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Goin’ Japanesque!

Basics of Japanese: Shopping in Japan (Conversation Practice)

One of the excitements in Japan is shopping. Not only women but men are also very particular when it comes to shopping for clothing. This lesson provides an introduction to useful Japanese phrases when shopping for clothes in Japan.


STEP1: Japanese Phrases to Catch

“Irasshaimase (Welcome)” : This is how a shop staff will greet you when you first enter a store.

“Nanika osagashi desuka? (Are you looking for anything in particular?)”: If you want to browse at your own pace, let them know by saying “Mite-iru dake desu. (I’m just looking)”.

“Arigato-gozaimashita (Thank you very much)”: This is a phrase that a store staff will call out regardless of if you purchased something or not.


STEP2: When You Are Unsure Where Something Is Sold

“XX (a noun) wa dokodesuka? (Where is XX?)”

In the place of XX, enter the word for the item you are looking for.
(The phrase “XX wa doko ni arimasuka? (Where is XX located?)” can also be used. See STEP 4).

Sample words to use for XX:

Jacket: Jaketto
Coat: Kooto
Hooded sweatshirt: Paa-kaa
Cardigan: Kaadigan

T-Shirt: Ti-shatsu
Shirt: Shatsu
Sweatshirt: Toreenaa
Sweater: See-taa

Skirts: Sukaato
Pants: Pantsu
*Be mindful of the intonation as Pantsu pronounced similar to the English word pants can mean underpants, and is differentiated from pants (Pa ↓n↑tsu↑)to mean trousers.
Denim pants: Ji-pan

Dress: Wanpiisu
Tailored Suit: Suutsu
Scarf: Sukaafu


STEP3: To Add Certain Conditions

“Kore no XX (a noun) wa arimasuka?”

If you have found something you like but you want a different color, size or print, you can use this phrase. In place of XX (noun) you would include the conditions.

COLOR (Iro) :
Red: Aka
Blue: Ao or Buruu
White: Shiro
Black: Kuro
Grey: Guree
Beige: Beeju
Green: Midori
Purple: Murasaki

SIZE (Saizu):
Small: Esu Saizu
Medium: Emu Saizu
Large: Eru Saizu
Extra Large: Eru Eru Saizu

PRINTS (Gara):
Vertical Stripes: Sutoraipu
Horizontal Stripes: Boodaa
Check: Chekku
Polka Dots: Dotto
Floral Print: Hanagara
Camouflage Print: Meisai
Leopard Print: Hyo gara
Solid: Muji

Cotton: Men
Denim: Denimu
Knitted: Nitto
Leather: Kawa
Hemp: Asa

* For some words that express color, there are 2 ways of expression such as “aka (red)” and “akai (red)”. “Aka” is the noun form and “akai” is the い-adjective (i-adjective). I-adjectives are words that have an -い(i) at the end of the word and expresses the state of something. However, the only colors with i-adjectives are “Aka (red), Ao (blue), Kiiro (yellow), Chairo (brown), Shiro (white), Kuro (black)”. Other colors like “Midori (green), Murasaki (purple), Gure (grey), Beju (beige)” which are relatively newly names for colors, are only expressed in the noun form. 


STEP4: If You Already Know What You Want

“XXYY wa arimasuka? (Do you carry XXYY?)”

“Dokodesuka? (Where is it?)”would work but if you are unsure if the store even carries what you are looking for, it is better to ask “arimasuka (do you carry it)”.

In the place of XX, enter “i-adjective”, “na-adjective” or “noun + no”. The nouns introduced in STEP 3 are conjugated as below. Be careful not to use the nouns in their original form.

COLOR (Iro) :
Red: Akai
Blue: Aoi
Yellow: Kiiroi
White: Shiroi
Black: Kuroi
Grey: Guree-no
Beige: Beeju-no
Green: Midori-no
Purple: Murasaki-no

SIZE (Saizu):
Small: Esu Saizu-no
Medium: Emu Saizu-no
Large: Eru Saizu-no
Extra Large: Eru Eru Saizu-no

PRINTS (Gara):
Vertical Stripes: Sutoraipu-no
Horizontal Stripes: Boodaa-no
Check: Chekku-no

Cotton: Men-no
Denim: Denimu-no

In the place of YY you would put a noun (the item you want) from STEP 2.

Exercise Problem: What would you say when you are looking for the following clothing?



1. Shiroi ti-shatsu wa arimasuka? (Do you carry white t-shirts?)

2. Beeju no kooto wa arimasuka? (Do you carry beige coats?)

3. Midori no wanpiisu wa arimasuka? (Do you carry green dresses?)


STEP5: Explaining the Clothes You Want in Detail

There are also ways to use 2 conditions to explain an article of clothing.

(Black + Small Size) + Cardigan: Kuroi esu saizu no kaadigan
(Red + Floral Print) + skirt: Akai hanagara no sukaato
(LL Size + Camouflage Print) + Pants: Eru eru saizu no meisaigara no pantsu

If you want to describe 2 colors it would be “a color + to+ a color”. In this case the noun, not the i-adjective form will be used.

(Red + White)+ check print: Aka to shiro no chekku

Exercise Problem: What would you say when you are looking to purchase the following clothing?



1. Aoi kawa no jaketto wa arimasuka? (Do you have a blue leather jacket?)

2. Beeju no chekku no mafura wa arimasuka? (Do you have a beige check patterned scarf?)

3. Aka to shiro no boodaa no wanpisu wa arimasuka? (Do you have a red and white horizontal striped dress?)


STEP6: Conversation with Store Staff – Other Useful Phrases

“Sumimasen (Excuse me)”: This is used when you want to get a staff’s attention. Start off with this phrase when you want to start a conversation.

“Kono fuku wo, shichaku dekimasuka?”: Even in small boutiques, in most cases there is a fitting room. Some places let you try on as you want but in most cases it is better to let a store staff know prior to trying something on.

If a staff asks you “Dou desuka? (how is it?)” after you have tried something on…
If the size is right say: “Chodo ii desu (It fit just right)” “Pittari desu (It fit perfectly)”.
When the size is not right: “Chotto chiisai desu (It’s a bit small)” “Chotto ooki desu (It’s a bit big)”
If you don’t like it: “Yamete okimasu (I will pass on this)”

“Ureteiru iro wa doredesuka? (What’s your best selling color?)”: If there are too many color options and you can’t decide, go ahead and ask the store staff.

“Kaado wa tsukaemasuka? (Do you accept credit cards?)”: Most stores let you use credit cards, but some smaller stores particularly those under private management may not accept credit cards so it is better to check in advance.

“XX (a place) wa dokodesuka?”:
Use this if you want to know where the “kagami (mirror)”, “toire (restrooms)”, “reji (cashier)”, “shichakushitsu (fitting room)” is. “XX wa dokoni arimasuka? (Where is XX located?)” is another phrase that can be used (See STEP 2).


STEP7: You Have Found What You Wanted and Want to Purchase

“Kore, kudasai. (I would like to take this one.)”:
In many clothing boutiques, their stock is placed at the back of the store. Go ahead and ask them if they have stock of the item in the color and size you want.


The most important point to remember when purchasing clothes in Japan is the sizing. Japanese are quite petite compared to people from other parts of the world. If you are unsure, make sure to try clothes on or it may be safe to choose a size larger than you would normally purchase.

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