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UPDATE | December 01, 2022

Japanese used at work

Do you have a part-time job in Japan? There are various jobs, but I think there are many international students who work at convenience stores, restaurants, coffee shops (cafes, etc.). In this column, I will introduce polite Japanese that you use when working with customers in Japan.

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"Welcome" and "This way, that way, that way"

The first greeting is "Welcome". This is the meaning of welcome in English. Look at the customer's face and say it with a smile.
When guiding customers, use "here, there, over there" instead of "here, there, over there."

For example, at restaurants, we often use phrases such as "Please take this seat" and "The restroom (=toilet) is over there." At a convenience store, when you tell a customer what order to go to the cash register, you can use phrases such as "This cashier will take care of you" or "The next customer waiting, please come here."


"Please wait a moment." "Thank you for waiting." "I'm sorry."

If you want the customer to wait a little longer, say "please wait" instead of "please wait". This is the Japanese used in part-time jobs, so it cannot be used by teachers at Japanese language schools, Professional Training College, universities, etc. (sometimes there are people who use it)

If a customer has been waiting for even a short amount of time, say "Thank you for waiting." This is a very polite phrase as it also means "I'm sorry it took so long."

When a customer warns you about a mistake, or when you make a mistake, say "I'm sorry" instead of "I'm sorry." This phrase is also a Japanese word that is often used at work.

"This is the return of 〇〇 yen and the receipt."

After finishing a meal at a restaurant, customers go to the cash register when buying products at a convenience store. At that time, pay the money, and if you have change, say, "This is the return of XX yen and the receipt," and give the change and the receipt.

Some customers say, "I don't need a receipt" or "I don't need a receipt," so please don't hand over the receipt. Everyone should put the receipt in the place decided by the store.

Japanese for people you work with: "Otsukaresamadesu" and "Otsukaresamashita"

I sometimes greet people I work with. Say "Otsukaresama desu" before starting your shift at your part-time job. This varies from store to store, but some stores say "good morning" even when work starts at night.

"Otsukaresamadesu" is a greeting used for people you work with, so please don't use it for teachers at school (sometimes people say "Otsukaresamadesu" to their teachers).

When you leave first, say, "I'm sorry for the inconvenience. Thank you for your work."

Part-time job Japanese that is actually wrong

There are actually some mistakes in the Japanese used at part-time jobs. Everyone is using it now, so no one will say, "You're wrong."

(when confirming the order)
✕ “Is 〇〇 okay?”
◯「Is 〇〇 OK?」

(at a restaurant or cafe)
✕ "It will be coffee"
◯ "It's coffee."

(When handing over the receipt)
✕ "Do you have a receipt?"
◯「Do you need a receipt?」

Even if a part-time worker or store manager uses the Japanese "x", you don't have to say it correctly. Different stores have different language manuals and rules, so try to imitate what other people say.

Use polite Japanese to work comfortably

In this column, I introduced useful and polite Japanese when working with customers in Japan. Polite Japanese makes customers feel good, but it also makes you feel good about your work.

I think it's hard to study Japanese and work part-time, but please do your best for your dreams and goals!

The person who wrote this article

Shimizu Shiho

I teach Japanese at Japanese language schools and universities in Kyushu. I love games and manga. I also work as a coordinator and web writer to create a local Japanese language class for those who are studying Japanese.

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