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This is probably a bit of a silly question, but what do you say in Japanese when you're asking for the bill in a restaurant? Or is it unusual to say anything at all?

When I was in Japan I could never really catch any particular phrases and when I was at Kaitenzushi places I just stood up until the staff noticed I was ready to leave and then they counted my plates.

Would it be something to the effect of 付けをください? Or is it like in America where you usually don't really ask for the bill but just wait for it to come?

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3 Answers

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Beside 勘定 (or 勘定書) mentioned by Louis, お会計【かいけい】 is also a very common way to refer to the bill:

お会計をください

お会計お願いします

I believe 会計 has a more general nuance than 勘定 ("bill", rather than "check"), meaning it can be used in some instances where 勘定 would not fit. For restaurants, they are essentially interchangeable.

The gesture described by Louis (making a × sign with your index fingers) is indeed a universal Japanese gesture to indicate you are done: while it is not particularly rude, you should probably still avoid it in a very fancy place (and doing it appropriately might require a bit of practice, so I'd recommend holding off on it until you've seen it done a few times).

Note that all of the above will not always get you the check (at your table), since the vast majority of restaurants expect you to pay at a counter by the door and many will ring your total there. It can however indicate that you will be paying and signal the waiter to prepare your check.

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I forgot about 会計. Now that I think about it my friends would normally use this one. –  Louis Jul 5 '11 at 2:29
    
There is a regional factor (perhaps age as well). But it is probably the default for Tokyo people. –  Dave Jul 5 '11 at 2:30
    
I never heard "お勘定". I always use お会計 here… –  Axioplase Jul 5 '11 at 8:11
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I got by pretty well with お勘定ください (かんじょう), お勘定を and お勘定をお願いします. Looking around though perhaps I was supposed to say お勘定してください, because 勘定's definition is to calculate.

An American friend told me that I could also cross my two index fingers if I didn't feel like yelling すみまーせん! to get attention. I never tried this though.

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お勘定をお願いします is definitely more usual than お勘定してください. –  Tsuyoshi Ito Jul 4 '11 at 17:34
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Aside from @Louis and @Dave's answers, another one commonly used is お愛想 【お・あいそ(う)】. Again, for politeness, it's usually

お愛想、お願いします!

This is often heard in sushi restaurants. Actually, I've heard it's limited to being used only in sushi restaurants, but I don't know how much truth there is to that. But if you throw that in at a sushi place, you might receive some impressed looks by the locals.

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it is limited to sushi restaurants (afaik). I was trying to recall it and couldn't come up with it while writing my own answer. thanks for the complement! –  Dave Jul 4 '11 at 18:35
    
+1: お愛想 is a very very old word that has thus gone out of usage in modern Japanese. However, there are a lot of old words that are still used in Sushi restaurants, including お愛想. Didn't know it had kanji though, thanx –  Mark Hosang Jul 5 '11 at 0:53
    
I was told it is for izakayas, is it wrong? –  Nicolas Raoul Jul 5 '11 at 7:03
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