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Basic Japanese for Dining Out in Japan

Basic Japanese for Dining Out in Japan

Basic Japanese for Dining Out in Japan

When you visit Japan I’m sure that you will be dining out a lot even if you are on a budget. When you go to a restaurant in Japan i’m sure you’ll find that hardly anyone speaks English. If you’re lucky they will speak English or they’ll know a little bit of English but most people will not really understand any English.

But don’t let that stop you from going to restaurants because there is no shortage of tasty foods available. Some places will also provide a menu in English and perhaps a few other languages but a lot of times there is just a Japanese menu that may or may not have pictures. But here is a guide to some short phrases you can learn for when you dine out that will help you tremendously.

Basic Japanese for Dining Out in Japan(source: https://incredibleplanet.net/a-basic-guide-to-eating-at-a-japanese-restaurant/)

When you enter a restaurant, bar and sometime a cafe, a staff member will come up to you and ask Nan-mei sama desu ka? This pretty means how many of you will be dining today? And when they ask you then you can just put up two fingers if there are just two people or four fingers if there are four of you. If you are up for the challenge you can say ni mei desu which means two people. Ni being two and mei is people and then you put desu at the end to make it more formal.

Basic Japanese for Dining Out in Japan(source: http://blog.livedoor.jp/merryberry15/archives/29848096.html)

It really depends on where you go but some places will have a list outside if it is a busy restaurant and you will have to write down your name and however many people you are dining with and then it will usually ask if you want to sit in the smoking area or non-smoking area. After you have done this just wait in line and your name will be called. If there is no list sometimes there will still be people lining up so the staff will ask you to wait.

Again it depends on where you go but there are also a lot of places where it gets filled up with reservations so you can’t just walk in. And most restaurants won’t allow you to make a reservation on the weekend but if you go to really crowded places like Shibuya it could be an hour wait to get seated if you are at a really popular restaurant or izakaya.

Basic Japanese for Dining Out in Japan(source: http://www.mcfw.jp/fukuryuen2x.htm)

The other thing you will be asked is whether you would like to be seated in the smoking area or non-smoking area. Many places in Japan allow smoking indoors so if you don’t like the smell of cigarettes or if you are pregnant or are with kids then you should request to be seated in the non-smoking area which is kin-en in Japanese. The word for smoking is kitsu-en in Japanese.

The unfortunate thing is that not all places have separated seats and a lot of places even if they do have a smoking and non smoking section it is usually just separated by a border so there is still a lot of smoke drifting about.

So if you are really sensitive to smoking and are pregnant then you should probably look up some places that don’t allow smoking or at least sit somewhere far away from the smoking section of the establishment. For those who smoke there will either already be an ashtray ready for you and if not please ask the staff for an ashtray which is hai zara in Japanese.

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