HAVE you fallen in love with Niseko? Or perhaps in Niseko? Many tourists in Niseko spend part of their holiday thinking about how they can afford to come back. Sell the car? Get a second job? If you can get the appropriate visa, spending a season working in Niseko is also an option. This is one of the few places in Japan where it’s possible to work in the service industry without speaking Japanese! Still, even if your workplace is aimed at English-speaking tourists, you’ll get at least a few Japanese customers – or have some Japanese co-workers – so why waste an excellent language opportunity? In today’s lesson there’s some language for workers to use – and for customers to understand. And remember, if all this language seems to flow through your sieve-like brain, smiles and gestures do go a long way ?
1. Irasshaimase – hello, welcome
When people walk into your shop, bar or restaurant, greet them with: Irasshai mase! The volume ranges from a hearty bellow/squawk to normal talking level, depending on the kind of establishment. Customers are not usually expected to reply to irasshai mase, but if they do greet you with something like konnichi wa, you should then return the greeting.
2. Nan mei sama desu ka? – How many people are there in your group?
When people arrive at your izakaya or restaurant, you’ll need to find out how big their group is: Nan mei sama desu ka? If it seems obvious how many people there is, you can just check: Ni mei sama desu ka? (Table for two?) Your next question is likely to be: Goyoyaku itadaite masu ka? (Do you have a booking?)
3. Douzo kochira desu – Please sit here, this way please
When you’ve decided where you want the customers to sit, gesture towards the table and say: Douzo, kochira desu. If you’ve scored a job in one of the classier Niseko joints, you may need to use this: Uwagi o oazukari shimashyou ka? (May I take your coat?)
4. Onomimono wa okimari deshou ka? – What would you like to drink?
The verb to drink in Japanese is nomu. A drink is nominomo, or onomimono (you can whack an o in front of many words in Japanese to make them more formal). After you’ve given out the menus, ask them if they’ve decided what they’d like to drink: Onomimono wa okimari deshou ka? A bit later on ask for the food order: Oshokuji wa okimari deshou ka? You might like to repeat the order back to them, to make sure you’ve got it right: Gochumon o kurikae shimasu … (I’ll just repeat that back to you … ) Finally, before you head off to the kitchen, you could say: Ijou de yoroshii deshou ka? (Is that all?)
5. Kashikomari mashita – Certainly.
When a customer orders something you can say: Kashikomari mashita (Certainly). When you’re working behind a bar you can also just repeat the order back to them with a desu ne attached. Biiru futasu onegaishimasu (Two beers, please). Biiru futasu desu ne (Two beers, coming right up!)
6. Moushiwake gozaimasen – I’m terribly sorry.
Apologizing is hugely important in the service industry in Japan – especially if you can’t speak Japanese! You probably know how to say sorry with sumimasen or gomen nasai. But how about when you’re working? When speaking to customers, the more formal: moushiwake gozaimasen is usually more appropriate. Say it if you have run out of something on the menu, or you spill a drink on a customer. If a punter in your bar is making rambling, nonsensical complaints, just keep bowing and saying moushiwake gozaimasen until they leave.
7. Douzo – Here you go.
When you give customers a plate of food or drink, you can simply say douzo (Here you go). If it’s food that is to be shared (like at an izakaya), just announce what it is when you’re putting it on the table: Eda mame desu (This is eda mame). If the food should be delivered to a certain person, you can ask like this: Soba no okyakusama? (Who ordered the soba?)
8. Osageshite yoroshii desu ka? – Can I take these?
If you’re working in an izakaya or a Japanese restaurant, you don’t need to whip away the plates as soon as customers have finished eating – that’s not Japanese style. When you do pick up some glasses or plates and you’re not sure if the customer has finished eating, say: Osageshite yoroshii desu ka? (Is it OK if I take this?)
9. Wakarimasen – I don’t understand.
In case you try your best with numbers 1-8, but can’t understand the rapid-fire Japanese that’s coming back, perhaps you’d better learn this: Wakarimasen (I don’t understand). If you’re a complete beginner, your shoddy pronunciation and clueless expression will no doubt make it obvious, but you could announce it anyway: Nihongo dekimasen (I can’t speak Japanese). This could also be useful: Shoushou omachi kudasai, nihongo dekiru hito o yonde kimasu. (Please wait while I go and get someone who can speak Japanese). If that’s too long to remember, at least say: Chotto matte (Hang on a second) before you run away, or they might think you’re not coming back!
10. Otsukare sama deshita – Well done, good job etc
This is a very important word to know if you have Japanese co-workers. Say this to them as they are leaving, or before you leave. You can also use it when they’ve just completed an arduous task such as clearing snow, lifting heavy boxes or talking to an imbecilic customer. There’s a short version that you can use with friends and co-workers: otsukare! If you’re an instructor say otsukare sama deshita to your students at the end of the lesson.
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