Jan 28, 2018
When it comes to vacationing, there tend to be a few things on people's to-do lists. Learning about a region's culture and history, enjoying the great outdoors, and trying some of the local cuisine are often right up there at the top. Another vacation favorite tends to be shopping and picking up a few souvenirs or other bits and pieces that you may not be able to get back home.
If you're new to Japan, you might be wondering how to ask for certain things when you're out and about checking out all that there is to offer on those store shelves. Want to know how much something is that doesn't seem to have a price tag? How about needing to know if a store accepts payment by card if you don't have enough cash on you? Perhaps you need to ask for a bigger or smaller size of clothing than what you've found on the rack. Here are some of the common sayings that might help you out during your travel shopping in Japan - as well as some of the questions that shopkeepers might ask you!
How much is this?
Naturally, before you take your giant shopping basket of goodies to the counter, you might want to know just how much in yen you're going to be forking out (because even though you're on vacation, you might not be a millionaire - it's nice to dream, though). If something doesn't have a tag or visible signage for how much it will set you back, asking "ikura desuka?" will get you the answer.
Is card payment okay?
Kaado wa daijobu?
In many places across Japan, cash is still king. If you're like me, though, it's probable that you're terrible at carrying yen in your wallet and your default setting is paying with cards. I would still advise carrying some amount of cash on you (especially if you're in more rural/remote areas!) but if you're short on physical cash and would like to know if the store takes cards, that's how you do it!
Can I try this on/do you have a fitting room?
Shichaku shitsu wa doko?
If you've got a passion for fashion, Japan has loads of great shopping for you - but you probably want to know how those things you've selected are going to look when you try them on. If you need to ask for a fitting room to give those garments a whirl, ask "shichaku shitsu wa doko?"
Do you have this in a smaller size?
Motto chiisai saizu?
This isn't a problem I've personally encountered in Japan before, since most clothing sizes are more on the petite side of things. However, if you are looking for a smaller size, if you ask "motto chiisai saizu?" you should get the desired result.
Do you have this in a larger size?
Motto ooki saizu?
Definitely a problem you might encounter in Japan - with clothing and shoes (my shoe size is average back home, but at the upper echelons of women's shoe sizing here).
Things a shopkeeper may ask you...
Is this a present?
Kore wa purezento desuka?
One thing Japan does really well is gift wrapping. Most stores will have some array of bags, ribbons, paper and bows all for the purpose of making your purchase ready to give as a present. Most of the time this is a free service, as well - making it both super handy and wallet friendly as well. A simple "hai!" (meaning "yes!") will get your stuff wrapped up and looking great before you know it.
Why yes, the 20,000 watermelon is most definitely a gift!
How many times would you like me to charge the card?
Nankai barai yoroshi desuka?
This seems like something rather unique to Japan - and from what I understand it has something to do with splitting payments for your purchase over several months to make those credit card bills easier to stomach. Back home for me in Australia this isn't even an option (and I don't even know if my Aussie card would permit it or if it would just straight up decline) so my answer is always "ikkai", or once.
Do you plan to eat this soon?
Sugu meshi agari desuka?
You'll often find if you're buying things like pastries, cakes, or other sweets that do better in refrigerated form, that the shopkeeper will ask you this. It's to determine whether or not they'll add some ice packs in with whatever you've purchased to keep it cool and fresh. Thoughtful, yes?!
After spending the last several years in the beating heart of Tokyo, I will be spending the next three in the countryside of Japan. I adore this country and all it has to offer - and I'm always learning more and more about life here as I go along!