by studio tdes
Your stomach is rumbling after a day on the slopes. Mmm that pizza you had last night was tasty and it was convenient that the staff spoke English … but, you came all the way to Japan, you can’t leave without a few challenges! Why not try eating somewhere tonight where the staff don’t speak English and the menu is in Japanese? Here are some phrases to help you.
1. Tabeta? – Have you eaten?
If someone is thinking of inviting you out for a bite to eat, they might say: tabeta? (have you eaten?). If you’ve already eaten, say: un, tabeta. If you haven’t, you can say: mada (not yet). Other ways of inviting people to eat: shokuji owatta? (have you had lunch/dinner?), shokuji dou suru? (what shall we do for lunch/dinner?).
2. Koko dou? – How about this place?
If you walk past a place that looks good, suggest to your friend that you eat there: koko dou? If they’re keen, they might reply: ii yo (OK). If they’re not so keen, they might say: chotto … (well …).
You can suggest certain types of restaurant like this: sushi dou? (how about sushi?), soba dou? (how about soba?).
3. Irasshaimase – hello (in a shop)
When you walk in to a restaurant or bar in Japan, the staff greet you with irasshaimase. You don’t need to say anything back, but, if you’d like to, say konnichi wa during the day, or konban wa in the evening.
4. Yoyaku – booking
The staff might ask you if you have a booking: go yoyaku saremashita ka? (do you have a booking?). If you do, say: hai, Bond de yoyaku shimashita (yes, the name is Bond). If you don’t, say: iie (no), or shitemasen (I don’t have a booking).
5. Nan mei sama desu ka? – How many people?
The staff will definitely ask you how many people there are in your group. In Japanese, the words for counting are different depending on what you’re counting. For people, it’s: hitori (one person), futari (two people), san nin (three people), yo nin (four people), go nin (five people). People often hold up their fingers to display the number – as well as saying it – so, if you can’t remember how to say the numbers, just hold up your fingers.
6. Onomimono wa? – What would you like to drink?
After handing out the menus, the waiter will ask you for your drink order: onomimono wa? If you need some time to think, say: chotto matte kudasai (can you give us a few minutes). If you’re ready to order, you might need the counters for drinks: hitotsu (one), futatsu (two), mittsu (three), yottsu (four), itsutsu (five). For example: biiru yottsu onegaishimasu (four beers please). If you’d just like water, say: toriaezu mizu onegaishimasu (just water for now, please).
7. Kore onegaishimasu – this please
Menus in Japan often have pictures, which is helpful if you can’t read Japanese. If you see something tasty that you’d like to order, point at it and say: kore onegaishimasu (this please). If you want to ask what it is first, say: kore wa nan desu ka? (what’s this?). Pretend you understood their answer by saying: oishi sou! (sounds delicious!), then order it by saying: jya sore onegaishimasu (OK, then I’d like that please).
8. Onakaippai – I’m full.
If someone is taking you out for dinner, chances are your friendly hosts will keep offering you food until you convince them you’ve had enough. You can politely refuse more by saying things like: kekkou desu (no thanks), onakaippai (I’m full), oishikatta desu (it was delicious). Just because people keep offering you food, don’t feel obliged to stuff yourself full – in Japan it’s considered sensible to eat until you are 80% full – this is called: hara hachibun me. Luckily, there’s a separate stomach reserved for desert, it’s called: betsu bara.
9. Gochisousama deshita – that was great, thank you for the meal
When people finish eating in Japan, they usually say: gochisousama deshita. You can say it to nobody in particular; to announce that you’ve finished eating; to thank the chef; or to the person who just shouted you the meal.
10. Okaikei – bill, check
Someone has to pay for the feast. If it’s you, call the waiter: sumimasen (excuse me) and ask for the bill: okaikei onegaishimasu (can we have the bill, please). If you’re with a group of friends, perhaps you’ll split the bill: wari kan. And if you’d like to shout someone, say: watashi no ogori desu (It’s my shout).
Pronunciation guide: Since this magazine can’t talk, your best bet is to find a Japanese person and ask them to say the words and repeat after them. Then buy them a beer.
studio tdes produces a daily online English language show, based in Kutchan: www.thedailyenglishshow.com