Just some Basic Japanese

The most fundamental activity on vacation in Tokyo: wandering around and buying things at convenience stores…need a little bit of basic Japanese

Now, if possible, you want to be jamming around Tokyo without engaging in any “problem-solving” conversation, that is, you want every interaction to be smooth, to the point, and you want to be on your way, unless of course you want to pursue a conversation with a certain individual, then at that point let simply the regular rules of human conduct be your guide (there’s really nothing special about Tokyo in this regard “culture-wise”, just you know, don’t be a dick.


That being said, let’s take a figurative walk downtown:


Stopping at a convenience store:


You will have a great time seeing various snacks, drinks, and accessories both familiar and not, at Japan’s array of convenience stores. The process of purchasing your items is identical to America, however, the store clerk will be doing 2 routine things:


1. Exclaiming the price of your goods (this will be the first thing uttered by the clerk)

{price} ni narimasu

Your total is {price}

Don’t trouble yourself with learning the Japanese numeral system, rather look to the screen to the immediate side of the register area, and see your price conveniently displayed.


2. Asking you if you want a bag (this may be said immediately after the price is said, so be ready with a response to this common second utterance)


Fukuro ni iremasu ka?

Bag will you put in?


Your possible answers:

1. Hai  (with a brief downward head nod)   Yes

2. Daijobu desu (In a slight “no” voice”) No, I’m fine


           *Note– this second question about the bag will not be asked with 100% certainty. They may just start putting your things you bought into a bag without asking.

You need to be aware, that anything you buy at a convenience store that is not consumed immediately in front of the convenience store (where there are trash cans), say, if you take it somewhere to eat it later, you will be stuck with the trash. You must not litter in Japan, under any circumstances. If you litter, you demonstrate ineptitude to be a simple consumer of products, and that’s embarrassing. So, you have a couple of questions to ask yourself when you make purchases at a convenience store:

Will I be eating this immediately? If not, perhaps the plastic bag is good because you can bundle up all of your trash into the plastic bag, tie it shut, put it in your backpack, and throw it away at the next convenience store.

Do I have items which will require use of the bag later? If you are buying say, cans or bottles, or a bag of chips, then you could probably open it immediately when you get out of the store, or put those items in your backpack for consumption later, as even after they have been consumed, the trash is unlikely to cause any dirtying of your pack.

—-If you fail to ask yourself these questions and take proper action when receiving items, you may find yourself with a lot of plastic bags you don’t need. This may not seem like a big deal, but it’s just habitual for me at this point, and I don’t like to use plastic unnecessarily.


That being said, if it is the case that the clerk is bagging your items without asking you, and it is also the case that you do not want a plastic bag, you need to say this:


Fukuro wa daijobu desu (say it with a bit of exclamatory intonation, and the waving hand gesture of refusal will work well)

Just think, no, no, the bag is fine (unnecessary)