SOME mornings you jump out of bed, get fully dressed, stretched and waxed – only to find the gondola isn’t moving and most of the lifts are closed. It’s way too early for pre-dinner drinks… what to do? How about checking out some of the shops! While you’re at it, you can pick up some omiyage (souvenirs) to take back to your friends and family at home. And why not drag your aunty along and try convincing her to replace her fluro ski suit from the 80s? Study these words and phrases before you set out on your winter holiday shopping spree in Niseko.
1. Kaimono – shopping
Your friendly lodge manager asks you if you’re going skiing/boarding today: kyo suberi ni ikimasu ka? You’re taking the day off to give your body a rest and answer: kyou wa kaimono ni ikimasu (today I’m going shopping).
2. Boushi arimasu ka? – Do you sell beanies/hats?
If you want to save yourself the hassle of walking around the shop – and practice some Japanese at the same time – try asking the shop if they have what you’re looking for. Boots arimasu ka? is a simple way of asking if they sell boots. If they do, they might say: arimasu. If they don’t: arimasen.
3. Ikura? – How much?
If something doesn’t have a price on it, ask how much it is with this verb ikura (how much). Kore ikura desu ka? (how much is this?). Also, find out how much things usually cost: takushi de Kutchan made ikura desu ka? (how much does a taxi to Kutchan usually cost?).
4. Takai – expensive
Depending on where you’re from and the current exchange rate, things in Japan may seem takai (expensive), or yasui (cheap). If you want to express your surprise or shock at the nedan (price) add one of the following words which mean very: sugoku, meccha.
5. Shichaku ii desu ka? – Is it OK if I try this on?
It’s polite to ask before you try clothes on in a shop: shichaku ii desu ka? If you forget the word for try on – shichaku – just hold up the clothes and motion towards the changing rooms and say: ii desu ka? (is it OK if … ?).
6. Suteki! – cool
If your girlfriend/boyfriend/friend is trying on clothes, you might need to give them some feedback. Kawaii and suteki both mean cute/cool and are usually used by girls talking to each other, or by guys talking to girls. If you’re a heterosexual guy and your male friend is trying on a jacket, say ii jyan (not bad, bro) or ii kanji (it looks good). If it looks like crap, laugh loudly and say: dasai! (awful!).
7. Onegai shimasu – I’ll take this please.
If you’re buying something at a conbini (convenience store), you don’t need to say anything, just put it on the counter and start taking money out of your wallet. If you’re in a quiet shop, when you put the stuff on the counter, smile and say: onegai shimasu (I’ll take this please). If you’ve just tried on a mountain of clothes and want to buy some of them and can’t be bothered putting the other stuff back, try this: put two piles on the counter, point to the pile you want to buy and say: kocchi ni surun de (I’ll take these) then point to the pile you don’t want and say: kocchi wa modoshite kudasai (I’ll leave these, thank you). If that’s too complicated, point to the yes pile and say: kaimasu (I’ll buy them) and to the no pile and say: kaimasen (I won’t buy them).
8. Kaado tsukaemasu ka? – Do you take credit cards?
Many small restaurants and shops – and sometimes supermarkets and convenience stores – don’t take crejitto caado or caado (credit cards). Ask before you hand the card over: caado tsukaemasu ka? If they don’t, they might say: sumimasen, genkin dake desu (sorry, we only accept cash). If you don’t have enough cash, say: ima genkin ga nai node, sugu modotte kimasu (I don’t have enough cash on me, so I’ll come back).
9. Fukuro ii desu – I don’t need a bag, thanks.
Conbini staff will put almost everything in a bag unless you stop them: fukuro ii desu. Something you often hear at the counter at a conbini or suupaa (supermarket) is: pointo caado omochi desu ka? (do you have a point card?). If you hear a long sentence that sounds like a question, it’s a safe bet that they’re asking you if you have some kind of loyalty card, so shake your head and say: iie (no) (and hope the cute girl/guy behind the counter didn’t just ask for your number).
10. Saifu o otoshimashita – I lost my wallet.
If you have the misfortune of losing your wallet and someone asks what you’re crying about, say: saifu o otoshimashita. They might ask you if there was money in it: okane haitemashita? Don’t worry, if you give the details to the police, or hotel/resort staff, there’s a good chance a nice person will hand it in to the local koban (police box) and you’ll get it back!
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: