10 Essential Japanese Phrases to Ask a Direction in Japan

You can Speak Japan in English -Ask a Direction-

For English speakers, Japanese language is an unfamiliar foreign language and difficult to learn. However, it is much easier to use some Japanese phrases for traveling in Japan than expected.

Today, I’d like to introduce essential Japanese phrases and tips for you to speak the words in the easiest way. These Japanese phrases are useful to ask directions on the street, at stations, or in a taxi in case there is no English signs on the street or you cannot access to online maps without WiFi. Asking directions to people near you who cannot necessarily speak English is the safest and earliest way to get to your destination.

Then, what is the easiest way to speak Japanese in a minute? That is speaking Japanese in English: more exactly with English words’ pronunciations.

You may wonder what it means to speak Japanese in English. I invented the way to pronounce Japanese words replacing Japanese pronunciation symbols with English words. For example, when you say “hello” in Japan, please pronounce these English words: “Con niche (nítʃ) what” (konnichiwa/こんちには).

Please pronounce the English words below putting the accent on bold written letters.

1. Sumimasen (すみません: Excuse me)

Pronounce “Sue me my sense” for saying “excuse me”

This Japanese phrase is frequently used to talk to someone or to apologize to someone. If you get lost, don’t hesitate to ask for direction to your destination starting with this: “Sue me my sense”.

2. Eigo wakarimasuka (英語わかりますか: Can you speak English)

Pronounce “Eight go what curry muscat?” to ask “can you speak English?”

In the first place, let’s ask someone near you if they can speak English or not. That is no problem for Japanese people to answer “Yes” to this question, and you could communicate with them in English. However, try to use these Japanese phrases if they seem a little confused.

3. Maigo desu (迷子です)

Pronounce “My go desk” to tell “I lost my way”.

Once you tell someone that you get lost, they will try to help you find your destination. Just use this phrase ““My go desk” before you throw up your hands in helplessness.

4. ~ wa dokodesuka (~はどこですか: Where is ~?)

Pronounce “~ what dog cow desk cut?” to ask “where is ~ (your destination)?”

It is recommended to use this phrase “~ what dog cow desk cut?” to roughly ask the direction to your destination.

This is the list of the names of important places applying to the ~ part.

Station (駅/eki): “Eight key”
Bus Stop (バス停/basutei): “Bus tey
Taxi Stand (タクシー乗り場/takushi noriba): “taxi know lee but”
Toilet (トイレ/toire): “toy let”

5. Wa doyatte ikemasuka (~はどうやって行けますか: How can I get to ~?)

Pronounce “~ what, doe yatch tey, it cake muscat” to ask “how can I get to ~?”

In case you have no idea which way is the best to get to your destination, by train, bus, taxi or on foot, try to use this Japanese phrase.

6. Donokurai kakarimasuka (どのくらいかかりますか: How long does it take?)

Pronounce “Don‘t know cry, cut curry muscat” to ask “how long does it take?”

When you get the direction to your destination and wonder how long it takes to reach there by train, bus, taxi or on foot, ask with this Japanese phrase: “Don’t know cry, cut curry muscat”.

7. Ikuradesuka (いくらですか: How much is this?)

Pronounce “It cooler desk cut” for asking “how much is this?”

Your travel plan partly depends on how much it costs to get to destinations. Before you use transportation including, train, bus, taxi or Shinkansen, just try to ask staff in the station or drivers with these words “ It cooler desk cut” for asking “how much is this?”

8. ~ made onegaishimasu (~までお願いします: Can you take me to ~, please)

Pronounce “~ mad day, Oh Nick guy smash” to tell “can you take me to ~, please”

This Japanese phrase can be used to tell a taxi driver where you are going. Actually, it would be enough to say just “~, please”.

9. Kono pasu wa tsukaemasuka (このパスは使えますか: Can I use this pass?)

Pronounce “caw know pass what two cow egg muscat” to ask “can I use this pass?”

There are a variety of passes for train and bus in Japan including Japan Rail Pass, Tokyo Subway Ticket, Greater Tokyo Pass, etc., and you may get some of them. However, you sometimes don’t understand the coverage of the pass. Just ask if you can use your pass using this phrase “caw know pass what two cow egg muscat”.

10. Arigato (ありがとう: Thank you)

Pronounce “Alley got tow” for saying “thank you”

There are a great number of chances to appreciate to someone while traveling Japan, and anyone can understand the very common English word “thank you”, of course. But, Japanese people would feel glad if you speak Japanese words especially to appreciate.

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You can solve most of the problems on your trip with the essential Japanese phrase above. You don’t need to hesitate to speak Japanese with those tips!! For more info about Japan, check these articles below.

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I'm writing by my motto: helping travelers spend their limited time experiencing something priceless in Japan. My articles won't let you down! Living in Tokyo and traveling many popular and hidden sites all over Japan, I deliver well-selected and latest tourist information to you from the perspective of “100% Japanese local”. My specific interests are island hopping, eating countless bowls of ramen, watching anime and reading manga. Enjoy Japan Web Magazine for recommended food spots, hidden gems Japanese Otaku (geek) culture, and everything about Japan :)