Japanese teacher's real phrases to use in Japan

Now that tourists can freely visit Japan again, we've begun a new series focused on practical Japanese phrases you can use in Japan. Mochijapa (Ayano Irizuki), a licensed teacher of Japanese and writer for grape Japan, will be your guide.

When vacationing in Japan, eventually you will want to sit down and grab a drink or eat some delicious food. For the third installment of our series, we will be introducing survival phrases for restaurants and cafes. Of course, we have audio clips so you can learn the proper pronunciation as well.

Where will you eat?

Let’s start with a phrase that’s especially important for cafes. Starbucks and other cafes often require you to tell the staff whether you will be taking it home or eating/drinking it there. Of course, you could simply use the English word “take out” to get your point across, but mochikaeri 持ち帰り is also often used. Let’s remember it!

If you’re planning on eating or drinking it in the store, let’s say tennai de. Looking at the kanji also makes it easy to remember. 店 ten|store + 内nai|inside = for here

Useful phrases for placing an order

Next is ordering! There are various ways you can say it, but the simplest way is to combine what you want to eat, the counter, and please (onegaishimasu).

Counters for 1 to 5 are as follows:

  • 1: hitotsu ひとつ
  • 2: futatsu ふたつ
  • 3: mittsu みっつ
  • 4: yottsu よっつ
  • 5: itsutsu いつつ

How big is it? Before you order, sometimes you might want to know how large something is. This phrase can come in useful. You might be surprised by the difference in the size of the servings between your country and Japan.

Dorekurai is a very useful phrase for asking about things other than size as well. For example, you can also use it in the following ways.

By swapping out the ōkī with a different adjective like karai, you can ask “How spicy is it?”

Instead of karai, you can use other adjectives. For example:

  • sweet: amai 甘い
  • salty: shoppai しょっぱい
  • sour: suppai すっぱい

So you’ve managed to make your order, but the shop made a mistake and brought you something different to what you wanted. It’s unfortunate, but it does happen, and it’s the perfect situation to use this phrase! Tanomu 頼む is “order”, so all you have to do is use the negative form!

Useful phrases for paying the bill

Can I pay with credit card? This is really important. Make sure to listen to the audio and practice this one. You should ask the restaurant this question at the entrance especially during lunch service. Sometimes, the merchant will have stickers indicating they accept credit cards, but it only applies for dinner service.

Can we pay separately? This phrase is particularly useful if you are traveling with a friend. Of course, sometimes the cashier will be unable to accommodate you, but there’s no harm in asking.

Hopefully, some of these phrases will help you out whether you are visiting or starting a new phase of your life in Japan. If you found this useful, please share this article on all of the social networks that you use!

Series - Japanese teacher's real phrases to use in Japan

By - Mochijapa (Ayano Irizuki).