Articles Blog

Can You Feed Yourself in Japan With No Japanese?

Can You Feed Yourself in Japan With No Japanese?

Hello world! This is awkward, my kids usually show what life is like in Japan However, there’s a topic which they couldn’t help with: Feeding yourself in Japan, with no Japanese, because obviously they know Japanese. As it happens, my brother and his family came to visit us in Japan for the first time and beyond “arigatou” and “oishii,” They don’t speak Japanese. So, being the exploitative younger brother that I am, I documented their experience getting fed, all the while offering little to no help. We’re going to go out and try to order some food How are you guys feeling about that I think it’s gonna be okay, I..I think that, I’m hoping, that they understand words like, “chicken” and “noodles.” But before I start showing their experiences, let me lay down some basics about getting food while out and about in Japan. The first thing to figure out is where to find food. The obvious answer would be to open your eyes, because if you’re in a place like Tokyo, you’ll easily find places everywhere. But not all food establishments are equally accessible, so, let me walk you through some of the easier ones. The easiest by far is the “konbini” or convenience store. If you can’t find a convenience store then maybe you will starve in Japan, because they’re all over the place The great thing is that they’re grab-and-go You don’t really need to do anything, but place your items on the counter and fork over your money What can you eat there? A standard to-go food is onigiri Which are rice balls that normally have something nice on the inside and seaweed on the outside My personal favorite is the 7-eleven premium salmon one I know it’s a fancy splurge costing 200 yen Most onigiri are closer to 100. By the way, just think of yen as cents. So 200 yen would be approximately 200 cents or two US dollars, making 100 yen about one dollar. But you can buy much more than onigiri, you can pick up anything in the refrigerated section from sandwiches, to soba noodles, to chicken katsudon. If the items need to be heated, the staff can do it at the counter or sometimes there’s a microwave accessible to the customer Oh yeah, there’s also plenty of hot treats at the front of the convenience store. You can get nikuman, which is meat buns or pizza man Which is a pizza bun, or you can get oden, which is great on a cold day And there’s also a dry section, where you can pick up breads or perhaps a cup of noodles that you can fill up with the hot water, that’s also available in the store You really could survive off of konbini food, but there’s so much more The next easiest choice is chain restaurants. Like konbinis, these should also be relatively easy to find They’re the most likely to have bright signs and big open windows, where you can see people eating inside And if you’re really unsure, they usually have these pictures of happy people on a poster These are actually “employees wanted” posters, chains are always looking for new hires So maybe you can also pick up a job at the same time The majority of these places have picture menus and many of them have some English as well Some are renovating, and now have tablets that you can use to order from your table like this family restaurant called OOTOYA And when it’s time to pay, there’s an automated machine where you can do that as well But what you’re probably more likely to find is a button. So, once you’ve looked at your picture menu and are ready to order Simply push the button, and then use that same finger to point at the menu to show what you want. You can totally do this without Japanese, but if you want to speak it a bit, you could say “kore onegaishimasu” Which means “this, please” After every set of food is given to you, you’ll usually receive your receipt They’re not trying to quickly kick you out, so feel free to push the button to order some more When you’re ready to go, just bring the bill up to the cashier at the front and pay up As you probably know, there’s no tipping in Japan, so I would highly recommend against it, as you’ll just confuse things. With most restaurants, the staff generally leave you on your own unless you request help. The staff will most likely only visit you three times: Once to take the drink order, once to give you the drinks and take your food order, and once to give you your food and receipt. If you want additional help, don’t be afraid to say “Sumimasen,” which means “excuse me,” or put your hand up in the air. Now sometimes you don’t receive a receipt, so in those cases, just go up to the counter to pay. And honestly, the biggest tip I can give when you don’t know what to do, is observe the locals and follow their lead! Let’s now move on over to the shopping mall. Shopping malls are a reasonably easy place to eat They’ll have food courts where you can generally order at the counter So easy in fact, this is the first place I sent my brother to try and get some food, using his limited Japanese language skills… Now, the reason I was laughing was because usually when you have a bowl of udon, you take one or two pieces, but he’s just going crazy taking a ton of tempura so It’s totally fine, you can do whatever you want, But he was saying that, “Yeah, I had a lot of fried food.” Yeah, no wonder! It seems like my brother did all right, so I decided to see how my sister-in-law would fare. That was “shichimi”, or “seven spices” and I explained, I’ve only seen people put it in the dipping sauce, not on the noodles. Here’s her second attempt with the spice in the sauce, instead of on the noodles After you finish, you clean and clear your table, like your parents might have asked you to do at home. Since many places will give you real dishes, you have to return the dishes back to the restaurant you bought it from. This was filmed at Solamachi, a mall under Sky Tree, so obviously, a massively popular tourist destination. Using only English was no issue, but even if the staff didn’t understand English, With the picture menus, it would have been easy for them to point and order I’m glad we tried that, it’s a very unique flavour It’s pretty easy, really not that challenging at all. Department stores are also great places to eat. They’re often found near busy train stations like in Shinjuku or Shibuya. In the basement of these department stores You’ll usually find a big grab and go food section, where you can get all sorts of goodies. Whether it be yakitori, sushi, or gift desserts for that special obligation, like the one you have to get for white day… Anyway, most everything you’d want to buy is showcased, making the point-and-get method extremely easy to do Now, one area where you’ll find lots of good places to eat But that may not be apparent to visitors, is office towers and department stores. They usually have a whole floor or two dedicated to restaurants. There’s a few reasons I like these places, generally the food is of higher quality than your family or chain restaurants found out in the streets, the majority of them also don’t allow smoking, which can be tricky to find in Japan. They’re used to catering to busy office people or visitors. So, you’ll find a lot of them have food displays or picture-heavy menus You’ll also find a good variety of restaurants all within a small area. So you don’t need to endlessly walk around town, trying to find something that makes everyone happy So safely ordering some tasty food is a fairly easy thing to do on these food floors Something that I haven’t done, but that I read somewhere that makes so much sense, is to take a picture of the menu item you’d like to order That way when you go inside to order you can simply show your waiter what you want to eat Even if you can speak some Japanese The menus can be hard to read, as you’d need to know a fair amount of kanji, the Chinese characters that Japanese use That’s where an app like Google Translate can help, as you can use the image function to translate the pictures For example these are bamboo noodles Okay, that’s not really right, because in reality this is tantanmen, a spicy ramen noodle dish originating from China What about this curry? First up is live ball warm ball, not too promising The next one cheese curry, that’s accurate. I don’t know about this though, men’s curry on the meadow? Prawn fried fish is close enough. So perhaps you’ll have a 50/50 chance of getting what you think you’re ordering Luckily, this is a chain restaurant So they have pictures and even some English to go along, no need to do Japan on native mode yet With some places, you can simply use the ticket machine If you’re lucky, it’ll have pictures or English on it. If not, it’ll be a fun game Here’s my bro, trying for the first time. Now, it could be my brother was messing with me, but I truly think he was trying to put money into the light indicator instead of into the big slot underneath it. So, he kept on taking too long, and his money got spit back out at him a few times. But eventually, he figured how to push buttons within a reasonable timeframe and went on to order. Honestly, if you’re having difficulty ordering, A Japanese staff member is likely to walk you through it. So as long as you can point at the item you want and say, “Kore onegaishimasu,” You’ll probably get fed. I only showed Tokyo in this video, and many places around the city are used to non-japanese speakers, but even half a decade ago, I traveled around Japan to some remote places and was always able to get something in my stomach. So I trust you’ll be just fine in Japan. If you’ve traveled to Japan before, What tips would you give to a first-timer? Let us know! Thanks for watching. See you next time! Bye!

100 thoughts on “Can You Feed Yourself in Japan With No Japanese?”

  1. Am I the only one who found it quite ironic that he said "Dont Tip" then seconds later said he wanted to give the "Biggest Tip"?

  2. In my Japan experience the best thing is to go out with your friends without knowing any japanese pick a random restaurant/pub, and just choose randomly on the menu. You will get surprised what you gonna get. Oh and everyone understands whats beer so you will never gonna fail XD

  3. japan are great because they let westerner speak japan..if at my country, we are the one who need to speak english to them…they even does not want to learn the language..

  4. Point to the pretty pictures, or speak the business lingo … Oh wait, that's English. I'm not lazy, I'll pick up the local lingo etc., but if they speak my language (since it's the international talk of trade), then I'll go with what works.

  5. OMG this is hard cheating! The food service worker in the mall SPEAKS ENGLISH! That doesn't count!! Most people in Japan don't speak any English at all!

  6. I will be going next year. It's going to be a challenge! I'm going to try and learn a little bit of Kanji before I go.

  7. I used to live in Tokyo for almost 5 months. I had no issues with food. Just went to a store or restaurant an pick up something that looks good.

  8. Biggest tip I can give from my time in China and Japan: Don't ask what's IN the thing, taste it to see if you like it. (Food allergies do make this tough, I admit)

  9. just hang out with locals, or make a deeper search and be creative in communicating with people with no English speaking ability.. else you'll end up eating mediocre food just like these family.

  10. The shop is Similar to China… so cool that you clean your table lol that’s a completely different world.

  11. But how easy you'll get fed as a vegetarian?

    Do they have much vegetarian options (including no fish or poultry obviously, because some people seem to think poultry and fish grow on trees).

  12. 1:45 isn't there also this thing about not eating in public? I just heard someone once say that it's frowned upon or something to like, go outside, sit on a bench and just eat your food there.

  13. You walk without any footwear in a public place?! I am from Russia and we too take our shoes off in houses. But not in public places. You could get some serious skin diseases that way.

  14. I've never been there, but I would keep a notebook with English to Japanese words to get me around. Body language, smile and speak in a respectful manner will get you around anywhere.

  15. 6:37A proper way to eat soba (buckwheat) noodles in Japan is to put some or all of the wasabi and the shredded spring onion (in a small container on the left) in the bowl of dipping sauce, if you want to, HOLD the bowl in one hand, dip some noodles in the dipping sauce, and… SLURP up the noodles (probably the most difficult part for non-Japanese people). Shichiji is usually sprinkled over HOT noodles, not COLD noodles.
    Well, of course, you can eat soba noodles in any way you like.

  16. Somehow nice to see members of the human species getting by without understanding one another but still being friendly and respectful. I really wish this was the norm. Great video!

  17. Unfortunately I would have a lot of trouble as I am a very picky eater. (thank my dad for that) Japanese hates picky eaters you can't make exceptions, unless your allergic they aren't going to change something for you. they would say "why'd you order it, get something that doesn't have that in it." so my advice is just pick it out if you can.

  18. Hello. I would love to move to Japan. Should I apply and get a job first before going? And can somebody please please tell me if there a School I could enroll in that I can start learning Japanese properly once I arrive? But I am just asking about a school that teaches. Don't want to have to go university or something.

  19. I would worry about the actual ingredients which is often a worry in China/JPN.
    Example i am allergic to fish so any contact with including products cooked in fish oil would be a worry.

  20. Just found your channel and I’m binge watching 🤗 You’re brother was a “good boy” play let’s guess. I’ve been to Japan and I really loved it. My would research before leaving your country or every day before going out. I went to 3 star Michelin, street restaurants but I adore food vending machine! Couldn’t resist even when I wasn’t hungry 😋 Thanks. Have you ever thought about teaching basic Japanese to us YTers?

  21. Japanese must stop supplying "Fukushima radiation poisoned foods" to tourists in Japan! . . . Stop this exporting of radioactive foods to other countries! . . This is crazy!

  22. When you talk to the staff in Japanese or whatever Japanese words you know, the staff will assume that you know the language and they will reply to you in Japanese which you don't really understand. Sometimes its easier to let them know that you don't understand Japanese. They will respond in broken English and gestures which is easier for me to understand.

  23. I highly recommend saying "Osusume onegaishimasu," which means "Can I get a recommendation please?" If you're clueless, this is an easy way to get a popular dish or chef's special. Or you can look for the word (おすすめ) on the menu

  24. All Japanese are welcome in my country , you are good people d not north korean or chinese ..if you are looking or trying to relocate from Japan and are NOT japanese government..from Japan..I will do what I can to help you find suffice farmland to start over.. I sympathize for your people in Japan and want you to be in a safe place and not near nuclear fallout..if you are looking to move to Florida I am a land owner in northern Florida..I am not a super rich man or working for a scam company..I genuinely want to help with knowledge of my area and "where to get and what to do" itd be up to you to pay for your travel but if you are willing to come I will help you find what you need and take out the guessing long as you will try to be a clean person willing to work and wont be is possible you could be a farm hand..but I am willing to help you find what you need even if you would rather not be on my land..or even meet me..remember most things must be certified to own land and no one will give you something for nothing..but I do sympathize so if you are considering moving I know a place youd love to be. Japanese only. I am Caucasian& native american. I know alot of employers so. Most job skills i can recommend a positive be honest desk jobs are not a likely food & restraunts laborers construction hotel housekeeping & farming I am very fluent in just to give you an idea . I know quite a few people in nearly every system .As long as you are willing to work ..I can help you. I promise I am not asking you for any money or anything like credit cards or any of that..I recommend Delta Airlines for travel and paypal/ ebay system for buying things online..I dont recommend amazon or Craigslist or western union….so just let me know ,I know you have needs and I know you hate scam artists and I know you arent rich and I know you want to be comfortable. I also know nuclear radiation is plaguing your area.I know you are beautiful people and deserve a Im a go to guy. Thanks. Must be over 21 ( let me make sure I put this here I dont want anyone mistaking me for some kind of perv or trafficking etc..anyone under 21 I cant help you, I can only help adults..I sympathize for all but youll need to be an adult 21+ to move and etc get legal here )

  25. u sent ur brother and sister in law to she how they would do but the Japanese lady speaks really good English lol

  26. Just got back from Japan after 3 weeks. Ordering food isn't a problem because almost all menus have photos that you can point to. The tricky thing is knowing what's inside stuff, so if you're avoiding meat or pork you might want to learn those words because the menus often don't list the items in English. The Japanese are friendly, patient people so don't be intimidated. Just do your best and you'll be fine.

  27. Ok, here’s the deal…you fly me out to Japan right? I’ll pay you back…I can be your test subject😂…お願いします?(^ν^)

  28. Wow how arrogant is she. "I hope they know words like, chicken, noodles"…….
    How about you learn what noodles and chicken are in Japanese because you are in THEIR country. Typical American

  29. I sometimes order like ''this, please'' pointing what I want when the menu is kind of unique or too long even though I'm Japanese 🙂

  30. "I hope they understand words like chicken or noodles" you are in a different country. try to learn those words with their language! typical white female trash.

  31. I thought this video was going to be about work "as in feed yourself" by working in japan with no english. Thats what i expected lol

  32. The answer is a definite "yes" if you go to a supermarket. I was in Japan for 2 weeks and knew only "arigato", and I did not starve. Eating out may be a different story, and even then there are so many places that display pictures or mock-ups of the food it's not impossible to manage by simply pointing.

  33. The best tip I can give is to point at what you want and also try to ask for help , you will be surprised how friendly Japanese people are, they always tried to help me even when I didn't understand , one lady asked me where I was from to know my native language then used her phone to translate from Spanish to Japanese 😁😁

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *