Japanese Common Words: What to say while travelling in Japan

Are you planning on traveling Japan soon, but you don’t know any Japanese?  Or are you looking to learn some Japanese common words that can help you get around in Japan?

Then this blog is right up your alley, with some simple Japanese travel words as well as some transportation related phrases to help you get around Japan!

In this article, we will review the basic travel Japanese phrases Nakamura sensei teaches in the video below.

Beginner Japanese Travel Phrases – Basic Vocabulary

Before getting into some more difficult phrases, let’s take a look at some basic travel Japanese words in the appropriate context.  You may already be familiar with this vocabulary.

However Japanese words often carry slightly different meanings in different contexts.

So let’s look at some vocabulary!


The video below depicts a traveling Nakamura-sensei searching for their passport.

“Daijoubu” meaning “ok” or “fine”.  This extremely handy phrase is used in all sorts of situations in Japan!  And travel scenarios are no exception.

Daijoubu desu ka?
Is everything ok/Are you ok?

Hai, daijoubu desu!
Yes, I’m fine/Everything is fine!

すみません・すいません/Sumimasen ・ suimasen

“Sumimasen” meaning “please excuse me” or “pardon me”.  Another common phrase heard in various contexts in Japan!

Nakamura-sensei almost forgot her passport – but luckily the attendant got her attention with “sumimasen”.
Sumimasen, okyaku sama!
Excuse me, miss!
And how did Nakamura-sensei respond?

ありがとうございます/Arigatou gozaimasu

“Arigatou gozaimasu” meaning “thank you” – this is a polite expression of gratitude.  The casual form shortens to “arigatou”.

え? あー、すいません、ありがとうございます!
Eh? Ah-, suimasen, arigatou gozaimasu!
Hm? Oh, excuse me, thank you!

Perhaps a direct translation of this exchange into English sounds a bit rigid or stiff – but that’s part of what makes polite Japanese – or keigo language – polite.

どうぞ・おさきにどうぞ/ Douzo ・ O saki ni douzo

“Douzo” meaning “please” – to offer someone a favor.  “O saki ni douzo” is a way to say “after you”, and is an appropriate phrase to use with strangers.

“O saki ni” roughly translates to “first”. So it’s a little bit like saying “you first”!
Now that we have reviewed these basic words, let’s dig into some phrases!

Simple Travel Japanese Phrases

Where is the taxi platform?

To understand how to use this phrase, let’s first break it down.
タクシー (takushii) of course means “taxi”, and のりば (noriba) is a “terminal” or “platform”.  So タクシーのりば is a taxi stop or taxi platform. 

は (wa) is the grammar particle identifying the taxi stop as the subject of the sentence.  You can read more about は in this blog post about Japanese grammar particles!

Where is~?

〜はどこですか (doko desu ka) is a useful question ending that simply means “where is~?”  “Doko” means where and “desu ka” is the to be verb.  The か (ka) indicates it is a question.

This phrase can be used with all sorts of other places or items, travel-related or otherwise.  Below is a short vocabulary list of some travel-related words you can use with 〜はどこですか?

バスのりば – basu noriba – bus stop
駅(えき)– eki – train station
トイレ – toire – washroom, bathroom
3番線(さんばんせん)- san ban sen – platform number 3

You can replace 3番線 with any number necessary to refer to whichever platform you need.
That’s all for today’s blog!  Remember to watch the video and subscribe 🙂

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