Being in a foreign land is both daunting and exciting. The feeling of being in an unfamiliar place can be overwhelming and sometimes, discouraging. But you don’t have to panic. Learning and trying to become one with the culture and practices is part of what makes traveling a great experience.
Japan is an advanced country that is ingrained with their traditional values and culture. Unlike some countries that have completely transformed themselves in order to become modern, Japan was able to preserve its identity and traditions. Their high sense of identity made the Japanese attached to their language and culture. That’s the reason why very few Japanese knows how to speak English. Don’t fret, though! Here are some helpful phrases that will get you through the language barrier!
It is true that you need years of practice to become fluent in a specific language and starts with familiarizing yourself with phrases and words. Here are some of the important Japanese terms.
If you want to express gratitude or thanks you say “Arigato.” It is the most popular of saying thanks in Japanese. The literal translation of the word is “impossible to do.” That is why it is particularly used to say your thanks to people who went out of their way to help you.
In a more formal setting, “arigato gozaimasu” may be said instead of the less formal “arigato”. “Arigato gozaimasu” shows high respect and politeness, so it is a safer variant of saying thanks in Japanese.
You may also add an affix “domo” to indicate a stronger way of saying thanks. It loosely translates to “extreme” or “very much”. It also makes your gratitude more sincere.
It is also important to say sorry in Japanese. The general for asking for apology is “sumimasen”. You can use this for mild offenses like unintentional bumps. You may also use this term as an “excuse me.” If you need to ask for anything from the locals, just say “sumimasen” to approach them.
For formal situations, the term “gomennasai” is used. It denotes a certain sense of formality. It may also be used with people that have close or intimate relationship with you. A shortened term, “gomen ne”, denotes a more casual approach. It is more often used with a close friend or a relative.
When you are in a foreign land, a simple smile or nod can make a whole lot of difference in your relationship with the locals. But saying “hi” or “hello” makes it a lot more sincere and true. In Japanese, when you want to say a simple greeting, you can say “konnichiwa”.
If you want to say “goodbye” or bid farewell to someone, you say the word “sayonara”. This is a bit formal and more often used in schools to bid farewell to a class.
Another important term to know is “itadakimasu”. It is accustomed in Japan to say this term before meals. It has no direct translation in English but can be interpreted as an invitation to eat.
In you travels, it is important observe and appreciate the richness of the culture and that includes the language of the country. At the end of the day, it’s about being one with them.