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Eating out but don't know Japanese 2011/3/23 14:44
Hi everyone. I'm heading to Tokyo in a month for a long, overdue vacation as I recently got out of college. One of my main concerns is ordering items at a restaurant as I'm only limited to knowing a couple of basic Japanese phrases. Would I have such a hard time ordering food as I'm only staying in Tokyo? Any help would be appreciated, Thanks!
by rsxguy04  

ordering 2011/3/23 15:53
Many places in Tokyo have english menus, it is not that difficult to order. Along with the english menus, a large amount of restaurants have plastic dishes that resemble the food. That being said, I found that most places have someone whom speaks a little english.

You'll be fine!!

by Jas (guest) rate this post as useful

izakaya 2011/3/24 01:14
I would try the large izakaya chains; they often have picture menus so you can easily get by if there no english menu/spoken. Also as these are lots of small dishes if you get something you don't like etc you have not wasted to much money and there are plenty other choices!
You can order a little at first and then order again later - so you can test a few things out too!
by Kaphine rate this post as useful

food 2011/3/24 02:48
Most tourists, including myself, do not speak and read Japanese yet none has died of starvation.

Tokyo has likely more foreign tourists than your home town, unless it is Paris or New York (and foreign tourists in these towns haven't died of hunger either) so don't panic.

Please have a look at "food" under A-Z at the very top of this page. Actually have a look at every subsection under A-Z...
by Monkey see (guest) rate this post as useful

loanwords 2011/3/24 17:56
Here's another tip: Japanese is big on loanwords, words borrowed from other languages, including English. So if you know you want something in particular you might try saying the word slowly and with an extra vowel at the end. For example:

Coca cola = koka kora
coffee = co-hi
ice cream = ice-u kureemu

You might want to try to learn the katakana alphabet, because that's the one used for these loan words and it will help you to get a better feel of the pronunciation.

Alternately, I've seen ''picture books'' that you can buy that are just filled with photos of foods and other things so that you can point directly at what you want.
by sophielynette rate this post as useful

plastic food models 2011/3/24 18:06
Many restaurants display plastic models of their menu in their windows. So if the menu ends up being only in Japanese you can still point to what you want in the display case.
by yllwsmrf rate this post as useful

. 2011/3/25 09:59
Just point a lot. I did it for 3 years and it worked fine.
by . (guest) rate this post as useful

. 2011/3/25 14:03
Don't assume the place has an English menu.

Generally it's a lot of body language. 1 finger up for 1 two fingers up for two etc etc.

A lot of pointing and body gestures.

Though learning a few phrases from guidebooks and the names of certain foods and drinks goes a looong way then just trying it with English and body language. So I highly suggest learning at least a few key phrases and vocabulary.
by ExpressTrain (guest) rate this post as useful

Sushi Ro! 2011/3/25 20:42
Haha, good question. I just wrote a blog about how to eat at one of the simplest places... Sushi Ro. It's a conveyer sushi restaurant and you'll find it and others like it everywhere in Japan.

Alternatively, I agree with the pointing and nodding technique. You might end up eating something like fish eyes (been there done that) but welcome to vacation :)

by jugglingtam rate this post as useful

YUMS 2011/3/26 06:25
I just wanted to add that there are still the usual fastfood places that have pictures of food. Otherwise there's lots of restuarants that employ the machine! It's a big vending machine that has numbers that correspond with pictures or plastic models. Sometimes I've seen the picture on the button as well. You just pay, push the button, give it to the restuarant people ( in a smaller place we gave it to the cooks), and they'll call it. The cooks gestured to us for our food and I pointed at me and they nodded LOL. Pointing does work haha :)

Yes you might end up eatting some random weird stuff, but honestly if you don't find out what it is and it tastes good, don't let it bother you haha :) I think I ate some gizzardy things from a chicken and it wasn't bad.

Also if you are too nervous yet to do any of those things, I ate from grocery store ( picked random fried thing or a bento ), vending machine, and little stands near the street :) JUNK FOODS! I also love to make a lunch out of tastey breads. They have ones with fries in there and hotdogs and various things, as well as sweet breads.

by Momel rate this post as useful

You won't leave hungry! 2011/3/27 12:18
Tokyo won't leave you hungry, that's for sure. Most restaurants have pictures on the menus and plastic displays out front. Just point and eat. Pay with cash though. Very few places take credit cards I found. The Japanese are very helpful and patient with foreigners.
by europanya rate this post as useful

Thanks! 2011/4/4 13:54
Hi everyone, I would like to thank everyone for their responses as they were very helpful. The only concern is will I have an ok time ordering food outside of Tokyo, like in Kyushu (Fukuoka and Beppu). Once again, Thanks for your Help!
by rsxguy04 rate this post as useful

Body language and vending tickets 2011/4/15 03:01
Some restaurants have vending machines which dispense a ticket which you give to the person inside. Unfortunately they're not in English but sometimes have pictures. That way, you just give it to someone and there's no talking involved.

You'd also be amazed by how well body language works and pointing to things.
by MN (guest) rate this post as useful

based on experience 2011/4/16 14:47
On my first day here in Japan, I decided to eat at a tempura house. The staff don't understand English so I just used the menu, pointed the one I like, and said "Kore wa onegaishimasu" *showing my index finger up to show only "one" order*. And my, the food was soooo goooddd! :) You will survive too don't worry!
by lastmockingbird rate this post as useful

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