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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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