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Hello world!
This is awkward,
my kids usually show what life is like in Japan
However, there's a topic which they couldn't help with:
Feeding yourself in Japan, with no Japanese,
because obviously they know Japanese.
As it happens, my brother and his family
came to visit us in Japan for the first time
and beyond "arigatou" and "oishii,"
They don't speak Japanese.
being the exploitative younger brother that I am,
I documented their experience getting fed,
all the while offering little to no help.
We're going to go out and try to order some food
How are you guys feeling about that
I think it's gonna be okay,
I..I think that,
I'm hoping,
that they understand words like, "chicken" and "noodles."
But before I start showing their experiences,
let me lay down some basics about getting food while
out and about in Japan.
The first thing to figure out is where to find food.
The obvious answer would be to open your eyes,
because if you're in a place like Tokyo,
you'll easily find places everywhere.
But not all food establishments are equally accessible,
so, let me walk you through some of the easier ones.
The easiest by far is the "konbini" or convenience store.
If you can't find a convenience store
then maybe you will starve in Japan,
because they're all over the place
The great thing is that they're grab-and-go
You don't really need to do anything, but place your items on the counter and fork over your money
What can you eat there?
A standard to-go food is onigiri
Which are rice balls that normally have something nice on the inside and seaweed on the outside
My personal favorite is the 7-eleven premium salmon one
I know it's a fancy splurge costing 200 yen
Most onigiri are closer to 100.
By the way, just think of yen as cents.
So 200 yen would be approximately 200 cents or two US dollars,
making 100 yen about one dollar.
But you can buy much more than onigiri,
you can pick up anything in the refrigerated section
from sandwiches, to soba noodles, to chicken katsudon.
If the items need to be heated, the staff can do it at the counter
or sometimes there's a microwave accessible to the customer
Oh yeah, there's also plenty of hot treats at the front of the convenience store.
You can get nikuman, which is meat buns or pizza man
Which is a pizza bun, or you can get oden, which is great on a cold day
And there's also a dry section, where you can pick up breads
or perhaps a cup of noodles that you can fill up with the hot water, that's also available in the store
You really could survive off of konbini food,
but there's so much more
The next easiest choice is chain restaurants.
Like konbinis,
these should also be relatively easy to find
They're the most likely to have bright signs and big open windows, where you can see people eating inside
And if you're really unsure, they usually have these pictures of happy people on a poster
These are actually "employees wanted" posters, chains are always looking for new hires
So maybe you can also pick up a job at the same time
The majority of these places have picture menus and many of them have some English as well
Some are renovating,
and now have tablets that you can use to order from your table like this family restaurant called OOTOYA
And when it's time to pay, there's an automated machine where you can do that as well
But what you're probably more likely to find is a button.
So, once you've looked at your picture menu and are ready to order
Simply push the button, and then use that same finger to point at the menu to show what you want.
You can totally do this without Japanese,
but if you want to speak it a bit,
you could say "kore onegaishimasu"
Which means "this, please"
After every set of food is given to you, you'll usually receive your receipt
They're not trying to quickly kick you out, so feel free to push the button to order some more
When you're ready to go, just bring the bill up to the cashier at the front and pay up
As you probably know,
there's no tipping in Japan,
so I would highly recommend against it,
as you'll just confuse things.
With most restaurants, the staff generally leave you on your own unless you request help.
The staff will most likely only visit you three times:
Once to take the drink order,
once to give you the drinks and take your food order,
and once to give you your food and receipt.
If you want additional help, don't be afraid to say "Sumimasen,"
which means "excuse me,"
or put your hand up in the air.
Now sometimes you don't receive a receipt,
so in those cases, just go up to the counter to pay.
And honestly, the biggest tip I can give
when you don't know what to do,
is observe the locals and follow their lead!
Let's now move on over to the shopping mall.
Shopping malls are a reasonably easy place to eat
They'll have food courts where you can generally order at the counter
So easy in fact,
this is the first place I sent my brother
to try and get some food,
using his limited Japanese language skills...
Now, the reason I was laughing
was because usually when you have a bowl of udon,
you take one or two pieces,
but he's just going crazy taking a ton of tempura so
It's totally fine, you can do whatever you want,
But he was saying that, "Yeah, I had a lot of fried food."
Yeah, no wonder!
It seems like my brother did all right,
so I decided to see how my sister-in-law would fare.
That was "shichimi", or "seven spices"
and I explained,
I've only seen people put it in the dipping sauce,
not on the noodles.
Here's her second attempt
with the spice in the sauce, instead of on the noodles
After you finish, you clean and clear your table,
like your parents might have asked you to do at home.
Since many places will give you real dishes,
you have to return the dishes
back to the restaurant you bought it from.
This was filmed at Solamachi, a mall under Sky Tree,
so obviously, a massively popular tourist destination.
Using only English was no issue,
but even if the staff didn't understand English,
With the picture menus, it would have been easy for them to point and order
I'm glad we tried that, it's a very unique flavour
It's pretty easy,
really not that challenging at all.
Department stores are also great places to eat.
They're often found near busy train stations like in Shinjuku or Shibuya.
In the basement of these department stores
You'll usually find a big grab and go food section, where you can get all sorts of goodies.
Whether it be yakitori, sushi, or gift desserts
for that special obligation,
like the one you have to get for white day...
Anyway, most everything you'd want to buy is showcased,
making the point-and-get method extremely easy to do
Now, one area where you'll find lots of good places to eat
But that may not be apparent to visitors,
is office towers and department stores.
They usually have a whole floor or two dedicated to restaurants.
There's a few reasons I like these places,
generally the food is of higher quality than your family or chain restaurants found out in the streets,
the majority of them also don't allow smoking, which can be tricky to find in Japan.
They're used to catering to busy office people or visitors.
So, you'll find a lot of them have food displays or picture-heavy menus
You'll also find a good variety of restaurants all within a small area.
So you don't need to endlessly walk around town,
trying to find something that makes everyone happy
So safely ordering some tasty food
is a fairly easy thing to do on these food floors
Something that I haven't done,
but that I read somewhere that makes so much sense,
is to take a picture of the menu item you'd like to order
That way when you go inside to order you can simply show your waiter what you want to eat
Even if you can speak some Japanese
The menus can be hard to read, as you'd need to know a fair amount of kanji, the Chinese characters that Japanese use
That's where an app like Google Translate can help, as you can use the image function to translate the pictures
For example these are bamboo noodles
Okay, that's not really right, because in reality this is tantanmen, a spicy ramen noodle dish originating from China
What about this curry?
First up is live ball warm ball, not too promising
The next one cheese curry, that's accurate. I don't know about this though, men's curry on the meadow?
Prawn fried fish is close enough. So perhaps you'll have a 50/50 chance of getting what you think you're ordering
Luckily, this is a chain restaurant
So they have pictures and even some English to go along, no need to do Japan on native mode yet
With some places,
you can simply use the ticket machine
If you're lucky, it'll have pictures or English on it.
If not, it'll be a fun game
Here's my bro, trying for the first time.
Now, it could be my brother was messing with me,
but I truly think he was trying
to put money into the light indicator
instead of into the big slot underneath it.
So, he kept on taking too long,
and his money got spit back out at him a few times.
But eventually, he figured how to push buttons
within a reasonable timeframe
and went on to order.
Honestly, if you're having difficulty ordering,
A Japanese staff member is likely
to walk you through it.
So as long as you can point at the item you want and say, "Kore onegaishimasu,"
You'll probably get fed.
I only showed Tokyo in this video,
and many places around the city
are used to non-japanese speakers,
but even half a decade ago,
I traveled around Japan to some remote places
and was always able to get something in my stomach.
So I trust you'll be just fine in Japan.
If you've traveled to Japan before,
What tips would you give to a first-timer?
Let us know!
Thanks for watching.
See you next time!
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Can You Feed Yourself in Japan With No Japanese?

2916 Folder Collection
Emily published on September 26, 2018
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