A hand pointing to a station on a subway map

Asking for Directions in Japanese: 70+ Words and Phrases So You’ll Never Get Lost Again (with Audio)

Learning the simple act of asking for directions might seem like something you can skip, but take it from me, it can spell disaster, especially if you’re visiting Japan.

You can’t rely on people speaking your native tongue, especially in Japan. But you can expect a higher willingness to help you. In fact, a kind stranger on the bus once walked for two hours with me to my hotel, to make sure I got there safely.

Even if your Japanese is very basic, Japanese speakers will usually listen. And if you do get lost, you can use the opportunity to ask a stranger on the street or a convenience store cashier for directions.

Read on to learn more than 70 words and phrases for asking for directions in Japanese, all with audio, so you know you’re pronouncing everything correctly.


Basic Japanese Directions

Here are some essential Japanese words you need to know when asking for directions!

Japanese WordEnglish Word
左 (ひだり) left
右 (みぎ) right
北 (きた) North
南 (みなみ) South
東 (ひがし) East
西 (にし) West

Japanese Direction Verbs

Japanese WordEnglish Word
行く (いく) to go
止まる (とまる) to stop
尋ねる (たずねる) to ask
教える (おしえる) to tell/inform
案内する (あんないする) to guide
曲がる (まがる) to turn
直進する (ちょくしんする) to go straight
左折する (させつする) to turn left
右折する (うせつする) to turn right
交差点で左に曲がる (こうさてんでひだりにまがる) to turn left at the intersection
交差点で右に曲がる (こうさてんでみぎにまがる) to turn right at the intersection
真っ直ぐ行く (まっすぐいく) to go straight
前に進む (まえにすすむ) to move forward
後ろに下がる (うしろにさがる) to move backward
目的地に到着する (もくてきちにとうちゃくする) to arrive at the destination
迷う (まよう) to get lost

Japanese Landmarks and Locations

Japanese WordEnglish Word
交差点 (こうさてん) intersection
道 (みち) road
看板 (かんばん) sign
バス bus
地下鉄 (ちかてつ) subway
電車 (でんしゃ) train
トイレ bathroom
ホテル hotel
コンビニ convenience store
郵便局 (ゆうびんきょく) post office
図書館 (としょかん) library
市役所 (しやくしょ) City Hall
観光案内所 (かんこうあんないじょ) Tourist Information Center
デパート department store
スーパー supermarket
駅 (えき) station
バス停 (ばすてい) bus stop
地下鉄駅 (ちかてつえき) subway station
信号 (しんごう) traffic light
橋 (はし) bridge
公園 (こうえん) park
病院 (びょういん) hospital
レストラン (れすとらん) restaurant
カフェ (かふぇ) cafe
ホテル (ほてる) hotel
団地 (だんち) apartment complex
家 (いえ) house/home
公共施設 (こうきょうしせつ) public facility
場所 (ばしょ) place

Japanese Prepositions for Getting and Giving Directions

Japanese WordEnglish Word
真っ直ぐ (まっすぐ) straight
曲がる (まがる) turn
隣に (となりに) next to
後ろに (うしろに) behind
前に (まえに) in front of
向こう側に (むこうがわに) across from
その近くに (そのちかくに) nearby
遠い (とおい) far
~まで until this point

Common Direction Phrases in Japanese

And now for some basic phrases that’ll help you apply the above vocabulary to actual conversations.

Example Dialogues

Here are a few examples of asking for directions in Japanese. The original Japanese has been written first, followed by the hiragana (when applicable) and English translation.

Learners can practice these dialogues by reading them out loud, either by yourself or with a partner. Beginner learners could also ask a native speaker(s) to read them and see how many words you can pick out. This is a great way to practice listening for the main terms in a conversation! And finally, you can use resources like FluentU to hear actual conversations spoken by native Japanese speakers through expert-subtitled videos.

FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.

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Dialogue #1: Basic Template for Asking for Directions in Japanese

For the purpose of this dialogue, you’re looking for the post office because you need to withdraw some money at the ATM.

You see an older man sitting on a bench. You make eye contact and he smiles at you, so you approach him.

You: すみません。郵便局 はどこにありますか?

Excuse me. Do you know where the post office is?

Him: 郵便局ですね。あの~あっ、そこの交差点がみえますか?

The post office, huh? Let me see. Oh, can you see that intersection over there?

You: はい。

Him: じゃあ、そこの交差点で右に曲がって下さい。

Okay, take a right at that light.

You: はい。

Him: そして、その道の突き当りまで行ったら、右側に郵便局があります。

After that, go straight to the end of that street and you’ll see the post office on your right.

You: ありがとうございます!
Thank you!

Dialogue #2: Understanding Japanese Directions in Real-world Contexts

As you turn to walk away to head to the post office, you hear the following:

Him: ちょっと待って!今、思い出したんですけど、こんな時間になったからもう閉まっていると思うよ。

Hold on! I just remembered that the post office isn’t open this late.

You: 本当ですか?!


Him: はい。ごめんなさいね。なんか、手紙とか送るんですか?

Yes. Sorry about that. Did you want to send a letter or something?

You: いいえ。ATMを使いたいんです。

No, I’m looking for an ATM.

Him: ああ、もっと早く言ってくれればよかったのに~

Ohh, if you had only told me that earlier!

You: ああ、はい。

Him: じゃあ、郵便局じゃなくてもいいですよね?ATMがある所でもいいでしょう?

So it doesn’t have to be a post office, right? Anywhere with an ATM is okay?

You: まあ、国際カードが使えるATMなら大丈夫です。

As long as it takes international cards, I’m okay.

Him: わかった。じゃあ、さっきと同じの交差点で、今度は左に曲がってください。

Got it. Okay, so walk to that same intersection, and this time, take a left.

You: はい。

Him: そしたら、次の交差点まで行って、右に曲がってください。

Once you get there, go to the next light and take a right.

You: はい。

Him: ちょっと行ったら、コンビニが左側にあります。

Go along that road for a bit and you’ll see a convenience store on your left.

You: 本当にありがとうございました!

Thank you so much!

Him: いえいえ~気を付けてね。

No problem. Take care.

You: さようなら。

Dialogue #3: Being Polite While Asking for Directions in Japanese

Even when asking for directions, you may have to make some occasional small talk. For example, as you head out to the convenience store, the man might call you back again, asking:

Him: お姉さんはどこの国から来ましたか?

What country did you come from?

You: カナダから来ました。

I’m Canadian.

Him: ああ、カナダはいい国ですね。メープルシロップでしょう?

I see. Canada is a great country. Maple syrup, right?

You: はい。メープルシロップが有名です。それでは、失礼します。

Yes, maple syrup is famous indeed. Thank you again, I’ll be heading out now.

Him: おお、難しい日本語を知っていますね!さようなら~

Wow, you know difficult Japanese! Goodbye.

You: さようなら~

If you’d like to practice additional dialogues, check out this video from Japanese Ammo with Misa, which includes some great phrases for asking directions:

If you like this video, Japanese Ammo has many more in which Misa explains Japanese vocabulary and grammar for learners.


Now that you have these tips and phrases under your belt, you can go out and ask for directions in Japanese without fail!

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