Japanese phrasebook

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Japanese ( nihongo) is spoken in Japan, and essentially nowhere else other than Hawaii, South Korea and China, where some use it as a second language. Japanese may be distantly related to Korean, but is entirely unrelated to Chinese, though it uses a large amount of imported Chinese vocabulary. The written form uses a combination of Katakana, Hiragana and Kanji characters which were all derived from Chinese characters.
Japanese is a language with many distinct dialects, and while standard Japanese (標準語 hyōjungo), which is based on the Tokyo dialect, is universally taught and understood, you may get an interesting reply from some when travelling around the country. The dialect you are most likely to encounter is the Kansai dialect, which is spoken in the region around Osaka and Kyoto (with slight dialectal differences between the two cities), and is often heard in the Japanese mass media. This might make it harder you to understand them if you have just started learning Japanese, though locals will usually be able to switch to standard Japanese if you ask them politely.

Pronunciation guide


Reading and writing

Phrase list

Learning more