Basic Japanese useful for cycling in Japan

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It is always a good idea to learn simple local language wherever you travel.  The Japanese language (or “Nihongo”日本語 in Japanese) may sound and look difficult, but it is actually fairly simple to learn basic conversational Japanese, as opposed to master reading and writing.

To learn Nihongo you may want to attend lessons or take up a free online course such as

On this site we will not offer general Japanese lessons that are available elsewhere, but provide a list of vocabulary which you may find useful to cycle around Japan.

Please note that there are 2 types of Japanese alphabets (Hiragana and Katakana) as well as Kanji (Chinese characters) that are listed together with Roma-ji (phonetically romanized Japanese).  Roma-ji is useful to learn how to pronounce Japanese words, but it is not widely used in Japan.  You may find it useful to learn Kana (Hiragana and Katakana) so that you read simple signs to get around.  If you learn Katakana, you will be able to decipher meaning of many English words that are used widely in Japan including cycling related terms.  In fact, there are so many English words that are used in Japan (with Japanese accents which you will get used to fairly quickly) especially for cycling parts and accessories, I did not list obvious ones in the table below.

Please refer to other basic Japanese lesson materials to learn the difference between hiragana and katakana, and also how to pronounce Roma-ji as there are simple rules you can follow.

Japanese writing Roma-ji English
Kanji/Katakana Hiragana
cycling and riding 自転車 じてんしゃ jitensha bicycle
サイクリング saikuringu cycling
ロードバイク ro-do baiku road bike
ママチャリ mamachari town bike
マウンテンバイク maunten baiku mountain bike
自動車 じどうしゃ jidousha motor car
くるま kuruma car/vehicle
歩行者 ほこうしゃ hokousha pedestrian
オートバイ o-tobai motor bike
道路 どうろ douro road
歩道 ほどう hodou pedstrian path
車道 しゃどう shadou vehicle road
さか saka slope
上り坂 のぼりざか noborizaka uphill
下り坂 くだりざか kudarizaka downhill
まっすぐ massugu straight ahead
みぎ migi right
ひだり hidari left
adjective 遠い とおい tooi far
近い ちかい chikai near
速い はやい hayai fast
遅い おそい osoi slow
狭い せまい semai narrow
広い ひろい hiroi wide
高い たかい takai expensive
安い やすい yasui cheap
簡単 かんたん kantan easy
難しい むずかしい muzukashii difficult
verb 乗る のる noru ride
止まる とまる tomaru stop
こぐ kogu pedal (verb)
曲がる まがる magaru turn
上がる あがる agaru go up
下がる さがる sagaru go down
行く いく iku go
来る くる kuru come
食べる たべる taberu eat
飲む のむ nomu drink
泊まる とまる tomaru stay
寝る ねる neru sleep
起きる おきる okiru get up/wake
休む やすむ yasumu rest
Bicycle parts タイヤ taiya tyre
ハンドル handoru handle
サドル sadoru saddle
ペダル pedaru pedal
ブレーキ bure-ki brake
ギア gia gear
チェーン che-n chain
インナーチューブ inna- chu-bu inner tube
フォーク fo-ku fork
ケーブル ke-buru cable
ライト raito light
ベル beru bell
ワイヤー waiya- cable
maintenance パンク panku flat (tyre)
こわれる kowareru broken
洗う あらう arau wash
レンチ renchi allen key
接着剤 せっちゃくざい secchakuzai (resin) glue
ゴムのり gomu nori (rubber) glue
潤滑油 じゅんかつゆ junkatsuyu lubricant
空気入れ  くうきいれ kuukiire pump
さび sabi rust
ねじ neji screw
ドライバー doraiba- screw driver
accessories ヘルメット herumetto helmet
手袋 てぶくろ tebukuro glove
くつ kutsu shoes
ボトル botoru bottle
かぎ kagi key/lock
輪行バッグ りんこうバッグ rinkou baggu bike bag
単三電池 たんさんでんち tansan denchi AA battery
単四電池 たんよんでんち tanyon denchi AAA battery

 

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