We have discussed so many words and phrases on this blog page of ours and they all have one thing in common–they are way too… COMMON.

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Overview – Uncommon but useful Japanese words and phrases

Learning a new language has become so much easier in recent years. Back in the day, the best way to get as much rudimentary information about learning a language was to spend hours finding a good book and even longer by learning from a skilled teacher. Now, as long as you have the internet and some patience, you can pretty much collect any and as much information as you would like. For Japanese learners, the key words used when searching for more information on Japanese are usually, “common” and “useful”.

Well for this blog, we’ll do it a little bit differently! We will be talking about Japanese words that are useful but not as common or as easy to come by. These Japanese words/phrases might be a bit “particular” or can only be stumbled upon if you are looking for a specific topic. These are usually words that you learn while living in Japan so it will be quite useful for anyone who plans on living in Japan!

Conversational words – useful Japanese words

The thing with casual conversations is, you have no idea what topic it’ll end up on. Here’s a list of hopefully useful words you can use in conversations.

昨夜: Sakuya – “Last Night”
This should be one of the basic words you learn in Japanese but for some reason, a lot of people don’t really use or study this word that much! It’s actually quite useful!

Shinbun ni yore ba, sakuya jishin ga atta sou da.
According to the newspaper, there was an earthquake last night.

懐かしい: Natsukashii – ”Nostalgia/Nostalgic”
This is the perfect word to use when you want to express feelings of remembering good memories or feelings of nostalgia. This is technically used as an expression as well.

Kanojyo wa natsukashii omoide ni fuketta.
She indulged herself in nostalgic memories.

蛇足: Dasoku – “Unnecessary”
If directly translated, it means “snakes legs”. It is, however, used as an expression that means “unnecessary”… much like snakes having legs!

Kono shiken wa dasoku dayo.
This test is unnecessary.

居留守: Irusu – “Pretending to not be there”
Honestly, we wish we had this word in English! It means to pretend to not be home when someone knocks on your door or when someone is looking for you.

Moshi denwa ga kakatte kitara, irusu wo tsukatte oite.
I’m not here if anybody calls.

生きがい: Ikigai – “Reason for being/living”
When having a deep conversation with a close friend, there’s a possibility of this getting brought up. Do you think you have an answer to this question?

Kanojo wa musuko ga ikigaidesu.
Her son makes life worth living.

キープ君: Ki-pu kun – “For now boyfriend/stand-in boyfriend”
As mentioned above, it means a “for now” boyfriend–a boyfriend that you keep around until you find the one.

Suki na hito ga inai kedo ki-pu kun ga imasu.
I don’t have anyone I like but I have a stand-in boyfriend.

Words related to emergencies – useful Japanese words

We have no idea what life can throw at us so might as well be ready in multiple languages!

緊急: Kinkyuu – “Emergency”
If you need help and would want to get people’s attention, this is probably the best word to use!

Kinkyuu jitai nano desu.
This is an emergency.

おぼれています: Oboreteimasu – “(I’m) Drowning”
Quite straightforward–this will definitely catch anyones attention

Oboreteimasu! Kyuujo in o yonde kudasai!
I’m drowning! Call the lifeguard!

アレルギー: Aregugi – “Allergy”
Not necessarily the most uncommon word on here but definitely quite useful in the right situation.

Kusuri ni arerugi- ga arimasu.
I’m allergic to some medicine.

避難所: Hinansho – “Evacuation Shelter”
This might just save your life one day so might as well try and remember it!

百九十番: Hyakujukyuban – “119/ Call the ambulance”
This is the number to ring if you want to call an ambulance–it has the same effect when said out loud and will make people understand that you are in need of an ambulance.

百十番: Hyakujuban – “110/ Call the police”
110 is the number to ring when you need to call the police. Saying this out loud indicates that you are in need of police assistance.

Food related words – useful Japanese words

Our personal favorite and honestly, very useful for people who plan on living in Japan.

別腹: Betsubara – “Having room for dessert despite being full”
It’s direct translation is “separate belly” but it is mainly used as an expression that means wanting dessert despite being quite full.

Amai mono wa betsu bara nano.
I always have room for dessert.

口寂しい: Kuchisabishii – “Not hungry but wanting to eat”
This phrases’ direct translation is “lonely mouth” but is used as expressing feelings of having the munchies despite not being hungry.

Mada kuchi sabishii no?!
You’re still craving food?!

飲み放題: Nomihoudai – “Bottomless drinks/ Drink-all-you-can”
Usually heard and spoken at Izakayas (Japanese pub) with alcohol and a few diner style restaurants that have a buffet style when it comes to drinks.

Kyou no bi-ru nomihoudai wa san byaku en dake desu.
Todays all-you-can-drink fee is 300 Yen.

食べ放題: Tabehoudai – “Eat-all-you-can”
Used mainly at buffets–something we wish existed in every restaurant in the world.

Saa, minna de tabehoudai no yakiniku ya sa bi ikou yo.
Well, let’s all go to an all-you-can-eat yakiniku restaurant.

お持帰り: Omochikaeri – “Take-out/Take-away”
Used for when you are ordering food and want to eat your food outside the restaurant.

Kono menu wa omochi kaeri dekimasu ka?
Can I take this menu home?

店内: Tennai – “Dine in”
Used when you would want to eat your food in the restaurant.

Tennai de kudasai.
For here, please.

大盛り: Oomori – “Big Size”
This sizing is mainly used for food at restaurants that offer rice bowls or even bowls of ramen–don’t expect this to be used at fine dining establishments!

Oomori wa ooki sugiru kara taberarenai.
The big size portion is too big for me--I can't finish it!

並盛: Namimori – “Regular Size”
Regular size or normal sized food portion used at restaurants like Sukiya, Yoshinoya, etc.

Namimori wa pittari desu.
The average sized serving of food is perfect.

少なめ: Sukuname – “Small Size”
A small portion of food… for ants. We’re kidding, it’s a small food portion for people!

Ko-hi- wa sukuname ni onegaishimasu.
Please get a small portion of coffee for me.