A key part of any trip to Japan, one which can’t be avoided, is the accommodation. The vast majority of visitors book hotels, hostels, etc. well in advance of their trip. However, when choosing a place to stay a big concern is whether or not the hotel staff understands languages other than Japanese.
In particular, small hotels and ones out in the countryside are not likely to have multilingual staff. In fact though, this is no reason not to book a hotel; all you need is just a few Japanese phrases and your trip will be an absolute breeze!
So, let’s have a look at some essential phrases, from checking in on the first day, to checking out when you leave.
1. Front Desk/Reception
The part which most people worry about is the initial check in, but whether you have a booking or not there is no need for concern. Besides the fact that Japanese customer service is top notch, it is actually quite straightforward to get into a hotel room – after all you just want a room and they just want people to stay in their rooms!
a. Have a reservation?
i. I’d like to check in
・チェックインをお願いします。/ Chekku in o onegai shimasu
ii. My name is XX
The next thing they will ask for is your name so that they can check your reservation. Just listen out for the word ‘namae’ and then say the following:
・私の名前は _____。/ Watashi no namae wa _____ desu.
Before getting your room key they will ask to take a copy of your passport. The word passport is quite similar in both languages, so when you hear that word you can just say ‘yes, here you go’.
・はい、よろしくお願いします。/ Hai, yoroshiku onegai shimasu
b. Don’t have a reservation? “How to book a hotel in Japanese”
While it is good to be prepared and book your accommodation in advance, sometimes plans change or you unexpectedly need to book somewhere new. However, this shouldn’t be a source of stress – some easy phrases will soon have you relaxed on your bed! The key word you want to hear out for in the staff member’s answer is hai (yes)!
i. I’d like to book a room
1. Can I have a room for 1 night?
・一部屋予約をしたいです。/ Yoyaku o shitai desu
2. Can I have a room for 1 person / 2 people?
・一人／二人部屋をお願いします。/ Hitori / futari heya o onegai shimasu
3. Can I have a double / twin bed?
・ダブルベッド／ツインベッドをお願いします。/ Daburu bedo / tsuin bedo o onegai shimasu
2. Asking about the room
While checking in, or before checking in, often there are a couple of important things that you want to know – in particular whether there is any internet!
a. Do you have wifi?
・Wi-Fiがありますか。/ WI-FI ga arimasu ka
b. What time is check-out?
・チェックアウトは何時ですか。/ Chekku outo wa nanji desu ka
3. Services – Getting the most out of your stay
a. Can I have my key/key card please
At some hotels, you may be requested to leave your room key with the reception staff when you go out. For this reason, you'll need to request your room key.
・私の部屋のカギ／キーカードをお願いします。/ Watashi no heya no kagi / ki-ka-do o onegai shimasu
b. Taxi, please
・タクシーを呼んでください。/ Takushi o yonde kudasai
c. Is there an ATM?
・ATMはありますか。/ ATM wa arimasu ka
d. Do you have a map?
・地図はありますか。/ Chizu wa arimasu ka
e. Where is the nearest station?
・駅はどこですか。/ Eki wa doko desu ka
f. What time is (breakfast / dinner)?
・朝御飯／晩御飯は何時ですか。/ Asagohan / bangohan wa nanji desu ka
g. Do you have laundry service?
・ランドリーサービスはありますか。/ Randori sabisu wa arimasu ka
4. When you need help
Sometimes you might find that things don’t work as expected, or you don’t know how to operate them. However, there is no need to worry – it is easy to speak up and ask about it.
a. I can’t use the (shower / safe / air conditioner / tv / remote control).
・シャワー/金庫/エアコン/テレビ/リモコンを使えません。/Shawa / kinko /eacon/terebi/rimocon o tsukaemasen
This is one of the most important meals of the day – so knowing what time it starts from is quite important!
・朝御飯は何時からですか。/ Asagohan wa nanji kara desu ka
6. Checking out
After a successful stay full of trips around the local area and some hard-earned sleeps, eventually you will need to check out. Saying you are checking out is quite easy using a combination of similar sentences and vocabulary to ones covered earlier in this article, チェックアウトをお願いします。(chekku outo o onegai shimasu). Though you may like to say how you want to pay the bill:
a. I’d like to pay the bill (by cash / card)
・現金／カードで支払いをしたいです。/ Genkin / kado de shiharai o shitai desu
7. If you’ve forgotten something
It has happened to everyone at one point in their lives, you are five minutes down the road from the hotel when you suddenly realise your phone, map, something, is missing. It is quite simple to explain to the hotel staff that you accidently forgot something.
・_____を忘れてしまいました。/_____ o wasurete shimaimashita
Finally, there are just a few handy phrases to know for some common things you might want to ask.
a. Asking for directions
・_____はどこですか。/_____ wa doko desu ka
b. Asking to store luggage
・荷物をここに置いていってもいいですか。/ Nimotsu o koko ni oite ittemo ii desu ka
c. Ryokan-specific phrases
Generally when explaining you have an allergy you can just use the name plus allergy, and plus ‘ga arimasu’. So, for example a peanut allergy would be ピーナッツアレルギーがあります (Pinattsu arerugi ga arimasu).
i. Explaining food allergies
・_____があります。/_____ ga arimasu
ii. Asking where the bath is
Ryokans are famous for their public baths, which on’t be directly connected to your room, so a useful question is being able to ask where it is!
・お風呂はどこですか。/ Ofuro wa doko desu ka
With this set of phrases in your back pocket you should be able to successfully navigate round all the ins and outs of checking in and out of a hotel, as well as be able to ask for anything that you need during your stay. Have a good trip, and remember that you don’t need to memorize these phrases for travelling, take a printout of this article and use it as a reference guide instead!
Written by: Mike Sullivan
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.
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