Shopping in Japan is usually a very enjoyable experience as they take the Western motto “The customer is always right” to another level with “Okyakusama wa kamisama”, literally “The customer is God!” And it is no exaggeration to say that you are treated like one. From the second you enter the door (or often meters before you reach it) you are greeted with a bellowing “IRASHAIMASE!” (WELCOME!) by the first staff member to spot you, then echoed by every other available attendant. The next part can get a little tricky if you don’t know a lot of Japanese as they tend to follow you around the store offering intricate details about everything you stop to look at. Although they don’t seem to do this anywhere as much when dealing with foreigners as they understand it is not custom to do so in most countries. But it’s a great opportunity to practice or learn Japanese if you so wish. Either way, here are some of the most common words and useful Japanese phrases that will come in handy when shopping.
*Note: The Japanese language uses a lot of particles when writing that are usually dropped in conversation (unless when speaking extremely formally). Similar to Saying “I’m…” rather than “I am…”. Most text books include these but I have omitted them to help you learn Japanese in a more natural manner.
When entering the store:
*Irasshaimase – Welcome
*Nanika osagashi desuka? – Are you looking for something (in particular)?
*Miteru dake desu – I’m just looking
*Hai, ____arimasuka? – Do you have any ____?
Clothing names: (many are derived from English names as you may pick up!)
*Zubon – Pants
*Denimu – Jeans
*Hanzubon – Shorts
*Shaatsu – Shirt
*Seeta – Sweater
*Boushi – Hat
*Buruzon/ Daun – Jacket
*Wanpiisu – Dress
*Mafura – Scarf
*Kutsu – Shoes
*Kutsushita – Socks
*Aka – Red
*Ao – Blue
*Midori – Green
*Kiiro – Yellow
*Kuro – Black
*Shiro – White
*Pinku – Pink
*Orenji – Orange
*Murasaki – Purple
*Chairo – Brown
*____iro arimasuka? – Do you have it in ____(color)?
*Chigau iro arimasuka? – Do you have a different color?
*Kore wa ikura desuka? – How much is this?
*Chotto takai desu – It’s a little expensive
*Mou sukoshi ____ no arimasuka? – Do you anything ____? (Ookii – Bigger, Chiisai – Smaller, Yasui – Cheaper)
*Chotto kangaemasu – I’ll think about it
*Arigatou gozaimasu – Thank you
Numbers: (Note- Yen is pronounced as ‘en’ at the end of the price)
*1 – ichi, 2 – ni, 3 – san, 4 – shi, 5 – go, 6 – roku, 7 – nana, 8 – hachi, 9 – kyu, 10 – jyu.
*Add a number then jyu (ten) to make twenty, thirty etc. For example nijyu = twenty, gojyu = fifty.
*Hyaku – hundred
*Sen – Thousand
*Man – Ten thousand
*Jyuman – hundred thousand
*Some examples- 2,500 – Ni sen go hyaku, 12,400 – ichiman nisen yon hyaku, 255 – ni hyaku go jyu go
(There are some minor changes made to numbers when grouping together but it will get too complicated to mention them here.
I have focussed on clothing shopping in this article but you can easily insert other words in their place. There are plenty of free Japanese dictionaries on the net where you can find the words for your particular purpose. GANBATTE! (good luck) with learning Japanese and HAPPY SHOPPING!