I don't speak Japanese....

Discussion in 'Tokyo Disneyland' started by ron_ron_ron11, Aug 21, 2010.

  1. ron_ron_ron11

    ron_ron_ron11 Earning My Ears

    Mar 24, 2010
    I'm going to Tokyo Disneyland Resort next summer. I don't speak Japanese... How accomodating are the cast members? Any tips on how to get around? Are shows worth seeing if I can't understand them?

  2. GrtWtNorth

    GrtWtNorth DIS Veteran

    Aug 12, 2008
    They will bend over backwards to serve you, especially if you are with children. Most cast members will speak English. If they are uncomfortable speaking in English, they will give you a card with illustrations and multi-lingual explanations. We got written instructions once: "How to ride Dumbo." :)

    Outside the parks: I suggest using the usual suspects: A guidebook that includes subway and rail maps of Tokyo, plus a Japanese / English phrase book. I saw a lot of people using Lonely Planet and Frommers books during our visit. (We used them too.) If you have ever used subway systems in other cities, the rail and subway systems of Tokyo function very similar, except that their scale matches the population (13 million in city -- that's like 8x Manhattan -- without considering the millions of workers who commute from suburbs). All the instructions and signs (including "next stop" information on the trains) was always in both English and Japanese.
    Inside the parks: The maps and times guides printed in English are very good. We found them better than the park guide I bought from Amazon.

    I thought not, until I saw them. Now I think I missed a lot by not planning to watch the castle, parades or street shows. The production values are good.

    Definitely don't skip the Little Mermaid theater attraction -- the puppeteering is amazing.

    Some theater shows have headsets with English.

    I did notice that I missed no having the English story for attractions like Splash Mountain and Jungle Cruise. In most attractions, dialog was Japanese, but the singing was English. Pirates of the Caribbean was just as fun as ever.

    The only Japanese-only attraction I remember was Sindbad's Voyage -- the catchy song was all Japanese.
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  4. shelemm

    shelemm DIS Veteran

    Feb 10, 2006
    I would not expect anyone to speak English. But you should have no problems, you will be treated with great politeness and helpfulness. No need to worry about a language barrier. All show singing is done in English. Everything else is pretty much self-explanatory. After all, it's aimed at little tiny kids! It's not like you are reading a novel - Even kids who are only 1 year old enjoy Disney, so you can too!

    I know at the Magic Lamp Theatre there is an electronic device they can give you that has some English interpretation on it. But even that is not necessary.

    When you ask "how to get around?" do you mean in the parks or in Tokyo?

    Here are my most important tips for TDR:
    Pooh's Hunny Hunt in DL might be the best theme park ride in the world. I recommend doing it twice - once at rope drop and again with FP later on in the day. Much of the rest of TDL is the same as in the USA, though with better queues in general. Also, FP is truly "Front-of-the-line" in Tokyo, so it is even more important to take advantage of it.

    In Tokyo DisneySea, I also recommend riding Journey to the Center of the Earth twice if you can. Ask to sit in the front row of the vehicle. You get a better view. Also, the ride is even better at night (although almost all of it is indoors). TDS is a unique and amazing theme park. The best in the world.

    There is a map in English available for the Forest Exploration. ALmost anyone can learn a few simple phrases like how to ask for something with one of those pocket language guide books. This is a great part of the park and has several activities. Although the activities themselves are in japanese, go ahead and see if you can try them anyway. You've got nothing to lose. But the map will show you where the exhibits are, and it makes a GREAT souvenir.
  5. lurkyloo

    lurkyloo The Attic was just perfect!

    Aug 24, 2006
    The way to get the front row on Journey to the Center of the Earth is to ask "eechee-bahn seki?"¬óworked every time!

    I would also recommend spending even just a few weeks listening to a language program like Pimsleur, just so you have some basic phrases. We did fine with just my 2-week crash course.

    Although I expected to feel overwhelmed and alienated by not speaking the language, it was actually kind of liberating not to always be absorbing and interpreting everything being said around me! I learned to go with the flow in a way that I have never experienced. :teeth:
  6. shelemm

    shelemm DIS Veteran

    Feb 10, 2006
    When you are at Disney, you will hear about a thousand times: "oh nuh guy she mahss" Meaning "please." Usually the last syllable will be a comically extended "maaaaaaaahss", apparently showing extra politeness and deference. So if you have a request, like asking for the front row, tack on an "oh-nuh-guy-she-mahss." This phrase will be burned into your memory after a day with Disney.

    Personally, i think anyone will get by quite nicely with the Lonely Planet Japanese phrasebook. You'll have enough time on the flight over to bone up on a few simple phrases.
  7. lurkyloo

    lurkyloo The Attic was just perfect!

    Aug 24, 2006
    Yes! I'd forgotten that, but I promise we did say "onegai shimasu" any time we requested something, and the CMs always seemed pleasantly surprised!
  8. nytimez

    nytimez Nihilist

    Apr 15, 2008
    You can get by there without speaking Japanese for the most part. But if you learn even a few phrases, you'll make friends fast.
  9. Corbisblue

    Corbisblue DIS Veteran

    Mar 13, 2010
    That phrase book is excellent for anyone that wants to learn a few phrases! I speak Japanese (not fluent but enough), and bought the book for a friend that was coming with me to Tokyo. He knew no Japanese and the book really helped him out.

    Also the CMs on attractions will almost *always* ask you "How many people?". When you get to the front just use your fingers to show how many people are going on the attraction and you'll be fine!

    Also don't worry about ordering food, it'll be in English and you just say the name as you normally would. A lot of the food is North American and the Japanese say it the same way we do. If there's any confusion they will pull out a menu and ask you to point to it.

    Have fun!!
  10. Turkey Lurkey

    Turkey Lurkey DIS Dad #551

    Sep 9, 2010
    My wife, mother, brother, and I went to Tokyo Disney a few years ago, of the four of us, my brother was the only one who spoke any Japanese. I tried to learn some Japanese before my trip, but all I could remember was "Sumimason" ("Excuse me"...being 6'2" and 350 lbs at the time had me saying that a LOT). That being said, I didn't really need to know much, was able to do quite a bit without my brother interpreting. As the others have said, they were very conscious of the language barrier and do what they can to make to feel welcome and make themselves understood. It was very interesting going through familiar attractions and seeing and hearing the differences (like the official Japanese voices).

    The Sleeping Beauty Castle walk thru was the only time I was bummed I didn't understand what was going on (I did have a CM come up to me with a card that signified that there was no English in the attaction, we just smiled and nodded and gave her the "That's okay" thumbs up), however, it was still pretty cool to see and would recommend it.

    I concur that the Winnie the Pooh ride is a must, it's very popular and for good reason, it's an excellent ride, and one you won't find in the other parks.

    One amusing moment was during the Princess Parade, Prince Eric saw me and got the hugest grin on his face, I must have been one huge hulking caucasion sight for sore eyes. The other princes and princesses made a point of waving to us to, but Eric's reaction was just classic.

  11. glendalais

    glendalais DIS Veteran

    May 20, 2008
    Just to add on to what's already been said.

    The Oriental Land Company, Ltd. and Walt Disney Attractions Japan, Ltd. are dedicated to ensuring that international Guests have an enjoyable visit to Tokyo Disney Resort. To this end, Tokyo Disney Resort Cast Members are offered the opportunity to undertake Company-sponsored courses in English, Mandarin Chinese and Korean as a second language.

    Cast Members who pass these courses will be awarded with one of the following pins to be worn on their costumes, much like the Language Name Tags used by Disney Cast Members in the United States:


    Any Cast Member wearing one of these pins will be happy to serve you in your preferred language.
  12. JaymeC

    JaymeC Mouseketeer

    Oct 2, 2010
    You'll be fine :) My Japanese is at best rudimentary and we got around okay (with two little ones at that!) The Japanese are VERY polite and will bend over backwards to help you. A couple quick things to note, tipping is impolite in Japanese culture. That includes at sit down meals and restaurants. Take a water bottle with you! I'm used to paying out a lot for Disney drinks, but then at least getting a HUGE drink we can all split. Not so at TDR. And if you panic and can't remember how to ask for the bathroom in Japanese (did I mention my kids were just potty training then?) ask for the toilet in English, not the restroom or bathroom. Those tend to get funny looks. ;) Even a CM who doesn't speak English will understand what you want and you put the right way if you come up with a squiggly toddler and ask "Toilet?!" in a panicked voice ;)

    All the signs, etc in TDR are in English so getting around in there is easy. Plus you'll recognize the layout to DL ;) Outside the park, if you intend to take the subways/etc I highly suggest printing these maps out BEFORE you go as there are a few different systems. It can be a bit complicated, but it's doable, but easier when you have the English maps handy and don't need to hunt one down. Most things are captioned in English in Tokyo.

    I also do highly recommend taking some time to see the rest of Tokyo. There's so much to do and see!
  13. Mrsjvb

    Mrsjvb DIS Veteran

    Sep 5, 2007
    you have NOT lived until you have ridden IASW in Japan. you think having that damn melody in your head all day is bad? wait until its in Japanese!!!!

    my only regret was the castle.. from what I could tell the story looked pretty good.

    most of the CM speak better grammatically correct English than Native speakers. where you find problems is they tend to be shy/embarrassed about pronunciation. not having any ells in Japanese is hard to work around.

    My Japanese is limited to ordering the important things in life: Biru, sake and sushi. didn't have any problems at all.
  14. iKristin

    iKristin 88 MPH

    Jan 2, 2009
    Guess I'll be using my Rosetta Stone Japanese every day until my trip lol. I want to learn more!! :)
  15. glendroid

    glendroid Earning My Ears

    Jan 30, 2012
    The cast members are great. If they don't understand your questions sometimes they'll go out of there way to find someone who does. Simply the best cast members anywhere.
  16. gk90

    gk90 Mom to Sorcerer Mickey fan and Donald's #1 fan!

    Apr 24, 2007
    I don't know about TDL but in DisneySea at Guest relations you can pick up a package of brochures in English for the major rides--that way you know what they're saying.
    All the CMs were very accommodating and friendly. Many had at least some words of English and a few spoke it quite well.

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