I just came back from Japan, it is my first time, so I found myself in the situations, that I wasn't prepared for.

At the convenience store I noticed natives tend not to say much to the staff at all, but I just want to confirm that I understand it right.

First when I come in everyone shouts いらっしゃいませ - I know I'm not supposed to answer, but I still throw some こんにちは, since I just feel strange not to answer.

I walk around and workers occasionally say いらっしゃいませ again and bow, so I say こんにちは and bow too, but native buyers seem to ignore いらっしゃいませ + bow combo. Is this fine and polite?

Then I bring products to the cash register and say こんにちは again and I really want to say something more, but can't find words and keep silent. I get some polite phrases thrown at me and presented with a number to pay. I say ちょっと待っててね and look for coins. So my coins are lying on the plate and I want to say "that's it", "I'm done", "please take my money" or something, but I really can't find the words and I just make some gestures waving the wallet and hands...

I can go on, but in short I really felt I'm not following some predefined step-by-step actions and not using common phrases, I say too much hellos and bow all the time. When I leave any form of "Goodbye" seem not appropriate, looks like past-tense "Thank you" is what natives say or not saying anything and just silently walking out is good. In your answer I would like to see an example of a common dialog, tips when to bow and when to say nothing. よろしくお願いします。

  • 1
    Most starter text books have a chapter on buying groceries in a shop and will cover the basic things you want to say. (Nothing you describe is unusual. Any real conversation with the shopkeeper depends on the shopper and the keeper as individuals but apart from the ritual いらっしゃいませs silence is not unusual.)
    – Tim
    Apr 15, 2014 at 13:16
  • 1
    Related: japanese.stackexchange.com/a/1976/542
    – Flaw
    Apr 16, 2014 at 8:45
  • Related question clears a lot for me. Thanks Flaw-san!
    – dimadesu
    Apr 16, 2014 at 9:53

1 Answer 1


It sounds like much of what you are facing is a cultural more than syntactic problem. A コンビニ is not a bodega; there's no chummy socialization that happens there.

All of the language I use in the convenience store is transactional:

If you need to ask them to check out:


To indicate the method of payment:


This seems to be the only specific question you asked but if you need to ferret about for small change:

1) ちょっと待ってください.

and then when you've put the change you want down

2) それからお願いします

They will ask if you want it heated (for items where that makes some sense -- and some where to me it doesn't [like おにぎり]):

店員: 「[温]{あたた}めますか」

They may ask if you want a bag if you ordered something small:


And if unnecessary, I will answer:


I don't normally greet them or say good bye (though as a white foreigner I sometimes do).

And that's all that's expected. No one says anything like "hello" or "goodbye" to them.

  • I thought I added a comment, but now it's gone, so I'm writing a new one. This covers pretty much what I wanted, so thank you for answer.
    – dimadesu
    Apr 16, 2014 at 10:10

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