Hey Tokyo travellers! I’m Rhiannon and I’m a Tokyo newbie. For the next month or so I’ll be blogging about my time in Japan and, hopefully, giving you guys some pointers so that you don’t make the same mistakes I do. Make your own mistakes – it’s more fun!
Just touched down? Headed out on the town, but feeling a little bit lost in translation? Not to worry, I’ve got you covered.
I studied Japanese at high school, but in the intervening years I’ve forgotten most of my vocabulary. Plus, most of what I learned, weirdly, wasn’t specifically relevant to going out drinking in Shinjuku.
Not to worry, though. If I’ve managed to get by, you will too. Here’s an idiot’s guide to speaking Japanese when you don’t speak Japanese. I promise there’s no need to hide in your hotel room à la Scarlett Johansson.
i-za-kai-ya = Traditional Japanese pub
An izakaya is a place where you can drink and eat tapas-style snacks. They tend to be pretty cozy, so you will definitely get to know the quirks of the owner and your fellow clientele. A definite must-visit if you’re in Tokyo!
o-tou-shi = Appetizer/ Table charge
A lot of Japanese bars and izakayas will charge you an ‘otoshi’ to drink there. Food and drink are traditionally served together, so ‘otoshi’ also means a little bowl of food they’ll serve you with your first drink. Neat!
su-mi-ma-sen = Excuse me!
Can’t see the bartender? After another round of Moscow Mules? Just shout ‘sumimasen’ to get their attention.
mo-u i-pai ku-da-sai = Another, please!
If you can’t remember the name of that delicious plum wine you’re drinking in the izakaya, but you want another!
o-kai-ke = The bill
The bartender will probably understand ‘check’, but why not bust out this word?
koi-meh = a little stronger
Feel like your mojito isn’t very strong? ‘Koime’ literally means ‘darker’, so hopefully they’ll give you another shot!
u-su-meh = a little weaker
Feel like your mojito is way too strong? ‘Usume’ means ‘diluted’ and is a helpful phrase if you’re looking to not get too smashed.
dai-jyou-bu de-su = it’s okay/I’m fine
If you don’t want another drink or you’re still on your first one, just whip out this bad boy. But be careful — some bars will get annoyed if you stick around too long not drinking!
i-ta-da-ki-masu = a phrase to say before you tuck into your meal
It’s kind of like saying grace anywhere else. If you’re in a group, say this before you tuck in.
kam-pai = Cheers!
If you’re getting in a round with some new Japanese pals.
e-ki wa, do-ko de-su-ka? = Where’s the station?
End of the night and ready to head back to the AirBnB? ‘e-ki’ means station. Hopefully someone will be able to help you!
And there you have it — some super easy phrases to make your night out in Tokyo run a little smoother! Have fun!
Do you like these places? Got more interesting places to recommend to us? Leave a comment below and let us know!
Want to check out different areas of Tokyo? Click on the area you want to explore and let us give you a quick introduction to a few spots!
If you have any questions, feel free to talk to Naomi, your personal nightlife bot. She is ready to answer any questions you might have any time!