If you take the time, you can master the basics of polite conversation in most languages. When you are learning Japanese it can be a little trickier because the alphabet is different from the English dictionary and many of the characters are unrecognizable. Therefore, it's in your best interest to learn a few useful travel-related words and phrases in Japanese before you take off. It will help you navigate the streets, reduce your confusion and save you time getting from Point A to Point B.

Each header below has the English phrase and then after the dash the phrase or word spelled in the most common Romanization of the Japanese characters. Below these, you'll see the phrase's pronunciation. Visually seeing the alphabet you are used to will make the connection easier than listing Japanese characters of which you are unfamiliar.  

Greetings

Hello - Konnichiwa

Pronounced: Kohn-nee-chee-WAH

How are you? – O-genki desu ka?

Pronounced: Oh-GEN-kee dess-kah

I'm fine, thank you – Genki Desu

Pronounced: GEN-kee dess

Good morning - Ohayo gozaimasu

Pronounced: oh-hah-YOH goh-zye-moss

Good evening - Konbanwah

Pronounced: kohn-bahn-wah

Goodbye - Sayonara

Pronounced: sye-YOH-nah-rah

Conversational Phrases

Thank you - Domo arigato

Pronounced: doh-moh ah-ree-GAH-toh

Please - Dozo

Pronounced: doh-zoh

I understand - Wakarimasu

Pronounced: wah-kah-ree-mah-sue

Excuse me - Sumimasen

Pronounced: sue-mee-mah-sehn

I do not understand - Wakarimmasen

Pronounced: wah-kah-ree-mah-sehn

Yes - Hai

Pronounced: high

No - Ie

Pronounced: EE-yeh (short last syllable)

Numbers and Quantity

How much is it - Ikura

Pronounced: ee-khur-ah ka

One/ two/ three – Ichi/ ni / san

Pronounced: ee-chee/ nee / sehn

It can be intimidating to travel in a country where not only the language but the alphabet is drastically different. Reading signs is at best confusing and at worst dangerous. By learning small bits of the language, you'll stay focused, have a better experience, and show respect to everyone with whom you interact. Protect the rest of your holiday with a travel insurance policy from Cover-More Travel Insurance and soldier forth with your new found skills and newly learned Japanese phrases.

Image courtesy of Flickr user PK.