Learning Japanese for a 2week holiday

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  • Learning Japanese for a 2week holiday
  • craig24
    Member

    I know lots of people who recommend Pimsleur.

    donald
    Member

    Biru nihon kudasai

    That’s all you need.

    Sorry, I can’t help. I’ve spent some time in Japan for work and I never got beyond please, thank you and ordering beer. Learn to bow. Smile a lot and be polite. Take your shoes off when everybody else does. Point a the plastic model of what you want to eat. Enjoy yourself – it’s different.

    tall_martin
    Member

    Hi,

    I’m going to Japan for a couple of weeks in October. I’ve wanted to go for 17 years, so I’m pretty excited!

    I’d like to learn some basic Japanese before I go and spend a lot of time in the car driving and listening to audio books.

    Do you have any recommendations to learn the language?

    Cheers

    Martin

    pondo
    Member

    We got by on minimal Japanese – they’re so helpful, even if they don’t speak Japanese. We hired a dongle so we had wifi everywhere for maps and a translation app, but never really used the app. You’ll love it, best holiday I’ve been on. 🙂

    edlong
    Member

    Don’t even bother trying would be my advice – one of, if not the, hardest language to learn for those brought up with Indo-European languages.

    I lived with a Japanese girlfriend for a while years ago and didn’t manage more than a few words.

    thecaptain
    Member

    Just learn hello (konnichiwa for daytime and konbanwa for evening) and thank you (arigatou gozaimasu – the final u is basically silent like -mass).

    Premier Icon deadslow
    Subscriber

    @tall_martin. Would be really interested in your itinerary, we are thinking of a two week summer holiday (next year) to Japan and would be really interested in what other people have done.

    kraftyslices
    Member

    Went to Japan for my honeymoon and it was definitely the best holiday we’ve been on. Would love to go back. People so friendly and honoured that you’ve chosen Japan as a holiday destination.

    Language was pretty impenetrable beyond the basic pleasantries. Only time we actually struggled was in a few remote train stations where signs weren’t in English. However find someone less than 35 and they’ll doubtless speak excellent English.

    My one word of advice is that you can travel big distances on the train and not feel knackered like you would over here. Travel on the train is quite relaxing so you arrive feeling refreshed. We had 2.5 weeks and flew into Kyoto and out of Tokyo but travelled by train and in that time spent a week up on Hokkaido.

    Also I’m not generally a fan of cities but Japanese cities are awesome. Build in plenty of time to appreciate them!

    ctk
    Member

    Jealous 🙂 have a good holiday.

    TopGear Japan special might have some pointers?

    Premier Icon teamhurtmore
    Subscriber
    Premier Icon Andy_B
    Subscriber

    The most important phrase was ‘you speak excellent english’ as the people can be very shy about their language capability but this goes a long way.

    Premier Icon breadcrumb
    Subscriber

    I was stopped in the street so a group could practice their English.

    I may of introduced some Cumbrian, I picture a Japanese guy calling folk marra now.

    Premier Icon seosamh77
    Subscriber

    left it a tad late, should have started 17 years ago, Best you’re going to get is a list of handy phrases. Not be that hard, use youtube.

    tall_martin
    Member

    Thanks all!

    I am going to have a go a learning basic pleasantries but be happy if I get that far.

    Itinerary is not set yet but will include Tokyo, ossaca, koyoto and possibly some other places if time permits.

    Pretty much the lonely planet suggestion for two weeks

    thecaptain
    Member

    That time of year you should find some mountains to enjoy the autumn leaves (you’re far too early for the main cities). Maybe a day trip to nikko would work. Weather should be pretty good around that time, pretty warm but not too stifling (and the chance of a typhoon for fun).

    Premier Icon sofaman
    Subscriber

    As above – good morning/good afternoon/goodbye/please/thank you/more sake. If you cannot use chopsticks, you may need fork.

    It is much easier to get around, eat, drink, sleep etc. than you think unless out in the sticks, or if driving. Trains can take you a long way in comfort – grab unidentifiable food from the platform.

    Don’t press the buttons on the toilet without due care 🙂

    If driving, take OSMAnd app or similar for satnav. We hired with a satnav as well – if you do this, you enter destination phone number, so make sure you have these.

    If you can afford it, stay in a Ryokan that accepts Westerners. Unbelievable service, food, baths, toilet slippers, futons…

    For three weeks, we:
    – flew into Toyko, train to Nagano, hire car to Togakushi, stayed at Oshi Ryokan for five days. Bimbled around the temples, Ninja museum, attended the unfathomable noodle festival, Obuse Hokusai museum/temples, snow monkeys etc.
    – few days in Matsumoto and in Kamikochi.
    – few days at Awanoyu Ryokan, more mountain bimbling.
    – dropped off car in Matsumoto, train to Kyoto for five days. Most of the temples, bamboo forest, Nara, Fushimmi.
    – train to Toyko for four days.

    Getting out into the sticks by car was a good choice for us – otherwise might be too easy to be city bound. Friends who have been for two weeks have stayed on the main Toyko – Kyoto – Hiroshima train corridor, super easy.

    Premier Icon Sundayjumper
    Subscriber

    We went for a week last year. It was a kind of pilgrimage for us after our Akita died last year, so we went to Akita for a few days and took a day trip to to the Akita museum in Odate. Then took the train down to Tokyo for a few days.

    Outside of the city nobody spoke English, and we seriously underestimated how stressful that becomes. Looking at a menu and not being able to understand a single thing on it gets boring really quickly ! Even the ones with pictures are a bit of a gamble as to what you’ll get. What looked like chicken was actually pork, and some beansprouts on a salad were actually tiny fish. In the end our routine was to have lunch at a shopping centre food court where everything was simple and had pictures, then buy a pile of snacks from the supermarket for tea. With a toddler in tow we weren’t going out in the evenings.

    In Akita, one of the hotel staff had a smattering of English and we managed to communicate (with the help of a phrase book) that my daughter is lactose intolerant and they went out of their way to help. Fortunately rice milk is very common. And although it’s easy enough to use the phrase book to ask a question when you’re out, it’s very hard to understand the reply ! Nobody we spoke to spoke any English at all.

    In Odate, a slightly run-down industrial town, people literally stopped and stared at us. My daughter was nearly 3 yo then, she has curly blond hair, blue eyes, an absolute cliché of a cute western child. She must have looked like a doll or something. At the museum a gaggle of women from the office all came out to point & coo at my daughter. Fortunately, there was a woman there helping out for a few days who had lived in the US and spoke great English. That was a huge relief, being able to explain why we were visiting, because everyone else was utterly baffled why some westerners were in their town !

    The train to Tokyo was superb. Apart from the fact things are moving past the window very quickly you wouldn’t know how you’re going so fast. Clean, punctual, roomy. Brilliant.

    Tokyo was much easier to cope with. The subway was good (if rather busy) and most signs were in both Japanese & English. Lots of Americans around.

    Basically, nodding and smiling will get you a long way, and I’m sure having a toddler with us gained some extra sympathy. I’d recommend learning a few specific words for ordering food, so you can at least point and ask “chicken ?” etc. Words for rice, noodles, beer, and so on.

    It’s hugely different, you’ll have a great experience.

    CountZero
    Member

    In Odate, a slightly run-down industrial town, people literally stopped and stared at us. My daughter was nearly 3 yo then, she has curly blond hair, blue eyes, an absolute cliché of a cute western child. She must have looked like a doll or something. At the museum a gaggle of women from the office all came out to point & coo at my daughter. Fortunately, there was a woman there helping out for a few days who had lived in the US and spoke great English. That was a huge relief, being able to explain why we were visiting, because everyone else was utterly baffled why some westerners were in their town !

    Children are absolutely spoiled rotten by Japanese, and a child like her would cause a sensation, so I’m not at all surprised at their reaction.
    I’ve got a hoodie with Konichiwa across the front in kanji, get one of those and you’re off to a good start; a friend of mine regularly has Japanese students at her hotel to improve their English, and when I turned up wearing it the girl there at the time just beamed at me and clapped her hands, and said “ah, konichiwa!” she loved it that an English person was wearing something that said ‘hello’ in her language.
    Konichiwa and arigato are about the only Japanese words I can remember, to my shame, but then I have enough problems remembering stuff in my own language…

    thecaptain
    Member

    few specific words for ordering food, so you can at least point and ask “chicken ?” etc

    “Chikkin?”

    🙂

    See also bi-ru, raisu (remembering the final u is basically silent). Doesn’t work for everything though!

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