Japanese Phrases for Asking Directions and More

Navigating the streets of Japan can be challenging for newbies, especially since many signs and maps are in Japanese only. 

The next time you need to attend a Japanese festival or explore your new home in Japan, make sure to use these phrases for getting around.


Nobody wants to experience the hassle of getting lost!
In case you do lose your way in Japan, you also need to know how to ask for directions when using public transit—in particular, trains.
Japan is famous for its bustling rail network, with the country being home to 45 of the 51 busiest train stations worldwide.
Here are some phrases you can use to ask for help:
  • Where is ___? – ____ wa doko desu ka? (~はどこにありますか?)
  • Where am I? / Where is this? – Koko wa doko des ka. (ここはどこですか?)
  • How can I get to _____? – Douyatte _____ ni ike mas ka? (どうやって______ に行けますか?)
  • I want to go to _____. –  _____ ni ikitai des. (_____ に行きたいです。)
  • Please tell me how to get there. – Michi wo oshiete kudasai. (道を教えてください。)
  • Where is the station? – Eki wa doko des ka? (駅はどこですか?)
  • Where is the taxi stand? – Takushii noriba wa doko desu ka? (タクシー乗り場はどこですか?)
  • Where can I buy a ticket? – Doko de jōsha-ken o kaemasu ka? (どこで乗車券を買えますか?)
  • Which train goes to ____? – Dono densha ga _____ e ikimasu ka? (どの電車が_____へ行きますか?)
  • Help! – Taskete! (たすけて!)


Documenting your time in Japan is a must, whether you’re in the country to travel or settle down.

When sightseeing, make sure to ask permission first by saying, “Shashin o totte mo ii desu ka? (写真を撮ってもいいですか?)” or “May I take a photo?”

You can then ask, “Shashin o totte moraemasu ka? (写真を撮ってもらえますか?)” or “Can you please take a picture (for me)?”

Hotels and accommodation facilities naturally cater to global guests, even the traditional Japanese inns called ryokan (旅館).
Still, it would be useful to get past the language barrier with a few phrases:
  • Are there any rooms available? –  Aiteiru heya wa arimasu ka? (空いている部屋はありますか?)
  • What is this charge for? – Kore wa nan no ryokin desu ka? (これは何の料金ですか?)
  • I would like to check-in/check-out – Check-in/check-out o onegai-shimasu (チェックイン/チェックアウト をお願いします)
  • I forgot my key in the room (you can replace “kagi” with any forgotten item) – Heya ni kagi wo wasuremashita (部屋にカギを忘れました)

Japanese Phrases for Restaurants

Aside from the customary Japanese expressions before and after meals, it’s also crucial to know the words for ordering food, asking for the bill, informing about allergies, and more.

These may be helpful:

  • May I see the menu? – Menyū o kudasai (メニューを下さい?)
  • Could I have water? – Mizu o kudasai. (水 をください。)
  • I would like ____ – ____ o kudasai (…をください)
  • I would like ____ and _____ –  _____ to _____ o kudasai (… と …をください)
  • Where is the toilet/restroom? – Toire wa doko des ka? (トイレはどこですか?)
  • Can I have the bill, please? – O kaikei onegaishimas (お かいけい おねがいします)
  • Do you have an English menu? – Eigo no menyuu wa arimas ka? (えいごのメニューはありますか?)
  • Does this dish contain any ____? – Kono ryori niwa ____ ga haitte masuka? (この料理には____ が入ってますか?)
  • I am allergic to____ – ____ arerugii desu. ( ____ アレルギーです。)

Japanese Phrases for Shopping

Japan is a major tourist destination, so it’s fairly common to see signs and instructions with English translations.
However, smaller Japanese shops may not know how to communicate well with English-speaking customers.
Here are some phrases you can use:
  • Do you accept credit cards? – Kurejittokādo wa tsukaemaska?(クレジットカードはつかえますか?)
  • How much is this? – Kore wa ikura des ka? (これはいくらですか?)
  • Can I try it on? – Shichaku shite īdesu ka? (試着していいですか?)
  • Do you have _____? – Kono mise ni _____ wa arimasu ka? (この店に_____はありますか?)
  • I’ll take it/this – Kore o kudasai (これをください)

Tips for Asking Directions and Instructions in Japan

  • Be courteous and approach locals with a polite “Sumimasen (すみません)” or “Excuse me.” You can follow this up with, “O-tazune shite mo ii desu ka? (おたずねしてもいいですか?)” or “May I ask you a question?”
  • If you’re not confident with your Japanese skills, you can tell them, “Nihongo wa hanasemasen (日本語は話せません)” or “I can‘t speak Japanese”. You can also ask them,  “Eigo wo hanasemasu ka? (えいごがはなせますか?)” or “Can you speak English?”
  • If you mishear the other person or need further explanation, you can ask them, “Mou ichido onegaishimasu (もう一度お願いします)” or “Can you please say that again?” You can also say, “Dou iu imi desu ka? (どういう意味ですか )” or “What does (it/this/that) mean?”
  • Don’t forget your Japanese etiquette!


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Knowing how to make requests and ask for help in Japanese is a big step in your Japanese journey.
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