Lesson 9: Shopping in Japan

The purpose of this lesson is to teach you the basic phrases needed in order to shop in Japan. First off, you need to learn some basic money phrases.

The Japanese currency is the yen. In Japanese, it is written えんand Romanized as “en.” The kanji for yen is円. 円 always appears after the amount. Roughly speaking, one hundred yen equals about one dollar (USD).

The chart below will give you some numbers to start with.

100                  ひゃく                        hyaku

200                  にひゃく                    nihyaku

300                  さんびゃく                sanbyaku

400                  よんひゃく                yonhyaku

500                  ごひゃく                    gohyaku

600                  ろっぴゃく                roppyaku

700                  ななひゃく                nanahyaku

800                  はっぴゃく                happyaku

900                  きゅうひゃく            kyuuhyaku

1000                せん                            sen

2000                にせん                        nisen

3000                さんぜん                    sanzen

4000                よんせん                    yonsen

5000                ごせん                        gosen

6000                ろくせん                    rokusen

7000                ななせん                    nanasen

8000                はっせん                    hassen

9000                きゅうせん                kyuusen

10,000             いちまん                    ichiman

20,000             にまん                        niman

30,000             さんまん                    sanman

40,000             よんまん                    yonman

50,000             ごまん                        goman

60,000             ろくまん                    rokuman

70,000             ななまん                    nanaman

80,000             はちまん                    hachiman

90,000             きゅうまん                kyuuman

If you want to ask how much something is, you should use “いくらですか” (ikura desu ka). If you know what the item is called in Japanese, you can name it. If you don’t know what it is called, you can simply point to it and say “this,” “that,” or “that over there” (“これ” “それ” “あれ” in Japanese). If you want to say “this,” “that,” or “that over there” before a noun, you must change the words to “kono,” “sono,” and “ano” (“この” “その” “あの”).

Look at the example below:







A: Kore wa ikura desu ka? (How much is this?)

B: Sore wa nanahyaku en desu. (That is 700 yen.)

A: Yasui desu ne. Ano kaban wa ikura desu ka? (Cheap, isn’t it? How much is that bag over there?)

B: Sono kaban wa gosen en desu. (That bag is 5,000 yen.)

A: Totemo takai desu! (That’s very expensive.)

In the conversation above, you see how to ask the price of something, whether you know what the noun is in Japanese or not. “Ikura desu ka?” is a very useful phrase. It can be used when shopping but also at restaurants, especially if you cannot read the kanji.

If you want to call something expensive, you use the word “たかい” (takai). You can simply say “たかいです” (takai desu) for “It’s expensive.” The word for cheap is “やすい” (yasui), which can be used the same way. Both words can function with just “desu” or in a full sentence like “sono kaban wa takai desu” (そのかばんはたかいです) which means “That bag is expensive.” Totemo (とても) is a modifier that means “a lot” or “very.”

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