I am going on to WWOOF in Hokkaido soon (a programme where you help out at a cafe/pension/farm in exchange for room). Kind of like a working holiday.

I am just starting to learn Japanese so the following part is rather beyond me at the moment:--

I would like to ask/check with my host via email what I need to bring there, and I also want to state some examples, for e.g. (i) do I need to bring my own toiletries such as shampoo and conditioner, washing powder (ii) whether any special work clothes or items are needed, such as gloves, aprons etc. Basically what things I should bring there.

How should I ask these questions in Japanese politely?
Is it something like:

たとえば せんざいとシャーワのアイテムなど、そしてほかの必要な物など?

I appreciate if you could include romaji translation to help me read the kanji easier (also for me to learn to read that word). Gomen nasai >_<

If you could think of other things I should ask my host, or how I should end the email politely, feel free to include the extra phrases here :)

  • 2
    Even if you could ask, would you be able to understand the answer you would eventually receive? – oldergod May 17 '16 at 6:55
  • I use a combination of online Japanese dictionaries, Google translate etc. like mad to check and cross-check the replies from the host to make sure that I got their meanings right, so that I can reply them accordingly. It's really intense because it's real communication and not like a piece of worksheet that you receive as homework!! I'm pretty sure I had some incorrect grammar with my に、を etc. I did tell the host upfront that my Japanese is at beginner stage, but they did accept me although they earlier stated that knowledge of the language is preferred. – Scarlet May 17 '16 at 7:32
  • I have one month to go before my exchange. I am planning to draw up a list of action verbs, phrases and questions that are l likely need to use there, or may hear. Things like "What should I do?", "How can I help?", "Is this correct?". I am still very much dependent on my text books for grammar forms, like ~te, ~tara etc. I hope I can think quicker on my feet through more audio and verbal exercises which I'll try to cramp into the one month. Would appreciate if anyone could help with asking the questions in the 1st post. Thanks. – Scarlet May 17 '16 at 7:33
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    何か持っていったほうがいいのでしょうか?お風呂に必要なもの、作業に必要なものなど、何が必要かを教えて頂ければ幸いです。 – oldergod May 17 '16 at 8:32
  • Ahh I see. Thank you oldergod! Does the last part "何が必要かを教えて頂ければ幸いです" mean something like "I'll be glad to receive any advice/guidance on what's necessary to bring" ? – Scarlet May 17 '16 at 8:39


This happens to be a perfectly grammatical (although a bit puzzling) Japanese sentence, but it means "Do you have something which is necessary?" You are asking if your host family has something, not yourself.

  • When you want to ask "What is ~?", the basic structure is "~は何ですか?"
  • You can safely use 必要なもの ("necessary thing(s)").
  • Or you can say 持って行くもの ("thing(s) to bring"). Generally, "thing(s) to [verb]" can be translated as "[verb (dictionary form)] + もの". (eg. 食べるもの "things to eat")
  • There are a number of ways to say "have to ~" or "must ~" in Japanese, but here's how to say "need to ~" in Japanese: What is the equivalent use of need and need + Verb?

So here are the simplest possible expressions:

  • 必要【ひつよう】なものは何【なに】ですか? (lit. "What is the thing which is necessary?")
  • 持【も】って行【い】くものは何ですか? (lit. "What is the thing to bring?")
  • 何を持って行く必要がありますか? (lit. "What do I need to bring?")

たとえば せんざいとシャーワのアイテムなど、そしてほかの必要な物など?

This sentence is not the most natural one, but at least you can make yourself understood. (Well, Shower is シャワー, not シャーワ)

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