Useful Japanese Phrases for Shopping in Japan

Jul 22, 2020


Going shopping is fun, but it’s overwhelming in a different language. What Japanese phrases would you find useful when shopping in Japan?

When you go to supermarkets or convenience stores such as 7-Eleven or Lawson, you might be able to shop without having to speak or listen to much Japanese. But understanding Japanese is helpful when you go to buy clothes or shoes, or local shops that sell groceries.

Shopping in Japan: Useful Japanese Phrases

What do you first notice when entering a shop in Japan? Probably the first Japanese you will encounter entering a shop is the staffs greeting of “irasshaimase“. While this isn’t a phrase you will be using when shopping, it’s helpful to know. The shop staff use the word irasshaimase to welcome you into the shop and while an answer is not required I always think it’s polite to smile, nod back, or greet them with a “konnichiwa“.

So now that we’ve entered the shop, let’s take a look at some more expressions that will be helpful with searching for and buying goods!

Searching For An Item

1. ◯◯ wa arimasuka? / Do you have ◯◯?

For example:
Boushi wa arimasuka? / Do you have hats?

This can be used when asking if the shop sells a particular item. It’s useful because if they sell it, the assistant may also show you where the item can be found without you needing to ask.

Often if you enter a shop and are looking pretty lost the shop assistance may come up to you and ask “Nanika osagashi desu ka” which literally means “Are you looking for something?” and can be interpreted as “May I help you?”. In that case, you can ask “◯◯ wa arimasuka?” Unless you aren’t really looking for anything, in which case…

2. Miteiru dake desu. / I’m just looking.

If the shop assistant asks you “Nanika osagashi desu ka” (“Are you looking for something?”) and you are just browsing you can answer with “Miteiru dake desu.” Although when using this answer I’m always mindful to smile and look polite otherwise it could come across as rude.

3. ◯◯ ha doko ni arimasuka? / Where can I find ◯◯?

You can use this phrase when you are looking for something, but you can’t find it.

4. Shichaku dekimasuka? / Can I try it on?

You probably want to try on clothes or shoes when you find some you like the look of. Sometimes the shop staff explains to you that you can try them on even when you are just looking around the shop. But even so, this phrase is great to use before you take things into the fitting room. Sizes are often very different in Japan so we recommend trying clothes on first!

5. Chigau iro wa arimasuka? / Do you have it in a different color?

You can use this before or after you try something on. If there’s a specific color you want, green for example, you can ask if they have that by asking “Midori wa arimasu ka?”.

Some helpful colors may be:

· shiro / white
· midori / green
· ao / blue
· kiiro / yellow
· pinku / pink
· orenji / orange
· chairo / brown
· kuro / black

6. Ookina saizu wa arimasuka? / Do you have a larger size?

Or if it’s too big: “Chiisana saizu wa arimasuka?” /Do you have a smaller size?

When you try on clothes or shoes you like, but they don’t fit right you can ask for a different size.

7. Sukoshi kangaemasu / I’ll think about it.

Normally the shop assistant will ask you how it was when you leave the changing room by saying something like “Ikaga deshita ka?” (How was it?). If after trying them on you didn’t like the clothes or you think they don’t suit you and decided not to buy them, you can use this phrase.

8. Kore wa ikura desuka? / How much is this?

An important phrase in shopping! Once you remember it, you can use it anywhere.

Making a Purchase

9. Kore onegai shimasu / This one, please.

You can use this phrase when you’ve chosen what to buy, and want to tell the shop staff. An alternative phrase could be:

Kore ni shimasu / I’ll take this one

10. Ka-do wa tsukaemasuka? / Can I pay by card?

Translated into English directly means “Can I use credit cards?” and in this case implies “Do you take credit cards?” Other helpful phrases might be:

Kado de onegai shimasu / I want to pay by credit card, please.
Genkin de onegai shimasu / I want to pay by cash, please.
Suica de onegai shimasu / I want to pay by Suica card, please

You can use most of the major credit cards, such as Visa, Master, American Express in most shops but some do not accept payment by cards if the amount is too small. And some local shops do not accept cards for any amount. In most convenience stores you can pay with Suica or other metro cards.

11. Nanji made aitemasuka? / What time are you open til?

In Japan, many shops are open until 8:00 pm,9:00 pm or later so you will have time to go shopping after school or work. Also, there are a lot of convenience stores in Japan that are open 24 hours a day.

12. Kore wo henpin shitai desu / I would like to return this item.

Or alternatively:

Kore o henpin shite mo ii desu ka. / Can I return this item please?

You can use either of these phrases if you would like to return the item after buying it. Make sure you have the receipt when you do. Sometimes the return policy is written on the receipt, 7 or 14 days are popular return limits.

Did you find any of these phrases useful? We hope these phrases will help you make shopping in Japan easy and fun!

We would love to know if you have any favorite expressions you use when shopping in Japan!

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