Japanese Conversation: Perfecting Hotel Japanese

2009 November 4

When learning Japanese conversation, or developing conversational skills in general, it’s important to develop “situational fluency.” Language learners should anticipate common situations they’ll run into, and prepare their language skills to meet the demands of those situations. Of course each Japanese language learner has different demands, some might be traveling to Japan later on, others might have more immediate needs in their current workplace. This article will cover very useful Japanese conversation for any language learner that plans on traveling to Japan, and staying in a hotel.

Before getting into the specifics of Japanese conversation vocabulary at a hotel, it’s important to prepare you for the cultural experience you’ll encounter. Japan is a service nation, from McDonald’s to Uniqlo you’ll encounter some of the best customer service on the planet. The hotels are no exception, from extra clean sheets to bowing at every turn to little knick knacks in your room, the hotel is the epitome of Japanese customer service.

Let’s start with something simple for Japanese Conversation, if you already have a reservation and you’re just looking to check -in:

チェックインをお願いします 

The word for check-in in Japanese sounds just like the English word, in Katakana it reads: チェックイン (Chi e ku i – in) You use “onegaishimasu” as a more formal version of “please”, so this phrase means Check in, please.

私の名前はビルです。わたしのなまえはびるです。

The above phrase, adding in Kanji as well as hiragana and katakana means my name is Bill.

部屋を見せてください。

The above phrase uses the command phrase, “please” or kudasai. The verb 見せる(みせる)means to show, and 部屋(へや)means room, please show me the room.

Now here’s some beginning phrases for Japanese conversation if you don’t have a reservation. It gets a little more complicated here:

ようやくをしたいんですが  ようやく means reservation. This is a very useful phrase and is used at either restaurants or at hotels. The correct way of asking for a reservation is literally like above, “I would like to make a reservation but…” “But” in Japanese, especially when used with the たい or “to want” form, means to lighten the request, to ask politely.

Naturally the next question you’ll have to answer is how many people per room. Below is how to answer one person (hitori) through three people (san nin)

一人 ひとり

二人 ふたり

三人 さんにん

If you’re on a budget, you might ask how much per room:

部屋代は一泊いくらですか?部屋代(へやだい) heya is a word we learned previously, literally meaning room. When you combine this with the character 代dai, it literally means “the price of the room”. To ask per night, you ask: 一泊(いっぱく)(ippaku) means one night, or in this context it means per night, and then of course how to ask how much, or ikura desu ka?

Here’s how you say one night (ippaku) through three nights (sanhaku):

一泊 いっぱく

二泊 にはく

三泊 さんはく

And finally, before going to your room you’ll have to ask “When is check-out?”

チェックアウトは何時ですか? チェックアウト as with Check-in, Check-out is also in katakana, and resembles English. The second part of the sentence is nanji desu ka, literally what time?

So now you’ve learned the basics of Japanese conversation at a hotel. One of the drawbacks to Japan and learning Japanese conversation however, is with excellent customer service comes “keigo”, very formal Japanese language. You the customer of course do not have to worry about using keigo when you speak, but when the front desk or concierge speaks to you in Japanese they’ll be using keigo. Therefore when learning Japanese conversation for hotels it’s important to learn both the formal versions of keigo, and of course more rudimentary forms of Japanese for yourself. This article covered the rudimentary Japanese, next article we’ll work on the keigo.

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