To celebrate the current Tokyo Olympic Games, we've designed a crash course in Japanese. It's completely free, quick, and all graduates get a certificate to take home. Amaze your friends (and us!). Did we mention you'll also receive a free Asahi beer, and an exclusive promotion code? 


You'll learn about the three easiest aspects of the Japanese language:

  • Pronunciation

  • Numbering System

  • Loaned Words

After studying the course content, you'll be asked a series of questions by staff in the restaurant. Come up to the bar when you're ready to test your skills. If you can correctly answer them in Japanese, you'll pass the module! Don't worry - you can attempt more than once.

If you're feeling adventurous, you can also look at the Further Reading section, which introduces some trickier parts of Japanese (It will help you answer the questions, too).


99.9% of the time, Japanese is written it how it’s pronounced, so it’s very consistent. This is unlike English, (eg. 'knife' where the K is silent, or where 'rough' and 'dough' are pronounced differently even though the spelling is similar).


Seems easy, right? Just remember that Japanese is a syllabic language. Here are a few examples:


'I'/ 'Me':
Watashi = Wa-Ta-Shi 

Anata wa = A-Na-Ta Wa



Namae = Na-mae

.... 'Is it?' (At the end of a question):

Desu Ka = Desu Ka (The 'desu' is pronounced more like Des - as in Desmond) 


'Not difficult':
Muzukashi Kunai  = Mu-Zu-Ka-Shi Ku-Na-i


English has:


Eleven (11)

Twelve (12)

Teens (13-19)

Twenty-one (21) and so forth.

Luckily, the Japanese system is very consistent. If you can count from 1-10, you've got everything you need.

0  =  zero (ぜろ)

1  =  i'chi (いち)

2  =  ni (に)

3 =  san (さん)

4  =  yon (よん・し)

5  =  go (ご五)

6  =  roku (ろく)

7  =  nana (なな・しち)

8  =  hachi (はち)

9  =  kyuu (きゅう)

10  =  juu (じゅう)

11  =  Ju i-chi (Ten-One)

12  =  Ju Ni (Ten-Two)


20  =  Ni Ju (Two Ten)

21  =  Ni Ju i-chi (Two Ten One)


39  =  San-Ju-Kyuu (Three  Ten Nine)

This structure is very simple, and doesn't change for numbers up to 100.


The Japanese have their own words for things that have been around a while (obviously, otherwise we wouldn't be learning Japanese). For instance, "cat" is "neko". However, more modern objects/words have a Japanese pronunciation of English words instead. See if you can work out these examples:
Bradu Pittu


Answers: Restaurant, Glass, Brad Pitt, Beer and Sports!

Japanese uses these 'loan words' a lot: they are everywhere, including street signs. They even use loan words
for some already established words in Japanese. Sho-u-ba-i means business in Japanese, however they can also use the loan word bi-ji-ne-su.
There’s even an alphabet in Japanese for these types of words. The alphabet is called Katakana, which only has 48 characters - a shorter alphabet than traditional Japanese. This can be learned quite quickly, and makes a great portion of Japanese understandable.



Japanese is structured more like how Yoda would speak. Grammar is definitely tricky, but just follow our sentence examples and you’ll be fine.

"What's your name?" in Japanese is "Namae wa nandesu ka?". But the literal translation back into English is roughly "What name is it?"... The word 'you' doesn't appear in the sentence!

Similarly, if you wanted to reply, you wouldn't use "My name is..." unless it was a very formal environment. Usually, you'd just say "I'm... [your name]". "I am" in Japanese is "desu". Just as Yoda would say "Yoda, I am", it's the same in Japanese.

If someone said "Tired." in a flat tone to you, you would understand that they were tired. However, if they said "Tired?" with an upward inflection, you would know they were asking you a question. It's the same in Japanese: they leave out I/Me/You in most sentences. They'll just use the person's name (or even leave the name out too, because the context is clear anyway).


Another barrier to mastering the Japanese language is the culture gap - and this isn't something you can learn from textbooks!

"Hai" is "yes", and used often, "iie" is "no". But the Japanese tend not to say "no" very much (unless they were in a heated argument). What they say instead is "chiigai", which means "different". It's a more polite (and subtle!) way of saying you disagree with someone. Japanese culture is known to encompasses politeness, even with different levels of addressing superiors in their work environment - so the language reflects this.

In short, doing a one to one word translation doesn’t work - it's about the context too. Learning Japanese culture will help with the language, and vice-versa. However, the questions you'll be asked are quite basic - don't overthink them! And if you're still stuck, the cheat sheet below the questions should help you.


You will be asked the questions in Japanese so make sure you remember what they mean in English!


1: Namae wa nan desu ka? (What is your name?)

2: Nan sai desu ka?  (How old are you?) It’s okay to lie...

3: Shusshin wa doko desu ka? (Where are you from?)

4: Suki na supotsu wa nan desu ka? (What is your favourite sport?) 

Suki is pronounced more like ski as in skiing.

5: Can you say “One large Asahi Beer please?” (Ippai Asahi biiru o kudasai)




1: Namae wa nan desu ka? (What is your name?)

This is very simple. Check out the 'Grammar' paragraph in the Further Reading section - it tells you everything you need to know!

2: Nan sai desu ka?  (How old are you?) 

Again, this is deceptively simple. All we're asking for is your age in Japanese, followed by the word for "years old" - see the bottom of Module II.

3: Shusshin wa doko desu ka? (Where are you from?)

Here are a few countries!

Igirisu = England

Kaadifu = Cardiff

Doitsu = Germany

Fransu = France

Chuugoku = China

Nihon = Japan

Again, your country would be followed by "..desu".

4: Suki na supotsu wa nan desu ka? (What is your favourite sport?) 

Try the link below for a list of sports.

Sports - Japanese Vocabulary (

5: Can you say “One large Asahi Beer please?” (Ippai Asahi biiru o kudasai)

This one is straightforward, but check Module I for the pronunciation. Good luck!