Tokyo - Post Report Question and Answers

How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

You can definitely get by without Japanese, but having some basic Japanese and taking the time to learn hiragana, katakana and a handful of common kanji will make your life a lot easier. If you want to learn Japanese - it's easy! There are lots of learning opportunities including the post language program. - Nov 2020

Not much if you live in the Embassy/ international school/military base bubble. A few key phrases are handy. Having Japanese skills lets you really get out and explore - a lot of people aren’t able to do this and many basic things can be very frustrating like setting up the cell phone or dealing with deliveries or online shopping in Japanese. Lots of officers here have Japanese spouses so this is not an issue for them. - Mar 2019

Many people can understand you. You can easily shop, use the metro or take a taxi with no language. - Jun 2018

You need very little if you just want to get by. Tokyo is an international city and locals are used to working around language barriers. In fact, walking the streets in the business district you're as likely to hear French or Russian as Japanese. There are a lot of choices for language schools, including free classes offered by the city wards. Also, Tokyo is working hard to improve foreign language accommodation prior to the Olympics in 2020. - Mar 2018

The more the better. - Mar 2017

It's very useful to know the basics to get around, shop, order in restaurants. Being able to communicate numbers and addresses is a must. - Feb 2014

A ton if you want to get out and about and see the country. I don't have much Japanese and am getting by, but it's an impediment. - Apr 2013

not much but it is always useful - Jan 2011

At least a little Japanese is highly will be out in the city a lot (most likely) and the Japanese don"t speak much English, so enough to get a taxi, to order at a restaurant, etc., will make all the difference in your tour. - Oct 2008

Not much to get by but it significantly helps if you know some especially for taxis, restaurants, etc. I know people who have been here for 3 years without knowing any but I certainly think that, like most places, you'll get more out of being here if you can speak at least some. - Jan 2008

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