Shopping in Japan – Asking “How much?”

shopping in japan
Japan is a shopper’s paradise. From electronic super stores, to strange and bizarre curios, there seems to be something for everyone in Japan.

But what do you do when come across a great product with no price listed?

For cases like this you’ll want to learn to say “How much is this” in Japanese!

The point and ask method

The easiest way to find out a price is to point at the product and say – Ikura desu ka? (ee-ku-rah des ka)

In a nut shell you’re asking “How much?”

A slightly more advanced method

Now, if you want to get a little fancier, instead of pointing, you can ask “How much is this/that?”, instead.

The Japanese use three different words to describe items according to whether the item is closer to you, closer to the person you’re asking the question to, or away from both of you.

For items close to you, use the word Kore (koh-ray)

For items closer to the other person, use the word Sore (soh-ray)

For items away from both of you, use the word Are (ah-ray)

Now, to put it into action: “How much is this?” becomes “Kore wa ikura desu ka?” or “Sore wa ikura desu ka?”

“How much is that?” becomes “Are wa ikura desu ka?

Now, I know what you’re saying “Travis my man! What’s the point of asking a question in Japanese if I can’t understand what the person is saying when they answer the question?”

That’s a very valid question. So let me teach you how to say “Can you write it down, please.” The reason you get them to write it down is because, while most Japanese won’t speak English (or at least they’ll be too shy to try), most will know how to write down prices in roman numerals.

So, to ask them to write it down you would say: “Kami ni kaite kudasai(kah-me nee ka-ee-tay ku-da-sai)

Kami stands for paper (you pronounce it the same as you say kami in kamikaze)

Kaite stands for write, and kudasai means please. So, in effect, you’re saying “Paper write down, please.”

I’ll leave it up to you to find a paper and pen =)

Now, here’s a quick little video on how to say “Kore wa ikura desu ka?”

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