10 Essential Japanese Phrases to Use at Restaurants in Japan

How to Speak Japanese Easily in English

This is the easiest way to speak Japanese and essential Japanese phrases you can speak right now!

Japanese is one of the most difficult languages in the world for English speakers to learn. It is an undeniable fact that mastering Japanese language spent much more time than studying other languages.

According to The Foreign Service Institute, it takes 88 weeks (2200 hours) for English speakers to learn Japanese. Only 23–24 weeks (575–600 hours) about Spanish or French on the other hand.

There are 3 types in Japanese writing system, and it surely costs much time to master writing Japanese including Kanji, the most complicated Japanese writing form. However, it is by far easier to speak Japanese than write one since you can pronounce almost all of Japanese words with English sounds, which are familiar to you. Would it be nice if you can speak some Japanese words during your travel in Japan?

Then, how can you speak Japanese phrases in English? What does it mean 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).

Today, I’d like to show the list of 10 essential Japanese phrases with English words’ pronunciations, based on usage scenes. This is useful for visitors at restaurants. Japanese phrases in everyday use are so limited, so learning 10~20 words are enough for traveling in Japan.

A pitch is important for Japanese while speaking English is based on an accent. 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”

Use this phrase for calling for a staff to order or ask something at restaurants. Raising your hand helps the staff to notice you easier at the same time.

2. Kore kudasai (これください: This one please)

Pronounce “Collect, could I sigh” for saying “this one please”

When you decide which one to order, pronounce this “collect, could I sigh” pointing the menu with your forefinger.

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

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

Sometimes, there are no prices on the menu, which may build up anxiety in you. You don’t need to hesitate to ask the prices pointing the menu with your forefinger.

4. Ohmori onegaishimasu (大盛りお願いします: I’d like a large portion)

Pronounce “Oh Molly, on net guy see mass” for saying “I’d like a large portion”

Some foreign visitors don’t get full with one serving at restaurants in Japan. If you want an extra-large portion, use these words “oh Molly, on net guy see mass”. You may get a large portion for free in lunch time fortunately at some restaurants.

5. Okawari kudasai (おかわりください: Refill, please)

Pronounce “Oh cow worry, could I sigh” for saying “refill, please”

Some restaurants offer another bowl of rice or ramen for free or at a very cheap price. To ask refill your dish, let’s speak this: “oh cow worry, could I sigh”.

6. Omizu kudasai (お水ください: Water please)

Pronounce “Own me zoo, could I sigh.” for saying “water please”

You are served with a glass of water or tea by waiters at Japanese restaurants, basically. If they forget to serve it or you want to ask to refill your glass, say “own me zoo, could I sigh”.

7. Arigato (ありがとう: Thank you)

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

When waiters bring your dish to your table, try to appreciate with this words “alley got tow”. They will be pleased if you speak just a couple of Japanese phrases. Say “alley got tow” every time on your stay in Japan.

8. Okaikei onegaishimasu (お会計お願いします: Check please)

Pronounce “Owe Kai cane, on net guy see mass” for saying “check please”

To get a check at the end of a meal, pronounce these words “owe Kai cane, on net guy see mass”. Crossing both your forefingers also stands for asking a check in Japan.

9. Sayonara (さようなら: Goodbye)

Pronounce “Sat yawn now loud” for saying “Goodbye”

One of the easiest and most-used English word “goodbye” gets though to every Japanese, however, why don’t you say goodbye in Japanese since you travel all the way to Japan.

10. Warikan shiyo (割り勘しよう: Let’s split the bill)

Pronounce “What recount show” for saying “let’s split the bill”

One of the Japanese customs at dining is splitting the bill equally while someone says “be my guest” in foreign countries. If you tell “let’s go Dutch” to Japanese friends, try to use the Japanese phrase in this way “what recount show”.

▽Learn more essential Japanese phrases in other situations!▽

Now, you have just mastered 10 essential Japanese phrases to use at restaurants in Japan like the local. Of course, the words in English to represent the Japanese phrases don’t have any meaning. However, you can speak Japanese fluently with those English words. For more info about unique Japanese culture, check these articles below, too!

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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 :)