Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Language & Phrasebook in Japan

AsiaJapanLanguage & Phrasebook in Japan

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The language of Japan is Japanese. Japanese is a language with several different dialects, although standard Japanese (hyōjungo 標準語), based on the Tokyo dialect, is taught in schools and is known to most people throughout the country. The slangy dialect of the Kansai region is particularly well known in Japanese pop culture. On the southern islands of Okinawa, many dialects of the closely related Ryukyuan languages are spoken, mostly by older people, while in northern Hokkaido a few still speak Ainu.

Japanese is written with a convoluted mixture of three different scripts: Kanji (漢字) or Chinese characters, along with “native” Hiragana (ひらがな) and Katakana (カタカナ) syllabic scripts, which were in fact derived from Chinese characters more than a thousand years ago. However, hiragana and katakana do not carry the meaning of the original Chinese characters from which they were derived, but are simply phonetic characters. There are thousands of kanji in everyday use and even the Japanese spend years learning them, but the kana have only 46 characters each and can be learned with a reasonable amount of effort. Of the two, the katakana are probably more useful to the visitor, as they are used to spell loan words from languages other than Chinese and can be used to figure out words like basu (バス, bus), kamera (カメラ, camera) or konpyūtā(コンピューター, computer). However, some words like terebi (テレビ, television), depāto (デパート, department stores’), wāpuro (ワープロ, word processor) and sūpā (スーパー, supermarket) can be more difficult to decipher. Knowledge of Chinese is also a good start to tackle kanji, but not all words mean what they seem: 大家 (Mandarin Chinese: dàjiā, Japanese: ōya), “everyone” to the Chinese, means “landlord” in Japan!

Many Japanese have studied English for at least 6 years, but lessons tend to focus on formal grammar and writing rather than actual conversation. Outside of the major tourist attractions and large international hotels, it is rare to find people who can speak English. Reading and writing usually work much better, and many people are able to understand some written English without being able to speak it. If you get lost, it can be handy to write a question in simple words on paper and someone will probably be able to point you in the right direction. It can also be helpful to carry a hotel business card or matchbook to show a taxi driver or someone if you get lost. Take comfort in the fact that many Japanese will go to extraordinary lengths to understand what you want and to help you, so it’s worth learning at least basic greetings and thank yous to put people at ease.

Some of the major tourist attractions and large international hotels in Tokyo have staff who can speak Mandarin or Korean, and many major airports and train stations also have signs in Chinese and Korean. In Hokkaido, some people living near the Russian border may be able to speak Russian.

How To Travel To Japan

By plane The majority of intercontinental flights use either Narita Airport (NRT) near Tokyo or Kansai Airport (KIX) near Osaka, and a fewer arrive at Chubu International Airport (NGO) in the vicinity of Nagoya. All three airports are far from their respective city centres, but they are connected to the...

How To Travel Around Japan

Japan has one of the best transport systems in the world and getting around is usually a breeze, with trains being by far the most popular option. Trains are rarely or never late and are one of the cleanest transport systems in Asia. Although travelling in Japan is expensive...

Visa & Passport Requirements for Japan

Visa restrictionsAll foreign nationals (except those travelling on government business and certain permanent residents) who are 16 years or older are electronically fingerprinted and photographed as part of the entry process. This may be followed by a brief interview by the immigration officer. Entry will be denied if any...

Destinations in Japan

Regions in Japan Japan is conventionally divided into nine regions, listed here from north to south: Hokkaido(Central Circuit, Eastern Circuit, Northern Circuit, Southern Circuit).Northernmost island and snowy borderland. Famous for its vast landscapes and cold winters.Tohoku(Aomori, Iwate, Akita, Miyagi, Yamagata, Fukushima)The largely rural northeastern part of the main island of Honshu,...

Accommodation & Hotels in Japan

In addition to the usual youth hostels and business hotels, there are various types of uniquely Japanese accommodation, ranging from noble ryokan inns to strictly functional capsule hotels and completely over-the-top love hotels. When booking Japanese accommodation, bear in mind that many smaller establishments are reluctant to accept foreigners for...

Things To See in Japan

Castles in Japan When most Westerners think of castles, they naturally think of their own in places like England and France, but Japan was also a nation of castle builders. In its feudal days, you could find several castles in almost every prefecture. Original castles Due to World War II bombings, fires,...

Weather & Climate in Japan

While the Japanese pride themselves on having four seasons, for the tourist with a flexible itinerary, they should focus on spring or fall. Spring is one of the best times of the year in Japan. Temperatures are warm but not hot, it does not rain too much, and March-April brings the...

Things To Do in Japan

Nature in Japan It should come as no surprise that in a country where more than 70% of the terrain is forests and mountains, outdoor activities abound. Climbing one of Japan's many mountains is within the means of any traveller. You can reach the top of some mountains almost entirely by...

Food & Drinks in Japan

Food in Japan Japanese cuisine, known for its emphasis on fresh, seasonal ingredients, has taken the world by storm. The main ingredient in most meals is white rice, usually served steamed. In fact, the Japanese word gohan (ご飯) also means "meal". Soybeans are an important source of protein and come...

Money & Shopping in Japan

Money in Japan Currency The Japanese currency is the Japanese yen, abbreviated ¥ (or JPY in foreign exchange contexts). In April 2015, the yen was trading at around 120 to the US dollar. In the Japanese language itself, the symbol 円 (pronounced: en) is used. Coins: ¥1 (silver), ¥5 (gold with centre...

Festivals & Events in Japan

Holidays in Japan The most important holiday in Japan is the New Year (お正月 Oshōgatsu), which largely paralyses the country from 30 December to 3 January. Japanese go home to their families (which means massive traffic jams), eat festive food and go to the neighbourhood temple at midnight to welcome...

Internet & Communications in Japan

Phone International dialling codes vary from company to company. Check with your network operator for more details. For international calls to Japan, the country code is 81. Landline numbers in Japan have the format +81 3 1234-5678, where "81" is the country code for Japan, the next digit is the...

Traditions & Customs in Japan

Most, if not all, Japanese are very understanding of a foreigner (gaijin or gaikokujin) who does not immediately adapt to their culture; indeed, the Japanese like to boast (with questionable credibility) that their language and culture are among the most difficult in the world to understand, so they are...

Culture Of Japan

Japanese culture has evolved greatly since its origins. Contemporary culture combines influences from Asia, Europe and North America. Traditional Japanese arts include crafts such as ceramics, textiles, lacquerware, swords and dolls; performances of bunraku, kabuki, noh, dance and rakugo; and other practices that include tea ceremony, ikebana, martial arts,...

History Of Japan

Prehistory and ancient history A Palaeolithic culture around 30,000 BC represents the first known settlement of the Japanese archipelago. This was followed from around 14,000 BC (beginning of the Jōmon period) by a Mesolithic to Neolithic semi-settled hunter-gatherer culture, to which the ancestors of today's Ainu people and Yamato people...

Stay Safe & Healthy in Japan

Stay safe in Japan Japan is one of the safest countries in the world, the crime rate is significantly lower than in western countries. Volcanoes, storms and typhoons are a potential problem especially if you are mountaineering or sailing, so check the latest information before you go. In volcanic areas, stick...

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