Podcast 32: Just the dialogues

These are the dialogues for podcast #32 “Making dinner plans with a friend”

In this lesson you will learn the following:

  1. How to make dinner plans with a friend
  2. How to talk about a restaurant you regularly frequent


In this podcast you will learn how to make dinner plans at a restaurant you regularly frequent. You’ll learn some natural phrases for making plans that native speakers commonly use. Check out the dialogue and grammar notes below for a detailed explanation.

Main Dialog (Japanese)

A: もしもし

B: もしもしアレックス、明日夜ご飯食べに行かない?

A: ごめん、明日はちょっと無理なんだ。土曜日なら行けるよ。

B: じゃあ土曜日の7時にいつものお寿司屋さんで!

A: あみは本当にお寿司飽きないねー!

Main Dialog (Pronunciation)

A: Moshi moshi

B: Moshi moshi, Arekkusu, ashita yoru gohan tabe ni ikanai?

A: Gomen, ashita wa chotto muri nan da. Doyōbu nara ikeru yo.

B: Jaa, doyōbi no shichi ji itsumo no osushi ya san de.

A: Ami wa hontō osushi ni akinai ne.

Main Dialog (English)

A: Hello?

B: Hi, Alex, do you wanna go out to eat dinner tomorrow?

A: Sorry, tomorrow’s not possible. If it’s Saturday I can go.

B: OK then, Saturday at 7 o’clock at the usual sushi place.

A: Ami, you never get sick of sushi do you!?

Grammar point and drills

Here is a breakdown of the main grammar pattern featured in the dialogue:


Doyōbi no shichiji ni itsumo no osushiyasan de

(Let’s meet on) Saturday at 7 o’clock the usual sushi place.

Here are some more example drills:

1) 金曜日の6時半にいつものラーメン屋さんで。

Kinyōbi no roku ji ni itsumo no raamenyasan de.

(Let’s meet on) Friday at 6 at the usual ramen place.

2) 日曜日の6時にいつものイタリアンで。

Nichiyōbi no rokuji ni itsumo no itarian de.

(Let’s meet on) Sunday at 6 at the usual Italian place.

3) 木曜日の8時にいつもの居酒屋で。

Mokuyōbi no hachiji ni itsumo no izakaya de.

(Let’s meet on) Thursday at 8 at the usual Izakaya.

4) 土曜日の7時にいつものカラオケで。

Doyōbi no shichiji ni itsumo no karaoke de.

(Let’s meet on) Saturday at 7 at the usual Karaoke place.


Random Phrase of the Week

The random phrase of the week is where we teach you a random Japanese phrase to make your friends laugh and ask “where did you learn that from?!”

行き当たりばったり – Ikiatari battari

Meaning: unplanned and making decisions on the fly / Playing it by ear. It’s generally used in a negative way but there are some exceptions

Example sentences:

1) 行き当たりばったりでなんでも決めちゃう。

Ikiatari battari de nandemo kimechau.

To make decisions in a random or unplanned way

2) 行き当たりばったりな旅だった。

Ikiatari battari na tabi datta

It was an unplanned trip.

3) 行き当たりばったりにレストランを選んだ。

Ikiatari battari resutoran o eranda.

I randomly chose a restaurant.

For more podcasts on how to learn to speak natural fluent Japanese visit Learn Japanese pod


Podcast 30: Just the dialogues

Talking about your plans for the year

In this podcast you will learn how to talk about your New Year’s resolutions, your plans and goals for the coming year. Check out the main dialogue to learn natural phrases and vocabulary for this lesson.

Vocabulary from the podcast

新年の抱負 Shinnen no hōfu New Year’s resolution
日本語 Nihongo Japanese (Language)
上達 Jōtatsu Improve
本を読む Hon o yomu To read books
Ato Also / As well / After that
もっと Motto More
読みたい Yomitai I want to read
健康的 Kenkōteki Healthy
なりたい Naritai Want to become
音楽活動 Ongaku katsudō Musical activities
頑張りたい Gambaritai I want to do my best
やる気 Yaruki Motivation
なんでもできる Nandemo dekiru You can do anything
よし Yosh(i) Let’s do this

Main Dialog (Japanese)

A: ね、新年の抱負はなに?

B: そうだね。やっぱり、日本語を上達させたいからもっと本を読むよ。後、もっと健康的になりたいな。あみは?

A: 私も本をもっと読みたい!後、音楽活動をもっと頑張りたいな。

B: なるほどね。

A: やる気があれば、なんでもできるよ。

B: よし!

Main Dialog ( Japanese pronunciation)

A: Ne, shinnen no hōfu wa nani? 

B: Sō da ne. Yappari, nihongo o motto jōtatsu sasetai kara motto hon o yomu yo. Ato, motto kenkōteki ni naritai na. Ami wa?

A: Watashi mo motto hon o yomitai! Ato, ongaku katsudō o motto gambaritai na. 

B: Naruhodo ne. 

A: Yaruki ga areba nandemo dekiru yo.

B: Yosh! 

Main Dialog (English)

A: Hey, what’s your New Year’s resolution?

B: Well, let’s see. I guess I want to improve my Japanese and read more books. Also, I want to be more healthy. How about you Ami?

A: I also want to read more books. Also, I want to go for it with my music. 

B: I see.

A: If you have motivation you can do anything. 

B: Let’s do this!

Grammar Drills

Let’s drill a really useful phrase for talking about you goals for self improvement. Here’s the basic sentence structure:

[The activity or goal] + [もっと頑張りたいな]

I want to go for it (Lit. I want to try harder)

Drill 1


Ongaku katsudō wo motto gambaritai na.

I want to go for it with music

Drill 2


Shigoto wo motto gambaritai na.

I want to go for it at work

Drill 3


Nihongo no benkyō wo motto gambaritai na.

I want to go for it with my Japanese studies

Drill 4


Undō wo motto gambaritai na.

I want to go for it for working out

Drill 5


Daietto wo motto gambaritai na.

I want to go for it for my diet


Random Phrase of the Week

This week’s random phrase is…

奥が深い – Oku ga fukai 

This means something like it’s hard than you think or it’s deep or there’s more than meets the eye. 


  1. 日本語は奥が深い

Nihongo wa oku ga fukai

Japanese is a deep language / Japanese is a deep language


  1. この本は奥が深い

Kono hon wa oku ga fukai

This book is deep / There’s a lot more to this book than meets the eye


  1. 「七転び八起き」ということわざは奥が深い

Nana korobi ya oki to iu kotowaza wa oku ga fukai

The saying “fall seven times, stand up eight” is very deep in meaning.


Podcast 29: Just the dialogues

Main Dialog 1 – Talking about your job (Japanese)

A: お仕事は何をしてるの?

B: ウェブデザインの仕事してるよ。

A: そうなんだ。楽しい?

B: そうだね。毎日大変だけど楽しいよ。

A: 楽しいのはよかったね。何年ぐらいやってるの?

B: 7年ぐらいかな。

A: ヘェ〜、すごいな。俺はすぐ転職しちゃうからさ。

B: まじで?!

Main Dialog 1 – Talking about your job (Pronunciation)

A: Oshigoto wa nani o shiteru no?
B: Uebu dezain no shigoto shiteru yo.
A: Sō nan da. Tanoshii?
B: Sō da ne. Mainichi taihen dakedo tanoshii yo.
A: Tanoshii no wa yokatta ne. Nan nen gurai yatteru no? B: Nana nen gurai kana.
A: Hee, sugoi na. Ore wa sugu tenshoku shichau kara sa. B: Maji de?!

Main Dialog 1 – Talking about your job (English)

A: What do you do for work?
B: I do web design work.
A: Really? Is it enjoyable?
B: Well, everyday is tough but it’s fun.
A: That’s good it’s enjoyable. How long have you been doing that? B: About 7 years I guess.

A: Wow. I’m always changing jobs.

B: Seriously?!


Podcast 27: Just the dialogues

In this podcast, Ami and Alex teach you how to talk about your preferences in Japanese.

Main Podcast Dialogue (Japanese)

A: 、お寿司とたこ焼きどっちが好き?

B: そうだね。やっぱり、お寿司の方が好きかな。

A: なるほどね。でもなんで?

B: 味が好きだから。あみは?

A: もちろんたこ焼きの方が好き。

B: あみは典型的な大阪人だよね。

A: せやで!

Main Podcast Dialogue (Pronunciation)

A: Ne, osushi to takoyaki, dochi ga suki?

B: Sou da ne, yappari osushi no hou ga suki kana.

A: Naruhodo. Demo nande?

B: Aji ga suki dakara. Ami wa?

A: Mochiron, takoyaki ga suki.

B: Ami wa tenkeitekina osaka jin da yo ne.

A: Se ya de!

Main Podcast Dialogue (English)

A: Hey, which do you prefer, sushi or takoyaki?

B: Well, I guess I prefer sushi.

A: I see…but why?

B: Because I like the taste. How about your Ami?

A: Of course I prefer takoyaki.

B: Ami, you are a typical Osakan!

A: That’s right!


Podcast 26: Just the dialogues

In this podcast you’re going to learn useful verbs to talk about your daily routine. These verbs are very commonly used in casual conversation throughout the day so they are well worth learning. You will also study a little grammar related to plain form verbs and -TE form verbs which are the most common type of verb used in casual speech. You will also learn how they are used together when describing actions in a sequence.

Also, the dialogue in this lesson will teach you particles which are sounds that usually go at the end of sentences to change the nuance of what you are saying. Learning these will help you sound a lot more natural when speaking Japanese.

A: Amiの平日の過ごし方を教えて!

B: 7時に起きて、顔を洗って、朝ごはんを食べるよ。


A: 休憩時間は?

B: 休憩時間はお弁当を食べて、携帯で時間を潰すよ。

A: 仕事が終わったら?

B: うちに帰って、晩御飯を食べて、お風呂に入るよ。

A: その後は何をするの?

B: 寝る!

A: Amiは忙しいね!

B: まあね!

Podcast Dialogue (Pronunciation)

A: Ami no heijitsu no sugoshikata oshiete!

B: Shichi ji ni okite, kao o aratte, asagohan o taberu. Sono ato kigaete, meiku shite, shigoto ni iku yo.

A: Kyuukei jikan wa?

B: Kyukeijikan wa obentō o tabete keitaii de jikan o tsubusu yo.

A: Shigoto ga owattara?

B: Uchi ni kaette, bangohan o taberu, ofuro ni hairu yo.

A: Sono ato nani suru no?

B: Neru!

A: Ami wa isogashii ne.

B: Maa ne.

Podcast Dialogue (English)

A: Ami, how do you spend your weekdays?

B: I wake up at 7, I wash my face and eat breakfast. After that I get dressed, put on my makeup and go to work.

A: What about your break time?

B: During my break time I eat a bento and kill time with my mobile phone.

A: And when work finishes?

B: I go home, I eat dinner and have a bath.

A: What do you do after that?

B: Sleep!

A: Ami, you’re busy!

B: I guess so.


Podcast 25: Just the dialogues

In this podcast you’re going to learn about how to use adverbs of frequency in daily speech. In other words, you’ll learn how to ask and answer questions about how often you do things in Japanese. You’ll learn how to ask questions such as “How often do you…”. You’ll also be able to reply that you do something never, occasionally, sometimes, often and always.

This kind of grammar and vocabulary comes up often in daily conversation as well as the Japanese Language Proficiency Exam so it’s well worth learning.

First of all, have a look at the vocabulary lists to get an idea of the main phrases used in this podcast. After that you can practice how to use that vocabulary naturally with the dialog examples. Following that are extra grammar and sentence examples.

Also, while reading this PDF lesson, you can listen along to either the main audio podcast which contains all the dialogs and explanations in English. Alternatively you can listen to the Japanese only audio file.

Main Lesson Vocabulary

Japanese adverbs of frequency list
Here are the main adverbs of frequency commonly used in daily Japanese conversation.

Main Dialog 1 – Adverbs of frequency – (Japanese)

A: アレックスはどれくらい*運動するの?

B: 全然しないよ。 時間がないからさ。

A: そうなんだ。

A: 昔はよくしてただけどね。あみは?

B: 時々ジョギングするよ。たまに水泳もするよ。

A: じゃ、もうすぐオリンピックだから毎日 運動しよう。

Main Dialog 1 – Adverbs of frequency – (English)

A: Arekkusu wa dore kurai undō suru no.

Alex, how often do you exercise?

B: Zenzen shinai yo. Jikan ga nai kara sa.

Never. It’s cos I don’t have any time, you know.

A: Sō nan da.


B: Mukashi wa yoku shiteta kedo ne. Ami wa?

I used to however. How about you Ami?

A: Tokidoki jogingu suru yo. Tama ni suiei mo suru yo.

I sometimes go jogging. I occasionally also go swimming.

B: Ja, mō sugu orinpikku dakara mainichi undō shiyō.

Well, it’s almost time for the Olympics so exercise everyday!

Particles used in this dialog:

Wa – Sentence subject marker (As for so and so…)

Ga – Similar to Wa and is often used in sentences about having or not having something

No – Turns sentence into a question (Casual)

Yo – Emphasizes the statement

Ne – Means isn’t it or right?

Sa – Means something like “You know?” or “You see what I mean”

Extra example sentences

Japanese only dialog audio (From 00:47)

Zenzen – Not at all (00:47)

1: どれくらいお寿司食べるの? ぜんぜん食べないよ。

Dore kurai osushi taberu no? Zenzen tabenai yo.

How often do you eat sushi? I never eat it.

2: どれくらい映画を見るの? ぜんぜん見ないよ。

Dore kurai eiga o miru no? Zenzen minai yo.

How often do you watch movies? I never watch them.

Metta ni – Hardly ever (01:11)

1: どれくらいお寿司食べるの? 滅多に食べないよ。

Dore kurai osushi taberu no? Metta ni tabenai yo.

How often do you eat sushi? I hardly ever eat it.

2: どれくらい映画を見るの? 滅多に見ないよ。

Dore kurai eiga o miru no? Metta ni minai yo.

How often do you watch movies? I hardly ever watch them.

Tama ni – Occasionally (01:38)

1: どれくらいお寿司食べるの? たまに食べるよ。

Dore kurai osushi taberu no? Tama ni taberu yo.

How often do you eat sushi? I occasionally eat it.

2: どれくらい映画を見るの? たまにに見るよ。

Dore kurai eiga o miru no? Tama ni miru yo.

How often do you watch movies? I occasionally watch them.

Tokidoki – Sometimes (02:03)

1: どれくらい運動するの? ときどきするよ。

Dore kurai undō suru no? Tokidoki suru yo.

How often do you exercise? I sometimes exercise.

2: どれくらいカラオケに行くの? ときどき行くよ。

Dore kurai karaoke iku no? Tokidoki iku yo.

How often do you go to Karaoke? I sometimes go.

Yoku – Often (02:29)

1: どれくらい運動するの? よく運動するよ。

Dore kurai undō suru no? Yoku undō suru yo.

How often do you exercise? I often exercise.

2: どれくらいカラオケに行くの? よく行くよ。

Dore kurai karaoke iku no? Yoku iku yo.

How often do you go to Karaoke? I often go.

Itsumo – Always (02:53)

1: どれくらいゲームやるの? いつもやってるよ。

Dore kurai geemu yaru no? Itsumo yatteru yo.

How often do you play video games? I’m always playing them


Podcast 24: Just the dialogues

In this podcast you will learn how to book a table at a restaurant by phone in natural Japanese. These days it is easy to make bookings online and with mobiles apps. However, there are still many restaurants in Japan which don’t have online booking facilities. Also, in crowded cities like Osaka and Tokyo, it can be hard to get a seat, especially during Fridays and weekends. Therefore being able to book seats in Japanese by phone is a useful skill.

Another thing you will learn is the polite language commonly used by restaurant and service staff. This is called Keigo and is a very polite way of speaking in Japanese. It’s also quite tricky to master as it uses different phrases and vocabulary compared with casual speech. However, I would recommend learning just enough to be able to understand it so you can interact with hotel, restaurant or department store staff. You don’t need to learn to speak it perfectly, just understanding a little is enough. Most Japanese people have difficulty speaking proper Keigo! Check out the podcast lessons and accompanying files which will help you learn to speak the dialogs fluently.

Main Dialogue (Japanese)

A: 居酒屋忍者でございます。

B: 今晩の予約をしたいんですが。

A: はい、かしこまりました。何名様でいらっしゃいますか?

B: 4名でお願いしたいんですが。

A: 何時からご希望ですか?

B: 7時でお願いします。

A: 少々お待ちください。お待たせいたしました。

B: アレックスです。

A: アレックス様ですね。 では本日7時から4名様でご予約させていただきます。 お待ちしております。

A: Izakaya Ninja de gozaimasu. – This is Izakaya Ninja

B: Konban no yoyaku o shitain desu ga. – I’d like to make a booking for tonight.

A: Hai, kashikomarimashita. Nanmei sama de irasshimasu ka? – Yes, certainly. How many people are there in your party?

B: Yonmei de onegai shitain desu ga. – I’d like (to book for) 4 people.

A: Nanji kara gokibō desu ka. – What time would you like (to book)?

B: Shichiji de onegai shimasu. – Seven o’clock please.

A: Shōshō omachi kudasi. Omatasei itashimashita. Oseki go yōi dekimasu. Onamae oukagai shitemo yoroshi deshou ka. – One moment please. Thank you for waiting I have prepared your seats. May I have your name please?

B: Arekkusu desu. – It’s Alex

A: Arekkusu sama desu ne. Dewa honjitsu shichiji kara yonmei sama de goyoyaku sasete itadakimasu. Omachi shite orimasu. – OK, so that is Alex. So, I have prepared your booking for 7pm for 4 people today. We shall be waiting for you.


Podcast 23: Just the dialogues

In this episode, Ami and Alex teach you how to speak Osaka dialect which is called Osaka Ben in Japanese. And for this lesson Ami sensei is our secret weapon as she is a native of Osaka city.

Sometimes this is referred to as Kansai Ben however, Kansai is the larger region located in central Japanese that includes Osaka city, Kyoto, Nara, Wakayama, Shiga, Mie and Hyogo. And in turn, each of those areas have their own dialects. However, Ami sensei is from Osaka, and Osaka Ben is the dominant dialect that influences all the surrounding areas. Therefore we decided to go with Osaka Ben.

Of course this lesson is not a comprehensive guide to Osaka Ben as that would fill a few books. However, this lesson will teach you the most common phrases, speech patterns and intonation that you will hear on the streets of Osaka.

The main dialog is recorded by natives from Osaka including Ami so you’ll learn the authentic accent. We also included a dialog in standard Japanese so you can compare. Enjoy!

Main Dialog – Osaka Ben (Japanese)

A: めっちゃ久しぶりやん。最近どないしてんの?

B: 相変わらずやで。そっちは?

A: ぼちぼちやな。、頑張ってるで。
B: そうなんや。うちなんか全然あかんわ。

A: なんでなん?

B: 彼氏と別れてん。

A: 、そうなん?知らんかった。俺やって全然彼女できへんで。

B: 付き合おか。 A: なんでやねん!

Main Dialog – Osaka Dialect (English and pronunciation)

A:  Meccha hisashiburi yan. Saikin donain shiten no? –It’s been ages. How have you been recently?

B:  Aikawarazu ya de. Socchi wa? –Same as usual. About about you?

A:  Bochi bochi ya na. Ma, gannbatteru de. – So so I guess. Well, doing my best.

B:  Sō nan ya. Uchi nanka zenzen akan wa. – Really? I’m not good at all.

A:  Nande nan? – Why?

B:  Kareshi to wakareten. –I split up with my boyfriend.

A:  E? Sō nan? Shirankatta. Boku yatte, zenzen kanojo dekihen de. – Eh? Really? I didn’t know. I can never get a girlfriend.

B:  Tsuki aoka? –Wanna date?

A: Nande yanen! – What the heck!

Main Dialog – Standard Dialect Version

Here is the same dialog written in standard Japanese. Can you spot the differences?

A:  めちゃめちゃ久しぶりじゃん。最近どうしてるの?

Meccha hisashiburi jan. Saikin dō shiteru no.
It’s been ages. How have you been recently?

B:  相変わらずだよ。そっちは?

Aikawarazu da yo. Socchi wa?Same as usual.

About about you?

A:  普通かな。、頑張ってるよ。

Futsuu ka na. Ma gambatteru yo.

Same as usual. About about you?

B:  そうなんだ。私なんか全然だめだよ。
Sō nan da. Watashi nanka zenzen dame da yo.

Really? I’m not good at all.

A:  どうして?

Dō shite?


B:  彼氏と別れたの。

Kareshi to wakareta no.

I split up with my boyfriend.

A:  、そうなの?知らなかった。俺だって全然彼女できないよ。

E sō na no? Shiranakatta. Boku datte, zenzen kanojo dekinai yo.

Eh? Really? I didn’t know. I can never get a girlfriend.

B:  付き合おっか。

Tsuki aokka?

Wanna date?

A: なんでだよ!

Nande da yo!

What the heck!

Extra Osaka Ben Phrases

ちゃう – Chau – No / That’s not right

ええ – Ee – Good / OK (ええやん、ええで、ええよ)
アホ – Aho – Stupid

なおす – Naosu – Put something away (Standard Japanese = to fix something)

Random Phrase of the Week

This week’s random phrase of the week is:


Chau chau, chau chau chaun chau.

No no, that’s not a Chow chow is it?! Let’s break it down like this…

ちゃうちゃう 、 チャウチャウ ちゃうん ちゃう?

No no, a chow chow dog , it is not , is it?

Or in more natural English “No no, it’s not a Chow chow is it?!”


Podcast 22: Just the dialogues

Have you been scratching your head trying to work out what “Yappari” means? Well, scratch your head no more! In this podcast Ami sensei and I (Alex) attempt to explain what Yappari means. We teach you the three main meanings of Yappari and how to use it naturally and fluently in conversation with your Japanese friends. For more information keep reading, listen to the podcast and download the show notes.

What does Yappari mean?

1. Yappari – I knew it!

One common use of yappari expresses the fact that your assumptions or predictions were proved to be correct. It also means you were not surprised by a particular outcome. It might be translated into English as “I knew it”, “As I suspected…” or “…but of course…” Another way to think of it is as a phrase that emphasises IS or WAS, as in “It WAS you” or “He IS the culprit!”

Here’s an example of how it can be used in conversation.

Dialog 1

A: ねえ、最後のクッキー食べた? Ne, saigo no kukkii tabeta? Hey, did you eat the last cookie?
B: E… Um…
A: ほら!何これ?クッキーでしょう?! Hora! Nani kore? Kukki deshō?! Look! What’s this? It’s a cookie isn’t it?!
B: だって、お腹減ってたから。 Datte, onaka heteta kara. But, I was hungry.
A: やっぱり。 Yappari. I knew it!
B: ごめんね。 Gomen ne. Sorry.


Here are some other examples that express the yappari in the same way.

  1. 彼が犯人だとずっと思ってて、やっぱりそうだった。

Kare wa hannin da to zutto omottete, yappari sō datta.

I thought he was the criminal, and I knew it, he was.


  1. もう一度やってみたけどやっぱり無理だった

Mō ichido yatte mita kedo, yappari muri datta.

I tried one more time, but as I suspected, it was impossible.


  1. やっぱり彼女来なかった。

Yappari kanojo konakatta.

I knew it, she didn’t come.

2. Yappari – Indeed it is!

Another use of yappari emphasises the strength of your opinion. For example, I really do think that something is true. やっぱり温泉が好き Yappari onsen ga suki means I really do indeed love hot springs. English translations might include “indeed” or “of course”.

Dialog 2

A: 日本で何が一番好き? Nihon de nani ga ichiban suki? What do you most like about Japan?
B: やっぱり温泉が好き。あみは? Yappari onsen ga suki. Ami wa? I really do love hot springs. How about you Ami?
A: たこ焼きかな。 Takoyaki kana? Takoyaki I guess.
B: やっぱりね。 Yappari ne. I knew it.


Note: In this conversation we have two different examples of how yappari is used. Yappari onsen ga suki is the 2nd use of yappari which emphasises the point that the speaker does indeed like hot springs. After Ami says she likes Takoyaki, the reply is yappari which in this case is means “I knew it” as we learned with dialog 1.

Here are some more examples of how yappari is used to mean “indeed” or “of course”:

2.1 やっぱり毎日日本語を勉強しなきゃ。

Yappari mainichi nihongo o benkyō shinakya.

Of course, you have to study Japanese everyday.


2.2 やっぱり彼女が好き。

Yappari, kanojo ga suki.

I DO like her / I do indeed like her / Of course, I like her.


2.3 和食と言えばやっぱり刺身。

Washoku to ieba yappari sashimi.

If you are talking about Japanese food, of course it’s gotta be Sashimi.

3. Yappari – Ah, you know what? I changed my mind.

The final use of yappari is used when you change your mind. It means something like “Ah, you know what? I changed my mind” or “Actually, let’s not”. Here’s an example in dialog form:

Dialog 3

A: 明日なにする? Ashita nani suru? What are you doing tomorrow?
B: 公園に行くよ。やっぱりやめる。明日雨だ。 Kōen ni iku yo. Yappari, yameru. Ashita ame da. I’m going to the park. Actually, I won’t. It’s going to rain tomorrow.


Here are a couple of other examples:

3.1. やめようかな。やっぱりもうちょっと頑張る。

Yameyō kana. Yappari, mō chotto gambaru.

I give up. You know what? I’ll try a little more.


3.2. ケーキ食べたい。やっぱりやめる、ダイエットしなきゃ。

Keeki tabetai. Yappari yameru, dietto shinakya.

I want to eat a cake. Nope, I need to diet.


Random Phrase of the Week

In every podcast we tech a random phrase to amuse and delight your Japanese friends. Here is this week’s random phrase:

ウケる – Ukeru – That’s so funny.

Ex.1 あのテレビ番組超ウケる

Ano terebi bangumi chō ukeru.

That TV program is so funny.


Ex. 2 あの漫才ウケる

Ano manzai ukeru

That comedy duo is so funny.


Podcast 21: Just the dialogues

This podcast episode is about various phrases you can use to start up a conversation in Japanese. It is important to remember that each conversation is unique and how you start one depends on who you are talking to and the situation. However, in this episode you will hear some of the most common phrases you are likely to hear used by Japanese people. One final thing to remember is that this episode focuses on casual conversations between friends.

Here is a full vocabulary list taken from the podcast

Japanese Pronunciation English
久しぶり Hisashiburi Long time no see
元気? Genki? How you doing?
相変わらず Aikawarazu …as usual
バタバタしてる Batabata shiteru Really busy / hectic
夏バテ Natsubate Exhaustion from the summer
つらい Tsurai Tough
最近どう? Saikin dō? How’ve you been?
すごく暑い Sugoku Atsui Very hot
すごく寒い Sugoku Samui Very cold
熱中症 Necchūshō Heat stroke
風邪をひいちゃった Kaze o hiichatta I caught a cold
インフルエンザ Infuruenza Influenza
気をつけてね Ki o tsukete ne Take care


Podcast Dialog 1

A: 久しぶり元気? Hisashiburi genki Long time no see, you good?
B: 元気だよ。あみは? Genki da yo. Ami wa? I’m good. And you Ami?
A: 相変わらずバタバタしているよ。最近どう? Aikawarazu batabata shiteru yo. Saikin dō? Busy as usual. How’ve you been?
B: そうだね。ちょっと夏バテがつらい。 Sō da ne. Chotto natsubate ga tsurai. Well, I’ve been suffering due to the summer heat.
A: 最近はすごく暑いよね。熱中症にならないように気をつけてね。 Saikin wa sugoku atsui yo ne. Necchūshō ni naranai yō ni ki o tsukete ne. It’s been really hot recently hasn’t it? Be careful not to get heat stroke.
B: はーい! Haai Sure.

Dialog 2

A: 久しぶり元気? Hisashiburi genki Long time no see, you good?
B: 元気だよ。あみは? Genki da yo. Ami wa? I’m good. And you Ami?
A: 相変わらずバタバタしているよ。最近どう? Aikawarazu batabata shiteru yo. Saikin dō? Busy as usual. How’ve you been?
B: そうだね。ちょっと風邪をひいちゃったよ。 Sō da ne. Chotto kaze o hiichatta yo. Well, I caught a cold.
A: 最近はすごく寒いよね。インフルエンザにならないように気をつけてね。 Saikin wa sugoku samui yo ne. Infuruenza ni naranai yō ni ki o tsukete ne. It’s been really cold recently hasn’t it? Be careful not to get influenza.
B: はーい! Haai Sure.

Podcast 19: Just the dialogues

How to eat Takoyaki


Delicious Takoyaki with toppings

Food is one of our most popular subjects to talk about so in this podcast Ami sensei and I (Alex) introduce you to one of Kansai’s most loved street snacks, the honorable Takoyaki.

In this lesson, you’ll learn how to order and prepare takoyaki yourself with the correct ingredients and utensils. We also talk about the history of takoyaki, why it became so famous plus our recommendations for the best Takoyaki restaurants in Japan.

So get ready for a takoyaki extravaganza!

Takoyaki Vocabulary

Here is a full vocabulary list taken from the podcast





Your order


Ikaga deshō

Is it OK? / Are you ready?



Takoyaki (Octopus fry)









Excuse me



How to make something



Teach me



Would you please?





Sono ato

After that


Sono tsugi ni



Saigo ni







Iron pan



Put in





Something you like






While cooking



Long needle like implement for cooking takoyaki


Hikkuri kaeshimasu

Turn something over





Ki o tsukete

Take care


Tabete kudasai

Please eat



I see


Arigatō gozaimasu

Thank you very much

Takoyaki Conversation



Gochuumon wa ikaga deshou ka

Are you ready to order?



Takoyaki o onegaishimasu

I’d like takoyaki please.







Ano, sumimasen ga, takoyaki no tsukurikata o oshiete kudasai.

Um, excuse me but would you mind telling me how to make takoyaki?



Mazu, kiji o teppan ni iremasu.

First put the batter in the iron pan.



Kiji o teppan ni iremasu.

Put the batter in the pan.



Sono ato, tako o iremasu.

After that, put in the octopus.



Tako o iremasu.

Put in the octopus.



Sono tsugi, hoka no suki na guzai o iremasu.

After that, put in the ingredients you like.



Guzai o iremasu.

Put in the ingredients.

What is Takoyaki?

Takoyaki Ingredients

Takoyaki Ingredients

Takoyaki is a speciality dish from Osaka and is usually eaten as a casual fast food. Imagine golf sized balls of baked dough, crispy on the outside and piping hot in the middle.

What are the basic ingredients of Takoyaki?

The dough is made from water, flour and eggs and you add dashi, salt and soy sauce to taste. It also has slices of tako which is octopus. Yaki means cooked or baked which is why we say we say Takoyaki. It kind of tastes a little like Okonomiyaki so it’s savory with a range of interesting flavors and umami.

How do you cook Takoyaki?

Electric Takoyaki set

An electric Takoyaki set

We start with a takoyaki teppan which is a hot plate to cook the batter in. The hot plate has semi spherical indents which you pour the batter into. You basically drown the whole plate in runny takoyaki batter. Then add those slices of tako.

You then sprinkle on other ingredients including benishouga which is pickled red ginger, chopped green onions and tenkasu which are little scraps of tempura.

Then as it starts to cook you use what’s called a 千枚通し Senmaidooshi to constantly flip over the batter as it turns into little takoyaki balls.

And then finally you garnish it with mayonnaise, Takoyaki sauce which is like Worcestershire sauce, aonori which is green laver and Katsuo bushi which is dried flakes of bonito fish. But there are other flavours too, sometimes they’ll add cheese or mochi.

When do you usually eat Takoyaki?

You usually pick them up as a snack from a takoyaki stand on the street. But you can also order them in Izakayas with other food. Some restaurants let you make them yourself using the takoyaki teppan which is fun. But usually you’ll get them at a food stall at a matsuri and they usually come in sets of 6 or 8.

Where can you buy Takoyaki?

Dotonbori in Osaka

The Dotonbori area of Osaka

If you are in Japan, you could buy Takoyaki in almost any city. However, if you want to do it in style, in the home of the Takoyaki, I would recommend the Dotonbori area of Osaka. It’s a very popular tourist destination packed with amazing restaurants, Izakayas and bars. It’s famous for its huge colourful illuminated signs, entertainment and nightlife.

All the shops run along the Dotonbori canal where it gets its name. So it’s great for food and just strolling down the river.

There are hundreds of places where you can get Takoyaki but one place I really like is くれおー  They’re actually a chain of restaurants that serve famous Osaka dishes including Okonomiyaki. I would recommend going to the Dotonbori shop as it has seats overlooking the river. It’s a little touristy but if you can get a good seat, the view of the river is really nice especially at night. And the Takoyaki themselves are perhaps some of the best I’ve ever had in Japan. According to the website they supply various hotels with their speciality Takoyaki which isn’t surprising because they really are that good.

To get to the Dontonbori area from Osaka station, get on the Midosuji line and get off at Namba. It’s then a 5 or 10 minute walk north to the river. And you’ll know you’re there when you see a giant plastic animated Crab and also the neon Glico man sign on the river next to Ebisu bridge. Anyway check out the link in the show notes and on the website.

What is the history of Takoyaki?

A street vendor making takoyaki

A street vendor making takoyaki

As you probably know, rice, fish and vegetables have been the traditional staple diet of Japan. Takoyaki which is made from flour and water was a relatively new food type in Japan. It has it roots in the 1600s when battered food and other French cuisine started to be eaten in Japan.

Fast forward to the Tokyo earthquake in 1923 which left the kanto area with huge food shortages. The government started experimenting with flour and water to make cheap filling food. It wasn’t that popular but it kept people from starving.

Then in 1935 a street vendor in Osaka called Tomokichi Endo started experimenting with flour and water batter with seafood. There was a big cheap supply of octopus which he mixed with the batter to create the first Takoyaki. It took off and became a success. In the years after the 2nd world war, wheat flour was sent to Japan as relief aid. And that’s when Takoyaki started to get really famous throughout Japan.

It’s another one of those things in Japan that had a foreign influence but then changed into something uniquely Japanese.


Podcast 18: Just the dialogues

In this lesson you are going to learn how to say “must” in Japanese. Here’s the problem. There are a confusing number of ways to say it. Just look at this list of phrases which all mean the same thing:

しなければなりません Shinakereba narimasen

しなければいけません Shinakereba ikemasen
しなくてはいけません Shinakute wa ikemasen
しなくちゃいけません Shinakucha ikemasen
しなきゃいけません Shinakya ikemasen
しないといけません Shinai to ikemasen
しなくちゃ Shinakucha
しなきゃ Shinakya
しないと Shinai to

Not only that but each way of saying “must” in Japanese has a different level of politeness associated with it for different social situations. It’s also quite common for Japanese schools and textbooks to only teach the formal way of saying of “must”. However, in daily life in Japan, you will notice that most of the time, people tend to use the casual form.

But fear not dear student of Japanese, Learn Japanese Pod will help you to navigate this linguistic confusion. We are all about teaching you the most useful and natural Japanese for daily life in Japan. Therefore, this lesson will exclusively focus on the casual form which in my experience is the most useful form to know.

But before we do, let’s briefly study the grammar and a little of the culture behind this.

Grammar: How to say “must” in Japanese

One of the most formal and common ways you will be taught “must” in Japanese is:

しなければなりません Shinakereba narimasen

This is made from two parts “Shinakereba” which means “If I do not” and “Narimasen” which means “It is not allowed”. So this literally means, “it is not allowed if I do not do it” or “It will be bad if I don’t do it”.

This two part form is used for most levels of politeness

If I don’t do it It will not be allowed

Shinakereba Narimasen

Shinakereba Ikemasen

Shinakya Ikemasen

There is no direct way of saying must in Japanese so this indirect double negative form is used. This roundabout way of saying “must” in Japanese perhaps reflects the way Japanese shy away from direct language and confrontational statements.

The most common way to say “must” in Japanese

As you will discover when you come to Japan, most people in daily conversation use the common form. Instead of using the tongue twisting “Shinakereba narimasen” you can drop the -nakereba narimasen and simply add -kya to give you shinakya – I must do something.

The formal way of saying I have to clean the house is:

掃除しなければなりません – Sōji shinakereba narimasen – I have to clean (the house)

However, the more common and easy way to say that is

掃除しなきゃ – Sōji shinakya –  I have to clean

How to construct the casual form of “must” in Japanese

To say you must do something using other verbs using the casual form, simply follow these steps:

Step 1) Take the negative casual form of a verb, for example:

しない Shinai Don’t do

行かない Ikanai Don’t go

食べない Tabenai Don’t eat

買わない Kawanai Don’t buy

Step 2) Replace the -i at the end of the verb with -kya

しなきゃ Shinakya I must do (something)

行かなきゃ Ikanakya I must go (somewhere)

食べなきゃ Tabenakya I must eat (something)

買わなきゃ Kawanakya I must buy (something)

Finally, there are three common casual forms:

1) しなきゃ Shinakya

2) しなくちゃ Shinakucha

3) しないと Shinai to

Sometimes people will add いけない to the end of these forms to make:




You can use any of these forms in a casual setting to say you must do something. This lesson will focus on using just shinakya.

Main Dialog

A: ごめん、もう行かなきゃ。 Gomen mō ikanakya. Sorry, I have to go.
B: ?なんで? E? Nande? Eh? Why?
A: 明日早く起きなきゃ。 Ashita hayaku okinakya. Tomorrow I have to wake up early.
B: 何かあるの? Nani ka aru? Do you have something?
A: 明日色々しなきゃいけないんだよね。 Ashita iroiro shinakya ikenain da yo ne. Tomorrow I have to do various things.
B: 何を? Nani o? What?
A: まず部屋が汚いから掃除しなきゃ。後、彼女が来るから料理作らなきゃ。じゃあ… Mazu, heya ga kitanai kara sōji shinakya. Ato, kanojo ga kuru kara ryōri o tsukuranakya. Jaa… First, as my room is dirty I have to clean. Then because my girlfriend is coming I have to make some food. Right…
B: ちょっと待て、お会計は? Chotto matte, okaikei wa? Wait, what about the bill?
A: そうだった、お金払わなきゃね。 Sō datta, okane harawanakya. Oh right. I have to pay!

Other examples of saying I must in Japanese

Here are some more examples of how you can say you must do something:

1) 明日5時に起きなきゃ、めどくさい。

Ashita goji ni okinakya, mendokusai

Tomorrow I have to wake up at 5am, what a hassle.

2) まずいけど薬飲まなきゃ。

Mazui kedo kusuri nomanakya

It doesn’t taste good but I have take (drink) this medicine

3) 、買い物忘れちゃった、買わなきゃ!

A, kaimono wasurechatta, kawanakya!

Ah, I forgot the shopping. I have to buy something!

4) もう時間だ。行かなきゃ!

Mo jikan da. Ikanakya!

It’s time. I have to go.

5) この部屋超汚い、掃除しなきゃ!

Kono heya chō kitanai, sōji shinakya.

This room is super dirty, I have to clean it.

6) 明日テストがあるから勉強しなきゃ。

Ashita tesuto ga aru kara benkō shinakya.

Tomorrow I have a test so I have to study.

7) 東京がゴジラに攻められてるから逃げなきゃ。

Tōkyō ga gojira ni semerareteru kara nigenakya.

Godzilla is attacking Tokyo so we have to run!

Random Phrase of the Week

飯テロ Meshi Tero

This is used to make fun of people post pictures what they are eating on social media. It also refers to the way your friends are “terrorised” by the these pictures especially when they are hungry.


Podcast 17: Just the dialogues

In this lesson Ami and I teach you how to ask and give your opinions on various topics using the verb 思う Omou – To think. This is usually used to say “I think that…”.

思う is a very useful phrase you use all the time in conversation in Japanese. The main grammatical structure we will be using is this:

Something or someone…どう思う?Dō omou which means what do you think about so and so… For example:

彼女どう思う? Kanojo wa dō omou What do you think of her?

彼どう思う? Kare wa dō omou What do you think of him?

Then to answer you could say your opinion plus と思う which means I think so and so. So, for example you can say 可愛いと思うよ Kawaii to omou yo which means I think she’s cute or カッコイイと思うよ Kakko ii to omou which means I think he’s cool.

Here are the example conversations in the podcast:


Dialog 01

A: 君のなはってどう思う? Kimi no na wa dō omou? What do you think of “Kimi no na wa”?
B: 面白いと思うよ。 Omoshiroi to omou yo. I think it’s interesting.
A: なんでそう思うの? Nande sō omou no? Why do you think so?
B: ストーリーがロマンチックだからね。 Sutoorii ga romanchikku da kara ne. Because the story is romantic.

Dialog 02

A: ねぇ、iPhoneってどう思う? Nee, iPhone te dō omou? What do you think of the iPhone?
B: まあまあだと思うよ。 Maamaa da to omou yo. It’s so so.
A: なんでそう思うの? Nande sō omou no? Why do you think so?
B: 便利だけど高いからね。 Benri dakedo taki kara ne. Because it’s useful but expensive.


Dialog 03

A: ねぇ、この髪型ってどう思う? Nee, kono kamigata dō omou? What do you think of my hairstyle?
B: 似合うと思うよ。 Niau to omou yo. It suits you.
A: なんでそう思うの? Nande sō omou no? Why do you think so?
B: 君は顔が小さいからね。 Kimi wa kao ga chiisai kara ne. Because you have a small face.


Dialog 04

A: ねぇ、彼女ってどう思う? Nee, kanojo te dō omou? What do you think of her?
B: 可愛いと思うよ。 Kawaii to omou yo. She’s cute.
A: なんでそう思うの? Nande sō omou no? Why do you think so?
B: おっちょこちょいだからね。 Occhokochou dakara ne. Because she’s so clumsy.

Dialog 05

A: ねぇ、彼ってどう思う? Nee, kare te dō omou? What do you think of him?
B: いい人じゃないと思うよ。 Ii hito ja nai to omou yo. I don’t think he’s a good person.
A: なんでそう思うの? Nande sō omou no? Why do you think so?
B: 浮気ばかりしてるからね。 Uwaki bakari dakara ne. Because he’s always cheating (on girls).


Dialog 06

A: ねぇ、このレストランってどう思う? Nee, kono restoran te dō omou? What do you think of this restaurant?
B: イマイチだと思うよ。 IImaichi da to omou yo. It’s a little disappointing.
A: なんでそう思うの? Nande sō omou no? Why do you think so?
B: 食べ物は美味しいけどサービスが悪いからね。 Tabemono wa oishii kedo saabisu ga warui kara ne. Because although the food is good the service is bad.


Extra Grammar Notes

Casual and polite ways to say “I think…”

Casual Polite
どう思う? Dō omou?What do you think? どう思いますか Dō omoimasu ka?What do you think?
…と思う。…to omouI think… …と思います。…to omoimasu.I think …


Random Phrase of the Week

A: 最近どう? Saikin dō? How have you been recently?

B: 相変わらずだよ Aikawarazu da yo Same old, same old…


Podcast 16: Just the dialogues

In this podcast Ami and I talk about what to do if you lose your wallet or other personal items when in Japan. The good news is that Japanese people are generally very law abiding and honest. Therefore, if someone finds your lost item, there is a good chance they will hand it in to the police and you will get it back.

If you do lose something, the best idea is to ring the place you think you left it and ask if it has been found. If you lose something on the train it’s best to go to the station master’s office and ask there. If you drop something in the street then you should go to a Koban or police box.

This lesson focuses on how to call the last place you were at to ask the staff if they found you things. Study the vocabulary list and dialogs below to learn how to do it.

Vocabulary featured in the podcast

もしもし Moshi moshi Hello (On the phone)
一番寿司でございます Ichibanzushi de gozaimasu This is Ichiban Sushi
すみません Sumimasen Excuse me
昨日 Kinō Yesterday
そちら Sochira There (Polite)
財布 Saifu Wallet
カバン Kaban Bag
携帯電話 Keitai denwa Mobile phone
忘れた Wasureta Forgot
何色 Nani iro What colour
少々お待ちください Shōshō omachi kudasai One moment please
届いてますよ Todoitemasu yo It is here (Someone found it)
ありがとうございます Arigtō gozaimasu Thank you

Dialog 01

A: もしもし幕張メッセでございます。 Moshi moshi, Makuhari Messe de gozaimasu. Hello, this is Makuhari Messe.
B: すみません、昨日そちらで財布を忘れたのですが。 Sumimasen, Kinō sochira de saifu o wasureta no desu ga. Excuse me, I left a wallet there yesterday.
A: 何色のお財布ですか。 Nani iro no osaifu desu ka What colour is the wallet?
B: 黒い革の財布です。 Kuroi kawa no saifu desu It is a black leather wallet.
A: 少々お待ちください。届いていますよ。 Shōshō omachi kudasai. Todoite imasu yo. One moment please. We have it.
B: ありがとうございます。 Arigatō gozaimasu. Thank you very much.

Dialog 02

A: もしもし一番寿司でございます。 Moshi moshi, Ichibanzushi de gozaimasu. Hello, this is Ichiban Sushi.
B: すみません、昨日そちらでカバンを忘れたのですが。 Sumimasen, Kinō sochira de kaban o wasureta no desu ga. Excuse me, I left a bag there yesterday.
A: 何色のおカバンですか。 Nani iro no okaban desu ka What colour is the bag?
B: 赤い革のカバンです。 Akai kawa no kaban desu It is a red leather bag.
A: 少々お待ちください。届いていますよ。 Shōshō omachi kudasai. Todoite imasu yo. One moment please. We have it.
B: ありがとうございます。 Arigatō gozaimasu. Thank you very much.

Dialog 03

A: もしもし六本木ヒルズでございます。 Moshi moshi, Roppongi Hiruzu de gozaimasu. Hello, this is Roppongi Hills.
B: すみません、昨日そちらで携帯電話を忘れたのですが。 Sumimasen, Kinō sochira de keitaidenwa o wasureta no desu ga. Excuse me, I left a mobile phone there yesterday.
A: 携帯電話の機種はなんですか。 Keitaidenwa no kishu wa nan desu ka. What type of phone is it?
B: iPhone8です。 iPhone hachi desu. It’s an iPhone 8.
A: 少々お待ちください。届いていますよ。 Shōshō omachi kudasai. Todoite imasu yo. One moment please. We have it.
B: ありがとうございます。 Arigatō gozaimasu. Thank you very much.

Extra Phrases

Let’s study some other phrases related to lost items:

1) 申し訳ありませんが財布は届いてないようです。

Mōshi wake arimasen ga saifu wa todoite inai yō desu.

I’m very sorry but it seems your wallet hasn’t been handed in.

2) 連絡先を教えていただけたら見つかり次第ご連絡します。

Renrakusaki o oshiete itadaketara mitsukari shidai gorenraku shimasu.

If you give me your contact details we’ll contact you the moment it is found.

3) 忘れ物


Lost items

4) 紛失届け

Fun shitsu todoke

A form to fill out at the police station for lost items

Cultural Points

  1. The Japanese are generally quite law abiding and honest. Most times, if found, your lost items  will be returned.
  2. If you lose something on the train go to the nearest 駅長室 Eki Chō shitsu – Station master’s office and tell them what you lost and on which train it was on. They’ll ring ahead to the next station or terminal station to see if they can locate your items.
  3. You can also go to any 交番 Koban police box to report lost or stolen items. For lost items you would write out a form called a 紛失届け Fun shitsu todoke

Random Phrase Of The Week


Atama ga masshiro

When you mind goes completely blank or you are lost for words.



Rusuban denwa o nokosu toki ni atama ga masshiro

When I leave a message on an answering machine my mind goes completely blank


Podcast 15: Just the dialogues

In this podcast, Ami and I (Alex) teach you how to talk about your favorite movies in Japanese. Listen to the podcasts and read the dialogs below to get an idea of what these phrases and dialogs mean. You can also download the PDFs too! Enjoy!

Dialog 01
Japanese Pronunciation English
A: 「君の名は」見た? “Kimi no na wa” mita? Did you see “Kimi no na wa”?
B: 見たよ! Mita yo! I saw it!
A: どうだった?面白かった? Dō datta. Omoshirokatta? How was it? Was it interesting?
B: うん、すごく面白かったよ。 Un, omoshirokatta yo. Uh huh, it was interesting.
A: 私も見ようかな? Watashi mo miyō kana I guess I should go and see it.
B: うん、すごくおすすめだよ。 Un, sugoku osusume da yo. Yeah, I highly recommend it


Dialog 02
Japanese Pronunciation English
A: 「ミニオンズ」見た? “Minions” mita? Did you see “Minions”?
B: 見たよ! Mita yo! I saw it!
A: どうだった?面白かった? Dō datta. Omoshirokatta? How was it? Was it interesting?
B: 面白かったけど、声優がイマイチだった。 Omoshirokatta kedo seiyuu ga imaichi datta. It was interesting but the voice actors weren’t so good.
A: 私も見ようかな? Watashi mo miyō kana I guess I should go and see it.
B: そうだね、もし週末時間があったら見に行ってみればいいよ。 Sō da ne, moshi shuumatsu jikan ga attara mi ni itte mireba ii yo. Well, if you have time at the weekend, you should go and see it.


Dialog 03
Japanese Pronunciation English
A: 「スターウォーズ」見た? Sutaauozu mita? Did you see Star Wars?
B: 見たよ! Mita yo! I saw it!
A: どうだった?面白かった? Dō datta. Omoshirokatta? How was it? Was it interesting?
B: 全然面白くなかった。ストーリーがつまらなかった。 Zenzen omoshirokunakatta. Sutōrii ga tsumaranakatta. It wasn’t interesting at all. The story was boring.
A: 私も見ようかな? Watashi mo miyō kana I guess I should go and see it.
B: 止めた方がいいよ。 Yameta hō ga ii yo. You shouldn’t.

Podcast 14: Just the dialogues

In this podcast, Ami and I, teach you some fun conversations you can have with your friends in Japanese.  The first thing you need to know when speaking on the phone in Japanese is the word Moshi moshi which is hello but used exclusively for the phone. You can use this for both casual and polite conversations.

Listen to the podcast and read the dialogs below to get a better idea of how to have a conversation on the phone in Japanese with your friends.

Phone Dialog 01

Dialog 01
Japanese Pronunciation English
A: もしもし Moshi moshi Hello
B: もしもし、あみ元気? Moshi moshi, Ami genki? Hello, how are you Ami?
A: 元気だよ Genki da yo I’m good.
B: 最近どう? Saikin dō? How have you been recently?
A: 最近は仕事漬けの毎日! Saikin wa shigotozuke no mainichi! Recently, I’ve been so busy at work.
B: そうなんだ……大変だね。 Sō nan da…Taihen da ne. Oh really…that’s tough.
A: 全然平気! Zenzen heiki! I’m totally fine!

Phone Dialog 02

Dialog 02
Japanese Pronunciation English
A: もしもし Moshi moshi Hello
B: もしもし、あみ元気? Moshi moshi, Ami genki? Hello, how are you Ami?
A: 元気だよ Genki da yo I’m good.
B: 最近どう? Saikin dō? How have you been recently?
A: 最近、彼女ができたよ Saikin kanojo ga dekita yo Recently I got a new girlfriend
B: そうなんだ!良かったね! Sō nan da! Yokatta ne! Oh really? That’s great!
A: 毎日楽しすぎる! Mainichi tanoshisugiru! It’s so much fun everyday!


Phone Dialog 03


Dialog 03
Japanese Pronunciation English
A: もしもし Moshi moshi Hello
B: もしもし、あみ元気? Moshi moshi, Ami genki? Hello, how are you Ami?
A: 元気だよ Genki da yo I’m good.
B: 最近どう? Saikin dō? How have you been recently?
A: 最近、ジムに通い出したよ Saikin jimu ni kayoidashita yo Recently I started going to the gym.
B: そうなんだ!良いね! Sō nan da! Ii ne! Oh really? That’s good!
A: 毎日筋肉痛がやばいよ! Mainichi kinnikutsuu ga yabai yo! The muscle soreness is really bad everyday!


Extra Phone Phrases

携帯電話 – Keitai denwa – Mobile phone

携帯番号 – Keitai bangō – Mobile number

メアド – Meado – Mail address

待受画面 – Machiukegamen – Standby screen (for phone)

写メ – Shame – Mobile phone picture

スマホ – Sumaho – Smart Phone

ガラケー – Garakeh – Flip phone


Polite Phone Phrases

田中さんはいらっしゃいますか – Tanaka san wa irasshaimasu ka

Is Tanaka san there?  / Can I speak to Mr. Tanaka?


田中は出かけております – Tanaka wa dekakete orimasu.

Tanaka is out right now.


伝言をお願いします – Dengon o onegaishimasu.

Can I leave a message please?


折り返しお電話いただけますか – Orikaeshi odenwa itadakemasu ka?

Could you ask them to call me back please?


Podcast 13: Just the dialogues

Everything You Need to Know to Speak Japanese Fluently

My speaking fluent Japanese…sort of…

One of the most common questions I get at Learn Japanese Pod is “How do I learn to speak Japanese fluently?”. The usual problem I hear is that although students study lots of vocabulary and grammar, they can’t seem to put it together to hold even a simple conversation. Fluency seems out of the question. Well, I hear you because I used to be in the same situation. I was really frustrated. However, after a lot of trial and error… and coffee, I eventually began to discover some effective study techniques, strategies and the mindset that actually worked.

Now, fluency didn’t happen overnight but my ability to hold natural flowing conversations with my Japanese friends got noticeably better and my progress definitely sped up. So if you are feeling confused, frustrated and your motivation is crumbling, it’s time to get your Japanese back on track. So this is why I decided to make this podcast and guide to show you absolutely everything you need to know to speak Japanese fluently.

You can listen to the podcast here where Ami sensei and I discuss this topic in detail. Then keep reading below for more in-depth information with links to useful resources.

Podcast Dialog – How to Speak Japanese Fluently

Japanese Pronunciation English
 A: 先生、質問しても良いですか?  Sensei, shitsumon shite mo ii desu ka.  Teacher, may I ask a question?
 B: はい、どうぞ。  Hai dōzo.  Sure, go ahead.
 A: どうすれば日本語を流暢に話せるようになりますか?  Dō sureba nihongo o ryuuchō ni hanaseru you ni narimasu ka?  How can I become fluent at speaking Japanese?
 B: そうですね。やっぱり教材はもちろんですが、日本のテレビを観たり、日本の音楽をたくさん聴いてみてください。  Sō desu ne. Yappari kyōzai wa mochiron desu ga, nihon no terebi o mitari, nihongo no ongaku o takusan kiite kudasai.  Let me see. Well of course you need study materials but you should watch Japanese TV, listen to a lot of music, stuff like that.
 A: なるほど。  Naruhodo.  I see.
 B: 私の友達は、日本に住んだことはないですが、そうやって日本語を結構覚えましたよ。  Watashi no tomodachi wa nihon ni sunda koto ga nai desu ga sō yatte nihongo o kekkō oboemashita yo.  I have a friend who never lived in Japan. However, he learned a lot of Japanese that way.
 A: 他に何かアドバイスはありますか?  Hoka ni adobaisu ga arimasu ka?  Do you have any other advice?
 B: 日本語が話せる友達を作って、積極的に日本語で会話をしましょう。  Nihongo ga hanaseru tomodachi o tsukutte, sekkyokuteki ni nihongo de kaiwa o shimashou.  Make Japanese speaking friends and proactively try to have conversations in Japanese.
 A: 分かりました。頑張ります!  Wakarimashita. Ganbarimasu.  I understand. I will do my best.

The Secret to Speaking Japanese Fluently

Here’s the brutal truth.

There is no secret to speaking fluent Japanese. And if anyone tells you there is a magical course that teaches you how to speak perfect Japanese in 3 days, buy a fire extinguisher because someone’s pants are on fire. It takes time, commitment and hard work…and coffee…I mentioned coffee right?

Anyway, I can’t give you a magic pill BUT…

And this is a big but…

I can tell you the dumb things I did so you don’t have to. And that’s going to save you a LOT of time and frustration. Plus there are more efficient and effective ways to study that will further save time.

But what do we actually mean by “fluency”?

What does “fluent Japanese” mean?

Fluent doesn’t necessarily mean native speaker level. To me, fluency simply means you can express what you want to say, clearly, easily and quickly without getting stuck or stumbling over your words. If you can order sushi or do a simple self introduction in Japanese, you have a basic level of fluency. No, you’re not native level but you could survive in Japan with a limited number of phrases. So don’t feel overwhelmed. Remember fluency isn’t how much you know, it’s how well you use it.

So, let’s move to the first step you need to take on your journey to Japanese fluency.

1. Set Specific Goals

Perhaps the biggest mistake students of Japanese make is not being clear about what they want to achieve. You need to set clear, specific goals, broken down into small achievable steps with deadlines. And here are my personal reasons:

  1. Set it and forget it – This avoids stress and decision fatigue worrying over what you should study next. It keeps it simple.
  2. Focus equals momentum – A focused goal gets you to where you want to go more quickly.
  3. Goals avoid waste – If you get super specific about what to achieve you avoid wasteful and irrelevant study
  4. Deadlines make it real – Set a date to increase the chances of success. A deadline further focuses you and makes your goals more concrete. Breaking things into small steps with many deadlines can help to avoid feeling overwhelmed.

What’s a good Japanese Study Goal?

So what’s a good goal? If you say “I want to speak kick ass, ninja level Japanese” that’s all well and good but it’s too vague and lacks a clear goal. Something better would be “I want to be able to say 100 travel related phrases fluently for my trip to Japan in three months”.

Now you know the following:

  1. Exactly what you will study
  2. Exactly how much you need to study
  3. When your deadline is

Breaking down your goal into small achievable steps will increase your chances of success. So learning 100 phrases in 3 months is a pace of just over 1 phrase a day, totally achievable.

Try to set a goal that inspires and motivates you. Also, try to pick a goal that allows you to be able to do something. You want to build skills rather than simply piling up words. Here are some examples:

I want to learn all the phrases to order food at a Japanese restaurant within 2 weeks.

I want to be able to ask and understand directions in Japanese in one month.

To really demonstrate how a short and laser focused goal can help you make progress more quickly, try out my completely free 5 Day Japanese Challenge. It emails you a new lesson every day and if you follow the course properly you will be able to give a natural self introduction in flawless Japanese in five days.

If you are still not sure what goal to set, choose something, anything, simply to get started. For example, you could attempt to pass the N5 Japanese Language Proficiency Test in 6 months. And even if you fail the test, you will have still improved your Japanese.

2. Get the Right Japanese Study Materials

Japanese study materials

Now you have a clear goal, you will need good materials and resources to study with. This depends on your goal and level of Japanese. For beginners, I recommend buying a  good standard Japanese textbook. Now, this won’t guarantee fluency, however, a good textbook will teach you the basic grammar and vocabulary you need to build your base before you can attempt conversations. Here are some of my top recommendations:

Recommendations for basic Japanese textbooks

GENKI I – This is good  standard textbook used in university Japanese courses. This is more grammar heavy so it will give you a good language base to build on. It includes an audio CD which you can use to listen and practice with. Japanese for Busy People is another widely known text good for teaching you the basics.

Nihongo Fun and Easy – A smaller but awesome little Japanese conversational textbook that focuses more on daily situational dialogs and includes a CD to practice with. This is not as comprehensive as Genki but might get you speaking basic Japanese more quickly.

NIHONGO Breakthrough – Another really good Japanese conversational textbook that focuses on real life situations and natural language to improve you basic level of fluency.

Again, these textbooks won’t make you fluent over night. However,  they will give you the essential base  Japanese grammar and vocabulary you need to work towards fluency.

And textbooks on their own are not enough. We need to look at some effective techniques to get you speaking more fluently in less time.

3. Drill, Drill and Drill Again

Drill Japanese for better fluency

If there was only one single technique I could teach you that would massively help your fluency, that would be drilling. It’s an incredibly powerful technique that will build you vocabulary, speed, pronunciation and fluency.

Drilling is simply repeating phrases out loud over and over again until you can say them easily and without thinking.

I first started studying Japanese on my own. I bought a random Japanese conversation textbook, read the dialogs, listened to the audio and repeated every phrase and conversation until I could say them automatically. The book wasn’t that great and some of the conversations were kind of boring and not even that useful. Here is a reconstruction of the silly things I drilled:

Japanese Pronunciation English
A: 田中さんの車はどこの車ですか Tanaka san no kuruma wa doko no kuruma desu ka Mr. Tanaka, what make of car is that?
B: トヨタの車です Toyota no kuruma desu It’s a Toyota
A: 、そうですか A sou desu ka Oh really?

One would have thought a more interesting conversation would have been:

A: Hey Tanaka, what make of car is that?

B: See the sign that says Toyota on the front? Yeah that means it’s a Toyota…you idiot!


It wasn’t the best textbook in the world. However, drilling the dialogs out loud repeatedly really helped it all stick in my head. And as I discovered it improved my memory, pronunciation, speed and fluency. I didn’t become fluent immediately but my progress noticeably did speed up.

Gap Fill Drills

Another effective technique I discovered was gap fills. A gap fill is drilling a sentence and changing one word every time you repeat it. Take the following sentence and say this as many times as it takes to stick in your head:


Nihongo o jōtatsu suru tame ni wa benkyō ga daiji da

To improve your Japanese fluency, study is important.

Now you have learned that, you can say it again but this time change the word in red to something else so you can make a new sentence.


Nihongo o jōtatsu suru tame ni wa dokusho ga daiji da

To improve your Japanese fluency, study is important.

You can also use a little humour to make things fun and memorable.


Nihongo o jōtatsu suru tame ni wa kōhii ga daiji da

To improve your Japanese fluency, coffee is important.

The reason I love this technique is it allows you to drill and learn useful patterns of speech. But it also allows you to create an almost infinite number of new unique sentences. This is how fluency begins.


One last technique is shadowing. Shadowing involves playing audio and repeating out loud exactly what you hear. So just listen and repeat. The textbooks I mentioned earlier have audio CDs you can use.

You could also shadow using youtube videos and even music CDs if you have them. Karaoke is also a great way to build your listening and speaking skills.

So the are various ways to drill and all very effective in building your spoken muscle memory so you can develop automatic recall which is what you will need to speak Japanese fluently.

4. Paraphrase to develop Japanese Fluency

Paraphrasing is the ability to express the meaning of something using different words. Being able to say the same thing using different words or phrases massively boosts your fluency because it forces you to expand your spoken vocabulary.  It’s not an easy skill and requires a fair amount of study. However it is worth it because it is a powerful technique for boosting your fluency.

There are various ways you can paraphrase. Here are my favourite three.

Explain a Japanese word in Japanese

Being able to define a Japanese word in Japanese is a great exercise. For example, let’s use the word 暑い – Atsui – which as you probably know means hot. But can you describe what it means in Japanese? You could say 温度の高いもの – Ondo no takai mono – something with a high temperature. To do this yourself, use a good online Japanese dictionary such as the Goo dictionary at

Japanese Synonyms

The second way is to find a synonym, that is another word which has a similar meaning. So you could use the word 熱 – Netsu – which means heat or fever. Or perhaps you can use the word 暖かい – Atatakai – which means warm.

Japanese Antonyms

The third way is to find an antonym, a phrase that means the opposite. If you use the negative form, it’s another way to paraphrase a word. For example, instead of 暑い you could say 寒くない which means not cold.

You don’t have to use all these techniques but being able to define a Japanese word in Japanese is a really powerful skill you should study towards. Again, use a good Japanese dictionary to help you.
There’s a good chapter on paraphrasing in Japanese in the book 13 Secrets for Speaking Fluent Japanese by Giles Murray.

5. Practice with Native Japanese Speakers

Practice with native Japanese speakers

Now, I know some of you might be shy, attached to your textbook or live in an area where there are very few Japanese people. One of the most common complaints I hear is “I have no Japanese friends to practice with”.

However, if you really want to eventually be able to speak Japanese fluently you HAVE TO get out there and practice with native speakers. I know what you’re going to say; it’s impossible because [insert reason here…]. So here are some ideas that might possibly work for you.

  1. Get a Japanese teacher or enrol on a Japanese course.
  2. Use to locate and join a Japanese study group in your area. If not, make your own group. You never know, there may be other people interested in studying Japanese.
  3. Attend Japanese cultural events. Institutions such as The Japan Society based in New York hold regular events for promoting Japanese culture. There may be an event closer to you than you think!
  4. Use online language exchange sites. Although this is not an endorsement, you MIGHT find sites such as Lang-8 and iTalki useful for making online Japanese friends to practice with.

If those methods don’t work for you, then there is only one option left…

5. Go to Japan

I was incredibly lucky to be able to study Japanese intensively for one year in Tokyo when I was in university. I was able to take advantage of the language exchange program between my university in London and Tokyo.

When I got to Japan, I had studied Japanese for a year. However, after living in a dormitory of Japanese guys who spoke next to no English and studying intensively everyday, my Japanese fluency rapidly improved.

Not only that, it was one of the most enjoyable years I had at university. In fact if I hadn’t had that year, I don’t think my Japanese would be anywhere as good as it was today.

So I highly recommend coming to Japan to fully immerse yourself in the culture, language and life in Japan. If you keep studying and practicing I guarantee you will make speedier progress than just studying on your own at home.

If a year of intensive study sounds daunting, time consuming and expensive, I wont lie, it is. However, even if you can only manage to go for only a few months or weeks and enrol in a Japanese program, I recommend it as one of the most effective ways to make progress to Japanese fluently. These days there are lots of small colleges that do short Japanese courses for quite a reasonable price. Some of them will also help you with visa applications and a place to stay.

So, if you haven’t, go to Japan my friend!

6. Extra Japanese Fluency Strategies and Mindset

Let me finish this guide with a few more observations, strategies and mindsets that might help you to achieve your goal of learning to speak Japanese fluently.

It’s about consistency, not intensity

If you go to the gym on Monday and exercise for 10 hours, you won’t get fit. It’s much better to exercise a little everyday over the long term. In the same way, you want to study and use Japanese on a regular basis.

Don’t just study Japanese, USE Japanese

Of course you have to lay the groundwork and study Japanese regularly. However you also need to get out there and use it in real life. Always ask yourself, what will I be able to do if I study a particular lesson rather than trying to randomly cram words. This is also why you need to make Japanese friends if you haven’t!

Japanese Grammar is essential, but limited

When you start out in Japanese you have to study grammar to give you a framework to use to construct your own basic sentences. However, the more advanced you become, the less you will be able to rely on your textbook to learn natural patterns of speech. So get as much real speaking and listening practice as you can to pick up the real Japanese not in your textbooks.

Learn the culture behind the words

One thing I wished I had learned earlier was to have a deeper understanding of the culture behind the grammar and vocabulary I was learning. Learning more about Japanese culture gives you a much deeper understanding of the language and will make you a much better speaker.

For example, understanding different levels of politeness in Japanese will give you a really good insight into the culture and make your Japanese sound more natural.

Don’t be the foreigner who can speak fluent Japanese but just doesn’t “get it” and offends everyone. That’s called KY or Kuuki Yomei – someone who literally can’t “read the air” and is culturally unaware. You have been warned!

Make you studies fun!

This is kind of obvious but it’s worth saying. You have to make your studies fun, engaging and relevant to your interests. Don’t get too serious, have fun and good luck!


Podcast 12: Just the dialogues

Talking about Personality in Japanese

In this podcast, Ami Sensei and I teach you how to describe people’s personalities in natural Japanese. Listen to the full podcast and the dialog only audio underneath.

So we thought we would have look at how to discuss people’s personalities in this week’s podcast. However, instead of only teaching a list of phrases, we wanted to give some conversational examples of how you might talk about people’s characters.

Talking about people’s personalities in Japanese

In this podcast, Ami sensei and I talk about how to describe people’s personalities in Japanese and how to talk about your favorite “type” of person for dating and romance.

The first two dialogs show you how you can talk about people’s ideal boyfriend of girlfriend in terms of their personality.

Podcast Dialog 1.1

A: ねえ、どんな人がタイプなの? Ne, donna hito ga taipu na no? Hey, what kind of person are you into?
B: そうだね。やっぱり優しくて、気が利いて、陽気な人かな。 Sō da ne. Yappari yasashikute, ki ga kiite, yōki na hito kana. Let me see. Of course kind, thoughtful and outgoing.
A: 本当?それだけ? Hontō? Sore dake? Really? That’s it?
B: ?どういう意味それ? E? Dō iu imi sore? Eh? What do you mean by that?
A: 今までの彼氏みんなイケメンだったし、本当は面食いなんでしょう? Ima made no kareshi ikemen datta shi, hontō wa menkui nan deshō? All your boyfriends until now have been really good looking. You’re just into looks aren’t you?
B: うるさいなぁ、もう! Urusai na mō! Oh shut up!


Podcast Dialog 1.2

A: ねえ、どんな人がタイプなの? Ne, donna hito ga taipu na no? Hey, what kind of person are you into?
B: そうだね。やっぱり優しくて、気が利いて、陽気な人かな。 Sō da ne. Yappari yasashikute, ki ga kiite, yōki na hito kana. Let me see. Of course kind, thoughtful and outgoing.
A: 本当?それだけ? Hontō? Sore dake? Really? That’s it?
B: ?どういう意味それ? E? Dō iu imi sore? Eh? What do you mean by that?
A: 今までの彼女みんな美形だったじゃん、本当は見た目重視なんでしょう。 Ima made no kanojō minna bikkei datta shi, hontō wa menkui nan deshō? All your girlfriends until now have been really good looking. You’re just into looks aren’t you?
B: うるさいなぁ、もう! Urusai na mō! Oh shut up!

In the next set of dialogs we look at how to compare people’s personalities in Japanese. These dialogs also contain a nice technique for expanding your vocabulary which is learning a adjective and it’s exact opposite. So if you learn the word 優しい Yasashii which means kind, you could then learn a word such as 気が短い Ki ga mijikai which means short tempered or bad tempered. This is a really nice way to group relevant vocabulary together which will double the amount of words you know and improve your fluency if you drill them.

Here are some examples:

Podcast Dialog 2.1

A: 彼氏はどんな人なの? Kareshi wa donna hito na no? What’s your boyfriend like?
B: そうだね。優しい人だよ。 Sō da ne. Yasashi hito da yo. Let me see. He’s a kind person.
A: いいなあ。私の彼女は気が短いんだよね。 Ii naa. Watashi no kanajo ga ki ga mijikain da yo ne. I envy you. My girlfriend is short tempered.


Podcast Dialog 2.2

A: 彼女はどんな人なの? Kanojo wa donna hito na no? What’s your girlfriend like?
B: そうだね。優しい人だよ。 Sō da ne. Omoshiroi hito da yo. Let me see. She’s an interesting person.
A: いいなあ。私の彼氏はつまらないんだよね。 Ii naa. Watashi no kareshi wa tsumaranain da yo ne. I envy you. My boyfriend is short tempered.


Podcast Dialog 2.3

A: 彼氏はどんな人なの? Kareshi wa donna hito na no? What’s your boyfriend like?
B: そうだね。社交的な人だよ。 Sō da ne. Shakōteki na hito da yo. Let me see. He’s a social person.
A: いいなあ。私の彼女はおとなしいんだよね。 Ii naa. Watashi no kanajo wa otonashiin da yo ne. I envy you. My girlfriend is shy.


Podcast Dialog 2.4

A: 彼女はどんな人なの? Kanojo wa donna hito na no? What’s your girlfriend like?
B: そうだね。勤勉な人だよ。 Sō da ne. Kinben na hito da yo. Let me see. She’s a hard working person.
A: いいなあ。私の彼氏は怠け者なんだよね。 Ii naa. Watashi no kareshi wa namakemono nan da yo ne. I envy you. My boyfriend is lazy.


Podcast Dialog 2.5

A: 彼氏はどんな人なの? Kareshi wa donna hito na no? What’s your boyfriend like?
B: そうだね。頭がいい人だよ。 Sō da ne. Shakōteki na hito da yo. Let me see. He’s a social person.
A: いいなあ。私の彼女はちょっと天然入ってるんだよね Ii naa. Watashi no kanajo wa chotto tennen ga haitterun da yo ne. I envy you. My girlfriend is a bit of a space cadet.

In the next set of dialogs we talk about personality as it relates to blood type. In Japan, it is widely believed that a person’s blood type is linked to or influences your personality. Although this is utter nonsense that has absolutely no scientific basis at all what so ever, it’s worth knowing about this cultural phenomenon. And it’s a great way to get a conversation going in Japanese and increase your vocabulary.


There are a couple of ways you can ask about bloody type and personality including the following:


A型の人ってどんな人が多い? A gata no hito te donna hito ga ooi?

What is a common personality for people with A type blood?


典型的なA型の人ってどうなの?Tenkeiteki na A gata no hito te dō na no?

What is the typical personality of someone with A type blood?

Here are some example dialogs as featured in the podcast:


Podcast Dialog 3.1

A: A型の人ってどんな人が多い? A gata no hito te donna hito ga ooi? What’s the most common personality trait of people with A blood type?
B: A型は真面目で几帳面な人。 A gata wa majime de kichōmen na hito. People with A blood type are serious and methodical.


Podcast Dialog 3.2

A: O型の人ってどんな人が多い? O gata no hito te donna hito ga ooi? What’s the most common personality trait of people with O blood type?
B: O型はおおらかで元気な人。 O gata wa ooraka de genki na hito. People with O blood type are relaxed and outgoing.


Podcast Dialog 3.3

A: B型の人ってどんな人が多い? B gata no hito te donna hito ga ooi? What’s the most common personality trait of people with B blood type?
B: B型はよくもわるくもマイペースな人。 B gata wa yokumo warukumo mai peesu na hito. For better or for worse, people with B blood type taking everything at their own pace.


Podcast Dialog 3.4

A: AB型の人ってどんな人が多い? AB gata no hito te donna hito ga ooi? What’s the most common personality trait of people with AB blood type?
B: AB型はどこかクールで知的な印象を感じさせる人。 AB gata wa dokoka kuuru de chiteki na inshō o kanjisaseru hito. People with AB blood type give the impression of being aloof and intelectual.


Random Japanese Phrase of the Week

In this episode’s random phrase of the week we looked at the word 茶番劇 Chabangeki which literally means a dramatic farce. It’s used to describe situations and things that are over the top or crazy.

Here are the examples:



Ano kappuru no kenka wa itsumo chabangeki da yo ne

That couple are always having epic fights.



Tonda chabangeki o yarakashita mon da!

That situation totally got out of hand / That was one crazy thing that happened.


Podcast 11: Just the dialogues

In this podcast, Ami sensei and I teach you about using the verb 食べる in the casual form which is used between people who know each other well in an informal situation. This is how you conjugate the verb taberu in plain form or “dictionary form”.

Plain form verb – Taberu

Positive Negative
Present 食べる Taberu (To eat) 食べない Tabenai (Not eat)
Past 食べた Tabeta (Ate) 食べなかった Tabenakatta (Didn’t eat)

Japanese Verbs – Taberu Dialog
A: ね、食べる? Ne taberu? You wanna eat?
B: 食べない Tabenai. I don’t want to eat
A: 食べないの? Tabenai no? You don’t want to eat?
B: もう食べたから。食べなかったの? Mo tabeta kara. Tabenakatta no. Already ate. You didn’t eat?
A: うん、食べなかった。食べようよ Un Tabenakatta. Tabeyō yo. I didn’t eat. Let’s eat!
B: いらない、ひとりで食べて! Iranai, hitori de tabete. I don’t want any. You eat by yourself.

Grammatical Breakdown of Dialog
Rule 1 – You can drop the subject before a Japanese verb
The dialog starts with ね – Ne which means “Hey” and used to get attention to start a conversation. Then the next word is 食べる? Taberu with a rising intonation. This literally means “Eat?”. One important thing to remember is that you don’t need to use the subject of the sentence as the meaning is understood from the context of the situation. If someone is looking at you and simply says “Taberu” with a rising inflection. You can be pretty sure that they mean “Do you want to eat”? which is what it means in this situation. In fact, this entire dialog is completely devoid of sentences with the words you or I in them. And this because…

Rule 2 – You have to guess the meaning from the context
As we continue to the next line in the dialog we have 食べない tabenai which means “not eat”. Again, from the context, you can guess this means “I don’t want to eat”. And context is everything here. This aspect of Japanese can make it easier for you to say more with less because minimalism is the key. It can also make it devilishly hard to understand what is being said because if you don’t understand the situation you won’t understand the conversation.

Continuing we have 食べないの?Tabenai no which is literally “Not eat” + のno which signifies a question. This means “Not eat?” or “Don’t you want to eat?”

Next we haveもう食べた Mō tabeta kara – This literally means “Already ate because” or “No because I already ate”. Then 食べなかったの Tabenakatta no – which means “didn’t eat” with the の question marker so “Didn’t you eat?”.

Rule 3 – Yes means no and no means yes
The answer to the question “Didn’t you eat” is うん 食べなかった Un Tabenakatta – Yes, I didn’t eat. This might be confusing as in English you would usually say:

A: Didn’t you eat?

B: No, I didn’t

However in Japanese you have to say “Yes, I didn’t eat”. This is because in Japanese, when you say yes, you are agreeing directly with the statement that was just made so you could think of it as “Yes, it is true that I didn’t eat”.

Rule 4 – Verbs ending in ō mean “Let’s do something”
Next we hear 食べよう Tabeyō. This form of the verb is used to suggest or propose an idea. So it means “Let’s eat”. Theよ Yo at the end emphasizes the meaning more. Here are some more examples:

飲もうよ Nomō yo – Come on, let’s drink!

行こうよ Ikō yo – Come on, let’s go!

やろうよ Yarō yo – Come on, let’s do this!

Rule 5 – Verbs ending in “Te” can be an order to do something
The last line of this dialog is いらいない Iranai – Not needed or more naturally “I don’t want any”. Finally we have 一人で食べて Hitori de tabete. Hitori means one person or in this case by yourself. 食べて Tabete is what’s called the “Te” form of the verb and is an order or request to do something so Tabete means “Eat!”. In this case the speaker is saying, “I don’t want any, you go ahead and eat by yourself”.

What is Japanese plain verb form?
In Japanese, there are various forms of politeness from very direct to extremely polite. Plain form verbs are considered to be less formal and are often used in casual conversation between friends and people of similar social rank in society. When looking up verbs in the dictionary, you will always find the plain form of the verb which is why they are also know as “dictionary form” verbs.

The more formal and polite form is the -masu form which is conjugated for the verb Taberu like this:

-Masu form verb – Taberu

Positive Negative
Present 食べます Tabemasu (To eat) 食べません Tabemasen (Not eat)
Past 食べました Tabemashita (Ate) 食べませんでした Tabemasendeshita (Didn’t eat)

The -masu form of the verb is used in more formal situations when to talking to people of senior rank. You will often here service staff use the -masu form of verbs to customers.

Why study Japanese plain form verbs?
When studying Japanese for the first time it is quite common to study -masu form verbs first. This may be because of tradition and perhaps Japanese teachers would rather give you all the polite Japanese first before you go out and offend people with the wrong level of politeness.

This is not necessarily a bad idea and I would advise you to definitely learn polite -masu form verbs. However, in my experience, after studying almost exclusively polite Japanese in my first year of university, I found that around 90% of the conversations I was having was in plain form. That means, if you only learn the polite form, you will have difficulty understanding taking part in conversations and discussions with your Japanese friends, family and even coworkers.

Should you learn the safer polite form or the more plain form first? Great question and I will let that heated debate continue as it always has. Of course, you should learn learn both verb forms. However learning plain form verbs is your key to understanding daily conversation and being able to speak Japanese more fluently.


Podcast 10: Just the dialogues

These are the dialogues from podcast #10 “The top 10 questions you will be asked in Japan”

After living in Japan for over 20 years as a foreigner, I have noticed a clear pattern of questions I am often asked. As well as being very hospitable, the Japanese are inquisitive people who are genuinely interested in why people visit or live in their country. Therefore students of Japanese who are planning a trip to Japan will find it extremely useful to study those questions and how to answer them in Japanese. In this podcast, Ami Sensei and I go through the top 10 most common questions Japanese people ask and the cultural reasons behind them. So if you are slightly surprised or shocked by what you are asked, it’s usually due to a cultural difference which we discuss in the podcast.

1: お名前はなんですか Oname wa nan desu ka – What is your name?

Although obvious, this is the first question you should learn. To reply, simply say your name + desu. アレックスです – Arekkusu desu – I am Alex. The other thing you should keep in mind is that Japanese say their surname first and first name last. So, if you want to say I am John Smith you would say スミスジョンです – Sumisu Jon Desu.

Finally, saying your name using a Japanese accent or Katakana sounds might will make it a little easier for Japanese to understand you name.

2: お国はどちらですか Okuni wa dochira desu ka – Where are you from?

Japanese people are always very interested in where you are from. To answer this question you could simply say アメリカです Amerika desu – America or イギリスです Igirisu desu – The UK. You can also say アメリカから来ました Amerika kara kimashita – I come from America.

3: お仕事は何をされていますか Oshigoto wa nani o sarete imasu ka – What do you do?

This is a very common question that might be asked anywhere in the world. However, there is an added cultural dimension to this. When meeting people for the first time, Japanese people tend to ask questions that give them an idea of the social status of the person they are speaking to so as to communicate with an appropriate level of politeness or respect. To answer this question simply say your job + desu. For example 学生です Gakusei desu – I am a student.
サラリマンです Sarariman desu –  I am an office work (only for men). Women might say OLです – Oh Eru desu – I am (a female) office worker.

4: なんで日本へ来たんですか Nande nihon e kitan desu ka – Why did you come to Japan?

This is the perhaps the most commonly asked question foreigners get when visiting or living in Japan. In fact there is a very popular show on TV entitled “Youは何しに日本へ” You wa nani shi ni nihon e – Why did you come to Japan?

Japanese people are fascinated in why people take the trouble to travel to Japan. Perhaps this is something to do with the fact that Japanese people are interested in how their country is perceived abroad and what might be interesting or attractive to foreigners. When replying say your reason + tame which means the reason why you did something. For example:

はじめて日本に来た時は日本語を勉強するためでした Hajimete nihon ni kita toki wa nihongo o benkyō suru tame deshita – I first came to Japan in order to study Japanese.

5: おいくつですか/ 何歳ですか Oikutsu desu ka – How old are you?

This is one of those questions that some visitors to Japan might find a little surprising or rude. However, when Japanese ask what your age is, what they are really saying is “I want to know your age so I don’t speak to you with an inappropriate level of politeness”. At the same time, you are under no obligation to give your age if you feel it is too personal. Deflecting with humour usually works and you can say something like 秘密です Himitsu desu – It’s a secret.

If you don’t mind giving your age, say your age + sai desu. For example 25歳です Nijuugo sai desu – I am 25.

6: 箸使えますか Hashi tsukaemasu ka – Can you use chopsticks?

For a cosmopolitan westerner who is used to eating Chinese or Vietnamese food at home, you might be surprised if Japanese people ask you if you can use chopsticks. Your answer might be a slightly irritated “Well of course I can dammit!”. However, Japanese are trying to be polite and are showing you their hospitality in making sure you don’t have any problems with their food.

You can simply say 箸使えますよ Hashi tsukaemasu yo – I can use chop sticks

If you can’t you could say ちょっと難しです Chotto muzukashii desu – It’s a little difficult (for me)

7: 納豆食べられますか Natto taberaremasu ka – Can you eat natto?

If you didn’t know, natto is a Japanese delicacy which is made from fermented beans. It has quite a strong smell which can put off people new to the food. But don’t worry if you don’t like it, don’t worry, it’s one of those foods that divides Japanese people into natto fans and natto haters.

If you like natto you can say 納豆食べられます Natto taberaremasu – I can eay natto. If you don’t like it you can say 納豆食べられません Natto taberaremasen – I can’t eat natto. Alternatively you can say ちょっと口に合わないです Chotto kuchi ni awanai desu – I don’t like eating it.

8: 結婚していますか Kekkon shite imasu ka – Are you married?

This is another one of those questions which is simply trying to ascertain your social standing. If you are married you can say 結婚しています Kekkon shite imasu – I am married. If you aren’t married you can say 結婚していません Kekkon shite imasu OR 独身です Dokushin desu – I am single.

9: 日本ははじめてですか Nihon wa hajimete desu ka –  Is this your first time to Japan?

This is another question you will be often asked. If it is your first time you can say はい、初めてです Hai, hajimete desu – Yes, this is my first time. If it is your 2nd time you could say いいえ、2回目です Ni kai me desu – No, this is my second time.

10: 苦てな食べ物はありますか Nigatena tabemono wa arimasu ka – Are there any foods you can’t eat?

Again, Japanese people are obsessed with food which is good news for you because you will eat in some amazing restaurants. The Japanese are also aware that some parts of their cuisine including natto or raw fish might be difficult for foreigners to eat. Japanese like to make sure their guests are comfortable and so it is common to be asked what foods you can and can’t eat.

If you have no problems with food you could answer 特にないです Toku ni nai desu – Nothing in particular. If there is a type of food you can’t eat then use the same pattern as we learned for not being able to eat natto: 納豆食べられません Natto taberaremasen or perhaps 肉食べられません Niku taberaremasen – I can’t eat meat.




Podcast 09: Just the dialogues

These are the dialogues for podcast #09 ““How to order Sushi at a Japanese Restaurant”

In this week’s podcast Yoshiko and Alex discuss useful Japanese vocabulary and cultural points and advice for ordering sushi at a Japanese restaurant like a native.

The good news is you don’t have to learn a huge amount of vocabulary to order your your favorite dishes if you learn just a few useful key phrases.

Sushi Vocabulary

大将 Taishō – (Sushi) chef
サーモン Saamon – Salmon
マグロ Maguro – Tuna
たまご Tamago – Egg
雲丹 Uni – Sea urchin
いくら Ikura – Salmon roe
貫 Kan – Counter for sushi
一貫 Ikkan – 1 piece of sushi
二貫 Nikan – 2 pieces
三貫 Sankan – 3 pieces
一貫ずつ Ikkan zutsu – One piece of each
お願いします Onegaishimasu – Please
さび抜き Sabinuki – Without wasabi
あがり一丁 Agari ichō – Tea
できますか Dekimasu ka – Can you make it?
お冷や Ohiya – Cold water
お椀 Owan – Soup
茶碗蒸し Chawan Mushi – Egg and custard dish
えんがわ Engawa – Fin of flounder (flatfish)
ごちそうさまでした Gochisōsama deshita – That was delicious
回転寿し Kaitenzushi – Conveyor belt sushi
お腹いっぱい Onaka ippai – I’m full
刺身 Sashimi – Slices of fish
寿司 Sushi – Slices of fish on rice
つまみ Tsumami – Used when ordering just the meat of the fish rather than sushi
ガリ Gari – Slices of ginger in sweet vinegar

Main Dialogue

A: 大将!サーモン2貫ください Taishō! Saamon Ni Kan Kudasai – Chef, 2 pieces of salmon please.

B: はいよ Hai yo – Yes

A: 雲丹といくら1貫ずつできますか Uni to ikura Ikkan zutsu dekimasu ka – Can you do 1 sea urchin and 1 salmon roe?

B: はいよ Hai yo – Yes

A: さび抜きでお願いします Sabi nuki de onegaishimasu – Without wasabi please.

B: はいよ Hai yo – Yes

A: お腹いっぱい。大将あがり一丁 Onaka ippai. Taishō agari ichō – I’m full. Chef, 1 tea please.

B: はいよ Hai yo – Yes

10 Cultural Tips for Ordering Sushi

Here are 10 useful cultural points that will really help you when ordering sushi in Japan.

1. Call the Sushi chef “Taishō”

When you order from a sushi chef it is custom to refer to them as 大将 – Taishō. This means various things including general, boss, cheif etc. but in this context is used specifically to adress a sushi chef.

2. Use “Kan” counter to order sushi.

When counting pieces of Sushi you usually use the counter “kan”. For example:

一貫 – Ikkan – One piece of sushi

二貫 – Nikan – Two pieces of sushi

三貫 – Sankan – Three pieces of sushi

四貫 – Yonkan – Four pieces of sushi

Japanese Pronunciation English
大将サーモンを一貫下さい Taishō saamon o ikkan kudasai One piece of salmon please chef
 大将マグロを二貫ください  Taishō maguro o nikan kudasai Two pieces of tuna please chef
 大将たまごを三貫ください  Taishō tamago o sankan kudasai Three piece of egg please chef
 大将雲丹を四貫ください  Taishō uni o yonkan kudasai Four pieces of sea urchin please chef

An important thing to remember is it is not so common to order more than 2 or 3 pieces of the same type of sushi at the same time. The most common is 2貫 Nikan – two pieces of sushi. It is possible to say something like this:


Tamago o nikan, saamon o nikan, maguro o nikan kudasai

2 pieces of egg, 2 salmon and 2 tuna please.

5) Use the word “agari” to order green tea

When you want to order tea say あがり一丁 agari ichō. This is a special way to order green tea that is particular to sushi restaurants. When you order, they usually bring it to you in a cup. However, in many conveyor belt sushi restaurants it’s common to make your own tea by putting green tea powder in a cup and adding hot water from a tap at the counter.

6) It is OK to use your hands when eating sushi

Believe it or not it is acceptable to use your hands when eating sushi. There is no decidedly proper way to eat sushi. However, when in doubt just copy what every one else is doing in the restaurant.

7) How to dip sushi in soy sauce

The proper way to eat sushi is to very lightly dip the meat of the fish in the soy sauce and not the rice. If soy gets on the rice it can start to fall apart and is not considered the most tasty way to eat it.

Some people even turn the sushi upside down in their mouth when eating so that the tongue touches the meat first.

Also, go easy on the soy sauce and the ginger. Japanese people tend not to drown each piece of sushi in soy sauce. Ginger is supposed to be eaten just to cleanse the palate between dishes.

8) Not all sushi is raw

It is in fact possible to order broiled versions of your favorite sushi which is called 炙り aburi. One particular favorite is 炙りサーモン Aburi saamon or broiled salmon. The chef will take a torch to the Sushi which gives it a delicious seared and smokey taste.

9) Say Gochisōsama when you finish eating

ごちそうさま Gochisōsama means “that was delicious” and you usually say it at the end of a meal. It’s common to say it either eating at a restaurant or at someone’s house after eating a meal with them.

10) To get the bill say Okaikei kudasai

To get the bill say お会計ください okaikei kudasai. The staff will come to the counter or table where you are seated and count the empty dishes to calculate the bill.


Podcast 08: Just the dialogues

These are the dialogues for podcast #08: Talking about your likes and dislikes in Japanese

Dialog 1

Yoshiko: ねぇ、ところで食べ物は何が好き?  – Ne, tokoro de tabemono wa nani ga suki – Hey, by the way, what food do  you like?

Alex: そうだな、やっぱりお寿司かな? –  Sō da na, yappari osushi kana – Hmm, let me see…well for me I  guess it is Sushi.

Yoshiko: 何のネタが一番好き? – Nan no neta ga ichiban suki –  What topping do you like?

Alex: 鮪が一番好きかも – Maguro ga ichiban suki kamo – I suppose it’s tuna.

Dialog 2

Yoshiko: ねぇ、ところでスポーツは何が好き? –  Ne, tokoro de supōtsu wa nani – Hey, by the way, what sport do  ga suki you like?

Alex: そうだな、やっぱり野球かな? – Sō da na, yappari yakyuu kana – Hmm, let me see…well for me I  guess it is baseball.

Yoshiko: どこのチームが一番好き? – Doko no chiimu ga ichiban suki – Which team do you like?

Alex: ジャイアンツが一番好きかも。 – Jaiantsu ga ichiban suki kamo – I suppose it’s The (Tokyo)  Giants.

How to express how much you like or dislike things

  1. 寿司が大好きです – Sushi ga dai suki (desu) – I love sushi
  2. 寿司が好きです – Sushi ga suki (desu) – I like sushi.
  3. 寿司がまあまあすきです – Sushi ga mama suki (desu) – Sushi is OK.
  4. 寿司があんまり好きじゃない – Sushi ga amari suki ja nai – I don’t like sushi very much.
  5. 寿司が嫌いです – Sushi ga kirai (desu) – I don’t like sushi.
  6. 寿司が大嫌い – Sushi ga daikkirai (desu) – I hate sushi.




Podcast 07: Just the dialogues

Today’s Key phrase

If you only learn one thing from this podcast, learn today’s key phrase which is: て を 貸して くれる? Can you lend me a hand? TE O KASHITE KURERU

This phrase literally translates as “Could you lend me a hand?” and it has the same meaning. This is a casual level phrase used between people of similar social standing. It’s fine to use this at work with your coworkers but you might not want to use this with your boss.

Even if you are a beginner in Japanese and don’t understand everything in the following dialogs don’t worry. Just try to listen out for the key phrase to get a feel of how it is used in daily conversation.

You can also memorize the phrase and try to use it in real life when the opportunity arises. Even if you can’t describe exactly what it is you want help with, you can just say 手を貸してくれる and depending on the context the listener should probably be able to understand what you want.

If you wanted to ask someone of high social status for help you might say something like: 手伝っていただけますか Would you help me please? Tetsudatte itadakemasu ka

If you want to ask someone if they need help politely you might say: なにかお手伝いしましょうか Do you need help with anything? Nani ka otetsudai shimashōka

Dialog 1

Asuka: ちょっといい? Chotto ii? Can I bother you for a minute? Alex: うん。どうした? Un. Dō shita Sure, what’s up?

Asuka: このパソコンを全部会議室 へ運びたいんだけど手を貸 してくれる? Kono pasokon o zenbu kaigishitsu e hakobitain dakedo te o kashite kureru? I want to take all these PCs to the meeting room. Could you lend me a hand?

Alex: うん、いいよ。 Un, ii yo. Sure.

Dialog 2

Asuka: アレックス、ちょっとい い? Arekkusu, chotto ii? Alex, can I bother you for a minute?

Alex: どうした? Dō shita What’s up?

Asuka: 週末引越しするんだけど手 を貸してくれる? Shuumatsu hikkoshi surun dakedo te o kashite kureru? I’m moving this weekend. Could you lend me a hand?

Alex: あの、今週末ちょっと髪の 毛洗わなきゃいけない Ano, konshuumatsu chotto kaminoke arawanakya ikenai Well, I have to wash my hair this weekend…

Asuka: まじでお前?週末しか洗っ てないのかよ Maji de omae. Shuumatsu shika arattenai no ka yo Are you kidding me? You only wash on the weekends?!

Alex: 手伝うよ Tetsudau yo I’ll help you

Asuka: ありがとう Arigatō Thanks

Dialog 3

Asuka: アレックス、ちょっとい い? Arekkusu, chotto ii? Alex, can I bother you for a minute?

Alex: うん。どうした? Un. Dō shita Sure, what’s up?

Asuka: 廊下の電球とりかえたいん だけど手を貸してくれる? Rōka no denkyuu torikaetain dakedo te o kashite kureru I want to change the lightbulb in the corridor. Could you lend me a hand?

Alex: あの実は暗いところは ちょっと怖いんですけど Ano jitsu wa kurai tokoro wa kowain desu kedo Well, the thing is I’m afraid of dark places.

Asuka: まじかよ?! Maji ka yo Are you serious?!

Dialog 4

Asuka: アレックス、ちょっとい い? Arekkusu, chotto ii?

Alex, can I bother you for a minute?

Alex: うん。どうした? Un. Dō shita Sure, what’s up?

Asuka: 宿題でわからないところが あるんだけど手を貸してく れる? Shukudai de wakaranai tokoro ga arun dakedo te o kashite kureru There’s something I don’t understand in my home work. Could you lend me a hand?

Alex: いいよ Ii yo Sure

Asuka: 本当わかるのか? Hontō wakaru no ka Do you really understand?

Alex: あの、とりあえずわかるふ りをする Ano, toriaezu wakaru furi o suru Well, for now I’ll pretend to understand

Dialog 5

Asuka: アレックス、ちょっとい い? Arekkusu, chotto ii? Alex, can I bother you for a minute?

Alex: うん。どうした? Un. Dō shita Sure, what’s up? Asuka: 部屋を片付けたいんだけど 手を貸してくれる? Heya o katazuketain dakedo te o kashite kureru? I want to clean up the room, could you lend me a hand?

Alex: 絶対やだ! Zettai yada Absolutely not! Asuka: 大きソーファがあってうご かせないの! Ōkii sōfa ga atte ugokasenai no There’s a big sofa I can’t move

Alex: なんでいつもいやな仕事? Nande itsumo iya na shigoto Why is it always these sucky jobs?

Asuka: アレックス手を貸してくれ るかな… Arekkusu te o kashite kureru ka na… I thought you might be able to help…

Asuka: ぎっくり腰なんですよ! Gikkuri koshi nan desu yo I’ve got a strained back.

Asuka: わかった、わかった、ごめ ん。違う人に聞いてみる Wakatta, wakatta, gomen. Chigau hito ni kiite miru OK, OK, sorry. I’ll try asking someone else.

Random Phrase – Mottainai – It’s a waste

やみつき Yamitsuki To be completely addicted to something / To be hooked on something you can’t stop

Examples: Pokemon Go にみんなやみつき Pokemon Go ni minna yamitsuki Everyone is hooked on Pokemon Go

ぱちんこにやみつき Pachiko ni yamitsuki I’m hooked on Pachinko

ロスアンゼルスのみんなラーメンにやみつき Rosuanzerusu no minna raamen ni yamitsuki Everyone in Los Angeles is hooked on ramen noodles


Podcast 06: Just the dialogues

These are just the Japanese dialogues taken from podcast #06 “Useful Classroom Japanese Phrases”

In this podcast, Asuka and I teach you some useful classroom Japanese phrases so you can interact with your teacher and understand more. We teach you how to ask questions about vocabulary and sentences. In fact, I wish I had known all this when I started to study Japanese in Tokyo all those years ago. It would have helped me learn vocabulary a lot more quickly.

We also teach you how to speak in a respectful way to your Sensei. And of course you can catch up with the rest of our random banter about what’s been going on with Asuka and I recently.

Japanese Pronunciation English
先生 Sensei Teacher
ちょっと Chotto A little
質問 Shitsumon Question
どうぞ Dōzo Please go ahead
…てどういう意味ですか …te dō iu imi desu ka What does … mean?
…という意味です。 …to iu imi desu It means…
…でどんな文章が作るんですか? …de donna bunshō ga tsukurun desu ka What kind of sentence can you make with…
食事 Shokuji Food
残す Nokosu To leave something
彼女 Kanojo Girlfriend
振る Furu To shake / to dump someone
使える Tsukaeru To be able to use something
Kimi You (casual)
指輪 Yubiwa Ring

Main Dialog 1 (Japanese)

Student: 先生、ちょっと質問があります。 Sensei, chotto shitsumon ga arimasu.
Teacher: はい、どうぞ。 Hai dōzo.
Student: 「もったいない」ってどういう意味ですか? Mottainai tte dō iu imi desu ka.
Teacher: それはtoo good to wasteという意味です。 Sore wa too good to waste to iu imi desu.
Student: 「もったいない」で、どんな文章が作れるんですか? Mottainai de donna bunshō ga tsukurun desu ka.
Teacher: 食事を残すなんてもったいない。 Shokuji o nokosu nante mottainai.
Student: そのように使うんですね。わかりました。ありがとうございます。 Sono yō ni tsukaun desu ne. Wakarimashita. Arigatō gozaimasu.

Main Dialog (English)

Student: (Teacher) Could I just ask a question?
Teacher: Yes, go ahead.
Student: What does “Mottainai” mean?
Teacher: “Mottainai” means too good to waste.
Student: How do you use “Mottainai” in a sentence?
Teacher: Leaving food is a waste (mottainai).
Student: That’s how you use it! I understand. Thank you.

Random Phrase – Mottainai – It’s a waste

Here are some extra examples of this week’s random phrase which is “Mottainai” which means it’s such a waste.

1) 彼女を振ったなんてもったいない!

Kanojo futta nante mottainai

It was such a shame (waste) that you dumped your girlfriend!

2) もう新しいパソコン買うの?もったいないな、まだ使えるのに。

mō atarashii pasokon kau no. mottainai na, mada tsukaeru noni.

You’re buying a new PC already? That’s a waste, you can still use the old one.

3) 君にその指輪はもったいないよ。

Kimi ni sono yubiwa mottainai yo

That ring is wasted on you.

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Podcast 05: Just the dialogues

These are just the Japanese dialogues taken from podcast #05 “Top 10 tips for studying Japanese”

Top 10 Tips for Studying Japanese 

One of the most common questions I get is “I want to study Japanese but where should I start?”. The next most common question is “I’ve hit a wall with my Japanese and don’t seem to be improving, what should I do?”.

So, if you are a beginner, or have already started studying Japanese but got stuck, this podcast is for YOU! Asuka and I put our heads together and came up with our top 10 tips for studying Japanese more quickly and effectively. I also wanted to make this podcast to point out that, there aren’t any magical shortcuts or secret techniques for learning to speak perfect Japanese in only a few months. A lot of websites out there would have you believe otherwise!

Rather, it is more about discovering your “why” or motivation for studying Japanese. Then, you want to focus on a specific goal. In that way, you won’t waste your time studying non-essential topics and save a lot of time.

Podcast Dialog

Japanese Pronunciation English
Asuka: おはようございます ohayō gozaimasu Good morning
Alex: おはようございます ohayō gozaimasu Good morning
Asuka: 昨日のパーティー楽しかったですね kinō no paatii tanoshikatta desu ne Yesterday’s party was fun
Alex: 楽しかったですね tanoshikatta desu ne It was fun wasn’t it?
Asuka: またやりましょう mata yarimashō Let’s do it again
Alex: ぜひ! zehi Absolutely!

Top 10 Tips for Studying Japanese
Tip # 1 – Set a clear goal

This one is pretty obvious. Before you start anything, you should set a clear goal, preferably with a deadline. This will help to really focus your studies. If you’re not sure what your goal is, simply ask yourself “why do I want to study Japanese?”

Do you want to visit Japan on holiday? Do you want to be able to read your favorite manga? Or perhaps you want to become a ninja. Depending on that answer, you can focus more effectively on a study plan.

That might be obvious to you but it is worth saying. And there is one more reason to have a clear goal that people sometimes forget about.

And that is, setting a goal avoids wasting time studying stuff you don’t need to know. If your goal is to visit Japan for a week on holiday, then you should just be studying simple phrases for booking tickets, asking directions and perhaps shopping. You don’t need waste your time studying 2500 kanji from a dusty textbook for that.

So, why do you want to study Japanese? Think about it and leave a comment below.

On to the next tip.

Tip # 2 – Know your everyday expressions

For those of you who want to visit Japan, work here and be able to hold a conversation in Japanese, learning high frequency everyday expressions is a great place to start. You should know greetings for different times of day, asking how people are and how to say please and thank you.

For example:

おはようございます – ohayō gozaimasu – Good morning

こんにちは – Konnichi wa – Hello (Used around midday)

こんばんは– Konban wa – Good evening

お元気ですか – ogenki desu ka – How are you?

元気です – I’m fine

お願いします – onegai shimasu – Please (Could you do something for me?)

ありがとうございます – arigatō gozaimasu – Thank you

どういたしまして – dō itashi mashite – You’re welcome

Tip # 3 – Learn expressions that don’t translate easily into English

After learning some basic daily expressions you should learn phrases that don’t easily translate into English. In other words, learn phrases that give you a deeper insight into Japanese culture. This also helps you to stop translating words from your own language into Japanese which wastes time and makes you sound unnatural. Here are some examples:

お先に失礼します – osaki ni shitsurei shimasu

This means something like, “I’m sorry for leaving before you”. You say this when you are the first person leaving work or some engagement with a group of people.

お疲れ様です – otsukare sama

This literally means, “you must be tired”. It is used in various situations but means something like good job, or well done. You use it to express your appreciation for someone after they have exerted a lot of effort for something. It can also be used when someone finishes work and goes home for the day.

You often hear the last two phrases together like this.

A: お先に失礼します – Right, I’m off (Excuse me for leaving first)

B: お疲れ様です – Bye (Good job)

これからよろしくお願いします – kore kara yoroshiku onegaishimasu

The word “yoroshiku” means something like good or please treat me well. So this phrase is could be used to mean “I look forward to working with you” or ” I look forward to doing something with you in the future”. It’s used a lot at the end of a self introduction.

いただきます – itadakimasu

The closest phrase I could think of would be “bon apetite”. You say it before eating, usually at home when someone has cooked for you. Itadakimasu literally means “I receive”. It’s not only used for food but 9 times out of 10 you’ll hear it before people eat.

ごちそうさまです – gochisō sama desu

This basically means “That was delicious”. You use it after you’ve eaten to show your appreciation for having received the food and that it was delicious.

All of these phrase teach you the deeper cultural values of the Japanese and give you a glimpse into the way they interact with each other. This isn’t a complete list but it’s a good place to start.

Learn these phrases well young Jedi.

Tip # 4 – Drill common speech patterns

If you only learn one thing this from this lesson, learn this: Drill, drill and drill again common speech patterns. This is perhaps the single most effective method I used to develop my own fluency in Japanese. It’s not rocket science or anything new, but it does work. You just have to do it.

It’s super simple. Just choose a phrase, say it over and over again and just change one word every time. In that way, you practice the pattern until you can say it without thinking and you also expand your vocabulary at the same time.

For example, let’s learn how to say “where is…” so and so in Japanese which is… “…はどこですか” ( …wa doko desu ka)

Now, let’s drill and change one word every time.

銀行はどこですか? – ginkō wa doko desu ka – Where is the bank?

郵便局はどこですか?- yūbinkyoku wa doko desu ka – Where is the post office?

駅はどこですか?eki wa doko desu ka – Where is the station?

コンビニはどこですか?konbini wa doko desu ka – Where is the convenience store?

ガンダムはどこですか?gandamu wa doko desu ka – Where is Gundam?

That’s it. You just gotta do it! You can drill phrases from whatever textbooks you are studying from, manga or even Learn Japanese Pod lesson notes which you can find on our podcast pages.

Tip # 5 – Know your Japanese adjectives

One really good way to start having conversations quickly in Japanese is learning adjectives. Why? Japanese usually omits the subject of a sentence. So although you could say 今日は暑いですね Today is hot. You could just say, 暑いですね it is hot. Or even just 暑い! So you can simply say “hot” and it will make sense in Japanese. So by learning adjectives you are going to be able to say more with less.

This is because Japanese is what’s called a high context language. If you compare it with English, a low context language, you rely on the words in the sentence to convey all the meaning.

However with Japanese, you have to take into account the situation in which the word is being spoken. So, if you are standing outside in the park, sweating and fanning yourself and you just say 暑い atsui – hot, the person listening will fill in the blanks and understand that you are saying that you are hot now.

That means, on the plus side, Japanese can be extremely minimal and efficient in conveying what you want to say. On the minus side, it can sometimes lead to infuriatingly vague and confusing conversations. So when in Japan, it’s not what you say, it’s where, when and by whom it is being said by.

Here are some examples:

暑い – atsui – hot

寒い – Samui – cold

冷たい – Tsumetai – cold, used for things like liquids or solids

高い – takai – high or expensive

安い – yasui – cheap

楽しい – tanoshii – fun

Also, adjectives conjugate. For example, if you wanted to say, it was fun, you say:

楽しかった – tanoshikatta – it was fun

Tip # 6 – Know your basic Japanese verb conjugation

Just like adjectives, you can use verbs to express more with less. Also, basic verb conjugation in Japanese is pretty simple. Just like adjectives, you can use single verbs on their own without a subject and sometime without an object. Check out this basic pattern:

行きます – ikimasu – to go (present)

行きません – ikimasen – not go (negative present)

行きました – ikimashita – went (past)

行きませんでした – ikimasen deshita – didn’t go(negative past)

Depending on the situation you could simply say 行きませんでした which could mean “I didn’t go” or if you raised your voice “Didn’t you go?”. It’s all pretty useful stuff so make sure to learn some basic verbs.

Tip # 7 – Supercharge your Japanese with sentence enders

Although there are many sentence ending particles, you won’t go far wrong if you start by learning “yo” and “ne”.

“ne” means something like “isn’t it” so for example:

楽しかったね – tanoshikatta ne – it was fun wasn’t it

いいね – ii ne – That’s good isn’t it (This is also used on facebook for the “like” button)

“yo” emphasizes the point you want to make. So you could say:

楽しかったよ – tanoshikatta yo – It really was fun

いいよ – ii yo – That’s fine. (That’s totally OK)

Using sentence enders like these make you sound a lot more natural so learn them!

Tip # 8 – Listen to Japanese language learning podcasts

OK, shameless self promotion here but you can listen to my Japanese language learning podcasts here.

You want to get as much listening practice as you can and these days there is a lot on line you can download and listen to. It’s important to find something that you find interesting and can engage in to increase the chances you will keep listening to it. You don’t have to limit yourself to podcasts. Check out Youtube videos, listen to the weather forecast on NHK news or perhaps watch anime online.

When I started studying Japanese a million years ago, I just bought a simple Japanese conversation textbook with a CD and listened to that religiously. It wasn’t the best textbook out there but it really helped with my listening and prepared me well for studying Japanese conversation.

Whatever you listen to, the point is to just listen, even if you don’t understand everything. The goal is to get used to the sounds, pace and intonation of Japanese. Trust me, it will really help with listening and building the base to develop your conversational skills. You can also listen to a repeat audio out loud which is called “shadowing”. It’s another great way to drill common sentence patterns as I talked about in point #4.

Tip # 9 – Learn Hiragana and Katakana and don’t use Romaji

Just a quick tip here but try to learn Hiragana and Katakana as quickly as you can. Try to get away from using “romaji” to learn Japanese. This is because it’s somewhat confusing to read Japanese in romaji script. Also, being able to read Hiragana and Katakana helps a little with pronunciation as it forces you to speak using the basic sounds of Japanese.

And don’t be shy to start learning Kanji right from the start. But that’s another article for later…

Tip # 10 – Get out there and practice your Japanese

I was having a conversation with a well traveled multi-lingual friend of mine who said something very interesting. He said “if you can engage with the culture, you won’t need any language classes”.

In other words, if you can take part in something you enjoy with other people who speak the language you want to learn, then you’ll learn a lot faster. Of course, taking lessons is essential. However, it can be all too easy to get stuck learning kanji lists and grammar points and not get out there and actually practice speaking with Japanese people.

If you can create the opportunity to interact with Japanese people in real life situations outside of the classroom, that’s when you start to really internalise the language and really start communicating.

My own Japanese speaking skills really improved when I studied in Japan and lived in a dormitory of Japanese students who didn’t speak English very well. I was forced to used Japanese on a daily basis which really helped me improve. I also studied Aikido for a while which also really boosted my speaking and listening skills.

Also, just hanging out with my Japanese buddies and drinking with them in Izakayas was a great experience and a really fun was to consolidate everything I had learned in the classroom.

Even if you don’t live in Japan, you can create opportunities to speak with Japanese people. For example, joining a club, taking Japanese lessons or even speaking to people online.



Podcast 04: Just the dialogues

These are just the Japanese dialogues taken from podcast #04 “How to talk about your home town in Japanese”

How to talk about your home town in Japanese

I can guarantee you, if you are visiting or living in Japan as a foreigner, you will undoubtedly be asked 出身はどこですか – shusshin wa doko desu ka – where you are from?

So Asuka and I (Alex) thought we would make this podcast to teach you how to talk about your home town with someone you have just met in Japan. This is a great way to get a conversation going and with the simple vocabulary and phrases in the podcast, you’ll learn how to do this without too much trouble.

You’ll learn how to say where you are from, describe what it’s like and recommend cool places to visit. Japanese are very interested and inquisitive when it comes to finding out why a foreigner would take the time to travel all the way to Japan.

Main podcast dialog

A: ご出身はどこですか? shusshin wa doko desu ka

Where are you from?

B: ロンドンです rondon desu

(It is) London

A: そうですか。どんなところですか sou desu ka. donna tokoro desu ka

Really? What is it like?

B: 賑やかですね nigiyaka desu ne

It’s lively

A: おすすめな観光スポットはありますか? osusume na kankou suppoto wa arimasu ka

What’s your recommendation for sightseeing?

B: バキングハム宮殿がいいですね。ぜひ遊びに来てください。案内しますよ。bakinguhamu kyuuden ga ii desu ne. zehi asobi ni kite kudasai. annai shimasu yo.

Buckingham Palace is good. You should visit. I’ll show you around.


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Podcast 03: Just the dialogues

These are just the Japanese dialogues from podcast #03 “How to apologize in Japanese”



Podcast 02: Just the dialogues

These are just the Japanese dialogues for podcast #02 “How to do a self introduction in Japanese.

How to do a basic self introduction in Japanese
Today’s podcast will teach you how to do a self introduction in Japanese. This is extremely useful for students who are about to start a new Japanese course at university, college or even high school. Don’t worry, although there are many ways you could do this, we’ve made you an easy template with 5 simple steps for you to use to make your own. Just change the words in blue to fit your own information.

Step 1: Say your name

Hajimemashite, Jennifer to moushimasu

Nice to meet you. I’m Jennifer.

Step 2: Say where you’re from

Amerika no kariforunia shuu kara kimashita

I come from California in the US

Step 3: Say what your hobbies and interests are

Shumi wa tangodansu desu. soshite kuishinbou desu

My hobby is dancing tango. Also I love food.

Step 4: Say you’ll do your best to study Japanese

Korekara nihongo wo isshokenmei benkyou shitai to omoimasu

I want to do my best to study Japanese.

Step 5: Use a natural Japanese phrase express good will and end the introduction

yoroshiku onegai itashimasu

I look forward to (studying) with you

*This literally means “I count on your good favour in the future” but it can mean anything from “nice to meet you” to “I look forward to working/studying with you”

If you listen to the podcast you can hear more examples of self introductions.


Podcast 01: Just the dialogues

These are just the Japanese audio dialogues featured in podcast #01: How to ask your friends to hang out in Japanese. Us this to practice your listening and speaking skills.

Here are the main dialogues used in today’s lesson:

Dialogue 01

A: ね,アレックスお寿司好き
B: 好き、好き
A: じゃあ、明日一緒にお寿司食べに行かない B: いいね、楽しみ

A: Ne, arekkusu, osushi suki
B: Suki suki
A: Jaa, ashita issho ni osushi tabe ni ikanai ii ne. tanoshimi

A: Hey Alex, do you like sushi?
B: Yeah, I love it.
A: OK, so do you want to get some sushi with me tomorrow? B: Sounds great, I’m looking forward to it!

Dialogue 02

A: ね,アレックスしゃぶしゃぶ好き
B: 好き、好き
A: じゃあ、明日一緒にしゃぶしゃぶ食べに行かない B: いいね、楽しみ

A: Ne, arekkusu, shabu shabu suki
B: Suki suki
A: Jaa, ashita issho ni osushi tabe ni ikanai ii ne. tanoshimi

A: Hey Alex, do you like shabushabu?
B: Yeah, I love it.
A: OK, so do you want to get some shabushabu with me tomorrow? B: Sounds great. I’m looking forward to it!

Dialogue 03

A: ね,アレックスビール好き
B: 好き、好き
A: じゃあ、明日一緒にビール飲みに行かない B: いいね、楽しみ

A: Ne, arekkusu, shabu shabu suki
B: Suki suki
A: Jaa, ashita issho ni biiru nomi ni ikanai ii ne. tanoshimi

A: Hey Alex, do you like beer?
B: Yeah, I love it.
A: OK, so do you want to get some beer with me tomorrow? B: Sounds great. I’m looking forward to it!

Dialogue 4

A: ね,アレックス日本酒好き
B: 好き、好き
A: じゃあ、明日一緒に日本酒飲みに行かない B: いいね、楽しみ

A: Ne, arekkusu, nihonshu suki
B: Suki suki
A: Jaa, ashita issho ni nihonshu nomi ni ikanai ii ne. tanoshimi

A: Hey Alex, do you like nihonshu?
B: Yeah, I love it.
A: OK, so do you want to get some nihonshu with me tomorrow? B: Sounds great. I’m looking forward to it!

Dialogue 5

A: ね,明日香,お寿司好き
B: 好き、好き
A: じゃあ、明日一緒にお寿司食べに行かない

B: ああ、明日はちょっと忙しいかも
A: じゃあ、また今度ね
B: ありがとう、またね

A: Ne, asuka, osushi suki
B: Suki suki
A: Jaa, ashita issho ni osushi tabe ni ikanai aa, ashita wa chotto isogashii kamo jaa, mata kondo ne
B: Arigatou, mata ne

A: Hey Asuka, do you like sushi?
B: Yeah, I love it.
A: OK, so do you want to get some sushi with me tomorrow? B: Ah, actually, tomorrow’s a little difficult for me
A: OK, next time
B: Thanks, next time