City Travel Tip #494

How to say sorry, for everything, in Japan


If you’re travelling to Japan one of the best words you can learn is how to say sorry. Not just, sorry for something you explictly did but also sorry for everything else. Sorry for getting in your way, sorry for interrupting, sorry I need your attention, sorry I took too long, sorry I don’t understand, sorry I don’t need your help.

It can even be used in situations where you are really wanting to say thank you, but in a sorry kind of way. And example: Someone moves out of your way as you walk across each others path. You say ‘thank you and sorry’ in this one word. Another example is you go to enter a door at the same time someone is coming through, if they hold the door and let you through you would also say ‘thank you’ in a ‘sorry for inconveniencing you’ kind of way.

The Japanese culture is one of respectfulness so being respectful also means that you’re happy to prefer the other person enough. This word is the most typical term used to casually apologise to a stranger, or anyone.

So how do you say ‘sorry’ (or thank you) in Japanese for all these situations?

The word is Sumimasen. Pron: Sue-me-maa-sen

There are more formal ways to apologise but if you’re in Japan, this will take you far.

More info:

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MarkNovember 4, 20210 comments