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10 Survival Words for Japanese

Posted by on Nov 19, 2012 in Japanese, Language | 0 comments

If you are going on a trip to Japan and don’t have time to learn to speak (you leave tomorrow), here are a list of Japanese words that should help you find the train and let someone know you are hungry. They won’t allow you too have even a basic conversation, you’ll need a lot more words for that, but they will allow you to take care of your very basic needs.

1. Doko (どこ)-where

2. Ikitai (いきたい) -I want to go to

3. Sumimasen (すみません)-Sorry, excuse me。

4. Ikura (いくら)-How much

5. Otearai (おてあらい)-Bathroom

6. Arigatou (ありがとう)-Thank you

7.  Byouin (びょういん)-Hospital

8. Tabetai (たべたい)-Want to eat

9. Nomitai (のみたい)-Want to drink

10. Eigo (えいご)-English? 

You can find the original list with descriptions and details at Japanese Words.

I also recommend that you take some tools with you. One great (and free) one is Imiwa for the Iphone. It is a complete dictionary and will allow you to look up a lot more words. It also shows you the common Japanese words first. You can find it in the Apple App store.

Another great dictionary for Japanese is It’s available online and contains a lot of example sentences and ways to look up Japanese characters.

Please feel free to leave any comments about other words you feel should be added to the list?

DO you speak any other languages. What 10 words would you recommend for those languages?


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30 day challenges, how-to videos, product reviews, adventure videos, and other updates coming to Simplistic Thoughts

Posted by on Sep 15, 2011 in Enjoying Life, Health, Language, Money, Other, Personal Development, Time management | 0 comments

When I first started this blog several years ago I used to post several times a week. I then moved from Tokyo to pursue Internet Marketing and started focusing more on making a living on the web than just enjoying it. Unfortunately, I tended to ignore this website.

Lately, I am finally starting to learn how to do both. I am really excited with the content I have planned for this blog, and I think you will enjoy it.

Lately, I am really getting into video and editing and I have been wanting to do more with this on the blog. My camera was flooded on a snorkeling trip, but I have a new HD camera on the way and figured what better way to tell you about the new plans for the website than make a video. The camera hasn’t arrived yet and neither has my new computer (I am typing this on a 6 year old laptop). But, I figured rather than wait, I would get started and use what I have.

This was shot on my iphone and edited using a free program on my 6 year old laptop. Let me know what you think, and please leave comments and subscribe (you can find a subscribe button on the sidebar) to my YouTube account. I will have many more vids on the way.

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Common Japanese Words list for Anki and Mnemosyne

Posted by on Nov 16, 2009 in Language | 0 comments

Living in Japan, I have made a number of posts about learning the Japanese language and living in Japan. So for all of you readers who are interested, or might be thinking about studying Japanese there is a list containing over 1000 common Japanese words and kanji.

The list has been divided up to make it easier to learn and has also been converted into different formats. You can use it with both Anki and Menmosyne. Since it is in txt file it should also work with many memory programs.

You can download the lists at the link below

Common Japanese Words

Good luck!

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Common Japanese Phrases and Words

Posted by on Feb 18, 2009 in Language, Personal Development | 7 comments


Regardless of whether you are starting to learn Japanese or plan to visit Japan for business or vacation, you have start  learning somewhere. One of the best places to start is with some of the most common Japanese phrases and most common Japanese words.

First, if you are trying to learn the language, then learning the common Japanese phrases will allow you to communicate in very basic conversation helping to boost your confidence and motivate you to continue learning. As with most languages, it is a small percentage of words that make up the majority of speech. Learning the most common Japanese words well will help you to communicate much better.

If you are traveling to Japan on business, learning common Japanese phrases and words will allow you to not only get around better, but may help your business relations go smoother. Your Japanese counterparts will be impressed with you effort to try and speak basic Japanese even if it is ordering a drink or saying “hello” or “thank you”. If you are are planning to visit Japan as a tourist then I would highly recommend earning at least common Japanese phrases and common Japanese words. Even in Tokyo there are a lot of places where you may not be able to find a person who can speak English. Being able to ask “where is this” or  say please will help you get around better and receive more help.

Below is a list of some of the common Japanese words and phrases you might want to know if in Japan.It isn’t a complete list by any means, but it is enough to help you ask and answer some important questions. I have also listed more resources for learning Japanese further below.

Common Japanese Words

  • Excuse me, sorry- Sumimasen-  (you can use this word to get the attention of your server
  • How much- Ikura
  • I, me- Watashi
  • Train- Densha
  • Money- Okane
  • Taxi-Takushi
  • Hotel- Hoteru
  • What- Nani
  • Where-Doko
  • Yes- Hai
  • No- Iie
  • Name- Namae
  • Please- onegaishimasu
  • Thank you- Arigatou gozaimasu
  • Hopital- byouin
  • Water- Omizu

Common Japanese Phrases

  • Where is…- ~wa doko desu ka?
  • How much is this- Ikura desu ka?
  • Nice to meet you- Hajimemashite
  • My name is…- Watashi wa ~ desu?
  • It was delicious- Oishikatta desu (used after finishing a meal)
  • How are you- Ogenki desu ka?
  • I’m looking forward to it- Otanoshimi shiteimasu
  • I want to go to…- ~ni ikitai desu
  • Thank you- arigatou gozaimasu
  • Can you speak English- Eigo ga hansemasu ka?
  • I’m sorry, I don’t understand- Gomen nasai, wakarimasen
  • I don’t know- Shirimasen

Helpful materials to learn Japanese

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Studying Japanese-Optimize your time

Posted by on Aug 27, 2008 in Language, Personal Development, Time management | 0 comments

I published an article yesterday on choosing the right materials when studying a language. The article was pretty long and focused on general language study. A friend mentioned to me that it would be very helpful if I could put together a short, easy to read list that focuses on helpful tips for learning Japanese. Here it is!

Tips for learning to speak Japanese

  1. Choose materials containing updated conversation and words. Languages change and studying from books 10 years old will not be very helpful. Choose materials that have very common Japanese words and phrases. Computer programs can be quite useful because many of them offer both listening and speaking practice and contain common Japanese phrases and words.

  2. Once you have chosen your Japanese study materials, get to studying. Repetition is the key. Study the words and phrases out loud this will help you speak the word and also hear the meaning. First learn from English to Japanese and then study the Japanese memorizing the English meaning. Failure to do this is why many people learn to understand , but are unable to speak.
  3. Start watching TV and movies in Japanese. Japanese movies and videos are a great way to learn how things are actually said and give you more listening practice. It is the Chance to drill into your brain all the words you have been learning. I recommend watching with Japanese audio and English subtitles.
  4. Use technology to your advantage. There are a number of website focused on learning Japanese as well as audio or video to download for your ipod or mp3 player. There are forums where you can meet other language people and even connect with Japanese people.
  5. Make lots of mistakes. One of the biggest reasons people fail to learn to speak the language is because they are afraid to make mistakes. Making mistakes is just part of learning and actually helps you learn quicker. And of course, have fun

Tips for learning written Japanese and kanji

  1. Practice, practice, Practice. One of the important parts in memorizing kanji is constant practice. You must actually take the time to put the pen on the paper over and over again. The good part is that writing the kanji will also help you memorize words and meanings.
  2. Use Kanji in words. It is important to learn how to write each kanji, but the best way to really memorize them is through the use of words. Using kanji in words will also help you learn the various readings
  3. Use association to create a relationship in your mind. This can be done by associating Kanji with words, their meanings, or even to how they look. Find the system that works best for you.
  4. Study on the go. Kanji is something that you will forget if you don’t constantly use it. This is even more true when you are first learning. Use flash cards or digital technology (the itouch/iphone has some cool kanji programs) to study on the go.
  5. Create a list of Kanji you come across that you don’t know to study later. This is even better for those living in Japan.

Learning Japanese can be difficult, but the rewards and great feelings that come along with communicating in Japanese and understanding the written language largely outweigh the hard work.


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The Right Materials

Posted by on Aug 20, 2008 in Language, Personal Development | 0 comments

I recently sat down to study Japanese (something I have been doing a lot more of lately) and something came to mind as I looked down at my language materials (pictured above). Choosing the right materials and the right method of study is just as important as how hard you study. This statement holds true in just about anything you try to learn. You can get more out of practicing something right 10 times than you can in doing it wrong a thousand times.

When it comes to learning a language, the first thing you should consider is why you are studying and what you want to get out of it. Do you want to be able to communicate on a vacation or do you plan to work in a foreign country. Studying to communicate on a vacation would require that you focus on the spoken and listening aspects of the language and the latter would require that you also learn to read and write. Participation in normal daily conversation would also require a much smaller vocabulary base than someone working in a foreign country. This gap can get even wider when you consider the complex alphabets containing thousands of characters in the Japanese and Chinese system.

Living and working in Japan, the reading and writing skills are important to me. However, since the character set is large and complex, it means that I spend the majority of my time learning them. Spending time learning all the characters and words that are rarely used slows down my ability to obtain oral fluency. There are thousands and thousands of words, but only a small portion make up the majority of most conversations. The same 80/20 rule that applies to work, stating 80 percent of all the results are achieved through 20% of the tasks, also applies to languages. I have listed a few recommendations for getting the most out your language studies.

1. Set a clear goal- Decide what you want to accomplish by studying the language as the materials will change drastically. If oral fluency is your goal then you need to focus on a different skill set than someone who wants to read e-mail with a pen pal.

2. Choose your materials carefully- Keep your goal in mind when choosing how and what you will study. If you want to gain oral fluency, then a formal class and materials structured to learn grammar will not be effective in helping you to reach your goal. Spending time to find the best materials will save you a lot of time later.

3. Choose study methods that meet your life- Everyone learns differently and has a different schedule. For someone with a long commute focusing on oral communication, audio programs in the car will be a way to learn words and gain listening skills. Where as someone studying written language may need to read from a book during their lunch hour. If you are not sure how you learn the best, try different methods and see which one works best for you. I believe combining visual with audio is best, but that may not be possible in all situation (ex. learning while driving).

4. Use technology- Use technology to increase study effectiveness and study where traditional materials wont go. The Iphone or Itouch have a number of language programs and flash card application as does the Nintendo DS. Not only are they small and can be used without a light source, but allow you to focus on the areas you want. You do not have to follow them like a book. These types of technologies also help increase the study time by cutting down on the waste. You can spend much more time studying using an electric dictionary than fumbling through a paper one.

5. Ask for advice- Talk to people who have already mastered the language you want to study. Chances are they can give you some tips that will help you speed up your learning. They can also generally provide a large dose of inspiration.

6. Have fun- Learning a language should be fun. Enjoy the time that you spend learning and try not to get overwhelmed. You will be amazed at how much you can learn if you keep at it.

7. Practice makes perfect- Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. One of the biggest mistakes people make is not using a language because they are afraid to make a mistake. If you don’t use it, you won’t get much better. I tend to learn the best after making a mistake. My mistakes have also created some great laughter.

8. Study continuously- Language is like not like riding a bike. If you don’t use it you will forget it. Use it when ever you have the chance. Luckily, once you learn it, you can re-learn it very quickly.

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