Learn Japanese phrases for the Tokyo Olympics

To help increase New Zealanders' knowledge of Japan while the Tokyo Olympics is taking place, the Asia New Zealand Foundation partnered with the New Zealand Olympic Committee to be a part of this year’s Fanzone at the Cloud on Auckland’s Queen’s Wharf.  

The Foundation's activation helps visitors to the Fanzone learn more about Japan and its links to New Zealand, including some key phrases they can use to cheer on the New Zealand Olympic team. The Foundation is grateful to the Japanese Society of Auckland, whose volunteers have been teaching visitors to write their names in katakana - one of three Japanese scripts - and have also been running origami tutorials and demonstrations

Learn Japanese with the children of Atsugi

The kids from Nanasaw Kibou no Oka Primary School and Iiyama White Dragon Drumming Preservation Association teach you some key phrases as part of the Asia New Zealand Foundation booth..

Atsugi is a city in Kangawa prefecture, about 45 kilometres from Tokyo. It acts as a "Host Town" for the Olympics and Paralympic Games through Japan's programme to promote exchanges between Japanese cities and the competing countries. It is one of 15 Japanese towns and cities that registered to host New Zealand athletes through the Host Town project. 

Working with the New Zealand Embassy in Tokyo, the Asia New Zealand Foundation Te Whītau Tūhono asked children in Atsugi to help teach New Zealanders some Japanese phrases.

Watch to learn some greetings - and some ways to cheer on the New Zealand team!

With thanks to Nanasawa Kibou no Oka Elementary School, the Iilyama Hakuryu Daiko Hozon Kai (Iiyama White-dragon Drumming Preservation Association), and Atsugi City Council. 

Education resources

Our education team have developed teaching resources in collaboration with the New Zealand Olympic Committee and Paralympics New Zealand to inspire and grow knowledge of Japan among New Zealanders.

These are a series of Years 7-10 social studies teaching and learning modules on the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games to help students learn more about the Olympic Host city, Tokyo, and the games themselves. 

Japanese language

 Japanese is written with a combination of three types of characters - kanji, hiragana and katakana.

漢字 Kanji are based on Chinese characters and are used to express the basic meaning of words.

e.g日本 - Nihon - Japan 

Although Japanese and Chinese are separate languages, Japan adopted some written characters from China in the fourth and fifth centuries. Kanji often have more than one reading or pronunciation. Japanese names - people, places and shops - are usually written in kanji, and kanji also contain much of the meaning in Japanese.

Hirigana and katakana - these are types of alphabets that are used to represent the sounds of syllables. Each system has 46 characters or sounds. 

ひらがな Hiragana is often written after kanji to help modify meanings and to construct grammar. Hiragana can also be used to show how to pronounce a kanji.

e.gこんにちは – Konnichiwa - Hello

カタカナ Katakana is mostly used for words that originally came from other languages and for foreign names. it's particularly useful for reading menus. 

e.g. ニュージーランド Nyūjīrando – New Zealand 

コーヒー kōhī – coffee

 Here's some helpful phrases that you can try yourself (also in Te Reo Māori):