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Lesson Transcript

Today we will cover getting to the table at a restaurant. As for placing an order, you will just have to hang on until next week. When you first walk in to a restaurant, most likely you will hear, Irasshaimase which in Japanese is a polite greeting when entering a place of business Irasshaimase. Irasshaimase. Let’s break it down by syllable I-ra-ssha-i-ma-se. Irasshaimase. Now the first question you will hear is how many people in your party which in Japanese is Nanmei sama desu ka? Let’s hear it again Nanmei sama desu ka? The first word nanmei means how many people. Let’s break that word down and hear it one more time nan and mei. Nan is what or how many and mei is the counter for people.
This is followed by sama which in Japanese is the honorific form added to the people counter and this is followed by the desu and the particle ka which turns a sentence into an interrogative. Now that we have the question, let’s go over how to answer it. In Japanese, the counter for people is mei, mei, mei. And let’s take this opportunity to recap some numbers. Ichi, ni, san, yon, go. That was 1 to 5 and let’s put them together with a people counter mei so for one person, that’s ichi-mei, two people would be ni-mei, three is san-mei, four is yon-mei, and finally five people would be go-mei. So when you answer, you just need to say ichi-mei or ni-mei. Now remember the word sama is an honorific form.
So you should never use it for yourself or your party. That’s similar to how you’d never call yourself Sachiko san or Mrs. Sachiko because that sounds a little bit silly, doesn’t it. Okay, now it’s time for Sachiko Secret. I will let you know what I do when I go into a restaurant. I simply hold up my fingers to indicate how many people I am with. This helps avoid confusion because even if you are fluent in Japanese, it’s sometimes really loud in the restaurant that you can’t really hear yourself speak and the wait staff can see your fingers from faraway. Sometimes they won’t even have to come all the way to the door to greet me. They just smile and point to the seat that I can take.
So when in doubt, just hold up those fingers. Okay so to close our today’s lesson, let’s practice what you’ve just learned. I will give you the English equivalent of the phrase and you are responsible for shouting it out loud in Japanese. You got that. I will give you a few seconds before I give you the answer. So good luck Ganbatte kudasai.
How many people in your party? Nanmei sama desu ka? Nanmei sama desu ka? And if you wanted to answer two people, you would say Ni-mei. Ni-mei. All right, that’s going to do it for today. See you later which in Japanese is Matane.


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JapanesePod101.com Verified
September 22nd, 2009 at 06:30 PM
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After this lesson, you'll be all ready for that first question they ask you at the restaurant :smile:

JapanesePod101.com Verified
June 19th, 2019 at 12:08 PM
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Hi Aileen,

Thank you for posting!

I'm really sorry for the late reply.

Yes, "-mei" and "-nin" are both counters for people.

Usually "-mei" is used in formal situation and "-nin" is in casual situation.

Hope this helps!



Team JapanesePod101.com

March 28th, 2019 at 12:17 AM
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hello there,

for counter for people, here mentioned "mei" ex. ni mei, san mei, but in survival one, it taught histori, furari, sankon, ...

are they different ?

JapanesePod101.com Verified
May 4th, 2016 at 01:05 PM
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Ruth M san,


Thank you for your positive feedback.

Yuki 由紀

Team JapanesePod101.com

Ruth M
April 28th, 2016 at 07:10 AM
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"Hai. Ii desu ne."(Eng..Yes.Sounds good.):thumbsup:

"Domo arigato gozaimasu! Ressun wa "::thumbsup:(Eng.Thank you very much!The lesson::thumbsup:)

ARIGATO GOZAIMASU!:thumbsup:MATA NE!:thumbsup::heart::thumbsup:

JapanesePod101.com Verified
April 3rd, 2016 at 08:12 PM
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Benny san,


Thank you for your positive feedback.



Yuki  由紀

Team JapanesePod101.com

March 27th, 2016 at 01:28 AM
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I already knew these phrases, but I learned a lot of new things from the comments section and lesson notes. ありがとうございました.

Looking forward to try these phrases soon in my trip to Japan. :)

JapanesePod101.com Verified
February 8th, 2014 at 12:30 AM
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at the first situation, she could have said that the restaurant was full with (ただいま)満席です

or 今満席なんですが kind of phrases.

If you want to wait in such situation, you can say 待ちます (= To wait, meaning "I'll wait") simply.

In the second situation, she could have asked you カウンター席とテーブル席のどちらがよろしいですか。

If you want to specify the seat "a table in the tatami room", you can say 和室の席をお願いします。

(washitsu no seki o onegai shimasu). And if it was on the second floor, you can add 2階の ath the beginning

of the sentence.

In conversations, particles are often omitted. Some expressions can be shortened too.

There could be other ways to say the same thing. So, those can be or cannot be what they said.

Lastly, if you booked in advance, you can say 予約した[name]です。:wink:

Natsuko (奈津子),

Team JapanesePod101.com

February 7th, 2014 at 11:48 AM
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I just went to Tokyo and what I have learned from the survival phrases lessons helped tremendously. Thanks! But I encountered two situations at restaurant that I did not understand or know how to respond in Japanese.

One time the restaurant was full when I arrived. The hostess at the door told me (I could not see inside and there was no line) and I did not get what she said. What would they say? I wanted to wait for a table but I did not know how to say in Japanese also. How should I say it? Or ask how long do they think the wait will be?

Another time there were two kinds of seating, counter or table. The hostess asked me which I prefer and again I didn't get what she said. What are those in Japanese? I went to 淺草三定 for tempura, 美味しかったね. There were tables on the upper floor inside a tatami room. How should I ask for a table in the tatami room?

If I have a reservation, how should I say it when I arrive the restaurant? 予約があります??


December 18th, 2013 at 06:17 PM
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Hello Frederic san,

It depends on how much you would like to be polite.

The polite answer to何名様ですか is二名.

However, 二人 and 二名are the same meanings so you can use either one.

Also you can say both ごちそうさまでした andありがとうございました to sushi chefs.

ごちそうさまでしたmeans ‘thank you for the meal’and ありがとうございましたmeans ‘thank you(general)’.

I think native Japanese people tend to say ごちそうさまでした only then if the person is polite, s/he would say ありがとうございました.


Team JapanesePod101.com

December 17th, 2013 at 12:23 PM
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When I was asked 何名様ですか, is it the same to reply 二人 instead of 二名? Do you use the polite form 二名でず or just 二名?

It is appropriate say ごちそうさまでした to the sushi chef at a sushi restaurant after the meal or do you just say ありがとう? What does a local Japanese usually say?

Thanks : )