kamikaze headband lame tourist

Tourist Trap Alert: What Not to Wear in Japan

Table of Contents:


Many tourists arrive in Japan eager to flaunt Japanese phrases and symbols on their attire. The intention is often positive, aiming to show solidarity with locals. Yet, numerous purchases made in this enthusiasm can be quite cringe-worthy. While they might seem stylish back home, in Japan, they just scream “clueless tourist.” Here’s a guide to steer clear of the tourist-trap wardrobe choices in Japan.

lame tourist t-shirt Japan

Ichiban T-shirts

Humility First: “Ichiban” translates to “number one” or “the best” in Japanese. TV shows caricaturing over-the-top foreigners often deck them out in “ichiban” T-shirts or headbands. However, in Japan, modesty is valued. This attire comes across as culturally odd. Moreover, it’s evident you picked it up for a mere $10 at a touristy shop. Regrettably, people will definitely chuckle at your expense.

kamikaze t-shirt tourist

Kamikaze T-shirts

Misinterpretation Alert: In the West, “kamikaze” refers to WWII Japanese suicide pilots. In Japan, “kamikaze” signifies the “divine winds” that thwarted two Mongol invasions (1274 and 1281). This term relates to the sudden typhoons that saved Japan. Sporting “kamikaze” attire doesn’t impress locals. It’s a nod to serendipity, not bravery. Locals will snicker.

samurai t-shirt

Samurai T-shirts and Ninja T-shirts

Avoid the Cliché: Steer clear of T-shirts and headbands boasting “samurai.” They mark you as a tourist unfamiliar with Japanese culture. Similarly, any reference to samurai elements—castles, swords, etc.—just labels you as uninformed. “Ninja” T-shirts with “忍者” or “忍” aren’t any better. Popular notions of ninjas vastly differ from reality. It just looks weird on the streets here, and yes, people will laugh at you.

anime t-shirt

Anime T-shirts

Keep Anime Close, but Not in Japan: As much as you adore your anime T-shirt, wear it anywhere but in Japan. “One Piece” and “Pokemon” aside, you’ll mostly spot tourists flaunting anime shirts. Your favorite character might not spark local enthusiasm. While cool in your homeland, you’ll appear quite out of place here. Japanese fashionistas may raise an eyebrow because anime and manga are just part of daily life here. It’s not seen as cool or special. And actually, can be seen as silly or childish.

ninja t-shirt tourist

Sorry About Being Harsh

It’s candid advice. Japan is a fashion haven. Observe locals’ attire for cues. No one wears the items mentioned above. To forge genuine connections during your trip (ie: make friends!), skip these products and if you have similar items already, don’t pack them. Trust me. Authentic Japanese experiences don’t involve wearing tourist clichés.

japanese doll - courtesan
This sorta thing is totally normal and cool for tourists to buy. Japanese people will want to see it too!

A Quick Note About Touristy Knick Knacks

In heavily touristic spots, feel free to splurge on knick-knacks. Dolls and interior décor items make great mementos. But unlike clothing, these won’t make you seem disrespectful or out of touch. They’re thoughtful tokens of your visit. On the other hand, those shirts and headbands are better left untouched. When joining my tours, I ensure you avoid these pitfalls—or guide you towards choices that resonate with locals. Explore genuine boutiques for exclusive Japanese fashion that mirrors real trends. Such unique finds trump cheesy T-shirts any day.

Subscribe for more insights in our upcoming post!

Exploring LGBTQ+ Culture & History with JapanTHIS!

Introduction: Embracing Diversity in Tours

Inclusivity is at the heart of every tour we offer at JapanThis.Tours. Our belief is simple: every tour is tailored to the interests and preferences of our diverse clientele. Just as we accommodate requests for specific foods or sites, we enthusiastically embrace the opportunity to add an LGBTQ+ twist to our tours. In this article, we’ll delve into how we seamlessly integrate LGBTQ+ experiences into our tours, ensuring that your journey through Japan is a celebration of culture, history, and individuality.

People attend the Tokyo Rainbow Pride 2023 Parade in Tokyo on April 23, 2023, to show support for members of the LGBT community. (Photo by Yuichi YAMAZAKI / AFP) / IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE

Customizing Your LGBTQ+ Tour Experience

If you’re looking to infuse your day tour with LGBTQ+ highlights, it’s a breeze. Our guides are ready to have candid conversations with you on the spot, ensuring your personalized experience aligns with your preferences. Whether it’s exploring vibrant neighborhoods or indulging in the vibrant atmosphere of gay bars and clubs, we’re here to make it happen. If you’re interested in a more comprehensive LGBTQ+ experience, we can seamlessly integrate it into the latter part of your day tour.

Planning an Unforgettable Evening

For those seeking an unforgettable evening immersed in LGBTQ+ culture, JapanThis.Tours has you covered. Whether you’re craving a night of dazzling drag performances, want to explore renowned gay bars, or simply desire to embrace the vibrant nightlife, we’re here to help you plan an evening to remember (take a look at my Add Ons to get an idea). To ensure your night unfolds seamlessly, a bit of advance planning is key. Let’s collaborate to curate an evening that perfectly aligns with your desires.

While we’re committed to providing enriching experiences, there are a few considerations we’d like to address. As your guide, I hold a strong personal belief in inclusivity and respect. With this in mind, I may feel a little uncomfortable leading tours to lesbian bars during “girls only nights.” However, rest assured, we have a solution. I can connect you with a trusted partner who shares our values, ensuring you have an enjoyable experience. Before passing the torch, we’ll kick off the evening with a delightful dinner and drinks, allowing us to connect before your exciting night out.

Discovering LGBTQ+ History: Unveiling Hidden Narratives

At JapanThis.Tours, our specialization lies in history and cultural exploration. The LGBTQ+ narrative intertwines with Japan’s vibrant past and present, enriching the fabric of its neighborhoods and landmarks. With every step you take, you’ll encounter the remarkable stories of LGBTQ+ individuals who have played significant roles in shaping Japan’s history. From the past to the present, these narratives come to life as we traverse the streets and sites of this captivating nation.

Conclusion: A Journey of Inclusivity

Japan’s LGBTQ+ culture and history are integral parts of the nation’s identity. At JapanThis.Tours, we’re passionate about weaving these threads into the tapestry of your travel experience. With a commitment to customization and inclusivity, our LGBTQ+ tours ensure you’ll not only explore captivating sites but also connect with the vibrant LGBTQ+ community that has contributed to Japan’s remarkable story. Join us on a journey that celebrates diversity, history, and the shared human experience.

Further Reading:

This article is a fantastic resource for queer terms and culture in Japan 🏳️‍🌈

Is Tipping RUDE in Japan?

Tipping in Japan

Clients often ask me “do people tip in Japan?” and my answer is that 90% of the time, “no, people don’t tip in Japan.” Today, I want to talk about the other 10% and the popular misconception that it’s rude to tip in Japan.

  1. When do you tip in Japan?
    1. Who do you tip in Japan?
  2. How much do you tip in Japan?
  3. Is it rude to tip in Japan?
    1. How do you give a tip in Japan?
  4. Summary

When do you tip in Japan?

Basically, you do not tip in Japan at bars, restaurants, and hotels. You also you don’t tip hair stylists, taxi drivers, or delivery people. And unlike the US, Japanese workers have full-time or hourly salaries that are (theoretically) commensurate with their expected duties. That said, tipping does occur, particular in the tourism industry.

Who do you tip in Japan?

  • Buddhist and Shinto priests
    These are highly trained specialists – your tip is actually a donation to the maintenance of the temple or shrine. You only need to do this if they guide your meditation, give you a tour of the religious precinct, or speak English (or your native language).
  • Hired Drivers
    These are government-approved specialists whose entire careers can end with a single accident. They aren’t just some dude with a driver’s license. Try riding a bus or private car through crazy, windy mountain roads with them, you’ll see how good they are.
  • Tour Guides
    Ideally, these are highly trained specialists whose expertise requires years of first-hand experience. You’re essentially helping them pay off a kind of never-ending cultural student debt.

There are other situations when the Japanese tip certain people. Most of these do not pertain to tourists. For example, if you are a tea ceremony acolyte or patron of a geisha, at the end of the year, you might send your teacher/artist a tip or an expensive gift such as high-end fruit or flowers. As a tourist, you don’t have to worry about this.

How much do you tip?

  • Buddhist and Shinto priests
    ¥500 ($5 USD) and up per person. Since it’s a donation to the institution, it’s up to you. Usually, you can just throw coins in the collection box in front of the main hall of the temple or shrine. Of course, you can always tip more.
  • Hired Drivers
    ¥500 ($5 USD) and up for half a day. ¥1000 ($10 USD) for a full day. This amount is usually per group, but all passengers can tip individually if they like, and I encourage you to do so. Also, you can always tip more than the norm.
  • Tour Guides
    ¥1000-¥2000 ($10-$20 USD) per person, depending on their knowledge and service. On group tours, ¥1000 ($10) and up per day per person is the norm, depending on the quality of knowledge and service. Again, you can be as generous as you like.

Is it rude to tip in Japan?

No, it’s not rude to tip in Japan, it just isn’t the norm. People don’t know how to react to it. This is why you will often see online that “Japanese people are offended by tips” – or, that you are “rude” or “insulting them.” This just isn’t true. If you want to tip your hotel staff or something, you should present the tip in a way they culturally recognize as a gift or a token of your appreciation. Sometimes a unique item or foodstuff from your country (nothing chintzy, though!) is great, except in the three cases I talked about above.

How do you give a tip in Japan?

It’s easy! To give a tip in Japan, buy a simple envelope – they actually sell “tip envelopes” in most convenience stores, but you can just use a regular envelope. You can even ask the staff for a チップ封筒 chippu fūtō (tip envelope). The actual word in Japanese is more complicated, but they will understand this phrase. But if you bring a cool looking one from your country, they’ll love it!

Put your cash tip inside the envelope – you might include a nice message if you like – and hand it to the person discreetly. If you want to be really smooth about it, you can say お世話になりました o-sewa ni narimashita which means “thank you for everything.” If you think that Japanese phrase is a mouthful, then a simple bow and English “thank you” will suffice. The key is to not draw attention to the situation, since giving and receiving money is considered a little embarrassing in Japan. Just pass the envelope, say thank you, and give a low key bow.


Although tipping is not common in Japan, it actually is the norm in the tourist industry (drivers and guides in particular). If you travel with JapanThis.Tours, we always cover tips for temples, shrines, and private cars on behalf of our customers but we never discourage you from tipping more. Generosity is appreciated everywhere in the world. We also encourage you to tip our staff guides and contracted guides for the same reason.

I hope that clears up any confusion about tipping in Japan. It’s really straight forward, if you think about. Definitely more intuitive than the US tipping culture I grew up with, which is, let’s face it, very complicated. So don’t overthink or worry about this on your trip to Japan or your tour with us.

Do you have any questions about how tipping works in Japan? Please don’t hesitate to leave a comment. We’re here to help and look forward to hearing from you.

See you soon!

japanese green grocer

How do you say Gluten in Japanese?

Gluten is guruten in Japanese. However, most people only know the native word komugi which means wheat flour. I’m here to teach how to say what you need to so you can eat your fill in Japan!

how do you say gluten in japanese?

I know that if you’re asking this question, it’s about your health. I also know that you’ve been dealing this with already — many of you, for all of your lives. So, I’m going to be brutally honest. But I also promise you that traveling gluten-free in Japan is not impossible. I’ve traveled across the country with hundreds of people with many different dietary restrictions. It’s challenging, but absolutely possible.

Also, I’ve created a free PDF you can download and print out (or just open it up on your mobile device). Show it to hotel staff and restaurant staff and rest assured you’ll be safe. The link is at the end of the article, or just skip to it in the Table of Contents if you’re in a hurry.

eat healthy in japan - travel

The Reality About Gluten-Free Diets in Japan

First of all, if you have celiac disease or some other gluten intolerance and you’re planning a trip to Japan, there are a few things you absolutely must know. Gluten-free options in the west are becoming increasingly available, especially in restaurants. In Japan, this is not the case.

Just think about it. One of the main seasonings in Japanese cuisine is soy sauce which is made from wheat flour. That means the bulk of traditional Japanese dishes are completely off the table for you. If you’re also vegan and cannot eat dashi (a kind of soup stock often made from fish or meat), you’ll be even more limited. In fact, I call this gluten-free/vegan/no dashi combination the Trifecta. If that’s the case… wow, basically, 90% of Japanese food is a no go for you and your options outside of big cities will be even more difficult.

how do you say gluten in japanese?

Challenging, But Doable

As a tourism professional who’s lived in Japan 16 years, the best advice I can give you is booking a professional guide (or, at least for the beginning of your trip). I’d love it to be me (JapanThis.Tours), but any experienced, competent guide who regularly handles clients with dietary restrictions can also help you out. A pro can take you into supermarkets, convenience stores, and teach you the ins and outs of eating healthy in Japan. You’re on vacation. The last thing we want is for you to get sick! I’ve often purchased personal travel-sized bottles of gluten-free soy sauce for clients that they can take with them. Some mom and pop restaurants have even agreed to use it for special dishes.

Apps like Happy Cow can be a lifesaver when your stomach starts growling. But a lot of delicious restaurants have perfectly acceptable items on the menu. Problem is, the owners don’t know there’s a medical reason people might be searching for that particular dish. In short, a lot of places fly under the radar.

Gluten-free tourism is absolutely possible in #Japan!

How do you say gluten in Japanese?

how do you say gluten in japanese?

Komugi futaishō desu – I’m gluten intolerant

watashi wa, komugi futaishō desu
I’m wheat flour intolerant.

This is, hands down, the best phrase you can use as a tourist in Japan who can’t do gluten.

I translated this as “intolerant,” but the Japanese word I used implies “I will get sick if I eat gluten” as opposed to a less serious reaction. This should ensure the staff and cooks take your condition seriously.

Pro-Tip: Drop watashi wa and point at yourself instead.

I’ve included two full sentences in this article. Each of them begin with watashi wa which means something like “I am/I have.” If these sentences are too long to remember, you can drop watashi wa and just point at your face to mean “me!” If you do that, you only have to memorize the second half of the sentence.

Pronunciation Tip: The final u in desu is very weak. So, if you pronounce it like komugi futaishō des’, you’ll sound more natural.

eat in japan - JapanThis.Tours

Arerugii – allergy


You don’t need this word by itself, but I’d like to talk about the pronunciation. Many medical words in Japanese come from German and Dutch, not English. Arerugii is the Japanese pronunciation of the German word Allergie. The last sound is not a soft g (gee) like English, but a hard g (ghee) as in “geezer.”

Pronunciation Tip: I speak fluent Japanese. But even for me, this word is hard to say.
The u in arerugii is weak. So, it sounds most natural if you say it like arergii.

If that’s still tricky, just say English “allergy” with a hard g. People should understand that.

Some common allergies:

  • komugi arergii – gluten allergy
  • piinattsu arergii – peanut allergy
  • neko arergii – cat allergy

Komugi arerugii ga arimasu – I have a gluten allergy

watashi wa
, komugi arerugii ga arimasu
I have a wheat flour allergy.

This is really the phrase you want if you want to convey that you have gluten allergy. You can use this if you’re sure that if a tiny bit of wheat flour accidentally finds its way into your food, you won’t suffer from a horrible, vacation-ruining reaction.

Pro-Tip: The middle u in arerugii and the last u in arimasu are very weak. If you pronounce the phrase komugi arergii ga arimas’ it will sound more natural.


free stuff

Free PDF Download to Print Out

Worried you can’t remember all this? No problem. I have a free PDF that you can download or print out. It describes various dietary restrictions, including things like “gluten-free vegan.”


I’d like to expand it, so if you have some requests about your own requirements, you can make suggestions anonymously!

how do you say gluten in japanese?

Want to know more?

If you have any questions about this topic, feel free to ask in the comments section down below. Also, I believe health and safety are extremely important when traveling abroad, so please share this with any friends or loved ones who could use it.

I have more Japanese Survival Phrases for Tourists articles coming soon, so be sure to subscribe to JapanThis.Tours for my latest tourism content. It’s free and I try to update it every month.

Also, during the New Year’s holiday, I plan to begin adding audio clips to this and all Japanese Survival Phrases articles. I will be using native speakers so you can get the perfect pronunciation. Stay tuned!

Can I Travel to Japan in 2021?

travel japan 2021

Can I Travel to Japan in 2021?

Yes, some people can probably travel to Japan in summer of 2021, but not everyone. Don’t start packing your bags because nothing is certain at this point. The government has not committed to anything yet, but they’ve hinted at easing travel restrictions in April 2021. This implies they won’t open the country up completely. The Japanese government has been extremely strict about allowing tourists in because they are determined to make the postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympics a success, and not a superspreading event. However, most people I know in Japan doubt the games will happen at all1. And the tourism industry is especially pessimistic about this.

If the games proceed as planned in July 2021, that will be a good indicator that inbound tourism2 will finally begin its recovery phase. After more than a year of zero business due to the pandemic, this will be a welcome change. That said, tourism won’t be back to normal until 2024 or 2025. I’ll talk more about why recovery will take so long, but first I have to address the worst-case scenario.

If the government has to cancel or severely cut back the Olympics, that could push back fully opening borders to international travelers until spring of 2023. This could manifest as a continuation of the policy only allowing citizens, residence visa holders, and business people in so-called travel bubbles3 into Japan until 2022. The Tokyo Olympics situation looks increasingly bad because Olympic refunds have already begun and consumer confidence is at an all-time low in regards to international travel everywhere. This is especially true of a country like Japan, which has a reputation for being very distant, costly, and not very accessible.

can I travel to japan in 2021?

What Will Tourism in Japan Look Like after 2021?

For now, let’s assume the Olympics will proceed as scheduled in 2021, then international travel slowly resumes. It would be insanity to think that come April 2021, anyone who wants to can just hop on a plane and enter Japan. There will most like be priority given to countries that have handled the COVID-19 outbreak well and there will probably be continued restrictions on countries that have not. Also, it’s not unreasonable to think some countries will be locked out altogether. Because of all this uncertainty, I expect inbound tourism to recover very, very slowly.

Furthermore, Japan’s inbound travel industry works on a kind of two-year cycle in regards to each individual tourist or group of tourists. The average person books a group tour or begins planning their trip to Japan at least one year in advance4. Few people just hop on a plane and head to Japan for the weekend. Furthermore, because Japan is not a cheap country, younger travelers5 spend about a year saving up before beginning their booking process. Again, few people can just jump on a plane and shout “Woohoo! I’m goin’ to Japan!”

Normalization of Travel in 2022

In the best-case scenario, I predict tourists will begin trickling into Japan in autumn 2021. From a business perspective, it won’t be great6. But for the experience of travelers, it should be wonderful. Crowds of international tourists, especially the despised large groups7, should be much fewer than we’ve seen in the last six years. All the sites renovated in anticipation of #Tokyo2020 will still look brand-spanking new, just minus the crowds. This will be true all throughout the country, not only the capital.

I suspect that by spring 2022 travel in and out of Japan will normalize. In fact, I’m certain that even though Japan will once again have peak seasons (spring and autumn), the numbers of international tourists will remain very low. 2020 put a lot of people out of work and sadly they just won’t have the cash on hand to take their dream trip to Japan. I want to reiterate that this is not good for local guides such as myself, nor is it particularly good for the mid and large sized tour companies or the airlines either. It is, however, great for travelers like you. The low numbers of inbound travelers in 2020 should translate to less crowds and Japan will just “feel like Japan” again. Repeat travelers to the country who came before 2015 know exactly what I’m talking about.

travel japan 2021

Learning from the Past for a Better Future

I’m sure that by spring 2025, Japan will start seeing a large number of foreign travelers coming to Japan – some for the first time, but many for the second or third time. But will things ever be the same again? Honestly, I hope not. I’m optimistic big changes will come from the ground up as the Japanese tourism industry reimagines itself and gets back on its feet.

Prior to 2014, Japan wasn’t really a tourist destination except to hardcore Japanophiles. Since 2016, it was breaking inbound tourism records every year. Scrambling to get as many paying customers here as quickly as possible for as cheap as possible, the tour companies built their businesses on getting people into Tokyo, Kyoto, Hiroshima and a handful of other perennially popular destinations.

The old model is Unsustainable

I live in Tokyo and I love it. And it’s a pretty populous city, to say the least.

But depending how you cut up the numbers, let’s say there are 11 million people living there. You can throw another couple million tourists in the mix for a few days and no one cares. The infrastructure is there. But Kyoto, for example, is a small city with a population of, like, three million or something. If you dump a couple million foreigners there, the whole thing just falls apart. Locals have been complaining for years that Kyoto doesn’t “feel like Kyoto” anymore. It’s like Disneyland-with-geisha. I don’t want to throw all the blame at the large tour companies. The Japanese government has done the exact same thing. They’ve spent six years promoting the same cities they’ve been pushing since the 1960s. All of this has been happening at the expense of all the cool, lesser known towns that, frankly, offer a far richer and more authentic Japanese experience.

overtourism in kyoto

Tourism Pollution

To be blunt, in an effort to build up a successful inbound tourism industry and make Japan a premiere international destination, the Japanese government didn’t just sacrifice authenticity. They inadvertently caused a huge problem: overtourism. Or as they call it in Japanese, “tourism pollution.” I can’t tell you what the large tour companies are doing about this, probably nothing, to be honest. But I can tell you that small, boutique travel operators, such as my colleagues, have been pushing for unique experiences that aren’t on Trip Advisor8. And they’ve been pushing for this for a while now.

Of course, Kyoto is amazing. But there are amazing towns that don’t get many foreign tourists and are dying for visitors. They might not be English-friendly yet, and they most likely don’t know how to promote how awesome they are to foreigners. But they’re definitely worth visiting! It is my sincere hope, that the entire industry is using this awful year of no business to do some soul searching. I hope they are re-evaluating their strategies for showcasing how awesome Japan is in a sustainable way once the pandemic is over.

travel japan 2021 kanda myojin (during renovation)

Support Local Guides and Businesses

If you’ve read this far, thank you. I just want to close with a simple request to anyone thinking about traveling to Japan in or after 2021. In your country, you’ve probably noticed that small businesses – mom and pop shops, family-owned restaurants, etc. – have been suffering the most during the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether you’re booking through a travel agent, a tour company, or doing everything yourself, I suggest you consider finding an independent, specialized local guide for at least one of your days in Japan.

I would define a competent private guide as someone who’s been in Japan 10 years or more and specializes in something9. These people are passionate and enthusiastic about Japan and they want you to be passionate and enthusiastic too. They’re knowledgeable about the culture and neighborhoods they focus on. If you’re interested in Buddhism, find a guide who’s really into Buddhism. Are you in love with Japanese anime and manga? I’m sure you can easily find a hardcore otaku guide. If you’re into Japanese culture and Japanese history, there’s probably a kindred nerd out there for you10. Or, maybe you’re the outdoors type. Plenty of guides are waiting to rough it with you.

A Great Guide is good for You and Good for Japan

There are plenty of great people out there in the biz who are hurting right now, but are ready to give you the best day or days of your holiday. They may not be on Trip Advisor. Your booking agent probably has no idea who they are. You just need to dig a little deeper online and you’re bound to find a diamond in the rough.

I think it’s safe for me to speak on behalf of all those independent guides, all the mom and pop restaurants, and all the ryokan (Japanese style inns) and hot springs. We can’t wait for you to come to Japan. And while I don’t recommend rushing to travel to Japan in 2021, I’m confident things will be better than ever. It’s just going to take some time.

tokyo tower 2018

  1. Refunds for the Olympics began this month, November 2020. This is all rumor, but allegedly organizers think refund requests will be high. I’ve heard the phrase “more than half of all tickets” more than once. If true, this does not bode well for the games.↩︎

  2. That is, foreigners traveling to Japan.↩︎

  3. Relationships formed between Japan and a handful of other nations that have the virus somewhat under control.↩︎

  4. Because, again, Japan has a reputation for being very distant, costly, and not very accessible.↩︎

  5. By younger traveler, I’m using the 25-45 year-old demographic.↩︎

  6. Afterall, usually spring and autumn are our peak seasons and are generally busy, profitable, and lots of fun.↩︎

  7. Let’s be honest, any group over 10 people is annoying for everyone else lololol. I’m mostly talking about groups of 20 and above. And before you accuse me shaming people, I’ll be the first to admit, I’ve led groups of up to 13. The difference is, my groups are always super polite. But the reason for that is a story for another day.↩︎

  8. No disrespect, but Trip Advisor ruins everything. As soon as something gets listed on there, it’s officially “not cool anymore.”↩︎

  9. By “specializes in something,” I mean they have a lot of enthusiasm for this work because they’re passionate specific aspects of Japanese culture. Not just “I’ll take you to the Imperial Palace Gardens or whatever, man.”↩︎

  10. I might know I guy…↩︎

10 Best Things to do with Kids in Tokyo

things to do with kids in japan

Best Things to do with Kids in Tokyo

Most of my tours focus on history and culture. However, there are lots of great things for kids to do in Tokyo. From indoor activities to outdoor excursions, there’s no shortage of fun to have on your vacation to Japan’s bustling capital. This list is aimed at families with pre-teens to college kids, but many experiences work for younger kids. Some of you grown-up kids will love these too! (I’m talking to you mom and dad!)

tokyo disneyland

Tokyo Disneyland AND Tokyo Disney Sea

Many people forget that two of Disney’s greatest theme parks are located right on Tokyo Bay! In operation since 1983 and 2001 respectively, Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo Disney Sea provide fun for the whole family. At the time of writing, they’ve begun expanding the park. Soon, there will soon be more to love about Disneyland in Japan. Also, because of Tokyo’s mild winters, both theme parks are open all year round. Just remember. In the summer, Tokyo is hot and humid, so keep that in mind if being outside all day is stressful for your kids.

the kawaii monster cafe

Kawaii Monster Café

The Kawaii Monster Café is one of those ridiculous “only in Japan” experiences, combining a whimsical Alice in Wonderland-esque décor and over-the-top entertainment by the café’s very own kawaii monster dancers[i]. It’s perfect for lunch, but there are often long lines to get in. So, I recommend making a reservation and skipping the queue – I’m happy to arrange this for you. Actually, I often incorporate the Kawaii Monster Café into some of my Tokyo Day Tours because it’s popular with my clients who want to see Tokyo’s quirky side. The menu is simple so even picky kids can find something they like.

tokyo giants - japanese baseball

Baseball Games

Japan’s national sport is baseball, and if you’re a baseball fan, you’ll find the level of play top notch and, in my opinion, the carnival-like atmosphere is way more fun that MLB games. Japan is consistently in the top three countries for international baseball. It is also a host nation of the World Baseball Classic. I’m happy to get tickets for your baseball-loving family, but it’s probably best to just add on a game to one of my Tokyo Day Tours. That way, we can enjoy the game together (or in the case of my European and Australian customers, I can explain the rules). Tokyo has two baseball teams: the Tokyo Giants and the Tokyo Swallows. I’m a Giants fan and the indoor stadium is great rain or shine. The Swallows play outdoors which can get hot and humid and games are occasionally rained out or delayed.

the poop museum

The Poop Museum

I’ll be honest with you. The Poop Museum is one of Japan’s most ridiculous experiences. Kids, teens, and adults alike can appreciate this weird place. It’s silly, colorful, and extremely childish, but you’ll probably get some of the best family photos of your whole trip here. Originally a temporary exhibit, the Poop Museum became so popular that it found a permanent home in Odaiba, near Tokyo Bay. There are lots of goofy exhibits and nothing gross or distasteful here, just really colorful and cute fun. Because of long lines, I recommend purchasing tickets in advance and skipping the line. I recommend doing this as part of a customized Tokyo Day Tour so I can maximize our day and not waste any time waiting around or taking weird train routes from across town.

video game arcade

Video Game Arcades

In Japan, video games are a way of life and video arcades are as popular as ever! I often take people to Akihabara, the heart of Japan’s otaku culture[ii], where we can experience the most awesome multilevel game centers. However, in Tokyo, arcades are located everywhere, but finding the good ones (and the non-smoking ones) can be tricky sometimes. Besides video games, there are also crane games, gachapon machines, and sometimes even VR and purikura photo booths. If you don’t know what that is, let’s get you and the kids in there for the ultimate weird photo both experience!

You Might Also Like:

round one

Round One

If video games aren’t your whole family’s thing, why not try Round One? In addition to video games, you have batting cages, inline skates, “sports challenges,” private karaoke booths[iii], darts, bowling, and more. This is great when the weather is bad you can’t do cultural stuff, but still want to enjoy your day as a family. None of the activities require Japanese language ability, but the staff probably doesn’t speak English, so it helps if you bring a local with you to ensure things go nice and smooth. It’s great for kids of all ages, including you adult kids lol.

fishing in tokyo

Fishing in Tokyo Bay

If you’re outdoors types, fishing in Tokyo Bay gives you fantastic views of the city skyline and puts you in touch with the capital’s humble beginnings. Tokyo began as a collection of villages based on fishing and seaweed production. If you can’t speak Japanese, this kind of experience is generally inaccessible for most travelers. But don’t worry. I can set it up and interpret for you the whole time. Sea bream, perch, and flounder are plentiful. But if you really want to go for it, you can also catch albacore tuna, skipjack tuna, yellowtail tuna, sea bass, and various types of mackerel. Squid and octopus also live in Tokyo Bay. If you kids like fishing, this is a really unique chance, in my opinion.

the miraikan

National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation

Known as Miraikan in Japanese[iv], the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation is one of the coolest family-oriented museums I’ve ever been too. It’s English-friendly and has lots of interactive exhibits. You can see Asimo, Honda’s line of robots developed in the early 2000’s. Also, getting there is half the fun, as you can take the Yurikome Line, a driverless, robotic monorail that passes through the Tokyo Bay area! Kids love the hands-on experiences and Tokyo just exudes “future,” so this is a pretty obvious choice.



I normally recommend clients skip the Harajuku area as it has devolved into an insufferable tourist trap and locals avoid it like the plague. However, there are still a few good reasons to visit the area. If you happen to be in this part of town with kids, Kiddyland is a timeless toy store that is definitely worth checking out. Most of the products are limited to Japan, even if they’re from international IP’s. Even adults will enjoy browsing the shelves at this Tokyo institution!

the samurai museum shinjuku

The Samurai Museum

The Samurai Museum is an English-friendly museum that teaches about samurai. It has a nice collection of armor, weapons, and features a demonstration of Japanese swordplay that you can participate in! There’s a lively guided tour that isn’t too heavy on history, and plenty of time for Q&A with the staff. The gift shop is filled with samurai-related goods that any kid would be happy to bring back home. Also, at the end of the tour, they have samurai armor and Japanese princess outfits for you to try and snap some memorable photos that you’ll love to share with your friends.

There’s Plenty More Family Fun in Tokyo

I hope my Top 10 Things to do with Kids in Tokyo has given you some ideas for you trip. Obviously, there are hundreds of more ideas. If I know what your family is into, I can help customize the perfect day — or days — for you. I’ve been in Japan for 16 years and know Tokyo inside and out. Let’s start planning your day tour now!

[i] Kawaii is the Japanese word for “cute.”
[ii] Otaku means “geek” or “nerd” and refers to people who love anime, manga, and video games.
[iii] Everybody knows karaoke, but did you know it comes from the Japanese words for “empty orchestra pit?”
[iv] Miraikan means “Hall of the Future” in Japanese.

Is Emperor Worship Really a Thing in Japan?

Emperor Jinmu

Is the Japanese Emperor a God?

“Do the Japanese worship the emperor as a god?” This is a question I get all the time. Anyone who’s seen a WWII documentary about the Pacific War has probably come away with the impression that the Japanese emperor is god. The native faith of Japan is 神道 Shintō, literally, “the way of the gods.” Traditionally, this has been a decentralized, polytheistic, animistic religion whose oldest myths describe the imperial family as descendants of the sun goddess, 天照 Amaterasu. However, having divine blood was not the same as being a god. It wasn’t until a period from 1868 to 1945, the time of the Japanese Empire, that the State promulgated the idea of “emperor worship”[i] for about 60 years or less. Of course, Japan is an ancient country, and the story is much more complicated than that.

It wasn’t until the prewar period when the Japanese Empire promulgated the idea of “emperor worship” also known as State Shintō, but only for about 60 years or less. Click To Tweet
Emperor Jinmu with bow and arrow
Emperor Jinmu – the “first” emperor of Japan

From Ancient Times to 1868

The most distant period of Japanese history is 神代 Kamiyo the Age of the Gods. In this mythological time, legends tell us that the divine grandson of the sun goddess herself established a court on earth which embarked on illustrious conquests of the Japanese archipelago. The divine grandson’s grandson became the first emperor[ii], and to this day the imperial family still has the ancient and noble blood of the sun goddess coursing through their veins, or so it has been said. As time went on, warrior clans, known as 侍 samurai came to hold not just military power but also political power. The imperial family was still important, but were relegated to Shintō rituals in the imperial capital of 京都 Kyōto and served as pawns in elaborate martial chess games played by samurai warlords during the Japanese Middle Ages. Military rulers called 将軍 shōguns never abolished the imperial line, but relied on them for ceremonial legitimacy, thus there was general harmony between the parallel imperial and shōgunal lines[iii] right up until the 1860’s.

Many are surprised that #Japan had parallel imperial and military dynasties from the 12th century until the 1860s. Click To Tweet
Yasukuni Shrine in WWII
Soldiers prepare for battle at Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo

State Shintō and the Empire of Japan

In 1868, a bizarre revolution took place in Japan. Disaffected antiforeign, pro-isolationist samurai used the restoration of imperial rule as a means to topple the current samurai government[iv] which had overseen 250+ years of strict isolationism. The revolutionaries “restored imperial rule” after roughly 700 years of emperors just performing religious ceremonies, writing poetry, and conferring titles upon the samurai court in 江戸 Edo (present day 東京 Tōkyō). Again, the emperor was just a pawn, but rebels now used his “divine origins” to emphasize their so-called righteous overthrow of the Edo Government. As a descendant of sun goddess – who was herself the embodiment of Japan[v] – the emperor became, in effect, the head of all Shintō religions in addition to the august symbol of the country. The term “State Shintō” didn’t really exist until the final years of WWII, but it was a concept for military propagandists in the short-lived fascist Japanese Empire. Hirohito, the Shōwa Emperor[vi], was also used as a chess piece – this time as a justification for things like kamikaze pilots, fighting-to-death rather than surrender, and for citizens to kill themselves and their families in defense of the divine emperor and his divine realm in which they were fortunate enough to be subjects. The military-controlled fascist government twisted the myths of divine imperial descent into “emperor worship.”

As a descendant of sun goddess, the Japanese emperor became the head of all Shintō religion in addition to the august symbol of the country. Click To Tweet
Imperial Palace after WWII
Bowing in front of the Imperial Palace (former Edo Castle)

Post-War Japan

There is a famous photo of presumably ordinary Japanese citizens gathered in front of 正門 seimon the main gate of the Imperial Palace[vii] and bowing low to the ground to pay respects to the Shōwa Emperor after he announced Japan’s surrender to Allied Forces at the end of WWII. This photo depicts the last gasp of State Shintō and therefore “emperor worship.” General McArthur assumed control of Japan during the Occupation and initial reconstruction – including the Tōkyō War Crimes Tribunal which purged the Japanese Empire’s top military leadership. Despite eliminating all cadastral branches of the imperial clan, he protected Emperor Hirohito and, in effect, the direct male line since 1868[viii]. However, in the early days of the Occupation, McArthur demanded that the emperor renounce his divinity as a direct repudiation of State Shintō. Furthermore, separation of religion and government was expressly written into the new Japanese Constitution and it took root. These days, if you meet a person who considers the emperor a living god, you’ve probably found a complete loon. In fact, Japan is one of the most secular nations on earth and outside of history geeks and old timers, many modern Japanese are unfamiliar with State Shintō as a concept[ix].

Japan is one of the most secular nations on earth and outside of history geeks and old timers, most modern Japanese are unfamiliar with State Shintō as a concept Click To Tweet


Reiwa Tenno
Current emperor and empress of Japan

So, is emperor worship a thing in Japan?
The short answer is “No. The Japanese emperor is not a god.”

While deeply revered as the descendants of the sun goddess, emperors were never worshiped as living gods except for a short period during the build up to WWII[x]. This attitude, known as State Shintō, began as a way to legitimize the emperors in their new position as constitutional monarchs after 1868. In fact, I’d venture to say that Hirohito[xi] was the only one actually worshipped as a living god – at least until 1945. Now the Japanese imperial family is similar to the royal families of Europe, just much more private and therefore far less scandalous. Also, due to the secular nature of modern Japanese society, the concept of gods – let alone a single living, human god seems like an alien concept.

Further Reading:

[i] This wasn’t a unique idea. Just look back at the Roman Empire which deified their emperors, initially after death, then eventually while they were still alive.
[ii] His name was 神武 Jinmu and the beginning of his reign, February 11th, 660 BCE, the Japanese government still considers this date the birthday of Japan. It’s a national holiday. By the way, ancient chroniclers completely made up that date, 660 BCE. The first verifiable, historical emperor reigned during the 6th century CE.
[iii] There were a few times when an emperor here and there got uppity, but the samurai governments controlled the military, so that usually didn’t last for very long.
[iv] The samurai government in Edo was tbe Edo Shōgunate (or, the Tokugawa Shōgunate). The Tokugawa clan were the hereditary rulers of this peaceful dynasty. It had recently become begrudgingly anti-isolationist and pro-“modernization,” but still very much a military, samurai government. If you’re confused, so were they! This revolution is still cause for much debate today. Some call it a “restoration,” I call it a “coup.” But no matter what your position is, it’s a fascinating and dramatic stretch of Japanese history.
[v] “Japan” literally means “source of the sun” and usually poetically translated as “the land of the rising sun.”
[vi] In Japan, there is a taboo against saying the names of emperors. Rather, they are known by their posthumous names which – since 1868 – have been used as era names. Hirohito is the Shōwa Emperor.
[vii] Actually, they are bowing in front of the gate. No commoner would ever be allowed access to any of these bridges and gates until recently – and even now, most gates and bridges to the castle are still off limits.
[viii] 1868 was the Meiji Coup – the overthrow of the legitimate samurai government by the clowns who put Japan on a collision course with WWII.
[ix] The national curriculum is a topic for another article lol
[x] I have to note one major exception. When you die in Japan, you become a 神 kami. This term is sometimes translated as “god.” This is a kind of ancestor worship. Upon accession to the Chrysanthemum Throne, emperors take a posthumous name. You could argue that they’ve already become kami at this point. But this is a discussion for religious scholars, not a travel blog.
[xi] The Shōwa Emperor – ie; the WWII emperor.

bamboo bamboo whisk board bowls

How do you say Delicious in Japanese?

In Japanese, delicious is oishii. And yes, while there are lots of beautiful and delicious foods in Japan, the reason I want to teach you this word is cultural. The Japanese take great pride in their high quality, fresh ingredients and its delicate arrangement. They also comment on food non-stop while eating. If you stay in a family-owned ryokan (Japanese style inn) or eat in a small mom and pop restaurant, they will think you don’t enjoy the food if you don’t comment on it.

No matter what language you speak, talking about cuisine requires a lot of specific vocabulary. And Japanese is no different. That said, I think we can cover a few basic food words you can use throughout your trip. Also, I’ll teach you a few related phrases you can use in other situations.

Ready? Great. Let’s get into it!

Complimenting Food in Japanese

how do you say delicious in japanese?

Oishii desu – it’s delicious

oishii desu
It’s delicious!

The Japanese take cuisines very seriously. And if something tastes good, they don’t hold back the compliments. If you’re enjoying the food, especially a home cooked meal at a traditional Japanese inn, definitely say oishii desu to the wait staff and chef. They’ll really appreciate the compliment.

Pro-Tip: The final u is barely perceptible to the ear, so if you pronounce it oishii des’ it sounds more natural.

how do you say delicious in japanese?

Kirei desu – it’s lovely

kirei desu
It’s beautiful!
It’s lovely!

In Japan, food presentation is extremely important. So all of your food will look amazing. Praise the staff for serving lovely food and you’ll endear yourself for sure.

Compliment the chef in Japanese with these easy phrases!

Pro-Tip: The final u is barely perceptible to the ear, so if you pronounce it kirei des’ it sounds more natural.

General Compliments

how do you say beautiful in japanese?

Suteki desu – it’s fabulous

suteki desu
It’s dreamy!
It’s wonderful!

Suteki desu is best used to describe classy things. An elegant dinner. A luxurious kimono. Beautiful hair, nails, and makeup. If you see a stunning geiko (a Kyoto geisha) like the one above, you can use suteki to describe her hair, her makeup, or her kimono. Even her style is suteki.

Men can use this word, just like “fabulous.” But overusing it sounds a bit effeminate.

Pro-Tip: The u in suteki and desu is very light. So it sounds more natural if you say steki des’.

Iki ja nō – it’s cool (old samurai expression)

iki ja nō
It’s refined and sophisticated

Iki means cool, but it refers to the style popularized in Edo (modern Tokyo) during the samurai period. Today it means traditional and cool. It has a masculine connotation.

This tour guide is teaching people how to say “that’s cool” in 18th century Japanese. WTF?

Pro-Tip: Stretch out the final o to sound like a feudal lord talking to himself. I mean, if you’re gonna bust out a cool phrase like this, you have to play the part.

how do you say cute in japanese?

Kawaii desu – it’s cute (“Japanese cute”)

kawaii desu
It’s cute!

You can use this when shopping and you see cute local goods. If you’re an animal lover and you spot someone with a cute pet. This is perfect for that too.

Pro-Tip: Drop the des’ and stretch out the final ii to sound like a really excited high school girl. Kawai——i.

how do you say cute in japanese?

Kyūto desu – it’s cute (“western cute”)

kyūto desu
It’s cute!

Kyūto is the Japanese pronunciation of the English word “cute.”

In a future article, I’ll discuss the difference between “cute” and “kawaii.” Subscribe to JapanThis.Tours down below to get the update!

Pro-Tip: The o in kyūto and the u is desu are very weak. Try pronouncing it like kyūt’ des’.

Stupid people on a mountain annoying each other with guitars at sunset

TAKE AWAY: The One Word You Must Remember!

How do you say delicious in Japanese? Oishii desu means “it’s delicious” and if you remember one phrase from this page, that’s one.

Oishii desu!

Thanks for checking out my website. If you’re interested in Japan enough to learn the language, I’d like you to know that I’m currently making a series of Japanese Survival Phrases for Tourists. If you’d like to receive upcoming articles, please follow my site, JapanThis.Tours. I have more great content coming soon!

cheerful multiethnic couple talking while walking on city street

How do you say Hello in Japanese?

How do you say hello in Japanese? This is the first question I get from 90% of my clients.

The most common way to say hello in Japan is kon’nichi wa. which is like “good day” in English. However, there are different greetings for different times of day. And you never use it on the phone. Confused? Don’t worry. I’m going to teach you all the Japanese greetings. And if you’re overwhelmed, in the final section I’ll even narrow it down to the three phrases you absolutely must know.

Alright then, let’s get started!

Basic Japanese Greetings

how do you say hello in japanese?

Ohayō gozaimasu – good morning

o-hayō gozaimasu!
Good morning!

This is the first greeting of day. You’ll hear this everywhere in your hotel until you check out. When someone says o-hayō gozaimasu to you, the correct response is… well, o-hayō gozaimasu. It’s good manners to use this with hotel staff in the morning, but if you’re staying at a family-run ryokan (Japanese style inn), you absolutely must reply to the staff. So please learn this phrase!

Many native speakers slur this phrase, especially if they’ve been saying it all morning.

Pro-Tip: The final u is very slight. So, o-hayō gozaimas’ is closer to the native pronunciation.

how do you say hello in japanese?

Kon’nichi wa – hello, good afternoon

konnichi wa
Good afternoon!

Konnichi wa is the most common casual greeting in Japan. Since the bulk of your time exploring Japan will be in the afternoon, this is a really important one.

Note that I translated it as “good afternoon.” Some people say it’s “good day,” but native speakers never use it the morning – usually from lunch time until about 5 PM. That said, you’re just a tourist, so if you use it all day, nobody’s gonna get angry and correct you. They know you’re just trying to be friendly.

Many native speakers, especially men may slur this phrase until it sounds something like chiwa-a.

how do you say hello in japanese?

Konban wa – good evening

konban wa!
Good evening!

You can use konban wa from about 5 PM until bedtime.

Pro-Tip: Remember, this is a greeting – like “hello.” It’s never used for parting.

how do you say good night in japanese?

Oyasumi nasai – good night

o-yasumi nasai!
Good night!

Remember that konban wa is a greeting, so when saying goodbye in the evening, you should use o-yasumi nasai. You can even say this to strangers as they (or you) get off the elevator when it’s late at night.

If you trudge through the hotel late at night to pass out in your room, the lobby staff will probably say o-yasumi nasai as you leave the area or hop into the elevator.

Other Useful Japanese Greetings

how do you say hello in japanese?

Mata ne – see ya; later

mata ne!
See ya later!
Peace out.

Most people already know sayōnara as “goodbye” in Japanese. But, that’s rarely the word you’re looking for.

If you’ll see the person later (or if there’s even the slightest chance of seeing them later), you should use mata ne. It literally means “again, ok?” If you leave your Japanese tour guide on your lunch break, you can use this because you’ll seem them after eating.

Women and children may even say mata ne, bai bai! Which is mata ne plus “bye bye.” It sounds cute in Japanese.

how do you say goodbye in japanese?

Sayōnara – farewell; goodbye (for a long time, possibly forever)


Yes, the famous phrase sayōnara does mean “goodbye.” However, it means it in a really final way. If a couple breaks up, they say sayōnara. At a funeral, you say sayōnara to the deceased. See what I mean?

Most of the time, you should just say mata ne, or more properly arigatō gozaimasu. You can read more about arigatō gozaimasu in my article How do you say thank you in Japanese?

Japan This! Tours telephone chick

Moshi moshi – hello (telephone only)

moshi moshi
Can you hear me?

OK, if you’re taking phone calls in Japanese, then your proficiency is way beyond this lesson. But in order to be comprehensive, I have to include moshi moshi. If you get a call from the front desk, you can use use this. I can’t think of any other situation where a tourist would use moshi moshi, though.

Pro-Tip: The final i is very weak. Native speakers, especially men, stretch out the final o. So if you say it moshi mo-osh it sounds more natural. Keep your ears perked up in Japan, you’ll hear it soon!

How do you get COVID in Japan?
Oh, I forgot to mention! The Japanese NEVER shake hands.
You should bow when using these greetings.

Conclusion: The 3 Must Know Japanese Greetings!

Ohayō gozaimas’!Good morning!
Kon’nichi wa!Hello! Good afternoon!
(11:30 to dusk)
Mata ne!See ya!

I wanted to include all the Japanese greetings, so you can learn as much as you want. If you think you only have a limited amount of hard drive space in your head, then these three will serve you well as a tourist in Japan. A little Japanese goes a long way here, so using these greetings will definitely score you points during your adventures.

If you’d like to learn more Japanese Survival Phrases, I’m putting together an ongoing series. You can print these out to study during the long flight or when you have down time in your room. If you’d like future content delivered to your inbox, be sure to sign up for JapanThis.Tours!

white and green osaka castle

How do you say Please in Japanese?

When shopping abroad, you’re bound to ask for things. So, today I’m going to teach you how to say please in Japanese. There are actually many ways to say please in Japanese, but the most gracious and polite ways are really complicated. So, today I’d like to show you the two best ways to say please in Japanese.

How do you say please in Japanese? JapanThis.Tours

Kudasai – please give me

_______ kudasai
Please give me _____

You can use this when ordering food, but it’s most useful in shops and restaurants. When you see the item you like, just point and say what you want plus kudasai. Even if you don’t know the Japanese name for the item, the context should be obvious.

Luckily for you, this is really easy to use with menus. In Japan, shops traditionally had realistic mockups of all the dishes in the front window. These days, those have been replaced with high color print menus with photos of all or most of the dishes. Just point at the picture and say kudasai and the waiter will understand exactly what you want.

Pro-Tip: Remember, this isn’t the same as “please” in English. It’s “please give me.” So, you can say o-mizu kudasai “give me water, please.” Or, biiru kudasai “give me a beer, please.” But if you hop in a taxi, you can’t say Kōkyo kudasai “the Imperial Palace, please.” Only the emperor can give you that.

I just learned how to say “please” in Japanese. I can’t wait for my trip to #Japan!

Try to say “please give me” in Japanese with these nouns:

  • mizu (water)
  • biiru (beer)
  • kore (this)
onegai shimasu - please - JapanThis.Tours

O-negai shimasu – please (all-purpose)

o-negai shimasu
Please (do something for me)

I know this looks like a really long way to say please at first. But trust me. This is far more useful that kudasai.

First, let’s break down into its basic components:
o-negai = “wish,” “desire,” or “request”
shimasu = “do”

Combined, o-negai shimasu is more like an all-purpose “please.” It literally means or “I beseech thee” or “I hope/wish.” Just like kudasai, you can point at things you want and say o-negai shimasu. The context will be clear. Also, unlike kudasai (which is actually a command), this is softer and can be used in all situations. Even if it seems like a mouthful at first, this is probably a much better way to say “please.” And it’s truly all-purpose.

Remember my example in the taxi? Now you can say Kōkyo, o-negai shimasu “Imperial Palace, please!” And Richmond Hotel Asakusa, o-negai shimasu will get you home… or just substitute the name of your hotel.

You can also use this when someone offers to help you. For example, when your waiter says “let me show you your table,” you can say o-negai shimasu to be extra polite. It’s not necessary, but good manners will take you far in Japan.

Pro-Tip: The final u is very slight, so just drop it and pronounce the phrase o-negai shimas’ to sound more natural.

I’m learning Japanese for my upcoming trip. It’s actually pretty easy!

Try to say “please” in Japanese with these nouns:

  • Nihon-shu (saké)
  • (your hotel name)
  • Meiji Jingu (Meiji Shrine)


Now that you know how to say please in Japanese, you can ask for things polite. Hopefully, you can remember both of these phrases. But if you think you can only remember one of them, I highly recommend o-negai shimasu as the one you keep in your back pocket at all times because of its versatility. That said, if you do tell the taxi driver to kudasai you a train station or something, it won’t be the end of the world. They will understand what you’re trying to say.

Lastly, this is part of an ongoing series where I teach travelers Japanese Survival Phrases. You can print these out to study on the long flight over or to review in your hotel room. If you’d like to keep up with my future articles, be sure to follow JapanThis.Tours.