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The 100 Most Important Japanese Words You Should Know

October 1, 2010 by Koichi
Say you booked a last minute trip to Japan. Then, soon after that, you quickly r
ealize that you dont speak a word of Japanese (let alone a hundred words). For al
l of you people out there (or, for all of you beginners of Japanese out there),
this list is for you. These 100 words will get you through an untold number of s
ituations, problems, and feelings, just by knowing these all-important words. Im
not saying that there arent any other important words out there (and I hope you a
dd to the list by commenting below), but I do think this list of 100 words will
get you really, really far if you are, for some reason, only limited to learning
100 words. Enjoy!
Having trouble pronouncing these crazy Japanese words? Try out some of the free le
ssons on TextFugu to become a Japanese pronunciation master.
If youre traveling to Japan, youre going to want to know words that have to do wit
h emergency situations. You dont want to be caught off guard in a foreign country.
If youre in trouble, you need to be able to ask for some help, whether that help
is finding a bathroom or getting someone who speaks English.

(toire) = Toilet. Everyone has to use the toilet at some point, so if you need hel
p finding it, this is the word for you.
(tearai) = Bathroom. Just like toilet, but a little more all-inclusive. You can fe
el free to use either of these in a pinch, though.
(tasukete) = HELP. Just yell this out and (maybe) someone will come to your aid if
youre lucky.
(wakarimasen) = I dont understand. If someone is speaking to you in Japanese an
ont understand them (if youre using this list, then maybe you dont) then you can ju
st tell them you dont understand what theyre saying. Follow that up with eigo, eigo
(which youll learn in a minute) and youll be golden.
(yamete!) = Stop it! Maybe somebody is messing with you and you want them to stop (
yakuza? probably not). This is what youd want to say.
(eigo) = English. Sometimes you just need someone who speaks some English. Everyo
ne in Japan is supposed to be able to speak English, though you might have troub
le finding the right person depending on where you are.
(fuku) = Clothes. Dont ask I just thought it would be terrible to lose your clothe
s, and with all the hot springs and perverts, you never know.
(shini sou) = Seems Like Im Going To Die. When things get really serious, you may n
ed to pull out all the stops.
(keisatsu) = Police. If something really bad happens, these are the guys youre goi
ng to want to ask for.
(abunai) = Dangerous. Youll see this on signs and stuff too. If someone says abunai
o you, you should probably watch your step.
(kiken) = Peril, Hazard. Basically, this is a fancier abunai. Youll see this on si
gns as well.

Asking broad general questions, then using body language to tell people the rest
is a really fun way to get by in a country where you dont speak the language!

(doushita?) = What Happened? Then again, you probably wont understand what the pe
responds with, but its always nice to ask.
(doushite?) = Why? You never know
(nani) = What? Unbelievable!
(jikan) = Time. Just ask this with an quizzical tone and people will get the drif
(shitsumon) = Question. Have a question? Let someone know. Couple this with eigo!
eigo! and maybe someone who can speak some English will come to answer your shits
(dare) = Who. Great in case you need to find someone.
(itsu) = When. Pretty important if youre trying to time something.
Sometimes you need something that has to do with a someone. You can get by witho
ut too much here.
(sensei) = Teacher. If youre a student in Japan, this one comes in handy.
(kaishain) = Employee. Good if youre looking for an organizations employee to ask a
question, perhaps.
(hito) = Person. For when you need to point out a person in general.
Finding your way around can be pretty important. Here are some words that will h
elp you do that and keep you from getting lost.
(hoteru) = Hotel. Youll need to be able to find this if youre traveling in Japan.
(doko) = Where. Dont know where something is? Ask where it is with this word.
(kuukou) = Airport. Dont miss your flight!
(eki) = Station. Gotta catch that train!
(nihon) = Japan. Good to know where you are.
(daigaku) = College. Great for college students studying in Japan, or people who
like colleges in general.
(honya) = Bookstore. Some bookstores are pretty sketchy, be careful!
(takushi) = Taxi. Expensive, but you can find them everywhere.
(uchi/ie) = Home. Theres no place like it.
Oh food, how I love thee. Cant live without it, either.

(onaka suita) / (hara hetta) = Hungry. Two ways to say this one. Firs
l, second is more casual.
(tabemasu) = To Eat. Do you eat this? Yes I eat this.
(tabemasen) = To Not Eat. Do you eat this? No I dont.
(nomimasu) = To Drink. Glug Glug.
(nomimasen) = To Not Drink. I dont drink beer, sorry.
(mizu) = Water. I drink water, instead, because thats how I roll.
(nomimono) = Drink. Not the verb, but the noun. Please get me a drink.
(tabemono) = Food. Need food? Any food?
(oishii) = Good Tasting. If something tastes nice (or if you want to be nice), youd
say this.
(mazui) = Bad Tasting. I probably wouldnt ever say this, but just in case you need
to let someone know
(resutoran) = Restaurant. Now you need to figure out which one.
(konbini) = Convenience Store. Great place to buy small things and food. Convenienc
e Store food in Japan is pretty awesome.
(suupaa) = Super Market. If you need something a convenience store cant give you.

Being Polite
You dont want to piss people off when youre in their country. Bad things happen if
you do

(arigatougozaimasu) = Thank You. Do I even need to tell you why you shou
hope not.
(sumimasen) = Excuse Me. The streets can be busy, its nice to say excuse me when
walk through people.
(gomennasai) = Sorry. If you bump into a Yakuza gang member, you might want to w
his one out.
Hopefully you meet some nice people in your travels. Say hello (and then goodbye
!) to them.
(ohayougozaimasu) = Good Morning. A greeting for morning.
(konnichiwa) = Good Afternoon. You can use this around noonish on to the evening.
(konbanwa) = Good Evening. Like the other ones, but for evenings.
(dewamata) = See You Later.
(mata ashita) = See You Tomorrow.
(sayounara) = Good bye. Probably wont see them for a while :(
(oyasuminasai) = Good Night. Time for sleepy time.
Basic Verbs
Verbs will get you a long ways. You dont have to know much else as long as you kn
ow verbs, because verbs help you to get things done.
(ikimasu) = To Go.
(kaerimasu) = To Return (home).
(tabemasu) = To Eat. Nom nom nom.
(shimasu) = To Do. This is the best verb ever.
(mimasu) = To See. What is it you want to see?
(kaimasu) = To Buy. For all of you who like shopping.
(machimasu) = To Wait.
(kakimasu) = To Write. Have people write the directions down!
(tomarimasu) = To Stop.
(oshiemasu) = To Teach. If youre a teacher in Japan.
(hanashimasu) To Speak.
Basic Adjectives
Adjectives, while not as awesome as verbs, are also very useful. They help you d
escribe things.
(atarashii) = New.
(ureshii) = Happy.
(daijoubu) = Okay. As in Im okay!
(sugoi) = Amazing. For the sight seeing.
(takai) = Expensive / Tall. Just depends on the context.
(ookii) = Big, Large.
(chiisai) = Small.
(chikai) = Near. How close is it?
(tooi) = Far. How far is it?
(warui) = Bad.
(ii) = Good.
(Omoshiroi) = Interesting.
(tanoshii) = Fun.
(atsui) = Hot.
(samui) = Cold.
(jouzu) = Good At.
(heta) = Bad At.
(aka) = Red.

(ao) = Blue.
(kuro) = Black.
(midori) = Green.
(kiiro) = Yellow.
(shiro) = White.
(baka) = Stupid! I bet you knew this one already.
(ichi) = One.
(ni) = Two.
(san) = Three.
(shi/yon) = Four. Such an unlucky number!
(go) = Five. Good way to remember the first five numbers: Itchy knee! Son, She go
! Imagine that playing out
(roku) = Six.
(shichi) = Seven. Also kinda unlucky.
(hachi) = Eight.
(ku) = Nine.
(juu) = Ten.
(hyaku) = 100.
(sen) = 1,000.
(man) = 10,000.
(en) = Yen. Not really a number, but goes nicely with the numbers, I think.
Whats Missing?
Okay, okay. Hold your space horse space cowboy. I know that this list isnt every
important word. That would be impossible, and really depend on the person. But,
nows your chance to let me know what you would have added to this list as a most i
mportant word. List the word and the meaning down in the comments to help other p
eople out too! That way your comment does some good, not evil.
Filed Under: Learn Japanese Tagged With: 100, cheatsheet, common, important, kan


About Koichi
Tries too hard to be a hoopy frood who knows where his towel s at. Wants to chan
ge the way people think about learning. Makes: Tofugu, TextFugu, and WaniKani. F
ollow him: @Twitter, Facebook, Instagram.
Older Comments

jakebomtokoyatasunlow yopto getsa tokoyota sun lu

lucy arigatou gozaimasu its really helpful

warren hellow

static z how do you say pale?Or haven (as in safe place)?

static z how do you say pale in japanese?Or haven(as in safe place.)?

Gajeel Geehee

Happy Aye sir!

Leomon soudesene

Ako C Charles arigato

der denwa

Caragh Hey

Sakura Actually, youre all wrong. does not mean how do you do.
ns for the first time. And doesnt mean nice to meet you either. Please dont po
t translations, you really shouldnt be telling anyone anything about a language t
hat you cant speak.

Nite Tnx!! this is a big help for me! :))))

Courtney Burkett Kanpai!! Its the equivalent of cheers and definitely wort

h knowing! Also good to know, itadakimasu (kind of like saying thank you for the
food). Keep in mind that Im a total noob to the language but those happened to be
the first 2 words that I learned (as I love food and beer so it seemed appropria
te). I plan on using your guide (and the 2 words mentioned by myself) quite a lo
t when I go to Japan in a couple of months. Thanks for such a great site!!

Otaku_desu! very nice.

PHIL how do you say where can I find a pharmacy

Kaitlyn arigatou sensi

Brenda Great post :) Would be even better if you added dashes or spaces t
o indicate pronunciation in the anglicized japanese translation (eg. konnichiwa
-> kon-ni-chi-wa) , sometimes I had trouble figuring out the syllables. Thank yo

Iris Arigato :D

doys Hi what is the meaning Haik dozo to japanese..thank you

Julie Ann Testa I think that boku generally means young boy. They use boku
especially if the person talking or referred to is young.

loopy really helpful i am starting japanese. i basically am commenting to


sandeep I want to learn Japanese language .. plz Gide me

With the numbers, Seven would be nana () after ten.

Jayson L. Britanico arigatu thank very much it helps me a lot now i can t
ake a job here in japan

JAYANT What should I Write for Same To You in Japanese. Pl write answer in

jacob how do you say On Monday at 9 0clock I have sose, at 11 oclock math
oclock religion in Japanese

jacob its part of my Japanese assignment

Worm For thank you, cant you just shorten it to Arigato?

baby cris arigatougozaimasu 

jhoy oriendo misete .wat d meaning of diz

Mark Sakura, while is literally for the first time, we use

situation. When we say how do you do, were not asking a question its a slightly les
son common way of saying nice to meet you. Both nice to meet you and how do you do are
herefore used in the same way as one would use in Japanese, despite the differ
iteral meaning.

Aeasshi Hi! I am from the Philippines. I studied Japanese in college. I a

m fond of the Japanese language, and I love watching animes. :) I recommend you to
try to download Japanese songs to familiarize on how they pronounce it. But for
basics, you just read it as it is. :) ha-ji-me-ma-shi-te or you can also pronounc
e it as ha-ji-me-mash-te a-ri-ga-to-go-zai-ma-su // a-ri-ga-to-go-zai-mas kon-ni-chi
-wa Hope this helps! :)

Ariana Jackson Thank you! This helped a lot. I would like to see basic na
mes for people. Like, friend, husband, or child. If you someonehow many to get yoursel
f caught up in one of these situations,(which I probably will :D) youd know these

kim ayen mendez so helpful arigatougozaimasu

Ahnir Eam Gallares arigatougazaimasu

Ahnir Eam Gallares

Jose Montenegro I larn

Older Comments
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