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Common Japanese Words: You Need to Know

You have been studying Japanese and learning lots of Japanese words. But what if you are heading to Japan and don’t have time to study or remember a lot of Japanese words? Well, I would say that there is always time if done efficiently, but just in case, here is a list of words that you must know.

I wanted to keep the list small and have decided to limit it to just 10 words. A Japanese words survival list if you will. If you can remember these words, then you should at be able to take care of your basic needs. They might not get you much further, but at least you will be able to get to the bathroom.

I should note that the grammar below is not complete. It is written for someone who only knows these ten words to get by.

1. Doko (どこ)-where

Knowing how to say where is really important. Especially if this is your first time to Japan. Just add the place name in front of this: Restaurant doko?

2. Ikitai (いきたい) -I want to go to

Similar to doko, but this allows you to tell someone where you want to go: Station ikitai.

3. Sumimasen (すみません)-Sorry, excuse me。

This word can be extremely useful because of all of the ways it can be used. Mainly, you can use it to say “sorry” or “excuse me”.

4. Ikura (いくら)-How much

You will most likely be buying things. This allows you to ask how much.

5. Otearai (おてあらい)-Bathroom

You will definitely want to remember this one. You can combine it with number one for: otearai doko?

6. Arigatou (ありがとう)-Thank you

This is the short form of thank you (thanks), but it is easy to say and easier to remember than the more polite arigatou gozaimasu.

7.  Byouin (びょういん)-Hospital

This one is a bit of a no brainer. You can combine it with ikitai or doko to help you actually get there?

8. Tabetai (たべたい)-Want to eat

Not quite hungry, but about as close as you can get with one word. Also allows you to say what you want to eat: sushi tabetai!

9. Nomitai (のみたい)-Want to drink

Same as above, but for drinking. Omizu (water) nomitai.

10. Eigo (えいご)-English?

Said with a rising voice this will mean “can you speak English?” More and more people can these days, so it might be helpful if you need some help.

*Bonus 1. Speak English slowly- A lot of Japanese words now days are English words. speak slowly and enunciate clearly and they will likely understand.

**Bonus 2. Write it down-Japanese are required to study English from middle school (now elementary school) and actually have a pretty good understanding of grammer.  Write it down and they will likely understand.

As I mentioned before, this definitely isn’t a complete list, and it is more for someone who has no experience with Japan. These words should help you get the basics, but not much more. On the plus side, anyone should be able to remember 10 words on the flight over. You could also print them out and stick it in your pocket.

Now’s your chance to tell me: what words would you put in your top 10 words you have to know.

For a much longer list of words see here: common Japanese words

You can also find a downloadable list here: 1000 Japanese words

 

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Remembering the Kanji in 58 days:Day 5

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Highlighted have been learned

 

I finished my 5th day today and am currently at 299 kanji. I had about 50 reviews plus the new cards I studied today. All together it still took me about an hour. Finding and marking the kanji off the kanji poster took far more time. However, I have to say that the kanji poster has been very helpful. It has forced me to recognize the kanji to make sure I know meaning.

Now that the kanji are starting to pile up a little, it is more important than ever to focus on the stories and really imagine them. I studied in the car today while waiting for my wife in the store. It was easy to get distracted and I realized later that I didn’t remember those kanji as well. Make sure you seclude yourself and really focus. Don’t try to go too fast.

In case you missed the start of this program you can read about how to do it yourself here: Learning 2042 Kanji in just 58 Days

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Remembering the Kanji in 58 Days (Day 4)

This is just a mini-update to let you know that I am still on track for Remembering the Kanji. I have been doing it for a total of 4 days now and am up to 234 kanji. In order to finish in time I need to continue to study at least 33 kanji per day. I am planning to continue at about 50 or so a day for at least the next couple of days, so that number should go down. At this point retention is still very good and I am not having any trouble with this many each day. I spent about 1 hour total today.

For those having trouble remembering the kanji after you’ve learned it, don’t focus on the writing. Instead, spend more time visualizing the story. It will make writing it much easier.

Also, be sure to check out the latest post I made about exporting lists into Anki. A tip to help you study more Japanese words faster:  Using Imiwa’s Export Function to Get More Japanese Words

Does learning the kanji sound like fun to you? You can find what you will need to do the same thing here: Remembering 2042 Kanji in 58 Days

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Using Imiwa’s Export Function to Get More Japanese Words

I have been using Imiwa as my primary Japanese dictionary for some time now. However, it wasn’t until just recently that I started taking care of a very useful feature to make learning Japanese words that much easier: Export list (E-mail CSV).

Here’s the way it works:

Each time you look up a word there is a little star that you can click on to add it to your favorites. I do this with any word I look up and think is common enough that I will use it. If you click on lists, there is an option to e-mail csv. This list can then be directly loaded into Anki. This will save you a lot of time putting the Japanese words into Anki so you can spend more time actually studying them.

I recommend that you then delete the list so you don’t end up with any duplicates. Anki is supposed to check for duplicates, but I like to keep things simple. Not to mention that when the list gets too big, it is mostly unusable anyways. Too many words without a search function.

Not using Anki? You can get it here: Anki

You can find Imiwa here: Imiwa

 

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Remembering the Kanji in 58 Days (Day 3)

Highlighted kanji have been learned.

I just finished with day 3 and am up to 172 Kanji with a very high retaining rate. I also have them all reviewed in Anki and highlighted on the Kanji Poster.

I am a bit ahead of schedule, but I am doing it on purpose. I figure I will study as many as I can in these early stages while it is fun and exciting. That way I won’t have as big of a workload as the reviews get longer.

Today I studied about 70 Kanji in about 30 minutes and then reviewed 74 cards in 11 minutes with Anki. All together less than one hour.

I look forward to your comments and hearing about your own progress.

I should mention that studying the kanji won’t teach you any Japanese words or grammar along the way. It will however, teach you the basic meanings of the kanji and how to recognize and write them.

 

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