Say you booked a last minute trip to Japan. Soon after that, you quickly realize that you don’t know any Japanese words (let alone a hundred words). For all of you people out there (or, for all of you beginners of Japanese out there), this list is for you. These 100 words will get you through an untold number of situations, problems, and feelings, just by knowing these all-important words. I’m not saying that there aren’t any other important words out there (and I hope you add to the list by commenting below), but I do think this list of 100 Japanese words will get you really, really far if you are, for some reason, only limited to learning 100 words. Enjoy!

Having trouble pronouncing these “crazy” Japanese words? Try out some of the free lessons on TextFugu to become a Japanese pronunciation master.


If you’re traveling to Japan, you’re going to want to know words that have to do with “emergency” situations. You don’t want to be caught off guard in a foreign country. If you’re in trouble, you need to be able to ask for some help, whether that help is finding a bathroom or getting someone who speaks English.


トイレ (toire) = Toilet. Everyone has to use the toilet at some point, so if you need help finding it, this is the word for you.

手洗い (tearai) = Bathroom. Just like toilet, but a little more all-inclusive. You can feel free to use either of these in a pinch, though.

助けて (tasukete) = HELP. Just yell this out and (maybe) someone will come to your aid… if you’re lucky.

わかりません (wakarimasen) = I don’t understand. If someone is speaking to you in Japanese and you don’t understand them (if you’re using this list, then maybe you don’t) then you can just tell them you don’t understand what they’re saying. Follow that up with “eigo, eigo” (which you’ll learn in a minute) and you’ll be golden.

やめて! (yamete!) = Stop it! Maybe somebody is messing with you and you want them to stop (yakuza?...