Japanese Phrases for Travelers    


Introduction (2)    

Below is the Katakana syllabary.

       a                        i                      u                       e                     o

      ka                      ki                    ku                     ke                    ko

      sa                     shi                     su                    se                     so

       ta                    chi                    tsu                     te                     to

      na                      ni                    nu                     ne                     no

      ha                      hi                     fu                     he                     ho

      ma                    mi                     mu                   me                    mo

       ya                                            yu                                             yo

       ra                     ri                      ru                     re                     ro

      wa                                                                                           wo (o)


Like Hiragana, the sounds of some Katakana are changed with or , which are attached at the upper right of the letter.

      ga                      gi                    gu                     ge                    go

      za                      ji                      zu                     ze                     zo

      da                      ji                     zu                     de                    do

      ba                      bi                    bu                     be                    bo

      pa                      pi                     pu                    pe                     po

Like Hiragana, add to these a small , and it makes another sound.

           kya                               kyu                               kyo

           gya                               gyu                               gyo

           sha                               shu                               sho

            ja                                 ju                                  jo

           cha                               chu                               cho

            ja                                 ju                                  jo

           nya                               nyu                               nyo

           hya                               hyu                               hyo

           bya                               byu                               byo

           pya                               pyu                               pyo

          mya                              myu                              myo

           rya                               ryu                               ryo

Like Hiragana, a small makes another sound.

      katto (cut in English)

      netto (net in English)

      chatto (chat in English)

The small is represented in Romaji by the "doubling" of the following consonant.
Furthermore, a "" is often used in Katakana writing. The "" indicates the previous vowel should be long.

For example:
   houmu (home in English)

      intaanetto (internet in English)

      chokoreeto (chocolate in English)

Japanese can be written in only Kana. But, generally speaking, Japanese written in only Kana is very difficult for Japanese people to read. So, Kanji, or Chinese characters, are used. Kanji is a character used in writing Chinese, Japanese, sometimes Korean. In Japanese, each Kanji has its own meanings and sounds.
For example:

Meaning: grow, give birth to a baby, live, raw
Sound: sei, shou, i, u, o, ha, ki, nama

Meaning: politics, policy, government
Sound: sei, shou, matsurigoto

Meaning: seed, species
Sound: shu, tane

Generally speaking, it is very difficult for native English speakers to read, understand and master Kanji. So, this site avoids using Kanji as much as possible. The phrases including Kanji have a key to read.
For example:

How are you?
O-genki desu ka?    

Kanji translation:


Characteristics of the Japanese language
+Unlike English, subjects such as I, we and you are often omitted in sentences, especially in spoken Japanese.
+Verbs are put at the end of sentences.
+Sentence fragments are marked and separated by something called a particle.

For example
I am American.
Watashi wa amerika-jin desu.