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How to communicate in Japan without Japanese 2019/7/2 16:43
Hi guys!

I would need some advice. I'm traveling to Japan next month but I don't speak Japanese at all. Any tip?

Thank you very much in advance.
by Nina Rossi (guest)  

Re: How to communicate in Japan without Japanese 2019/7/2 19:34
The first time that I traveled to Japan, I was quite concerned about the language as well. Searching online I found two useful travel guides to move around and ordering at restaurants.
It was just the basics but enough for me to survive.
https://www.jrailpass.com/blog/basic-japanese-phrases-for-traveling
https://www.jrailpass.com/blog/vocabulary-train-travel-japan
by Billy R. (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: How to communicate in Japan without Japanese 2019/7/2 19:34
Smartphone apps, learning the basic phrases and a lot of smiling. I don't know much Japanese, but it's not an issue as most relevant signage is multilingual. Unless you stray way off the beaten path, you'll have no issues. Even then, learn the basics and use a smartphone app.
by John B digs Japan rate this post as useful

Re: How to communicate in Japan without Japanese 2019/7/2 21:04
Yup, nowadays you can do anything from talking history to asking where the restroom is by using your smartphone. It will even speak for you, so the other party won't have to put her reading glasses on.
by Uco rate this post as useful

Re: How to communicate in Japan without Japanese 2019/7/2 23:10
Most tourists donft speak Japanese, and they get around fine.

I would download Japanese to google translate app on your phone so you can translate on the go without need of internet.

Enjoy your trip to Japan!
by LikeBike (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: How to communicate in Japan without Japanese 2019/7/3 06:31
Where in Japan? This makes a huge difference.
by Gregalor rate this post as useful

Re: How to communicate in Japan without Japanese 2019/7/4 11:58
It depends on the person.

https://www.japan-guide.com/forum/quereadisplay.html?0+167908

I was deeply impressed by LikeBike's mother who only speaks German and traveled solo and had no problem. I think no English worked nicely in her case. If you want to go somewhere, you don't need to speak Japanese or English: Just show a page of a guidebook to someone around. Smile and say what you need.

If everyone is like LikeBike's mother, Japanguide should be useless. But I would nominate her as "Japanguide's award" if there is :).
by frog1954 rate this post as useful

Re: How to communicate in Japan without Japanese 2019/7/4 15:48
@frog1954: Thank you for the virtual award to my mother. Ifll let her know. :-)
by LikeBike (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: How to communicate in Japan without Japanese 2019/7/14 02:12
A dozen simple words and phrases will ease your passage and show that you made an effort. Use your mobile device for everything else - showing Taxi drivers where you want to go, indicating that you need a cat in a hat etc.

Staff who deal with tourists all day, every day, will cope with you, but if you have a strong accent, like Rab C. Nesbitt, you might want to write things down. The ATMs at stations, where you top up your Suica, all have an English button. Tourist areas have lots of multilingual signs.

Use simple English phrases. Some people jabber away, explaining why they want to do something or that their Great Aunt Emma loves anime - don't do this. It just confuses people who are not fluent/confident in your language. Keep it simple.

Do some research in advance on each part of your itinerary. You will know what to expect. On rural lines, count stations if you need to. Stuff like that.

Be polite and smile. You'll be fine. Tourists are not expected to be fluent in Japanese.

If everyone in Japan was fluent in English, it wouldn't be a very exotic experience. Visiting Japan is an adventure, and any minor language issues are part of that.
by David (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: How to communicate in Japan without Japanese 2019/7/16 20:51
Any tip?

Yes. Relax and enjoy your trip. You'll be fine.
by curious (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: How to communicate in Japan without Japanese 2019/8/9 20:35
As long as you can say at least a few basic phrases, the locals will be more than happy to help you (well most of them, except for the introvert ones). Carry a dictionary with you, either on your phone or a book with basic phrases.

Nowadays, they have machines that can translate literally what you say into another language. Probably not perfect, but can help you out if you just want to travel. Look it up on Amazon.
by Noob Student (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: How to communicate in Japan without Japanese 2019/8/11 13:02
I am a Japanese born in Kyoto. In tourist areas and big cities, most things can be solved with google transrater. But it won't work for older people or children. The most important thing to note is that Japanese is a mean language with lots of double-meaning. Be sure to re-translate to English before showing the translation to the Japanese! If you don't understand what I'm saying, please read the Japanese fairy tale Ikkyu. have a nice trip
by inatok rate this post as useful

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