There's good reason to visit Japan 🇯🇵 From a robust food scene, to an outstanding creative heritage, and stunning nature preserves, there’s something for every traveler. (Perhaps literally!)

Want to try out your Japanese with locals? Here are 8 key phrases to help make the most of your time in Japan.

Translation: Pardon me
Japan is a country that operates on politeness, so sumimasen is your new best friend: for asking a question, bumping someone on public transit, or even gently announcing it in restaurants to get service. (Unlike calling garçon in France, firmly calling this out is not considered rude.)

Mou ichido itte kudasai
Translation: Can you please repeat that?
Use this phrase early and often! Asking a person to repeat themselves is a traveler’s rite of passage, and while it might seem awkward at first, you’ll find that most people are more than willing to help you understand.

___ ni ikitai no desuga
Translation: I want to go ____
This is an easy way to ask someone directions. Make sure you have a map (phone or paper) handy. Unsure if it’s a walking, taxi, or public transit situation? Try asking 近いですか (chikai desu ka) for "Is it near?" or   遠いですか (tooi desu ka) for "Is it too far?"

Anata no osusume no resutoran wa dokodesuka
Translation: Which restaurants do you recommend?
Japan is a great place to eat! (See: their galaxy of Michelin star restaurants and amazing convenience store culture for starters.) Rather than risk getting stuck at a tourist trap, use this question to get a more personally approved recommendation.

Translation: Loosely translated it means “I humbly receive.”
This phrase is an expression of gratitude spoken before the first bite. It springs from a Buddhist practice of giving thanks for everyone involved in the creation of your meal, while also reflecting on your own blessings. You'll typically see Japanese people say it with their hands folded together in front of them with their head slightly bowed. If you’re dining alone, you can say it to your server, bar person, or even to yourself—while not obligatory or expected from foreigners, it is always welcome. You can also add ごちそうさま(でした) (gochisousama (deshita)) at the end of a meal to show your appreciation—it means "thank you for the food."

Otearai wa dokodesu ka
Translation: Where is the toilet?
Sometimes you’ve just gotta go. The good news: Bathrooms across Japan are almost uniformly spotless. Just be sure to keep things tidy for the next visitor.

Translation: Awesome, brilliant, great, amazing, wow, incredible!
This exclamation is your shortcut to expressing excitement and joy for life in all its forms. Just avoid using it when you’re speaking with someone older or in a position of authority as it lacks the honorifics of more formal phrases—the polite form is すごいですね (sugoi desune).

Translation: Cheers!
If your Japanese takes leave after a few whiskey highballs (arguably one of Japan’s favorite cocktails), kanpai is the quickest shortcut to making friends. Be sure to give everyone at your table a chance to receive their drink before saying kanpai—and *then* you can have a sip!

Flight? ✅ Hotel? ✅ Japanese phrases? ✅

Using Japanese while traveling adds to your experience abroad! Take your time, speak with kindness, and your vacation will be absolutely すごい.