Learn Japanese Today

Apr 01 | Evan | No Comments |

How to say “This” and “That” in Japanese – “kore, sore, are” 

Do you know how to ask “What is this?” and “What is that?” in Japanese? How about “How much is this?” and “How much is that?” Well, these are simple questions, but very useful when you are visiting Japan. Of course, when you are a part of Japan Photo Guide’s photo tour of Japan, these will be useful to know too, right? 

In this article, we are going to touch base on the basics of “this” and “that” in Japanese. For example, when you are touring Japan and want to ask “how much something is” and “what that is” we can use what we learn here today to navigate yourself better in Japan. Needless to say, when you are a part of Japan Photo Guide’s photography tour of Japan, he will be there to assist you. However, it’s always good to know a few useful Japanese phrases and words so that you can enjoy the tour even more and have freedom to communicate with Japanese people on your own. 

Ok, let’s get started!! 

What is this? 

Let’s first learn a few key words. Below are the keywords you want to first remember. (Like the other Japanese lesson article, I provide you with 3 writing styles here so that you can work at your own level of Japanese.) 

What = nani/なに/何 & nan/なん/何

This = kore/これ

In Japanese, if you want to ask “What is this?” you will be using below: 

Kore ha nan desu ka (*In Japanese, you write “ha,” but pronunciate “wa.”)

これ は なん です か

これ は です か

What in Japanese is “nani,” but in this question, it is conjugated to “nan.” We are also asking “What is this?” and this = これ. Don’t worry too much about other grammar points, but just remember how to ask “What is this?” here for now. It’s not too hard, right? So let’s move onto the next! 

airplane over world map on blackboard

What is that? – There are two kinds of “that” in Japanese! 

Ok, so here is the little tricky point you need to remember. In Japanese, there are two kinds of that. Yes, sounds strange and/or interesting, right? Don’t worry! Let’s break it down. 

That = sore/それ 

= Pointing out item(s) that is far from the speaker, but close to the listener

That = are/あれ

= Pointing out the item(s) that is far from both the speaker and the listener 

As I summaries above, two kinds of “that” in Japanese have clear differences between when to use depending on where the item is placed. It all depends on the place where the item is located in relation to the speaker and the listener. 

For example, you are on a photo tour of Japan and need to get a new camera battery at a store in Japan and the battery you want is behind the counter by the retail staff away from you, you use “sore.”  However, the camera battery you want is behind the counter, but up high in the shelves away from both of you, you use “are.” Did you get a picture? Well, until you get a hold of sore and are, it can be a little confusing, but just keep practicing and you will eventually get it!

Other usage of “kore”, “sore”, and “are.”

As well as the question “What is this/that?,” we can also use kore, sore, and are in other simple questions. How about when you want to ask at a store you want to buy something? Let’s learn some quick Japanese sentences! 

Kore kudasai/これください

 = Can I have this please? 

Sore kudasai/それください

= Can I have that please? (Close to the listener, away from the speaker/you) 

Are = kudasai/あれください

= Can I have that please ? (Far from both the listener and the speaker) 

Here “kudasai” is “please have …”  (yes, a very important one to remember!) so simply by adding this or that in front of kudasai, it can be “Can I have this please?” or “Can I have that please?” It’s easy, right? Of course, as we discussed above, you want to remember which “that” you have to use depending on the item you are talking about in relation to distance for each case. 

Of course, this is the simplest way of asking this type of question so if you know Japanese, you may know alternative ways to ask, but even if it’s simple, it’s polite and to the point so these are very useful for you to remember! 


Today we covered a very important concept in Japanese. It can be confusing, but don’t worry! Practice makes perfect, right? At least you are introduced to the idea of “kore,” “sore,” and “are” so now we can do a lot more! Maybe in the next article of learning Japanese, we can introduce how to make possessive in Japanese using “kore,” “sore,” and “are” to form even a little more complex Japanese sentences. 

Hope you learned something new today! If you are eager to learn more Japanese and have a particular phrase or concept you like to learn, contact Japan Photo Guide so that we can prepare you for the dream photography tour of Japan for the next year! 

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!!