Speaking Japanese – Weather – Conversation Starters

Imagine for a moment that you’re suddenly in Japan… you’re in Tokyo in Ueno park just enjoying some people watching, and then you see her (or him). Your Japanese idol. Maybe it’s a famous fashion designer or game developer, or perhaps your favorite author, poet, musician or artist, or perhaps it’s someone strikingly attractive. You want to break the ice. You want to make small talk and start a conversation… but how?!

Then you remember reading this article and say:


“そうですね,” she says.

“明日、雨ですよ” You comment. You heard the weather report that morning.

“明日?ありがとう!” She says, thanking you, “I speak some English, too. Where are you from?”

And there you go! Breaking the ice and starting that conversation. Well, maybe it wouldn’t really go that well, but we can dream, can’t we?

This article is all about conversation starters and starting off with a good neutral topic – weather. Talking about the weather is an amazing way of breaking the ice and moving on to where someone’s from or what they do or what their hobbies are. By the end of this lesson, you’ll know a few phrases and some words that will let you approach anyone and start a conversation! And you’ll have done it in Japanese!

Talking about the weather is a great way to make chit chat and start a casual conversation. First I’m going to introduce you to some nouns and adjectives to allow you to combine them and create a staggering amount of basic statements. Let’s with start with some basic nouns:

天気 tenki – weather

ame – rain

kumo – cloud

yuki – snow

kaze – wind

kaminari – lightning/thunder

kasa – umbrella

季節 kisetsu – season

haru – Spring

natsu – Summer

aki – Fall

fuyu – Winter

niji – rainbow

giri – fog

sora – sky

koori – ice

arashi – storm

梅雨 tsuyu – rainy season

今日 kyo – today

明日 ashita – tomorrow

来週 raishu – next week

最近 saikin – recently, these days

Now for some adjectives:

暑い atsui – hot

寒い samui – cold

蒸し暑い mushiatsui – humid

晴れの hare no – fine (clear [skies])

涼しい suzushii – cool

暖かい atatakai – warm

いい ii – good, nice

嫌な iya na – bad, poor

So here’s the formula: _time-adjective_ , _adjective_ _noun_ desu (ne/yo).

The “desu” basically means “is,” a grammatical equal sign. Also, you can add “ne” (ね) at the end to prompt a response from the listener. It would somewhat equate to saying “y’know” or “don’t you think.” If you want to add a little more umph to your statement, you can add “yo” (よ). OR, just to give you more options, you could add “ka” (か) to make the statement a question. Whoa, isn’t that cool? See how easy Japanese can be!? Let’s see some examples:

ashita, arashi desu ka – Is there going to be a storm tomorrow?

iya na fuyu desu yo – It’s been an awful winter!!

saikin, samui desu ne – It’s been cold lately, don’t you think?

ii niji desu – It’s a nice rainbow

kyo, hare no sora desu ne – The sky is so nice today

mushiatsui natsu desu yo – It’s such a muggy humid summer!

Looking at all these examples, you’ll notice I don’t rigidly stick to the formula all the time. Sometimes there’s no time-adjective, or no noun, or no adjective. All of these are OK. The point is to give you tools and words and a flexible sentence structure you can use to say a whole bunch of things. You want to communicate, and we want to make that happen… And I want you to go out and make friends and have fun! J

Want to discuss the finer points of meteorology in Japanese? Or, want to apply to be the next weather forecaster on NHK? Schedule some lessons at Hills Learning! We’ll make clear weather the forecast for your Japanese language learning future.

Learning Japanese…in New York?! What’s the best way to do this?

We’ve had numerous students interested in learning Japanese in New York City and wondering what should be the first step in learning the language. While there are a multitude of websites and other resources for learning Japanese online, one of the key recommendations for learning a foreign language is learn from a native speaker of that language.

Why is this so? You would think with developments such as Rosetta Stone, Pimsleur, Japanese Pod 101 and a plethora of other language sites and software that the ancient old tie between teacher and student for learning Japanese is losing its importance. Computers can replace people for many things, such as computations, household chores and even driving, so shouldn’t they be more efficient at teaching Japanese than human beings?

And also, what about old fashioned studying on your own? We have video games, books, websites, personal speaking dictionaries, and voice recognition software. If for example a student were to say “Ketsu” instead of “Kutsu” in Japanese, the computer would know right away that the student said “someone’s behind” instead of “someone’s shoes” and would correct them in pronunciation.

While we don’t hesitate to recognize development and advancement in learning Japanese where it is due, namely in voice recognition software, overall nothing will ever replace a well trained, experienced, and talented Japanese language teacher. A Japanese language teacher brings so much more to the table than any language learning “aid” could ever bring. (We like to think of software, cd-roms, video games as “language learning aids”) Here’s what a Japanese language teacher brings:

1 – a natural language partner – A computer can never be programmed to react with emotion to conversations. Since a language such as Japanese is absorbed and processed in the brain through conversation, a computer will never teach a student how to naturally speak the Japanese language.

2 – an irreplaceable source for writing – When you learned cursive as a child, was it through computers? No, it was through your teacher in the classroom. He or she looked over your shoulder, checked your stroke order, and corrected you when they couldn’t read your writing. Only a live breathing Japanese teacher can offer this.

3 – a teacher provides a relationship – This is perhaps the most overlooked part of the learning Japanese experience, in a place outside of Japan such as New York. When you live in Japan, you’re forced to use the language through multiple daily interactions that call for it, but in New York City no one cares if you speak Japanese, right?

Wrong, your teacher does. She checks up on your Japanese homework, gets excited when you remember and use a new vocabulary word, gets disappointed when you say you cannot make Japanese class, and comments on all her various cultural experiences growing up in Japan and how different it is in New York. From both a cultural and linguistic standpoint, a Japanese teacher is irreplaceable when it comes to effectively learning Japanese in New York City.

If we still haven’t convinced you enough in regards to learning Japanese in New York City, even after you’ve seen our list of Japanese Language Teachers, I’ll share a quick encounter I had with someone who had been learning Japanese with “language software.” We all know which one it is.

So I was at an Education-expo, walking around to different tables, and I managed to meet a guy who was working in a local school and was learning with language learning software at home. He said he enjoyed the software and approach, and I said great, “hajimemashite”, and he looked at me with a blank stare. I said, that’s “nice to meet you” in Japanese.

I then asked him, what do you know in Japanese? He said, “otoko no hito”, which means “guy.” I said, how about anything else? And he said another word, of which I don’t recall but it wasn’t a Japanese term that I’ve learned in my past 10 years of instruction in the Japanese language.

This guy could’ve been igai, or an exception, but the point is that in a beginner’s class of Japanese you learn the basics of speaking to people, such as “hajimemashite.” Any student that doesn’t at least learn that phrase in the first couple classes of private lessons isn’t learning Japanese.

So what are you waiting for? Come learn Japanese with Hills Learning’s Japanese Classes in New York, or any other language school. Remember, we focus on the quality of the teacher, and try our best to build the student – teacher relationship, which is key to any language learner’s process. Thanks for reading and good luck learning Japanese!

Learn Japanese NYC – Speaking Japanese in a Hotel

When learning Japanese conversation, or developing conversational skills in general, it’s important to develop “situational fluency.” Language learners should anticipate common situations they’ll run into, and prepare their language skills to meet the demands of those situations. Of course each Japanese language learner has different demands, some might be traveling to Japan later on, others might have more immediate needs in their current workplace. This article will cover very useful Japanese conversation for any language learner that plans on traveling to Japan, and staying in a hotel.

Before getting into the specifics of Japanese conversation vocabulary at a hotel, it’s important to prepare you for the cultural experience you’ll encounter. Japan is a service nation, from McDonald’s to Uniqlo you’ll encounter some of the best customer service on the planet. The hotels are no exception, from extra clean sheets to bowing at every turn to little knick knacks in your room, the hotel is the epitome of Japanese customer service.

Let’s start with something simple for Japanese Conversation, if you already have a reservation and you’re just looking to check -in:


The word for check-in in Japanese sounds just like the English word, in Katakana it reads: チェックイン (Chi e ku i – in) You use “onegaishimasu” as a more formal version of “please”, so this phrase means Check in, please.


The above phrase, adding in Kanji as well as hiragana and katakana means my name is Bill.


The above phrase uses the command phrase, “please” or kudasai. The verb 見せる(みせる)means to show, and 部屋(へや)means room, please show me the room.

Now here’s some beginning phrases for Japanese conversation if you don’t have a reservation. It gets a little more complicated here:

ようやくをしたいんですが  ようやく means reservation. This is a very useful phrase and is used at either restaurants or at hotels. The correct way of asking for a reservation is literally like above, “I would like to make a reservation but…” “But” in Japanese, especially when used with the たい or “to want” form, means to lighten the request, to ask politely.

Naturally the next question you’ll have to answer is how many people per room. Below is how to answer one person (hitori) through three people (san nin)

一人 ひとり

二人 ふたり

三人 さんにん

If you’re on a budget, you might ask how much per room:

部屋代は一泊いくらですか?部屋代(へやだい) heya is a word we learned previously, literally meaning room. When you combine this with the character 代dai, it literally means “the price of the room”. To ask per night, you ask: 一泊(いっぱく)(ippaku) means one night, or in this context it means per night, and then of course how to ask how much, or ikura desu ka?

Here’s how you say one night (ippaku) through three nights (sanhaku):

一泊 いっぱく

二泊 にはく

三泊 さんはく

And finally, before going to your room you’ll have to ask “When is check-out?”

チェックアウトは何時ですか? チェックアウト as with Check-in, Check-out is also in katakana, and resembles English. The second part of the sentence is nanji desu ka, literally what time?

So now you’ve learned the basics of Japanese conversation at a hotel. One of the drawbacks to Japan and learning Japanese conversation however, is with excellent customer service comes “keigo”, very formal Japanese language. You the customer of course do not have to worry about using keigo when you speak, but when the front desk or concierge speaks to you in Japanese they’ll be using keigo. Therefore when learning Japanese conversation for hotels it’s important to learn both the formal versions of keigo, and of course more rudimentary forms of Japanese for yourself. This article covered the rudimentary Japanese, next article we’ll work on the keigo.