Japanese for directions: How to ask if a place is nearby

Even if your Japanese is very basic, knowing some Japanese for directions not only help you navigate, but also to get a chat with the locals.

One person that you can always rely on for direction is the local police officer. You can usually find them in the closest 交番こうばん, small local police station which are located all over Japan.

Let’s learn a key sentence to ask someone if a place you’d like to go to is nearby or not.

Sample sentence: このへんに、ATM(は)ありますか。(Is there an ATM around here?)

このへんに means ‘around here’. この is a Japanese demonstrative translating in «this», «these».

へん stands for area or vicinity.

に is a particle indicating location or direction.

あります means ‘to exist’ and is used to refer to inanimate objects – a building, a book, a concept etc.

Once again, we notice Japanese people tend to skip the topic marker は.

Sample dialogue:

Bob: すみません、このへんにATM (は)ありますか。(Excuse-me, is there an ATM around here?)

Sato: ええ、あそこにありますよ。(Yes, it’s over there.)

Bob: ありがとうございます。(Thank you very much.)

Sato: どういたしまして。(You’re welcome.)

Jim: すみません、このへんにスーパーありますか。(Excuse-me, is there a supermarket around here?)

Megumi: さあ、ちょっとわかりません。(Hmm, I’m not sure (if there is one).

Jim: じゃ、いいです。ありがとうございます。(That’s alright, thank you.)

The little word ちょっと has many meanings but in this context,  ちょっと softens the verb わかりません, the negative form of わかります, ‘to understand’, ‘to know’.

Japanese people dislike saying ‘no’ and being too direct, so instead of saying they ‘don’t know’, they’ll prefer to say ‘they’re not sure’.

Sample Vocabulary:

  • えきStation
  • バスてい – Bus stop
  • 駐車場ちゅうしゃじょう – Parking lot
  • コンビニ – Convenience store
  • インターネットカフェ – Internet Cafe
  • 郵便局ゆうびんきょくPost office
  • 100円ショップ – 100 yen shop
  • 薬屋くすりや – Drugstore
  • ええ – Yes
  • あそこ – Japanese demonstrative translating in ‘over there’, a place physically distant from both speaker and listener.
  • ありがとうございます – Polite ‘thank you’
  • どういたしまして – You’re welcome

Are you interested in studying Japanese?
Check out our full time and part time courses!

[contact-form-7 id=”12634″ title=”Inquiry Form_copy”]
Coto Japanese Academy is a unique Japanese Language School in Iidabashi Tokyo, we offer relaxed and fun conversational lessons for all levels of Japanese learner. Coto Japanese Academy prides itself on its community atmosphere and fun lessons that focus on creation of opportunities to speak and learn Japanese. If you are interested in studying Japanese in Tokyo – please visit our contact page here.

Test your Japanese level!

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

Check your level