Learn Japanese - Shopping and Money-Related Phrases

Shopping and Money in Japan

How do you buy things in Japan? It’s easy!  In Japan, the client is treated like royalty, so you’ll enjoy the best service on earth. Yet, it’s always helpful to have some of the following sentences in mind to break the very thick language barrier.

Shopping in Japan is a unique and exciting experience that offers a wide range of options for locals and visitors alike. From traditional markets and department stores to modern shopping malls, Japan has something for everyone. However, it's important to be aware of the local currency and customs to ensure a smooth and enjoyable shopping experience.

The currency used in Japan is the yen (¥), which comes in banknotes and coins. The banknotes range from ¥1,000 to ¥10,000, and the coins range from ¥1 to ¥500. It's essential to have cash on hand, as many smaller stores and markets may not accept credit cards. Fortunately, there are many ATMs located throughout Japan that accept foreign cards, making it easy to withdraw yen as needed.

When shopping in Japan, it's common to remove your shoes before entering a store or changing room, particularly in traditional markets and smaller shops. Additionally, it's customary to greet shopkeepers with a polite bow and thank them for their assistance. Many larger stores also offer tax-free shopping for visitors, making it easy to take advantage of Japan's unique fashion and technology offerings.

Japan is known for its high-quality products, including traditional crafts, electronics, and fashion. However, it's essential to be mindful of prices and potential language barriers, particularly when shopping in smaller, local markets. Familiarizing yourself with basic Japanese phrases, such as "how much is this?" and "do you have this in a different color/size?" can go a long way in communicating with local shopkeepers and finding what you need.

Where can I change money ? « Doko de okane wo kaemasu ka ? » But usually, you can use the term « change », since everybody understands it.

I want to buy some Yen : « Ryougae shitai desu ».

I want to change dollar for yen : « Dollar / en wo kankin shitai desu »

Let’s go shopping ! : « Kaimono ni ikou yo »

When does the store open ? : « Mise ha nanji kara desu ka » 

 When does the store close ? « Mise ha nanji made desu ka »

Note to reader: Generally, story hours are between 10 AM – 11 PM. The shops in Japan generally open late in the morning. The earliest is generally 9 AM. However, they tend to be open until very late in the evening, sometimes even until midnight.  Instead of waking up early to go shopping, spend time relaxing and enjoying your Japanese breakfast!

Where’s the shoes department ? : « Kutsu uriba ha doko desu ka »

It’s on the third floor : « San kai desu. »

(Note that the 1st floor is the ground floor !)

Where’s the clothes department ? « Fuku uriba ha doko desu ka »

The woman clothing is on the 7th floor : « Josei na fuku ha nana kai desu »

I’m looking for a black leather bag : « kurokawa no bag wo sagashiteimasu.

I’m just looking : « Mite iru dake desu »

Not just yet : « Mada kekkou desu »

How much is this ? « Kore ha ikura desu ka »

That’s expensive : « Takai ! »

That’s too much : « Takasugiru ! »

That’s cheap : « Yasui ! »

Do you have it in a smaller size ? : « Kore no chisai size ha arimasu ka »

Do you have this shirt in a bigger size ? : « Kono shirt no ookii size ha arimasu ka »

Do you have this sweater in red : « Kono seta no aka ha arimasu ka »

May I try it on : « Kite mite mo ii desu ka « 

It’s too small for me : « Ookisugiru »

It’s a bit tight : «  Chotto kitsui »

It’s long : « Nagai »

I’m buying for a friend :  «  Tomodashi ni ageru tsumori desu »

It’s perfect : « Pittari desu »

This is great : « Kore ha suteki »

How’s this ? « Kore ha dou desu ka »

This is better this way : « Kono hou ga ii yo »

Which one is better ? : « Dochi ga ii to omou ? »

Where does it come from ? : « Doko no kuni desu ka »

Is it made in Japan ? : « Nihon san desu ka »

I’ll take this one : « Kore wo kudasai »

I’ll take one of each : « Hitorizutsu wo kudasai »

What is the cost for everything : « Zenbu de ikura desu ka »

I will think about it : « kangaemasu »

I’ll come back : « Mata kimasu »

Can you deliver to my hotel « watashi no hotel ni haisou shite moraimasu ka »

It’s a gift : « Okurimono desu »

Can I pay by visa or credit card ? : « Cado toka Visa ga daijobu desu ka » (Usually it will be ok to pay by credit card in the clothing store or big shop, but always take some cash on you, because alot of restaurants or smaller shops will only accept cash!)

There is a problem with the change : « Otsuri ga chigaimasu »

I want a receipt please : « Ryoushuusho wo kudasai »

When you’ll shop in a supermarket, for food or whatever, you’ll be asked at the cashier stuff like :

« furo ga orio desu ka » : would you like a plastic bag ?

« Ashi ga orio desu ka » : Would you like chop sticks ? »

You can anwer :

Yes, please/thanks : « Hai, onegai shimasu »

Note: Most Japanese restaurants are very specialized in their recipes. Most of them are somewhat small, don’t take credit cards, and usually charge you before you eat. You’ll see a machine with a lot of buttons, and you’ll find yourself lost to order. But don’t let this dissuade you, as you might miss some of the best food in Japan!

You should remember some tips :

When you go in a Ramen restaurant, you can choose the portion of noodle in your meal. Sometimes it’s free to change, and sometimes the big portion comes at a fee :

Nani mori « small portion »

Chu mori : « normal portion »

Omori : « big portion ».

In addition, you can choose topping : Egg (tamago), Vegetable (Yasai), Shashu (additionnal slice of meat  « niku »), tamanegi ( ), niniku (garlic), etc.

You can also choose the level of spicyness (karasa) : karai or sukoshi karai.
You’ll be asked sometime if you prefer the soup hot (atatakai) or cold (tsumetai).

Japan is, once again, the country of excellence in service. You’ll find it easy to shop in big « depato » (department store) and expensive places. If you go in to a small restaurant, you’ll experiment a bit more difficulty, but it will still be an enjoyable experience.