10 Japanese Travel Vocabulary Words for First-time Visitors in Japan

Traveling in Japan can be an adventure, but language barriers can sometimes make things more difficult than they need to be. Luckily, learning a related to transportation can go a long way in helping you navigate the country’s bustling streets and efficient transportation systems. In this post, we’ll cover 10 Japanese terms that will come in handy during your travels.

空港 (koukou): Airport

When arriving in Japan, you’ll likely start at one of the country’s many airports. Remembering the word 空港 (koukou) can help you navigate signs and announcements. (You can check out a more complete list of airport-related Japanese vocabulary here).

Kuukou de nimotsu o totta ato, takushii o sagashimashou.
After retrieving your baggage at the airport, let’s look for a taxi.

駅 (eki): Train station

Japan’s train system is one of the most efficient in the world, and when you’re traveling to Japan on a budget, you’ll be relying on trains more than other methods of transportation like taxi — or even shinkansen.

Unfortunately, you’ll be hearing mostly Japanese announcements inside the train station, which makes navigation even more overwhelming. You can learn about common train announcements in Japan here, but make sure you know the word (eki) beforehand!

Toukyou eki kara shibuya eki made dono densha ni noreba iidesu ka?
Which train should I take from Tokyo Station from Shibuya?

切符 (kippu): Ticket

When traveling by train or shinkansen, you’ll typically need either of two things: a prepaid IC card or one-way ticket to your destination.

We recommend getting IC cards like PASMO or Suica (which you can easily get in the ticket counter) for regular train rides, or even a JR Pass so you can hop from a bullet train to a JR line with ease.

With the announcement of price increase on JR Pass, however, some of us might just opt for one-way tickets. Remember the word word 切符 (kippu) to make sure you purchase the right ticket.

Kyouto made no kippu o onegaishimasu.
I want to buy a ticket to Kyoto.

Bonus: See our infographic on how to read Shinkansen tickets in Japan!

ホーム (hoomu): Platform

Once you have your ticket, you’ll need to find the right platform. The word ホーム (ho-mu) means platform in Japanese.

Densha wa 1-ban hoomu kara hassha shimasu.
The train departs from platform 1.

発車 (hassha): departure

If you see the word 発車 (hassha) on a sign, it means the train is departing. Make sure you’re on board before the train leaves!

Densha wa itsu hassha surundesu ka?
When does the train depart?

到着 (touchaku): Arrival

On the flip side, 到着 (touchaku) means arrival. Keep an eye out for this word so you know when you’ve reached your destination. You’ll here this Japanese travel vocabulary word on both airplane and train announcements.

Eki ni touchaku shitara, doko ni ikeba iidesu ka?
Where should I go once I arrive at the station?

Note: You’ll also hear official announcements using the word 参ります (mairimasu), which implies the same thing as 到着 (touchaku). 参ります (mairimasu) is the humble verb form of 入る (hairu), which means “to come”. Don’t be confused when you hear some train conductors or bus drivers in Japan using this word instead of 到着 (touchaku)!

Mamonaku shibuya eki ni mairimasu.
We will arrive shortly at Shibuya Station.

You can learn more about Japanese polite form, or keigo, here.

時刻表 (jikokuhyou): Timetable

If you’re not sure when your train is departing, check a 時刻表 (jikokuhyou) for the latest information.

Jigokuhyou o mite, tsugi no densha no jikan o shirabemashou.
Let’s check the timetable and find out the time of the next train.)

乗換 (norikae): Transfer

Most Japanese train systems are integrated well, but there will be times when you’ll need to change trains to reach your destination when you are visiting Japan as a tourist.

Transfers happen when you need to use a different train line. In Tokyo, for example, the biggest passenger railway is the JR East, which covers Shibuya, Shinjuku, and most well-known wards in Tokyo — but it doesn’t cover all stations. This means that you can’t go from Shibuya straight to areas like Nakameguro and Roppongi, which are two upscale areas that uses the Tokyo Metro and subway line.

To get there, you’ll need to make a transfer to a train station that has both JR and Tokyo Metro or subway line. If you get confused and ask the train staff, take note if they mentioned the word 乗換 (norikae), means transfer in Japanese.

Tsugi no eki de norikae ga hitsuyou desu.
You need to transfer at the next station.)

バス (basu): Bus

While Japan’s train system is extensive, sometimes taking a bus is the better option. Remember the word バス (basu) to make sure you get on the right bus.

Basu ni noru mae ni, jigokuhyou o kakuninshite kudasai.
Please check the timetable before getting on the bus.

どこ (doko): Where

Finally, we can’t end our travel to Japan vocabulary article without include one of the most essential Japanese question words for first-time visitors: Where? Navigating popular cities in Japan like Tokyo and Osaka can be challenging, especially when it comes to finding small restaurants and shops. When Google Maps fails to provide accurate directions, you can rely on practicing your Japanese language skills and asking a local for assistance by using the question: “Where is (the name of the place)?”

Sumimasen, chikatetsu narimasu eki wa doko desu ka?
Excuse me, where is the subway station?

Chikatetsu narimasu eki wa koko kara massugu itte, migi ni magatte kudasai.
The Narimasu subway station is straight ahead from here, please turn right.

Arigatou gozaimasu.
Thank you very much.

While it may seem intimidating at first, learning a few key Japanese words can make traveling in Japan as a tourist much easier. Knowing these transportation-related vocabulary words will allow you to confidently navigate Japan’s extensive train and bus systems and make the most of your time in the country.

Travel and Study in Japan with Coto Academy!

Coto Academy offers short-term courses that are perfect for individuals who want to learn Japanese while on their vacation in Japan. However, whether you are visiting Japan or searching for flexible Japanese classes to fit into your busy work schedule, we have a course that will cater to your level, availability, and preferences!

If you want to study Japanese in Shibuya, Iidabashi, or Yokohama, fill out the form below, and our staff will get in touch!

What Japanese travel vocabulary do you need to know when traveling in Japan?

Most travelers should learn a few greetings and basic phrases, such as こんにちは (konnichiwa) and ありがとうございます (arigatou gozaimasu), which mean “hello” and “thank you”. Other important phrases include asking for directions, how to order food at restaurants, and phrases used while shopping in Japan.

Can you visit Japan if you only speak English?

You can certainly get around in the big cities without using Japanese. However, the further you get outside of the city, the less people speak English. It is generally recommended for most foreign visitors to learn the basics of Japanese to travel within Japan with ease and get a complete Japanese cultural experience!

What is the word for travel in Japan?

旅行 (ryokou) means travel. This term can refer to any type of trip or journey.

What are 4 phrases commonly spoken in Japanese when traveling?

  • こんにちは (konnichiwa) – hello
  • ありがとうございます (arigatou gozaimasu) – thank you
  • どういたしまして (douitashimashite) – you’re welcome
  • すみません (sumimasen) – I’m sorry/excuse me

Read more about traveling in Japan:

Test your Japanese level!

Do a self-test to see which course fits you.

Check your level