Learn Japanese Today

Mar 01 | Evan | No Comments |

“Shashin wo totte mo ii desu ka?” – How to ask others to take a photo of them 

Who is ready to travel to Japan? Are you eager to join Japan Photo Guide’s Japanese photography tour right now?  

Well, I am sure many of you are eager to travel to Japan and also work on your photography skills. Unfortunately, it’s not possible now, but until the time is ready, why don’t we work on our Japanese language skills so that the next time you visit Japan, you know a few phrases to communicate with Japanese people better! 

Today, we want to focus on how to ask others if it’s okay to take photos of them. In Japanese, we want to say: 

“Shashin wo totte mo ii desu ka”  (*In Japanese, “wo” is pronounced “o.”)

“しゃしん を とって も いい です か” 

“写真 を 撮って も いい です か”
Not sure where everyone’s Japanese language skill is so let’s break down the above sentence to understand the language better. Of course, we are not going too much in depth to keep it simple enough to grasp the language for all levels. (As you can see above, I have illustrated 3 of the same sentences depending on your Japanese level. If you are familiar with hiragana, you might like to challenge yourself practicing in hiragana and if you are advanced, why don’t you challenge yourself with kanji!)

1: Japanese nouns 

Shashin wo totte mo ii desu ka” 

In the above sentence, “shashin” is the noun. Here we are asking about taking a photo, thus “shashin = photo.” If you want to ask someone on the street or somewhere in Japan, ask them above before shooting. Of course, if you know Japanese, adding “sumimasen = excuse me” at the beginning is even better if it is not too much to remember. (Btw sumimasen = excuse me is a really useful one to remember to navigate in Japan regardless if you know what I mean!) 

Since you know where to put a noun in this type of question, instead of “shashin,” you can replace the noun with “video” to ask about taking a video of the person as well. If that’s the case, it becomes…

“Video wo totte mo ii desu ka” 

Attention: In Japanese, we do not have differentiations between singular or plural. Therefore, 1 photo or 2 photos, it is always “shashin.” It may be a confusing concept at the beginning for English speakers, but just remember this is how it works in Japanese. 

2: Question 

“Shashin wo totte mo ii desu ka” 

“しゃしん を とって も いい です か”

“写真 を 撮って も いい です か”

If you are new to Japanese, this is a good clue to know. When you hear “ka” at the end of a sentence, it means a question! As well as you using this phrase, you can always pay attention to how the sentence ends so that if you hear “ka” at the end, it means a question! 

3: Together With and Yours

Issho ni shashin wo totte mo ii desu ka” 

いっしょに しゃしん を とって も いい です か”

一緒に 写真 を 撮って も いい です か”

Just because you guys are all great, why don’t we try a little harder sentence! 

What if you want to take a photo with the person? If you want to ask this, you add “issho ni” at the beginning of the sentence. Here “issho ni” means “together with. 

Also, if the person is confused whose photo you want to photograph, you can add “anata no” to indicate “your” so that he/she is aware whose photo you want to take. If you know the person’s name, you can put the person’s name, such as “Hiroshi-san no” to directly address the person as well. (Of course, without adding “anata no,” usually people know what you are asking.)

Anata no shashin wo totte mo ii desu ka”

“あなた の しゃしん を とっても いい です か”

あなた の 写真 を 撮って も いい です か”

Well, how was the lesson? It’s easy, right? If you are thinking about joining Japan Photo Guid’s Japan photo tour in 2021 and beyond and have certain phrases you want to know in Japanese, please do not hesitate to leave a comment here or send Japan Photo Guide a message. As well as Japanese language, I hope to introduce Japanese cultures and customs that are unique to Japan so that when you join Japan Photo Guid’s Japan photography tour, you will be comfortable communicating with Japanese people a little. Of course, Japan Photo Guid offers both a group Japan tour and a private Japan tour so if you are nervous about Japanese and need more private tours, he is there to support you!! 

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