皆様, こんにちにゃあぁ！Welcome to Kiki+Koko: Let’s NihonGO!! Online, bringing you you hot and fresh Japanese Language Learning Essentials! We’re your hosts, your guides to Japanese language and culture, Kiki and Koko! When you’re making your way downtown, walking fast is definitely an option in Japan. But, when you’re travelling to Japan, or travelling in Japan, whether in Roppongi Hills, living like a celebrity, or appreciating the shrines and architecture of Gion, you sadly can’t just beam there via spaceship, unless you want a lot of attention drawn. You have to find a way to get to the location. You might not currently live where there is a large population of Japanese speakers. And, if you’re looking to survive Japanese language, you’re probably planning on going somewhere there are Japanese speakers. To go somewhere with Japanese speakers, you need transportation. And, that’s what brings us to this essential set of words. It’s time to equip your Japanese language survival kit with new tools. This lesson, we’ll be taking a look at a few basic vehicular vocabulary~!
Whether it’s a luxury car or an aeroplane, a Lamborghini or a Boeing, Quon or Toyota, you will definitely need to interact with the mode of transportation in order to get anywhere. That is why we’re starting off with a couple of verbs that might assist you!
When you travel, you’re not usually going to be the one in control of the vehicle, especially when travelling to another country or within one. In this case, we think this verb is best described rather than defined because it has so many definitions and translations. Basically, noru, (乗る), can be used when you’re riding IN or ON a form of transportation. The word is oddly versatile.
In English, you might say, ‘to board/take an aeroplane,’ but in Japanese, it’s still, hikouki ni noru, (飛行機に乗る). You might ’embark’ on a boat, but it’s still noru, (乗る). You might ‘get on’ a train— still noru, (乗る). Ride a bicycle? Still as easy as noru, (乗る). However! You might want to use something a tiny bit more formal than the dictionary form of the verb, and that is: norimasu, (乗ります)。And, if you’re currently riding/embarking/etc, then it would be: notteiru, (乗っている) or in basic politeness: notteimasu, 乗っています。
運転する【うんてんする】 unten suru
Oddly enough, this is also a very versatile word! So, even though it’s defined as terms like ‘operating (a machine),’ this is used more commonly, such as ‘drive’. Whilst, you could translate it as, Infant, you may operate my car—which we’re not sure is legal under their insurance policies, but hey, we’re no insurance police for the Beatles—You find more people commonly saying: unten suru, (運転する), just as commonly as you would hear people say: drive. So! There’s some cases where it’s a bit more complex than simply using this, but most of the time, if you’re operating something you’re riding of which you have control, as a beginner, you can be safe in using: unten suru, (運転する).
You’ll want to sound slightly more polite when using it, though. As just a very general and vague rule of thumb, when you see these shorter verbs, not ending in -masu, (ます), then you have yourself a dictionary form or casual form of a verb. We’ll cover it indepth in another lesson, but for now, if you want to say you ‘drive‘ or ‘will drive‘ with basic politeness, you can say: unten shimasu, (運転します) or if you are currently ‘driving‘: unten shiteru, (運転している), or in basic politeness: unten shiteimasu, (運転しています)
But, as we said, ‘drive’ doesn’t cover some of the other avenues that you may use when talking about very specific vocabulary such as saying the exact phrase of ‘flying’ an aeroplane. But, you’re probably not going to find yourself flying an aeroplane in Japan when you first travel there, so you might not have to worry about the vocabulary for that. But, we can’t make assumptions about every single person reading this, so if you’re interested, to ‘fly a plane’ would be hikouki wo tobasu, (飛行機を飛ばす)
(Disclaimer: Do not allow babies to drive your car. This is a professional baby on a closed course.)
We’ll be right back after these messages. (These professional stunt babies aren’t cheap, y’know)
And, we’re back! Let’s get back to learning!
Simple Survival Sentence Study
This lesson is perfect for applying to our previous lessons! Knowing the vocabulary is very important, but knowing HOW to use it and being able to apply it in many more situations is how you’ll not only survive, but thrive! And of course, when you know how to use the vocabulary, it’s more fun. Mixing up and matching up different sentences will help you feel more comfortable with the sentence structures. We’ll be using some of these sentence structures in the です、は、が、 を, に and へ, and で～！but you can use these lessons to properly suss out exactly HOW we made the sentences, so you can make your own~!
You can open these on another tab or another device for reference. Now, onto the vehicles!
Basic Vehicle Vocabulary | 基本的な乗り物の単語
Aeroplane ( US: Airplane ) 🛫
When you’re heading to Japan on holiday, for business, or for family, you’ll probably want to purchase two kippu, (切符), to paradise, for an aeroplane, or as those on the far side of the Atlantic might say, an ‘airplane.’ This might not be your main mode of travel within the mainland, but you have to get there somehow.
東京へ 飛行機に 乗りました。
とうきょうへ ひこうきに のりました。
toukyou he hikouki ni norimashita.
I took an aeroplane to Tokyo.
This can also mean just generally: automobile or vehicle, as well, which is why you’ll see this kanji included in a lot of these phrases. This is because it can also mean: wheel. This can be useful if you need a rental car in Japan to get around, but with ride share programmes, it can make this start to feel retro already.
こんどは わたしが くるまを うんてんします。
kondo wa watashi ga kuruma wo untenshimasu.
I will drive the car this time.
♪I want to ride my bicycle♪ In crowded cities in Japan, or quiet countrysides, the trusty bicycle is used by many to get around. It’s a vehicle that’s cheap to rent day by day, but sadly usually not available for night rentals. As in most of the greener sides of the globe, it’s a major mode of transportation.
♪ボクの 自転車に 乗りたい♪
♪ぼくの じてんしゃに のりたい♪
♪boku no jitensha ni noritai♪
♪I want to ride my bicycle♪
(learn more about particle に)
Waiting at the basutei, (バス停), bus stop, you might not be able to catch a nekobasu, (ネコバス), but the regular mass transit unit will probably get you where you need to go. As it comes from an English loan word, perhaps it will be easier to memorise.
ネコバスが 着かなかったから、普通の バスに 乗るでしょう。
ねこばすが つかなかったから、 ふつうの ばすに のるでしょう。
nekobasu ga tsukanakatta kara, fuutsu no basu ni noru deshou.
Since the cat bus didn’t arrive, you’ll probably ride the normal bus.
Underground ( US: Subway ) 🚇
Don’t get used to having personal space when you’re using the Tokyo Metro. It’s a generally quick and generally punctual method to get from point A to point B, or point C, the Chiyoda line, to point G, the Ginza line. Though, there is a phenomenon where you may get some space on the underground, it’s enough to fill an article for another time, along with how to navigate the maps which can be tricky for first-time riders. But, it’s an essential experience for anyone travelling in Japan who wants to feel immersed… or who wants to actually be able to travel anywhere properly.
毎朝、銀座で 地下鉄に 乗ります。
まいあさ、ぎんざで ちかてつに のります。
maiasa, ginza de chikatetsu ni norimasu.
Every morning, she rides the underground at Ginza.
Bullet Train 🚄
Do you need to get somewhere fast? Is 320kph fast enough?? (which is about 200mph, or 20 American football players per hour) Have you ever waited for the train and had to wait forever and a day for it to get there? Is 18 seconds too long of a wait?? Because that’s the latest it’s ever been on record. Well, barring outside factors.
The shinkansen is the fastest bullet train in the world. Its creation made travel lightning fast and definitely feels like you’re being beamed to the other side of Japan.
友達は 私と 初めて 新幹線に 乗るつもりです。
ともだちは わたしと はじめて しんかんせんに のるつもりです。
tomodachi wa watashi to hajimete shinkansen ni noru tsumori desu.
My friend plans to ride the bullet train for the first time with me.
And, those are all of the vehicles for which we have time, this lesson! We’re going to have to continue this on the flip-side of this transportational mixtape. But, you can use this opportunity to try to use these vocabulary words in sentences. You can even leave them in the comments below~!
Many of the hiragana characters you’ve seen this, we’ve already covered in previous lessons! Be sure to take a look at our Reading and Writing sections to revise / review / study, if you’ve already stayed up-to-date, or take your time and go through them at your own pace.
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