Beginnerish Japanese resources for traveling?

Next month my spouse and I will be in Japan (Tokyo and Osaka) for about 2.5 weeks. I’m working on my Japanese language skills overall, but of course the ‘right’ way isn’t the fast way—in the meantime, I need some shortcuts on ordering food, reading signs, and navigating shops without being an asshole. I can read hiragana/katakana/kanji through level 5, and I’m working on basic grammar through a combination of Genki and Tae Kim. So far in searching I’ve mostly found extremely basic stuff entirely in romaji aimed at people with zero Japanese knowledge. So:

  1. Where can I find some resources on Japanese for travel for a beginner, but not a beginner-beginner?
  2. Any tips on making the most of the trip, as a Japanese language student?

P.S. Before anyone says it, I know I could go to these two cities as a tourist, never speak or read a word of Japanese, and survive. But that’s no fun and I wouldn’t learn anything!


Pocket phrasebook?

For signs and stuff, maybe the collective here could just list common signs for you. Like, 立入禁止 = no entry, 撮影禁止 = no photography (though these are typically accompanied by the crossed-out camera logo) and so forth.

One other thing you may want to read up on: how to read washing machine and toilet control panels. There was a good website somewhere that you could just look up the model name and it’d show you the control panel with translations, but I can’t for the life of me find it now…

Edit: Found this. Not model-specific, but still useful.

Just talk to people. :slightly_smiling_face:

I did. :slightly_smiling_face:

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Brush up on a few of the common alternatives for basic verbs like itashimasu, saremasu, gozaimasu. Basically get used to hearing them. They are used often in service/customer settings especially. It can make things confusing when they go into polite or passive language. Some things you may have understood if they used suru could confuse you when they use sareru. どうされますか?

If you’re ordering food and want to sound a bit more natural you could throw in an 以上 (いじょう) at the end of your order to tell them “that’s all”.

I hear お会計 (おかいけい) way more than お勘定 (おかんじょう) when asking for the bill.

this seems like a good article to read


This is really helpful. Thank you!

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