Japan as a Tourist Without Knowing Japanese?

Of course! There are no laws or regulations that prohibit international tourists from visiting Japan if they don’t know Japanese. All tourists are welcome in Japan, no matter your age, race, gender, religion, disability, etc. While English is not universally spoken, especially outside major tourist areas, there are various ways to navigate and communicate effectively.

It can be hard for foreign tourists to communicate with locals due to language differences. We highly suggest learning some basic words to get you through day-to-day activities in Japan. Here are some basic words we recommend:

When greeting people…

  • Konnichiwa - Hello (used during the daytime).

  • Arigatou gozaimasu - Thank you.

  • Sumimasen - Excuse me or I'm sorry.

When starting conversations…

  1. Hai - Yes.

  2. Lie - No.

  3. Wakarimasen - I don't understand.

  4. Eigo o hanasemasu ka? - Do you speak English?

  5. Onegaishimasu - Please.

When ordering food…

  • Menyuu o onegaishimasu - The menu, please.

  • Kore o kudasai - Please give me this.

  • Osusume wa nan desu ka? - What do you recommend?

  • Oishii - Delicious.

When asking for directions…

  • Doko desu ka? - Where is...?

  • Eki - Train station.

  • Michi o totemo kudasai - Please give me directions.

  • Basu/Chikatetsu no jikokuhyou o arimasu ka? - Do you have a bus/subway timetable?

When shopping…

  • Ikura desu ka? - How much is it?

  • Koko de kaemasu ka? - Can I buy this here?

  • Chotto takai desu ne - It's a little expensive.

When getting into emergencies…

  • Tasukete! - Help!

  • Kega o shimashita - I'm injured.

  • Byouin wa doko desu ka? - Where is the hospital?

Japanese people are generally kind and helpful, and they will often do their best to assist you, even if there may be a language barrier. Non-verbal communication, gestures, and simple politeness can also help facilitate interactions. So don't hesitate to explore, enjoy the local cuisine, visit landmarks, and embrace the unique experiences Japan has to offer, regardless of your proficiency in Japanese.


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