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I'm just starting learning Japanese, and I have a question about どこ. Can I use it in the situation, when someone shows me around, takes me to an interesting place, and I want to ask what is this place?

ここはどこですか

ここは何ですか

How do I ask 'what is this place'?

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both of those, coming from a beginner in Japanese, being lead around by a native, would almost certainly be understood. Especially with gestures thrown in to help indicate what you mean. However,

ここはどこですか literally means "Where are we?/Where am I?"

ここは何ですか is closer to what you're trying to ask, but is a bit simplistic.

ここはどんな店{みせ}ですか。 Is probably closer to what you mean to ask, and means "what kind of store is this?" ... If you want to specifically use the word "place" then replace "mise" with "tokoro" ところ

  • お店 would be more natural – bjorn Jun 22 '18 at 12:32
  • @bjorn wouldn't that be extra polite, almost to the point of being a feminine form of speech? I can't recall hearing conversations where a random shop was referred to in that manner... although that again might be because Japanese people tend to dumb down their speech around me out of concern that I might not be 100 % fluent. – ericfromabeno Jun 22 '18 at 14:59
  • there are a few words that are normally said, and especially written, with the お-/ご- prefix regardless of circumstance and where the omission of them could instead risk coming with (negative) implications. お店 is one, another is お金. It is for sure not feminine, but there could certainly be sociolectal or regional differences. In my surroundings, even the Kyushu danji, add お in both the above words. – bjorn Jun 22 '18 at 15:32
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    「ここは[何]{なん}の店ですか。」「ここは[何]{なん}のお店ですか。」-- どっちでも・・・。 店員さんや店主に向かって聞くなら「お店」のほうがいいかもしれませんけど。 – Chocolate Jun 23 '18 at 5:21

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