Visiting someone’s house in Japan Part 2

February 22, 2014 in Japanese culture, Japanese manners, useful phrases


= Kouhii douzo!

= Here’s your coffee.


= Douzo okamai naku…

= Please don’t trouble yourself.


= Koohii nomenain dakedo…

= I don’t drink coffee but…

Hello again, everyone!

In the previous lesson, (Visiting someone’s house Part 1) Cookie Sensei taught you a lot of  useful phrases that you can use before you visit someone’s house.

In this lesson, Part 2, we’ll use expressions you use when you actually visit someone’s house in Japan.

!yflower! When you suddenly visit someone’s house/office.

Even if you are close friends with someone, and even they invite you “to stop by anytime”, it is still nice to tell them in advance before you go actually go visit them. Many people feel uncomfortable if you just show up. Few of us like the “pop-in”!

I know this is universal, but even if you need to visit someone’s house without telephoning ahead, avoid visiting them early in the morning, late at night or during  mealtime: breakfast, lunch or dinner.

When their family answers the door,


Introduce yourself and tell them who you want to see or why you’ve dropped by.

= Konnichiwa. Maggie san no yuujin no John to iimasu . Totsuzen sumimasen. Maggie san wa irasshaimasu ka?
= Hello,  I’m Maggie’s friend, John. Is Maggie home/here?

= Totsuzen moushiwake arimasen. Maggie san no kaisha no douryou no Maria to iimasu. Maggie san wa gozaitaku de shouka?
= I am sorry for the sudden visit. I work at the same company as Maggie. Is Maggie home?

If the person you want to see comes to the door, apologize for your sudden visit by using one of the following expressions.

= Totsuzen  ojama shite sumimasen.
= I am sorry for my sudden visit

= Kyuu ni gomennasai
= I am sorry for my sudden visit

= Chotto chikaku made kita mono desukara..
= I was just in the neighborhood so…

= Chotto chikaku made kitakara…
= I was just in the neighborhood so…

= Chotto chikaku made kita mono desukara kyuu desu ga sukoshi dake ojama shite mo yoroshii deshouka?
I was just in the neighborhood and I know this is sudden, but do you mind if I come in for a little while?

= Genkan saki de suguni shitsurei itashimasu.
= I will stay here at the entrance (without coming in your house) and leave soon.

Often they’ll ask you to come in 玄関(=genkan) entrance

= Douzo oagari kudasai.
= Please come in,

= Ocha demo ikaga desu ka?
= Would like a cup of tea?

If you are intending to leave soon,


= Ie, isoide imasu node kyou wa shitsurei itashimasu.
= No…I’m in a hurry, so I have to go.

If they still insist you come in, you can go ahead and go in but if they look a little puzzled, then it’s probably better that you backtrack to the entrance and excuse yourself as soon as it is politely possible.

Remember Japanese people tend to avoid being direct or using straightforward expressions.

It sometimes requires a bit of mind reading.  A lot of nonverbal communication often happens so you need to pay attention. 

Even if they don’t let you in, don’t take it personally.  They could be really busy, or they may feel embarrassed to show you into their cluttered room or perhaps their family is having dinner or some other family activity.

If you stop by just to give them something or drop something off,

= Ie chotto koredake owatashi shitakatta node.
= No, no…I stopped by just to give you this.

They’ll probably say something like,


= Wazawaza sumimasen.
= I am sorry to trouble you and making you come all this way.

= Mata yukkuri asobini irashite kudasai.
= Please visit us when you have more time.

= Mata yukkuri asobini kite.
= Come visit me/us again when you have more time.


Now let’s go visit someone’s house properly.  Some of the phrases may sound overly formal, but don’t feel too much pressure. The host is interested in entertaining you. They want to make sure you have a good time.

If you visit a close friends’ house, don’t worry about formalities too much. Just enjoy yourself! (Just be careful not to go too wild or they will never invite you again. :) )


If you are invited, try to show up at their house on time.  Not too early. Not too late. If you’re going to be late, call them.

:kkk: When you get to their house :

If you see their family at the entrance, greet them and introduce yourself first. If you see the host, say hello and thank them for inviting you.

= John desu. Hajimemashita.
= I’m John. Nice to meet you.

= Maggie sensei no seito no John desu. Hajimemashita.
= I’m John. I am Maggie Sensei’s student. Nice to meet you.


 = Hajimemashite. Maggie san ni itsumo osewa ni natte imasu John to moushimasu.

= Nice to meet you.  I’m John.  Maggie has been always been taking care of me/helping me)

Note : お世話になる(=oseawni naru) Go check this lesson.

= Konnichiwa, kyou wa omaneki arigatou gozaimasu.
= Hello, thank you for inviting me (us) today.

:k: Cultural note :

We don’t shake hands or kiss in Japan. We just bow. Usually if you are not Japanese, they don’t expect you to bow. Even if your Japanese is not good enough to communicate, do not just stand there without saying a word. Tell them your name and who you want to see — even if it’s in English. If you see your friend’s family, introduce yourself and greet them.

In my personal opinion, smiling is VERY important.  !JYANE!   Smiles always creates good relationships and atmosphere no matter where you go.  Trust me!  It really works! boucingheart!

When you come into their house, say:

= Ojama shimasu.
= (The literal meaning is “I will bother you (coming into your house) ) But it just meansExcuse me/us!

!to right! Please check more about  邪魔(=jama) in this lesson

= Shitsurei itashimasu.
= (The literal translation)Please allow me to come in.

= Shitsurei shimasu
= (The literal translation)Please allow me to come in.

Note : The literal meaning of 失礼をする(=shiturei wo suru) means “to be rude/impolite

You say 失礼します(=shiturei shimasu) when you come into someone’s room/house or leave there.

And they will welcome you and say:

= Douzo ohairi kudasai.
= Please come in!

= Douzo!
= Please (come in)!

Again Japanese people tend to use humble expressions. I know it may sound very strange to you, but they want to show you their appreciation for coming all the way to their humble house.

= Kitanai ie desu ga douzo.
= It is a dirty house, but please come in.

= Chirakatte imasu ga douzo ohairi kudasai.
= It’s cluttered, but please come in.

= Yogoshite imasu ga douzo.
= It’s cluttered, but please (come in).

= Chiisai ie desu ga douzo.
= It’s a small house, but please (come in)…

:n: Cultural Note :

You must already know this, but you are supposed to take off your shoes at 玄関(=genkan),  the entrance in Japanese house. 
And if you are the host, it is customary to have スリッパ(=surippa) slippers out for お客様(=okyakusama) the guests.

= Surippa wo douzo
= Please use these slippers.

2014-02-10 14.39.28

When you take off your shoes,

Don’t leave your shoes like these.  :(


2014-02-10 14.40.14

It would be nice to put your shoes together and place them neatly.

2014-02-10 14.40.40

And don’t sleep in the entrance! tsk tsk :roll:



If you are the host and when you see a guest attemping to arrange or fix up their shoes, you can say:

= Douzo sonomama de oagari kudasai.
= Please leave your shoes (just like that) and come in.

Don’t complain about the slippers — even if they’re too big for you.



:k: When you’re in their house/apartment, nice little compliments will be appreciated.

= Sutekina ouchi/oheya desune.
= This is a lovely house/apartment.

= Hiroi desune.
= It is very spacious.

= Atarashikute iidesu ne.
= It is new and nice.

:jjj: Cultural  note :

When you are invited to a Japanese house, it’s nice to bring お土産(=omiyage) a little gift such as cakes, sweets, fruits, flowers for their family.

Hand it to them when you get to the guest room.

= Douzo kore sukoshi desu ga minasan de meshiagatte kudasai.
= (The literal meaning  This is small something but please have them with everybody (in your family).)
= This is a small something for you

(between friends)

= Kore ekimae no keikiyasan kara katte kitano. Ato de mina de tabeyo.
= I bought these from the cake shop in front of the station. Let’s eat them together later.

= Kore taishita mono ja nai kedo douzo.
= This is not a big deal but please.

:ii: When you are seated:

= Douzo okake kudasai.
= Please sit down.

= Douzo raku ni shite kudasai.
= Please make yourself comfortable.

「楽にして」 (casual)
= Rakuni shite
= Make yourself at home.

If they have a,  (=tamami) or carpet floor, you may have to sit on the floor. Most people will have  座布団 (zabuton) floor cushions for you.

= Zabuton douzo.
= Please use this floor cushion.

「どうぞ座布団おあて下さい。」(a bit old fashioned.)
= Douzo oate kudasai.
= Please use this (floor cushion.)

First  you  are supposed to sit in 正座= seiza style  but if you keep sitting in seiza style, I bet your feet will しびれる(=shibireru ) go sleep.

The host may suggest that you stop sitting in seiza position.

= Douzo ashi wo kuzushite kudasai.
= Please be comfortable. (You can sit in a comfortable way)

= Ashi wo kuzushite iidesuyo.
= Please be comfortable. (You can sit in a comfortable way.)

*足をくずす(= ashi wo kuzusu ) If you are a woman, to sit with both legs on one side. If you are a man, to sit cross-legged. If you are with someone VERY close, you can stretch your legs like in the picture below.

If they forget to ask you to relax, you can ask if you can sit in a more comfortable way

= Gomennasai sukoshi ashi wo kuzusasete itadakimasu.
= I am sorry. Allow me to sit in more comfortable way.


= Ashi wo kuzushite ii?

= Can I sit in more comfortable way?


!gejigeji! 「足がしびれる….」
= Ashi ga shibireru…
= My legs are going to sleep…

!sleepy! 「足をくずします。」
= Ashi wo kuzushimasu.
= I’ll stop sitting in Seiza style.

:maggie-small: 「ちょっとくつろぎ過ぎじゃない?」
= Chotto kuzurogi sugi janai?
= Aren’t you a little too relaxed?

:maggie-small: 「こうやって座るんだよ。」
= Kouyatte suwarun dayo.
= You’re supposed to sit like this.

:jjj:  Serving tea/food: 

= Socha desu ga douzo.
= Please have some tea.

(Note: This is another humble expression.  The literal meaning is “This is a bad quality of tea but please.”

If you want to learn more about 謙遜(=kenson) humble expressions, check this lesson.

= Douzo enryo naku meshiagatte kudasai.
= Please help yourself. (and eat as much as you like.)

= Douzo
= Please (help yourself)

:n: Offering some help :

= Nanika otetsudai surukoto wa arimasu ka?
= May I help you? 

= Nanika tetsudau koto aru?
= Can I help you?

:yy:   Cultural note :

Unlike some other countries, we don’t usually do a tour of a house.  So it is considered to be rude to walk around someone’s house or go into 台所(=daidokoro) the kitchen without their permission.

= Oniwa wo misete itadaite iidesu ka?
= May I see your yard/garden?

部屋見せてもらっていい?」(casual/feminine )
= Oheya misete moratte ii?
= Can I see your room?

Grammatical note : You can say 見てもいい?(=Mitemo ii)?  But it will sound more direct.

Women tend to add(=o) more.  Men  also use  (=0) when they speak politely but it may sound feminine when they talk to their friends.

= Sumimasen. Otearai wo okari dekimasu ka?
= Excuse me.  May I use the bathroom?

「トイレ借りてもいい?」 (casual)
= Toire karite mo ii?
= Can I use the bathroom?

Note : 借りる(=kariru) means “to borrow” but it means “to use

!star! Cultural note :

When you go to the bathroom be sure to change slippers. Don’t mix them up!




Again even if you feel very comfortable there, try not to sleep in the bathroom!  That would freak people out.   !nemui!



OK, time to eat!!! !Fork!

Japanese people tend to serve a lot of nice food on fancy plates when they have company.

I think it is something universal… :)

= Douzo enryonaku meshiagatte kudasai.
= Feel free to help yourself.

= Ippai tabete kudasai.
= Please eat a lot.

= Ippai tabetene.
= Eat a lot.


= Okawari wa ikaga desu ka?

=Would you like seconds?

!onpu! To give the hosts compliments: 

= Oishisou desune. Zenbu okusama ga tsukurareta no desu ka?
= It looks delicious.  Did your wife make the whole thing?

「美味しそう!全部自分で作ったの?」 (casual)
= Oishisou! Zenbu jibun de tsukutta no?
= Looks delicious!  Did you make the whole thing?

= Kirei de taberu no ga mottai nai desune.
= This is too beautiful to eat. (I don’t want to ruin this beautiful food by eating.)

= Taberu no ga mottai nai
= It’s too good to eat.

= Totemo oishii desu.
= It is very delicious.

= Sugoku oishii!
= Very Delicious!

= Okaasama wa oryouri ga ojouzu desune.
= Your mother cooks very well.

 = Okaasan wa ryouri ga jouzu dane.
= Your mom cooks very well.

= Maggie wa ryouri ga sugoku jouzu dane.
= You are a good cook, Maggie.

Note : In conversation we often omit particles.


= Maggie ryouri sugoi jouzu!
=You are a good cook, Maggie.

If you don’t know what kind of sauce you should eat with,


= Kore wa nani wo tsukete tabetara ii desuka?
= What should I eat this with?

= Kore wa nani wo tsukete tabetara iino?
= What do I eat this with?

= Korewa douyatte tsukuru no desuka?
= How do you make/cook this?

= Kondo tsukurikata wo oshiete kudasai.
= Please teach me how to cook this sometime.

:jjj: If they serve you something you don’t like or you are already full:

 = Gomennasai nattou wa chotto nigate nanode..  
= I am sorry.  I am not quite fond of Natto so…

Note : 苦手(=nigate) sounds more subtle than saying 嫌い(=kirai)

= Gomennasai nattsu wa arerugii ga arunode.
= I am sorry.  I am a little allergic to nuts so…

= Gomennasai bejitarian nanode oniku wa itadakanain desu. Kochira no oryouri wo itadakimasu.
= I am sorry.  I am a vegetarian, so I don’t eat meat. But I’d love to try this.

= Arigatou gozaimasu. Demo mou onaka ga ippai desu.
= Thank you, but no thank you.  I am full already.

= Mou juubun itadakimashita.
= I had enough. Thank you.


!Fork! Cultural Note :

In Japan we share several different dishes of food on the table. You use a couple of different sized small plates called 取り皿(=torizara)
The host usually prepare 取り箸(=toribashi),  the chopsticks to take food from a communal plate to your own dish or other utensils such as a spoon or a fork for the guests.

If there aren’t any of utensils to serve yourself food, use your own chopsticks.
Unless you eat with someone very close, if you once put the chopsticks in your mouth, you may hesitate to use the same chopsticks to take some food from the communal plate.  That is called 直箸(=jikibashi)

= Otoribashi desu.
= Please use these chopsticks to share the food.

= Kochira no ohashi wo otsukai kudasai.
= Please use these chopsticks (to share the food).

Some people flip their chopsticks around and use the other sides to take food  for sanitary reason.

That is called 返し箸(=kaeshibashi) which some people consider to be polite but some think it is rude.

The host may serve the new chopsticks or tell you,

= Douzo ohashi wa kaesanai de sonomama meshiagatte kudasai.
= Please do not flip your chopsticks and take your food just like that.

You say


 = Dewa jikabashi de shitsurei shimasu.

= Then allow me to use my own chopsticks.

:n: Time to go home :

It is considered to be impolite to stay someone’s house too long and wear out their welcome.

For example if you visit their house for lunch do not stay until their dinner time unless they ask you to stay. And if you are invited to dinner, don’t stay too late so that their family can go to bed.

「そろそろおいとまいたします。」(polite/ a bit old fashioned)
= Sorosoro oitomaitashimasu.
= It is time for me/us to leave.

= Sorosoro shitsurei shimasu.
= It is time for me/us to leave. / Please excuse me/us.

= Mou konna jikan, sorosoro shitsurei shinakucha.
= It’s already late now. I (We) must go now.

= Mada iijanai desuka. Douzo yukkuri nasatte kudasai.
= It is still early. Please take your time.

= Yuushokiu demo doudesu ka?
= Would like to have dinner with us?

= Nagai wo shite moushiwake arimasen.
= I am sorry I stayed such a long time.

= Nagai wo shite shimatte…
= I stayed too long…

「長居をしちゃってごめんなさい。」(casual / feminine )
= Nagai wo shichatte gomennasai.
= I‘m sorry I  stayed so long.

Note : 長居をして(=nagai wo shite) and そろそろ(=sorosoro) are key words for you to leave as well.

= Atokatazuke mo shinakute sumimasen.
= I am sorry I didn’t help you clean up.

= Chirakashipanashi de sumimasen.
= Sorry that I left a mess.

= Ojama shimashita
= Very Japanese expression and the literal meaning is : Sorry for all the trouble that you had for my visit.

= Hontou ni gochisou sama deshita. Totemo tanoshikattadesu.
= Thank you so much for the delicious food. It was so much fun/I had a great time.

= Kyou wa doumo arigatou gozaimashita.
= Thank you for everything today.

= Hontou ni kyou wa arigatou gozaimashita. Okusama no oryouri hontou ni oishikatta desu. Gochisou sama deshita.
= Thank you so much (for everything) today.Your wife cooks very well. Thank you for the delicious food.

If you don’t get to see the host’s family when you leave, 

= Okusama ni yoroshiku otsutae kudasai.
= Please say thank you to your wife.

= Okaasama ni yoroshiku otsutae kudasai.
= Say thank you to your mother.

= Okusan ni yoroshikune.
= Say thank you to your wife.

= Sumimasen ga eki made takushii wo yonde itadakemasu ka?
= I am sorry to trouble you but could you call a taxi to the station please?

= Kondo wa zehi uchinimo asobini irashite kudasai.
= Please come to my place next time.

= Kondo wa zehi uchi nimo asobini kite kudasai.
= Please come over my place next time.

= Kondo wa zehi uchinimo asobini kite!
= Come over my place next time.

= Ieie nanno okamai mo dekimasen deshitaga mata irashite kudasai.
= No, no… we didn’t do anything. (Literal meaning : We didn’t serve you enough food.) But please come visit us again.

= Kochirakoso kekkouna omiyage wo itadaite arigatou gozaimasu.
= Thank YOU for the nice present.

= Kochirakoso oishii keiki wo arigatou.
= Thank you, too for the delicious cake.

= Douzo mata itsudemo irashite kudasia.
= Please come visit me/us again anytime.

「またいつでも来て」 (casual)
= Mata itsudemo kite.
= Come visit us again anytime.

= Kiwotsukete  okaeri kudasai.
= Please be careful going home/ Take care.

= Ki wo tsuketene.
= Take care!

= Eki made okurimasu.
= I will take you to the station.

= Eki made kurumade okurimasu.
= I will drive you  to the station.

= Iie douzo okizukai naku.
= Thank you but don’t worry about it.

And it would be extra nice to say call and say thank you when get home. Or you could send them an email. Oh, and don’t forget to thank them the next time you see them.

= Ima ie ni tsukimashita . Kyou wa hontou ni arigatou gozaimashita.
= I just got home now. Thank you so much for having me today.

= Kono aida wa arigatou gozaimashita.
= Thank you for the other day.

= Totemo tanoshikatta desu.
= I had a good time.


maggie-senseiマギー先生より = Maggie sensei yori = From Maggie Sensei


= Kono saito ni wa “Maggie no heya” ga arimasu. Itsudemo kono heya ni asobini kite kudasai.

=  You know there is place called Maggie’s Room on this site. You can visit the room anytime!


= Watashi wa kutsu wo haite inai node mondai arimasen ga mina wa dosoku de hairanai dene.

= Since I don’t wear shoes so I don’t have to worry about anything but you all should be careful not to step in with your shoes on.