What is surprising about Japan

Learn 7 useful expressions in Japanese

“Do you speak Japanese? Isn't that incredibly difficult? "

Learning a new language is never easy at first. Japanese is no exception. But when it comes to Japanese pronunciation, I can reassure you. And there are some really simple words.

These7 useful phrases and words should help you to score points with your knowledge of Japanese.
For anyone who can speak Japanese, the spoken spelling may be a bit strange. I just asked friends to write down the words for me by ear. I myself use the so-called Romaji with the Hepburn system. Wikipedia has clearly explained the system and also goes into the peculiarities of pronunciation.

Table of Contents

1. Japanese to start with: "Nice to meet you"

Translation: Glad to meet you | nice to meet you

I'm still very good at myself my first Japanese wordrecall.

Unfortunately it is my Japanese debut really pissed off despite my ingenious donkey bridge. What happened?
In 2002 I traveled through Asia with my backpack, including China. In the south of China, in Lijiang (丽江 市), I met a Japanese in a Korean restaurant. He was charming and funny. So we had a lot of fun while we explored the city together the next day. There was always laughter. We only talked in English and we had our problems with our accents. Even so, it felt like we'd been good friends for a long time.

Other travelers had often raved about the lovable Japanese Daisuke (pronounced: Dai-ske for "dice-game"). There were one or two stories about him that travelers in Lijiang told each other. I finally understood why everyone was so fond of him. It was a really nice time with him. I really wanted to tell him that when I said goodbye "I thought it was nice that we met" - in Japanese, of course, so I wanted to impress him.

So I found out that the Japanese introduce themselves with “hadjime-masch-tee” when they use “nice to meet you” in English. A Japanese woman I asked confirmed this to me. I built a donkey bridge to it.

My donkey bridge:
When I have a cold, I often sneeze
Atchoo –
and then I have to drink teameMr Mud tea as normal.

So Hatschi-more-mud-teais then only slightly changed and that's itHadji me masch tea!!!
The more wacky my donkey bridges are, the better I can remember them. But every brain works differently.

When I said goodbye"Hadjime-masch-tea" recited, Daisuke's lack of understanding was written on her face. "Ok, pronounced wrong," I thought and showed my note, written by the Japanese. He just laughed at me (or at me?) And said goodbye.

Later I met Daisuke again and he explained to me what I had done wrong: "Hajimemashite" is only used in Japan at the very first encounter, so used at the very beginning when introducing yourself. In the end, it comes across as a bit weird. But he thought it was great that I had “learned” Japanese for him.

By the way, we always agreed to meet again on the trip and at some point we never broke up. We were completely in love by then. We spent the rest of the trip together, I went to Japan with Daisuke, we got married a few years later and…so on …

You can read our story or "How I caught a Japanese man" here.

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2. Introduce yourself in Japanese: "I am Daniela"

Translation: I'm Daniela | I'm Daniela

Japanese for beginners doesn't have to be difficult. Name + dess and done!

The Japanese actually always use when imagining themselves her last name. My German surname "Langkamp" (or RAN-KAN-PU) is so difficult for the Japanese that I have mostly done without it.

"Hajimemashite. Daniela desu. "
(pronounced: Hadjime-masch-tea. Daniera dess)
= I'm Daniela, nice to meet you

Then your counterpart usually introduces himself and it follows

"Nihongo wa djosu des ne"
= Your Japanese is good!

You actually hear this compliment every time you speak a Japanese word. For this lovable compliment alone, it is worth learning a little Japanese!

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3. Greet in Japanese: "Hello"

Translation: Good afternoon | Hello

The classic among the Japanese words. Almost everyone has heard this before.

You can see the Japanese move their upper body slightly forward.

The brief hint of a bow looks more like a nod if you happen to meet somewhere, but you don't necessarily want to stop to chat.
If you stand in front of each other, however, the bow is a little more intense.

I had to get used to the constant nodding and bowing, but after a few days it became a kind of reflex that always occurs as soon as you bring the "konnichiwa" over your lips. Even when talking on the phone, you start to bow at some point.

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4. To apologize in Japanese: "Excuse me"

Translation: excuse me… | excuse me, sorry

ssumi-mass’en”With a sharp“ S ”as in Haus, "U" and "m" are often barely audible and the stress on the last syllable. This isTHE WORDthat one encounters always and everywhere.

ssumi-mass’en“Is number 1 for me useful expressions in Japanese.

It is also a word that triggers the reflex to nod briefly.

Translations from Japanese into German are always such a thing. It actually means "sorry", but for me it is such an all-purpose word for many different situations:

  • I want to draw attention to myself in the restaurant - Sumimasen (but without nodding, rather calling in a loud voice)
    = Hello. Sorry - I want something from you
  • If the saleswoman has to bring me trousers in a larger size into the cabin - Sumimasen + nod
    = Sorry for doing so much work for you (and I just don't want to fit into the Japanese size M, even though I'm actually wearing size S)
  • If I have to ask someone for directions - Sumimasen
    = Sorry if I bother you ...
  • If someone stands in the way - sumimasen
    = Sorry, can I go through?
  • If I accidentally bumped into someone - Sumimasen
    = Sorry, I have to go through, I'm sorry I bumped into her

But if I want to apologize from the bottom of my heart, I use:

Go’men nassai = I'm really so sorry

Say sorry in Japanese

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5. Thank you in Japanese: "Thank you very much"

Translation: Thank you | Thank you

The thank you phrase is a third one Head nod reflex word. As in Germany, there are many different expressions to say thank you:

  • When I meet friends my age, they always use "Domo-domo" or sometimes "Domo-aligato"
  • On the other hand, when I officially say goodbye after an evening with work colleagues, it is more like saying goodbye "Domo Aligato gosai’masch-ta"
  • The service staff in a restaurant usually say goodbye to me as a customer with an intense bow and a "Aligato gosai’masch-ta"
  • But I also often hear a simple one "SSan’kiü", should read: Thank you! Japanese pronunciation of English words is not always easy. But you get used to it over time and you can figure out what is meant more quickly 😉

Just babble after the Japanese. The standard “aligato gosaimas” actually always works, but it's not that cool.

6. Praise in Japanese: “Mmmmmm! Delicious!"

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Translation: Mmmm, yummy! | Yummy

The Japanese place great value on good food. Good food is incredibly important, if not important THE MOST IMPORTANT.

Somehow it's always about food, you realize that as soon as you zap through the TV channels. Somewhere there is always something going on with food.
If something is tasty, then you say that too. That's why you hear everywhere where people eat:

Ah! Eusch’iiiiiiiiii or alternatively "Umai"(= Very good)

Together, the two words occupy the 2nd place of mine 7 useful expressions in Japanese.

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7. Say goodbye in Japanese: "Bye bye and goodbye"

Translation: Bye-bye

The second classic that every foreigner seems to know is the phrase saying goodbye

さ よ う な ら - Sayounara - (spoken: Ssayo’nara)

In the beginning I always and everywhere on Farewell "Sayonara" said.
When I looked around in a shop, I left the shop with "sayonara". The fact that people gave me a friendly smile made me believe I had done everything right.
At some point a friend took me to the side and explained to me. “Sayonara” is only used if you know each other and really won't see each other for a while.
When saying goodbye to friends, expressions such as

"Mata", "mata-ne", "dja mata-ne" "djane",means something like "see you soon" or "bye".

Most often, however, one hears a simple and simple one "Bai-bai".

Japanese is not that difficult at all!

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You might also be interested in these articles:

40 Japanese Colloquial Expressions | Onomatopoeia Part 2

Japanese animal sounds | Onomatopoeia Part 1

Say sorry in Japanese

The thing about time | 10 Japanese proverbs


Which word do you find useful? Which word should you know? What was your first Japanese word? Do you build donkey bridges too? If yes, which?

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