Other Articles

8 Japanese Phrases to Use at Convenience Stores

Jun 18, 2020

Japanese convenience stores are a subject of intense interest among visitors from overseas. There is a wide variety of items available at any convenience store, so it’s an excellent place to stop by when traveling. Whether you need to buy an item that you’ve forgotten to pack, are feeling hungry, or need souvenirs, it’s a good idea to ask the shop clerk for their advice so you can find what you’re looking for with ease. In this article, we would like to introduce you to phrases that you can use to help you enjoy your time shopping at the convenience store!

A Note on Japanese Pronunciation

All Japanese words include what English speakers recognize as a vowel. Unlike English, where “a” can be pronounced in a variety of ways (such as “ah” as in “apple” or “ay” as in “cake”), Japanese vowel sounds are the same in every word.

Japanese vowel pronunciation: 
A – Ah (as in “Augmented”)
E – Eh (as in “Everybody”)
I – E (as in “Egypt”)
O – Oh (as in “Orange”)
U – Ooh (as in “Crude”)

It’s difficult to convey pronunciation with text, so check out this cute song on Youtube to listen for yourself.

Please also note that “ka” at the end of a sentence indicates a question. It is OK to raise your inflection as you would when asking a question in English.

Now let’s get on to the phrases!

Useful Phrases

1) OO wa arimasu ka?
Do you have OO?
This is the phrase to use when you’re checking to see if this store carries a specific item. Examples of words you can add into the OO part of the phrase are coffee (ko-hi), stamps (kitte), and oyu (hot water). You may be wondering why you would ask for hot water at a convenience store. This is because some convenience stores have electric water boilers filled with hot water ready for people who buy instant noodles at the shop. If you want to eat your ramen right away, then it’s good to ask if this shop has boiling water so you can make it on the spot!

2) OO wa doko desu ka?
Where are the OO?
When you’re looking for a certain item, try saying this phrase. Examples of words you can add into the OO part of the phrase are masks (masuku), cigarettes (tabako), or riceballs (onigiri).

3) Toire wo karitemo iidesu ka?
May I use the restroom?
There may be times when you’re out and need to use the restroom. Many, but not all, convenience stores have restrooms available. If you’ve found one with a restroom, it’s a good idea to ask to use it in advance, as some store request that you ask before using. Say the above phrase to the staff to let them know you’re going to use the washroom.

4) OO wo kudasai.
OO please.
When you’re making your purchase, you may want to ask the cashier for an extra item. Examples of words you can use with this phrase are chopsticks (ohashi), plastic bag (fukuro), or fried chicken (karaage). Why fried chicken? This is because a lot of convenience stores serve fried food at the counter. If any of it looks tempting to you, don’t be afraid to use the above phrase to ask for a fried snack!

Please note that as of July 1st, 2020, the three major convenience store chains in Japan will charge for plastic bags. If you want to avoid paying, then don’t forget your reusable bag!

5) OO wo irimasen.
I don’t need OO.
In general, when you buy food or drinks at convenience stores, the cashier will add eating utensils or a straw free of charge. If you don’t need one, then use the phrase above. Examples of words you can use with this phrase are fork (foku), wet wipe (oshibori), or straw (storo).

6) Atatamete kudasai.
Please heat this up.
When you buy a bento boxed lunch from the convenience store, use the phrase above to request that it be heated by the cashier. Some convenience stores require that you heat the item yourself with the microwaves available in the shop. If you find yourself at a convenience store like this and can't figure out how to use the microwave, don’t hesitate to ask the staff for assistance.

7) Ikura desu ka?
How much is it?
This is the phrase to use when confirming the price. You can use this sentence in a lot of shopping situations, so keep this one in mind.

8) Kado/kyashuresu/IC kado wo tsukaemasu ka?
Can I use a credit card/cashless payment/an IC card?
Use the phrase above when you want to know if the convenience store accepts methods of payment other than cash. The three major convenience store chains in Japan generally accept credit cards, cashless payment methods that use a barcode, and IC cards such as Suica.

Were there any phrases that you found useful? The phrase above can be used in a variety of shopping situation. Don’t be afraid to try out these phrase so you can enjoy shopping in Japan to the fullest!