Japanese For Dummies
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Develop a Japanese shopping vocabulary to gain a new cultural experience when traveling. Whether you're shopping for clothes, food, or souvenirs, you can use the following Japanese phrases to help you find just the right thing.

The following phrases will be useful no matter what kind of shopping you plan on doing.

  • Are ga ii desu. (I like that one over there.)

  • Îe, ii desu. (No thank you.)

  • Irasshaimase! (Welcome!)

  • Nani o o-sagashi desu ka. (What are you looking for?)

  • Ikura? (How much?)

Shopping in Japan doesn't need to be expensive. There are a number of 100-yen shops throughout Japan that offer great prices on a wide variety of products. Daiso is one of the most popular 100-yen shop chains.

The following words can be used in a variety of shopping situations.

o-kane (money)
genkin (cash)
kurejitto kâdo (credit card)
takai (expensive)
ôkii desu (big; tall; large)
genka (price)
chîsai desu (small)
kaban (bag)

Places to shop

Many people think of Japan as a shopping mecca. You can find a wide variety of stores that sell everything from traditional products and antiques to the latest electronic gadgets. The first step to a successful shopping expedition is to know where to shop. But if you need to go to a specific kind of store, the following terms can help.

  • mise (store)

  • Shobou (bookstore)

  • Doraggusutoa (drugstore)

  • Konbini (convenience store)

  • Disukauntosutoa (discount store)

  • depâto (department store)

  • sôpâmâketto (supermarket)

  • kanbutsuya (grocery store)

Grocery shopping

There are a variety of types of stores in Japan where people go grocery shopping. They range from small Mom and Pop stores in the residential neighborhoods to larger supermarkets and even a Costco or two in the larger towns. The following words can help you when shopping for food.

kôhî (kohh-heee) (coffee)
gyûnyû (gyooo-nyooo) (milk)
bîru (beee-roo) (beer)
wain (wah-een) (wine)
o-kome (oh-koh-meh) (uncooked rice)
niku (nee-koo) (meat)
butaniku (boo-tah-nee-koo) (pork)
toriniku (toh-ree-nee-koo) (chicken)
sakana (sah-kah-nah) (fish)
tamago (eggs)
yasai (yah-sah-ee) (vegetables)
kudamono (koo-dah-moh-noh) (fruit)
pan (pahn) (bread)
Japanese nouns don't have a singular/plural distinction or a masculine/feminine distinction. They are also not preceded by an article like a or the. You may wonder how the Japanese would know whether you want one fish or multiple fish when they hear you order sakana (fish). Actually, the only way to distinguish the number of the items you want is to either guess from the context or ask Ikura (how many?).

Clothes shopping

In Japan, most clothing is sold at either department stores (called depâto) or discount stores (Disukauntosutoa). The following words and phrases can help you shop for clothing in Japan.

  • Kuroi doresu o sagashite imasu. (I am looking for a black dress.)

  • Kore wa ikaga desu ka. (How about this one?)

    Ikaga is the polite version of the question word (how).

  • Are ga ii desu. (I like that one over there.)

  • Kite mite mo ii desu ka. (May I try it on?)

  • Shichakushitsu wa doko desu ka. (Where is the fitting room?)

  • Kore wa chîsasugimasu. (This one is too small.)

  • Kore wa ôkisugimasu. (This one is too big.)

  • Kore no eru-saizu wa arimasu ka. (Do you have this in size large?)

  • Kore o kudasai. (I'll take this one.)

  • Kore o onegai shimasu. (This one, please.)

  • Kono shatsu wa ikura desu ka. (How much is this shirt?)

  • Kono sukââto o kudasai. (I would like to purchase this skirt.)

  • Kono tokei wa takai desu. (This watch is expensive.)

  • Kurejitto kâdo de haratte mo ii desu ka. (May I pay by credit card?)

  • Kore o henpin shite mo ii desu ka. (May I return this item?)

  • Sçru wa itsu kara desu ka. (When will the sale start?)

Many Japanese department stores offer huge discount sales during the two biggest gift-giving seasons: the months of June and July (O'chugen) and December and January (O'seibo).

wanpîsu (wahn-peee-soo) (dress)
bôshi (bohh-shee) (hat)
shatsu (shah-tsoo) (shirt)
burausu (boo-rah-oo-soo) (blouse)
sûtsu (sooo-tsoo) suit
jînzu (jeeen-zoo) (jeans)
zubon (zoo-bohn) pants
sçtâ (sehh-tahh) sweater
jaketto (jah-keht-toh) jacket
kutsu (koo-tsoo) shoe

Common colors

The following words describe the most common colors. Some colors are expressed by adjectives, although others are expressed by nouns.

kuroi desu (black)
aoi desu (blue)
akai desu (red)
shiroi desu (white)
kiiroi desu (yellow)
midori (green)

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