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Last updated: July 25, 1999

by Philbert Ono and Professor Naoomi Kuratani

What's this? This is a list of essential phrases for buying books at a bookstore in Japan. Key words are color-coded. The phrases are divided into three sections: Book Searching, Ordering a Book, and Inquiring by Phone. Also check out a list of basic Japanese vocabulary here.

Book Searching   本を探す  
Where is Kinokuniya? Kinokuniya wa doko deska? 紀ノ国屋はどこですか? Substitute "Kinokuniya" with the name of any bookstore.
Is there a bookstore around here? Kono hen ni honya-san ga arimaska? この辺に本屋さんがありますか? A used bookstore is called "furu honya-san."
Where are the idol photo books? Idoru shashin-shu wa doko deska? アイドル写真集はどこですか? Idol photo books include celebrity photo books (nude and non-nude).
Where are the photography books? Shashin kankei no hon wa doko deska? 写真関係の本はどこですか?
Where are the camera (how-to) books? Camera kankei no hon wa doko deska? カメラ関係の本はどこですか?
Where are the camera magazines? Camera zasshi wa doko deska? カメラ雑誌はどこですか?
Where are the English magazines? Eigo no zasshi wa doko deska? 英語の雑誌はどこですか? Substitute "zasshi" with "hon" for "books."
What floor are the foreign (English, etc.) books on? Yosho wa nankai deska? 洋書何階ですか?
It's on the 5th floor. Gokai ni arimasu. 五階にあります。 Other floors:
  • chika-ikkai - basement 1st floor
  • ikkai - 1st floor (ground floor or street level)
  • nikai - 2nd floor
  • sankai - 3rd floor
  • yonkai - 4th floor
  • gokai - 5th floor
  • rokkai - 6th floor
  • nanakai - 7th floor
  • hachikai - 8th floor
I'm looking for a photo book (can you help me?). Shashin-shu o sagashite iru no desga. 写真集を探しているのですが。 Say this to the sales person when you need help to find a photo book.
Do you have Yoko Shimada photo books? Shimada Yoko no shashinshu wa arimasuka? 島田陽子の写真集はありますか? Substitute "Shimada Yoko" with the name of any model/idol.
Do you have photo books by Nobuyoshi Araki? Araki Nobuyoshi no shashin-shu wa arimaska? 荒木経惟の写真集はありますか Substitute "Araki Nobuyoshi" with the name of any photographer.
Yes, see the stacked books over there. Hai, soko ni aru hirazumi no hon des. はい、そこにある平積みの本です。 Books at a bookstore are either stacked horizontally on a table or placed on shelves. Books which are stacked (or whose cover is displayed vertically) are those which are newly published or best-selling.
Do you have another copy of this book in better condition? (The shelf copy is scratched or worn.) Kore no motto ii jotai no mono ga arimaska? これのもっといい状態のものがありますか? Show the sales clerk the book when saying this.
This is the only copy we have. Kore shika arimasen. これしかありません。
Do you have a photo book titled "My Photos ?" My Photos to iu shashin-shu arimaska? My Photosという写真集ありますか? Substitute "My Photos" with the title of any photo book.
We will look for it. Please wait a few minutes. Shirabemas. Sho-sho omachi kudasai. 調べします。少々お待ち下さい。
The book is out of print. Mo zeppan ni natte imas. もう絶版になっています。
Sorry, we don't have it in stock right now. Moshiwake gozaimasen, zaiko ga nai des. 申し訳ございません、在庫がないです。
We will have to place a special order (with the publisher). Toriyose ni narimas. 取り寄せになります。
How long will it take for the book to come in? Dore gurai nissu ga kakari maska? どれぐらい日数がかかりますか?
It will take 2 or 3 weeks. Nishukan kara sanshukan kakarimas. 二週間から三週間かかります。
Ordering a Book   本の注文  
OK, I would like to order the book. Ja, chumon shitai des. じゃ、注文したいです。
Please give me your name and phone number. Namae to denwa bango onegaishimas. 名前電話番号お願いします。
I will call you (by phone) when the book comes in. Hairimashitara denwa shimas. 入りましたら電話します。
The book you ordered has come in. Chumon sareta hon ga hairimashita. 注文された本が入りました。
I would like to have the book(s) delivered (to my home/office). Hon no haitatsu o onegai shimas. 本の配達をお願いします。
Inquiring by Phone   電話の問い合わせ  
I want to know if you have a book in stock. Zaiko o shirabete itadakemaska? 在庫を調べていただけますか?
What kind (genre) of book is it? Donna janru no hon deska? OR

Nani kankei no hon deska?



Question from the sales clerk.
It's a photo book (pictorial). Shashin-shu des. 写真集です。
It's a camera-related book. Camera kankei no hon des. カメラ関係の本です。
It's a photography-related book. Shashin kankei no hon des. 写真関係の本です。
The book's title is "Riona." Title wa Riona des. タイトルは里緒菜です。
Who is the publisher of the book? Shuppan-sha wa gozonji deska? OR

Doko no shuppan-sha deska?



Sorry, I don't know who the publisher is. Shuppan-sha wa wakarimasen. 出版社は分りません。
Who is the author of the book? Chosha wa gozonji deska? 著者は御存じですか?
The photographer is Kishin Shinoyama. Shashin-ka wa Shinoyama Kishin des. 写真家は篠山紀信です。
We have run out of copies. Urikire mashita.
Yes, we have it in stock. Hai, zaiko ga arimas. はい、在庫があります。
Shall we reserve it for you (until you come to the store to pick it up)? Totte okimashoka? 取って置きましょうか?
Yes, please do so. Hai, onegai shimas. はい、お願いします。
I would like to have the book delivered, cash on delivery. Chaku-barai de haitatsu o onegai shimas. 着払いで配達をお願いします。
When will the book arrive? Hon wa itsu todokimaska? 本はいつ届きますか?

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