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I'm in Tokyo. I want to ask my friend if he's coming to Tokyo. In English it is natural to say "Will you come to Tokyo?", not "Will you go to Tokyo", as I use my own location as the reference point. But how is this in Japanese? Do I say

東京に来ますか

or

東京に行きますか。

2 Answers 2

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In this situation, you can say 東京に来ます(か)?. However if you say it to your friends, 東京に来る? would be natural.東京に行きますか wouldn't be natural.

In this situation, your friends shouldn't say 東京に来る but 東京に行く as the answer, though they seem to be able to say "I will come to Tokyo" in English.

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    English is funny with うち/そと. Sometimes there are instances of it, sometimes there aren't. This is one of those where English has うち/そと where Japanese doesn't; In English, when a person is somewhere and is talking about someone else coming to a place, when the response is "I will come" it's because there is a familiarity for both with the place.
    – psosuna
    Jun 22, 2017 at 19:09
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Your scenario is the same as the Scenario #2 below. You are talking with a person A and want to ask whether the person A is moving toward you.

This video explains with animations: I'll come or I'll go?

Basically,

KURU/KIMASU - Someone or something is moving toward you or whoever the speaker is

IKU/IKIMASU - Someone or something is moving AWAY from you or whoever the speaker is. When you are the speaker, you will still be moving away from yourself(the speaker) or your current position by "going somehwere"

Scenario 1:

In this scenario, you are talking with A about "B coming" to you (B moving toward you). In English, you'd say "B comes" because B is moving toward the speaker, which is you, the white cat in the picture. It's the same thing in Japanese, so you'd call B's action as "KIMASU" because B is moving toward the speaker. You are talking with A about B coming toward you

Scenario 2:

In this scenario, you are talking with A about A's action. In English, you'd ask "Will you come?" because you want to know whether A will be coming toward you, the speaker (the white cat in the picture). It's the same thing in Japanese, so you'd call A's action as "KIMASU" because A is moving toward the speaker. You are talking with A about A coming toward you

Scenario 3:

In this scenario, you are talking with A about you going to the third person, B. You are moving away, so you'd tell A "I'll go (to B)" in English. Again, it's the same thing in Japanese, you are moving away from the speaker, which is yourself, the white cat in the picture, so you'd call your own action as "IKIMASU" You are talking with A about you going to B

Scenario 4:

In this scenario, you are talking with A about you going to A. In English, "come" is used when you are moving toward the person you are talking to, so you'd say "I'll come (to you)". BUT, in Japanese, it doesn't matter where you are moving to. It doesn't matter that you are moving toward the person you are talking to. As long as you are moving away from the speaker, which is yourself, the white cat in the picture, you'd call your action as "IKIMASU". enter image description here

Hope this helps.

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