Many people who plan to visit Japan are surprised when they find out that most residents don’t speak English.

This means it is essential for visitors from abroad or with an international background like myself (born in Italy) to be prepared before traveling to avoid trouble communicating with locals during their stay.

Many travelers believe that because most inhabitants live near major cities such as Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagasaki, there will always be someone able to communicate fluently enough; however, this isn’t true!

I can guarantee that there will be no English speakers in many rural areas.

Japan’s history is entirely different from other countries; it was isolated until the 19th century because of its mountainous terrain and harsh winters, preventing foreigners from entering.

During this time, Japanese people had minimal opportunity to communicate with people from foreign lands, and consequently, they did not develop a strong awareness of English.

Even though Japan was re-opened to the outside world, Japanese people did not begin studying English immediately. Most people who learned English did so to go abroad and work at a company in a foreign country.

Therefore, it is not surprising that Japan’s English status is ranked very low compared with other industrialized nations such as South Korea or France.

Japanese people are timid when it comes to speaking English.

I have met many foreigners who believe that the Japanese are trying to avoid making mistakes when they speak, but I think this is not the case.

For Japanese people, speaking in their native language is much easier than using a foreign language, even though there are grammatical errors and they talk slowly.

If you want to practice Japanese and learn about Japan, I think it is an excellent idea to make an effort and study the language.

Although many Japanese speak English, it is always better to be prepared!

Can I go to Japan only speaking English?

Can I go to Japan only speaking English?

If you’re planning to go to Japan for the first time, or if it’s your first time to step into Asia, then the questions below might be on your mind. So here I’ll give some advice on how to make your trip smooth and easy!

First of all, is it possible at all? Well yes! But to do everything you usually do in your own country, you will need a little bit of Japanese and the help of many friendly people.

Let’s start with what we can do without speaking ANY Japanese at all!

If this is your first time in Japan, navigating through such an unknown place might be challenging, but nothing is impossible!

If you have a smartphone, download the Google maps app. It automatically enables GPS when in Japan, so you can easily find your way around by yourself.

Pen and paper are also handy tools when traveling to new countries. You can note down all the attractions or places that might be interesting for you on a piece of paper.

This way, if you find an attraction with no English explanations or names on it, just show the pictures to a local person. They will help you eventually.

Of course, this means that you have to do some research before going!

It’s good to know the place’s name in katakana to show it to the locals. If you have the time, print the information on paper beforehand so you can simply show it to them when needed.

You can also use some travel apps before going somewhere new!

I usually check out some blogs about Japan or even foreign vloggers’ Japan videos which are generally in English. You could check some app reviews too!


Is Japan good at speaking English?

Surprisingly, when you ask Japanese people whether they can speak English, many say they are not good at it.

So, is Japan good at speaking English?

To make this article interesting, let’s look at how the Japanese rank in terms of English ability compared to other countries. (Source: Wikipedia)

According to these statistics, Japan ranked at the bottom of the list.


Is Japan easy for English speakers?

Is Japan easy for English speakers?

The short answer is yes. Although Japan’s language, food, and customs seem to be highly different from those in the West, English speakers will find that once they’ve planned ahead a little bit and know what they’re doing, it’s straightforward to get around and communicate with people.

Crossing the language barrier:

Don’t panic! You don’t have to speak Japanese to get around or communicate with ordinary people in Japan. Most signs and directions are in English, although often not directly at where you want to be going.

If asking for help, pointing at the name of the place you’re looking for usually works.

Various apps can act as pocket guides with maps and restaurant recommendations. They can be handy when traveling around on your own.

Understanding the language barrier:

People in Japan will speak to you in Japanese if they see that you’re not fluent or just don’t understand them.

If this happens, please try to ask politely for clarification rather than become angry or frustrated!

Usually, people will switch to English or find someone who can translate for you if they see that you’re having trouble.

If your pronunciation is wrong, people will become confused. So make sure to practice how to pronounce words before you get on the plane!

The food barrier:

The food barrier Japan

Japan’s food is one of its best features, with all types of cuisine available, from sushi to Italian.

There are also many convenience stores at every train station with bento boxes, instant ramen, and onigiri (rice balls), which are easy to eat on the go or can be made into a meal if you have access to cooking facilities.

Japan has Western-style fast food places, like McDonald’s, Burger King, and Starbucks.

However, you will notice that the sizes of these places are significantly smaller than in the West. Also, there is no tipping at most restaurants expected or possible; service charges are always included in the bill.

Eating out:

If choosing a restaurant, look for where customers are sitting on a bench at a bar counter. You sit down and order from the menu on an iPad. The food comes quickly, and you pay for it when you’re done. It’s straightforward!


Do Japanese police speak English?

It seems that a lot of people believe so. But what about policemen living in remote areas?

They might not be able to speak English, but knowing a few simple phrases would help them help you if something unfortunate should happen to you while traveling or living in Japan.

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