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! Here in this blog, I will be showing you useful Japanese phrases you need for your night out in Tokyo, even if you don’t speak Japanese.
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 the Japanese phrases 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 a 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-ka-ya (居酒屋)= 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 (お通し) = Appetiser/ Table charge
A lot of Japanese bars and izakayas will charge you an ‘otōshi’ to drink there. Food and drink are traditionally served together, so ‘otōshi’ also means a little bowl of food they’ll serve you with your first drink. Neat!
Su-mi-ma-sen (すみません) = Excuse me!
Can’t see the bartender? After another round of Moscow Mules? Just shout ‘sumimasen’ to get their attention. This useful Japanese phrase will come in very handy.
Mou-i-ppai ku-da-sai (もう一杯ください)= Another drink, please!
Use this phrase 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 (おかいけ) = The bill
The bartender will probably understand ‘check’, but why not bust out this word?
Tsu-yo-meh (強め)= a little stronger
Feel like your mojito isn’t very strong? ‘Tsuyome’ literally means ‘stronger’, so hopefully they’ll give you another shot!
Yo-wa-meh (弱め) = a little weaker
Feel like your mojito is way too strong? ‘Yowame’ literally means ‘weaker’ and is a helpful phrase if you’re looking to not get too smashed.
Dai-jou-bu de-su (大丈夫)= 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 if they ask you if you want another. But be careful — some bars will get annoyed if you stick around too long not drinking!
I-ta-da-ki-masu (いただきます) = a phrase to say before you tuck into your meal
It’s a Japanese phrase used kind of like saying grace anywhere else. If you’re in a group, say this before you tuck in.
Kam-pai (カンパイ)= Cheers!
If you’re getting in a round with some new Japanese pals.
Eh-ki wa, do-ko de-su-ka? (駅はどこですか) = Where’s the station?
End of the night on your night out and ready to head back to the Airbnb? ‘eh-ki’ means station. Hopefully, someone will be able to help you! If you need your drunk food before wrapping your night up, check out these options!
And there you have it — some super easy Japanese phrases to make your night out in Tokyo run a little smoother! Even if you don’t speak Japanese, you don’t have to worry! Have fun!
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Were these useful phrases useful for your nights out in Tokyo? Let us know in the comments below!
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!
Want to find out more about Japan? check out A Tokyo Newbie’s Top 5 Nightlife Bar Picks and An evening of drinking in Tokyo and Yokohama with Tom andTop 5 Tokyo nightlife recommendations for your last night!
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