Categories : Conversation


Useful Japanese

Getting Along in Japanese

By Arief


Arief : Sumimasen, kore, ikura desuka?

Ten’in : Aa, mikan ne. Mikan wa hitotsu hyaku en.

Arief :  Jaa, futatsu kudasai. Sorekara, are kudasai.

Ten’in : E, dore?

Arief : Are. Apple.

Ten’in : Aa, ringo. Mikan nihyaku en, ringo hyaku en. Zenbu de sanbyaku en.

Arief : Anoo, “Apple” wa nihongo de nan desuka?

Ten’in : Ringo.


Arief : Excuse me, how much are these?

Clerk : Oh, the oranges? They are a hundred yen each.

Arief : OK then, I’ll have two, and I’ll have that thing over there.

Clerk : Beg your pardon? Which thing?

Arief : That thing over there. The Apple.

Clerk : Oh, the aplle. ¥ 200 for the oranges, ¥ 100 for an apple.

That’ll be ¥ 300 in all.

Arief : By the way, what is the word for the Apple in Japanese?

Clerk : Ringo.

Cultural Information

There is no particular need to reply to a clerk’s “irasshaimase” or “arigatoo gozaimashita”, but there are some people who say “doomo” when the clerk says “arigatoo gozaimashita”. Also some people say “gochisoosama deshita” ( thanks for the meal ) when leaving a restaurant.


1. Tegami o dasu

Ariq : Kore, kookuubin de onegai shimasu.

Kyoku’in : Hai, hyaku nijuu en ni narimasu.

Ariq : Dore gurai kakarimasu ka?

Kyoku’in : Isshuukan gurai desu.

Ariq : Soo desuka. Ja onegai shimasu.

2. Kozutsumi o dasu

Ariq : Sumimasen. Kore, kokubin de ikura desu ka ?

Kyoku’in : Hai, eeto, sanzen gohyaku en desu.

Ariq : Soo desu ka. Funabin de ikura desuka?

Kyoku’in : Sen gohyaku en desu.

Ariq : Funabin de, doregurai kakarimasu ka?

Kyoku’in : Ikkagetsu gurai desu.

Ariq : Soo desuka. Ja funabin de onegai shimasu.


1. Mailing a letter

Ariq : I’d like to send this by airmail please.

Postal Clerk : OK. That will be 120 yen.

Ariq : About how long will it take?

Postal Clerk : About one week.

Ariq : OK then.

2. Mailing a package

Ariq : Excuse me, how much would this be by airmail?

Postal Clerk : OK, tet’s see. That will be 3.500 yen.

Ariq : I see. How much would it be by sea mail?

Postal Clerk : 1.500 yen.

Ariq : How long would sea mail take ?

Postal Clerk : About one month.

Ariq : I see. OK then, I’d like to send it by sea mail please.

Cultural Information

You do not say “sayoonara” to the postal clerk. After you have asked a person whose job it is to serve you to do something for you, you say “(Ja) onegai shimasu” and then leave. Consequently, when you have handed over something for the postal clerk to post, you say “onegai shimasu”, but you do not say it when you have just bought some stamps.


1. Depaato de

Hadi : Sumimasen. Toire wa doko desu ka?

Uketsuke : Kochira o massugu ikaremasu to, erebeetaa ga gozaimasu.

Sochira no hidari ni gozaimasu.

Hadi : Massugu………

Uketsuke : Hai, massugu itte kudasai. Sochira ni, erebeetaa ga arimasu.

Hadi : Erebeetaa….

Uketsuke : Hai, erebeetaa no hidari desu.

2. Kooban de kiku

Hadi : Sumimasen. Koko ni ikitain desu ga….

Keikan : Eeto, koko desu. Asoko ni koosaten ga arimasu ne.

Ano koosaten o migi ni magatte, massugu itte, mittsu me no koosaten o hidari ni magatte….

Hadi : Anoo, sumimasen. Kaite kudasai.


1. In a department store

Hadi : Excuse me. Where is the restroom?

Info : If you go straight along here you’ll come to a lift.

The restroom is to its left.

Hadi : Straight along….

Info : Yes, go straight along here. Then you’ll come to a lift.

Hadi : A lift……

Info : Yes, the restroom’s its left.

2. At the police box

Hadi : Excuse me. I’d like to go here please…

Policeman : OK, let me see. We’re here. There’s an intersection over there, right? Turn right there, go straight, turn left at the third intersection, go straight….

Hadi : Um, I’m sorry. Would you write that down for me please?

Cultural Information

Policeman in police boxes will happily give you directions. It is a good idea to bring along a pen and some paper for them to write on. If you do not understand the explanation, do not stand there listening carefully to the whole thing. Just try to understand the landmarks and directions in which you have to go and confirm the essential information by saying things like “Mittsume” desu ne? ( It’s the third one, isn’t it? ).


1. Eki no hoomu de

Anton : Anoo, sumimasen. Tsugi no densha wa, Yanagimoto ni tomarimasu ka?

Eki’in : Yanagimoto niwa tomarimasen.

Anton : A, soodesuka. Tomarimasen ka.

Eki’in : Ee. Kakueki-teesha ni notte kudasai.

2. Basu no naka de

Widi : Anoo, sumimasen. Ima nante iimashita ka?

Kyaku : Shimin byooin-mae tte.

Widi : Supootsu sentaa wa mada desu ka?

Kyaku : Supootsu sentaa desuka. Eeto, mada desu.

Widi : A, soodesuka. Ja, sumimasen.

Supootsu sentaa de oshiete kudasai.

Kyaku : Ee, iidesuyo. Tsugi desuyo.

Widi : Arigatoo gozaimasu.


1. On the platform at the station

Anton : Um, excuse me. Does the next train stop at Yanagimoto ?

Station employee : No, it doesn’t stop there.

Anton : Oh. I see. It doesn’t stop there.

Station Employee : No. Please take the local train.

2. In the bus

Widi : Um, excuse me. What did she just say ?

Passenger : “The Shimin Hospital stop”.

Widi : We haven’t got to the sports centre yet?

Passenger : The sport centre? No, not yet.

Widi : Oh. OK. Actually, would you mind letting me know when we get there?

Passenger : Sure….It’s the next stop.

Widi : Thanks.

Cultural Information

When you are buying a ticket at the vending machines in a station and you cannot read the characters written on the fare chart, you could ask someone neaby “ Sumimasen, [ place ] wa ikura desu ka “ ( Excuse me. How much is it to [ place ]? ) When you want to get off the train or bus and it is too crowded to get to the exit, let people around you know that you want to get off by saying “ Sumimasen” or “ Orimasu” ( I’m getting off!).


Ira : Kore wa, koko ni dashite mo ii desuka?

Ooya : Eeto, korewa koko ni oite kudasai.

Ira : Hai.

Ooya : A, dame dame. Sore wa, kyoo wa dasanaide kudasai.

Ira : A, soo desu ka. Anoo, kore wa, doo shitara ii desuka?

Ooya : Sore wa moeru gomi ne. Moeru gomi wa, gessuikin.

Ira : A, sumimasen, ge…nan desu ka?

Ooya : Gessuikin. Getsuyoobi to suiyoobi to kinyoobi. Wakarimasu ka?

Ira : Haa, getsuyoobi to suiyoobi to kinyoobi desu ne?

Ooya : Ee. Ashita. Kinyoobi no asa, dashite kudasai.


Ira : Can I put these out here?

Landlady : Let me see. Please put them here.

Ira : OK.

Landlady : Actually, no. You shouldn’t put that out today.

Ira : I sholdn’t Um, what should I do with it then?

Landlady : Well that is burnable rubbish, you see. Burnable rubbish goes out on GESSUIKIN.

Ira : Sorry?  What was that? Ge-something or other?

Landlady : GESSUIKIN. That’s an abbreviation for Monday, Wednesday and Friday. You see?

Ira : Yes. I get it. Monday, Wednesday, Friday.

Landlady : Yes tomorrow. Put it out on Friday morning.

Cultural Information

The rubbish is usually separated into burnable garbage, non-burnable garbage, recyclabes and oversize garbage and they are each put out on specific days. There are also towns where you have to use a certain type of garbage bag. The rules differ for this from town to town, so the best thing to do is ask someone in your neighbourhood for details, or get hold of a pamphlet from the city offices or the local neighbourhood association.


1. Kairanban o uketoru

Takeuchi : Tonari no Takeuchi desu. Hajimemashite.

Choonaikai no kairanban nan desu ga.

Agus : Hajimemashite. Agusu desu.

Takeuchi : Doomo. Kore, kairanban desu. Agusu san wa, dochira kara.

Agus : Indoneshia kara kimashita.

Takeuchi : Indoneshia desu ka…Okosan?

Agus : Ie ie. Kodowa wa imasen.

2. Wakaranai kanji o kiku

Tina : Sumimasen, Kanji ga wakaranain desu ga.

Ogawa : A, korewa, teiden no oshirase desu.

Tina : Teeden ?

Ogawa : Ee, denki ga tomarimasu.

Kinyoobi no asa, juu-ji kara juuni-ji made.


1. Getting the neigbourhood notices

Takeuchi : Hello. I’m Takeuchi from next door. I’d like to introduce myself. I have here the neighbourhood notices for you.

Agus : How do you do. I’m Agus

Takeuchi : Hi. These are the local notices. Where are you from?

Agus : I’m from Indonesia.

Takeuchi : From Indonesia?..Do you have children?

Agus : No. No. Children.

2. Asking about characters

Tina : Excuse me. I can’t read characters..

Ogawa : Ah. This is a notice about a teeden.

Tina : Teeden?

Ogawa : Yes. The electricity is going to be off. Friday morning from ten till twelve.

Cultural Information

When Japanese people meet people from overseas for the first time, they often ask about your family and where you are from. They sometimes also ask about your age, marital status and wheteher or not you have any children.

These questions are considered a friendly type of greeting used to show that they are interested in getting to know you and are not thought of as being rude by Japanese themselves.

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