Japanese Culture and Language Primer

A few notes and tips and phrases compiled for guests coming to wedding but likely useful for most anyone coming to Japan. 

Culture-ness

Remember you must always have your passport with you (stupid but hey… rules is).

Shoes are never worn in homes, change into slippers (which will never ever fit), then different slippers for toilet, don’t forget to change back (you will forget), socks only in tatami (straw mat) rooms.

Big stores / malls often offer tax-refund. Gotta take receipt, passport and credit card (if used) to special kiosk. They will stick receipt and stamp in passport, weird but hey, ya get money back.

Don’t walk and smoke. Hang in front of konbini store, pachinko, find smoking cage, or smoking section of resto or park. 

Can drink alcohol on streets and parks however… no sloppiness, penalties/jail harsh.

Language Primer

Handy Phrases:

  • Konnichiwa = Hello
  • Chotto matte = Just a moment/please wait
  • Hai = yes
  • Iie or Chigaimasu = no / different or wrong
  • Douzo = go ahead, please (this is super handy!)
  • Sugoi! = Great! Amazing! i.e.: How is Japan? Sugoi!
  • Suimasen = excuse me (used allll the time as is Go-men which is like “sorry”)
  • Kudasai = please i.e. “Kohi o kudasai” = “coffee please” 
  • Domo, Domo Arigato, Domo arigato gozaimasu = thanks, thanks a lot, thank you very very much
  • Jaa ne / Matta ne = See you / again
  • Toire (toilet) doko desuka? = where is the toilet (there are more trad words for toilet “benjo” and “o teirei” but the Japanese-i-fied english word is easiest
  • Konbini = convenience store (7-11, Lawson, Family Mart are plentiful & amazing)

Transport:

To get to a place by taxi, just use: “<place name> o kudasai” To ask where is a place OR how do i go there: “<place name> doko desuka? OR <place name> dou dekimasuka? 

Introduce yourself:

  • Watashi wa <name> desu. = I am <name>
  • <Country>-jin desu = I am Canada-person
  • Tomodachi = friend e.g. Dave-san no Tomodachi desu or “i.e. “I am Mr. Dave’s Friend”
  • Genki and/or Genki desu ka? = How are you? Answer: “Hai, Genki desu!”

Banter:

  • <something> suki desu = I like <something>
  • Suteki = handsome <desu>
  • Kirei = pretty <desu ne>
  • Kawaii = cute <desu ne>
  • Kowai = scary <desu ne>
  • Kakoii = cool <desu ne>

Flirtations:

  • Anato no shashin totei ii desu ku? = Can i take your photo
  • Watashi wa puro photografer desu =  i’m a pro photographer
  • Kutsu kakoii desu (shoes are cool) or Kutsu suki desu (shoes are liked)
  • Boyufurendu imasuka? = is there a boyfriend?

Questions: 

  • Where is = <something> Doko desuka? 
  • How much = <point at something> Ikura desuka?
  • What is = <something you point at> nani desu ka?
  • What time does it start?  = Nanji ni shuppatsu?

Fancy Polite Words:

  • Onegaishimasu = fancy way of saying please (more like “if you don’t mind, that’d be great” or “let’s cooperate and do this thing together”) 
  • Hajimameshite = nice to meet you (is a mouthful but its what people will say after you’re introduced)
  • Youroushiku oneigaishimasu –  then people will say this say after you’re introduced and is like “let’s be nice and helpful and take care of each other” or “please take care of me because i respect you”
  • Irishaimase = welcome (you will hear this whenever you enter a shop or resto, said with flourish) – see also Yokouso, also welcome/help yourself

Help:

  • Eigo wa dekimasuka? Eigo (english) can you do this? Or “Can you speak English?”
  • Tetsudashite kudasai = Can you assist me (non-emergency)?  
  • Tasukete kudasai! = I NEED HELP (emergency)! 

Benri (Handy) Kanji

Entrance 入 口  Exit 出口 (useful for getting in and out of stations and stores

Big 大 Small 小 (handy for choosing with toilet flush option to use)

Station 駅 (also the word

Ekimae is handy and means “by the station” / handy for transport)

Okayama 岡山 (the city / prefecture you are visiting, handy for trains)

Bonus (specific for wedding fest):

Point at these places (with addresses) to taxi driver or other helper:

Okayama Station 岡山駅

Koraku hotel 後楽ホテル 〒700-0827 岡山県岡山市北区平和町5−5-1

Okayama View hotel 岡山ビューホテル(ビジネスホテル) 〒700-0821 岡山県岡山市北区Nakasange1, 11−17

Hotel Maira ホテルマイラ 〒700-0902 岡山県岡山市北区錦町8−16

Bird Live house (welcome party) 〒700-0822 Okayama, Kita Ward, Omotecho, 3 Chome−6−3 ライブハウス・バード 岡山

Munetada jinjya (shrine for ceremony)  宗忠神社 〒700-0972 岡山県岡山市北区上中野1丁目3−10

Fuyahei (wedding lunch)  精進 懐石 ふや平 〒700-0823 岡山県岡山市北区北区丸の内2丁目5−2

Rural Caprine Farm ルーラルカプリ農場 〒709-0635 岡山県岡山市東区草ケ部1346 Ph: 086-297-5864

Seto station (close to farm)  瀬戸駅 

Covered arcade shopping/bar street (one of several with cafes, bars etc.) 奉還町商店街