Survival Japanese: Convenience Stores & Restaurants

Survival Japanese for Convenience Stores and Restaurants

Sometimes, no matter how much you study Japanese, there are certain situations and phrases that will catch you off guard. You won’t know how to respond or you’ll have endure an embarassing situation. I’ve thought about a few scenarios and phrases that might be helpful for someone that is either living or thinking of going to Japan.

Inside a Japanese convenience store!

Convenience Stores & Super Markets

Everything is going great, you found what you needed and are ready to check out. You understand how to use Japanese yen and all is well. However, there comes a time for every beginner that they will be asked a few questions before a transaction can be truly over. Here are some survival Japanese tips and phrases that will make life easier if you’re new to Japan.

[Would you like a wet wipe/wet towel/moist towellette?]
oshibori wo otsuke shimasu ka?

This is a great convenience when a clerk asks you this question. You can either reply with yes or no, but I recommend accepting them regardless of whether you need them or not. You can always store them in your bag or away until you need them later in the day.

YES: お願いします onegaishimasu (please)
NO: 結構です kekkou desu (no thank you)

Japanese Supermarket[Would you like a bag?]
fukuro wo otsuke shimasu ka?

Usually super markets will charge you an extra 5 to 10 yen if you want a plastic bag to put your groceries in. However, convenience stores and a few other places will give you a bag for free. If you get asked if you want a bag, that means you don’t need to pay extra to receive one. There are various ways to answer, but I’ve written the easiest to answer.

If you want a bag: はい hai (yes)
If you don’t want a bag: いりません irimasen (I don’t need one)

ponta card[Do you have a point card?]


ka-do wo omochi desu ka?

You will be mostly asked the point card question at convenience stores or drug stores. However, the number of stores these days that use points cards seems to be endlessly increasing. These point cards are basically a kind of loyalty card. The more you buy, the more “points” you earn. You can eventually use your points to get items or receive a discount on a future purchase.

If you have a card:
はい hai (Yes, I do) OR 持っています motteimasu (I have one)
If you don’t have a card:
ないです nai desu (I don’t have one) OR 持っていません motteimasen (I don’t have one [more polite version])t points

WARNING: If you say you don’t have a card, you might be ambushed with a new question:

[Would you like to make a point card?]


otsukurishimasu ka?

YES: お願いします onegaishimasu NO: 結構です kekkou desu

[Would you like your food heated?]
atatamemasu ka?

This is an example of why service can be so nice in Japan. When buying just about any kind of snack or meal at the store, the clerk will offer to heat it up for you. If you think you’ll eat your food soon or on the go, it’s a wonderful convenience to have it heated for you.

YES: お願いします onegaishimasu NO: 結構です kekkou desu

[Would you like chopsticks with that?]
ohashi wo otsukeshimasu ka?

[Would you like your food and non-food items separate?]
shokuhin to nichiyouhin wa wakete oireshimasu ka?

Fast Food services

take out sign[Would you like your order for here or to go?]
店内で召し上がりますか? それともお持ち帰りですか?
tennai de meshiagarimasu ka? sore tomo omochi kaeri desu ka?

This phrase was said so fast to me whenever I was about to order, I ended up just agreeing to whatever the clerk thought I wanted. Don’t make my mistake!

If you want to eat inside: はい hai (yes) or 店内で食べます tennai de tabemasu (I’ll eat inside)
If you want take out: 持ち帰りで mochi kaeri desu (I’d like take out please)

Train Station

Japanese train ticket office[Would you like one-way or round-trip tickets?]
片道でよろしいですか? それとも往復でしょうか?
katamichi de yoroshii desu ka? sore tomo oufuku deshou ka?

This is important for when you’re buying any kind of travel tickets. The best thing is to remember the words for one-way (katamichi) and round-trip (oufuku). As long as you can say those words, the clerk should be able to figure it out.

[Where are you from? (Usually meaning country)]

shushin wa dochira desu ka?

dochira no kuni kara irasshaimashita ka?

okuni wa dochira desu ka?

There are so many ways to ask where a person is from, but everyone words it a bit differently. I remember when I sometimes got asked in a very polite way where I was from, but I wasn’t quite sure. Learn the slightly different ways to save yourself some awkward moments.

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