Japanese

100 Words You Need to Know to Play Pokemon in Japanese!

How many of you like to play Pokemon? And how many of you would like to play them in the original Japanese language? Well lucky for you, I’ve created this list of 100 words you need to know to play Pokemon in Japanese!

First I’m going to talk a little bit about what you need to do in order to set your Pokemon game up to play it in Japanese, and then I’ll talk a little but about the list of words I’ve compiled and how you can get the most out of it.

How To Best Use This List of Words

Back in the day if you wanted to play Pokemon in Japanese, you would have to get a hold of a Japanese version of the cartridge and a Gameboy that could play it. Ugh, region lock!

But now, if you have a Nintendo 3DS or 2DS you can actually choose the language you want to play the game it when you start a new game. When you choose Japanese, you get to select either a kana only version, or a kanji version.

I recommend choosing the kanji version even if you only know a few kanji since it will be a great way to learn Japanese by playing video games!

Then you can use this list of words below. I’m playing through Pokemon Sun right now, and I’ve chosen 100 words from it that keep popping up over and over again that you will definitely want to know in order to understand what’s going on.

I’ve chosen words that you will definitely see in all Pokemon games, and not just the version that I’m currently playing.

In addition to that, for this first list (there may more in the future) I’ve decided not to focus on the names of Pokemon or the names of their attacks, since that would bump this list up to over 1,000 words! For the most part, a name is a name. So you don’t need to worry about it too much.

As for these words you’re about to read, I’ve presented them in the way that they appear in the game using the “kanji setting” I mentioned earlier. So most of them are going to be in either kanji, or katakana.

However, there are occasions where a word appears in only hiragana, for example にげる, even though it could have been written in kanji.

I imagine that the creators wanted to keep some of the most important words in hiragana only, so that most Japanese kinds would understand it.

I’ve divided the words into several different groups depending on where you are most likely to see them used. But keep in mind that any of these words can appear at anytime in the game. That’s why I chose them, they’re pretty common!

And finally, sometimes it made more sense to present an entire phrase rather than just an individual word. So just a heads up on that. Let’s begin!

Common Words in Dialog and Over-world Stuff

円 (えん)
Yen. This is the currency in the game.

道路 (どうろ)
Route

番 (ばん)
No.

So taking the last two words and putting them together, you might see something like this:

4番道路を越えてください。 (よん ばん どうろを こえて ください)
Please pass through Route 4.

勝負 (しょうぶ)
Match/Battle

手に入れた (てにいれた)
Obtained

みつけた
Found

ポケモン
Pokemon

トレーナー
Trainer

タイプ
Type/a Pokemon’s Element

島 (しま)
Island

島巡り (しまめぐり)
Island tour

しまクイーン / しまキング
Island queen / Island king

アローラ
The Alola region

力 (ちから)
Power

助けて (たすけて)
(please) Help!

プレゼント
Present/Gift

守り神さん (まもりがみ さん)
Guardian deity

ククイ博士 (ククイ はかせ)
Prof. Kukui

試練 (しれん)
Trial

ポケモンセンター
Pokemon Center

あなたのポケモンを休ませてあげますか? (休ませて = やすめて)
Give your Pokemon a rest (heal them)?

Since the stores where you can resupply at are now conveniently placed inside of the Pokemon Centers, you might want to also know these next four phrases:

お買い物ですね? (おかいもの ですね)
You’re here to shop, right?

買いにきた (かいに きた)
I came to buy stuff!

売りにきた (うりに きた)
I came to sell stuff!

なんでもないです
Nevermind…

スカル団 (スカル だん)
Team Skull. The word 団 is used to mean “group; party, company” and will appear it every Pokemon game. Remember ロケット団?

Common Words in the Menus

レポート
Report/Save

設定 (せってい)
Settings

話の速さ (はなしの はやさ)
Conversation speed. This is how quickly the text will appear when the dialog is going on.

文字モード (もじ モード)
Character Mode. This is where you can switch between hiragana only characters, or full on kanji.

戦闘アニメ (せんとう アニメ)
Battle animation.

試合のレール (しあいの レール)
Match rail. This is the background environment when you’re fighting.

ボタンモード
Button mode. This is for if you want to disable the L & R buttons, or use them.

手持ち/ボックス (てもち / ボックス)
In hand / Box – When you catch a Pokemon, do you want it to go to the box by default or give you the choice to add it to your team immediately? That’s what this setting handles.

ポケット
Pocket – There are several pockets for the different items. Here are the names of each pocket:

回復 (かいふく)
Recovery items. This is where you will find potions, antidotes, etc.

道具 (どうぐ)
Tool items. This is where your Pokeballs and special items that Pokemon hold are kept.

わざマシン
Skill Machine. In the English version, these are called “TMs” and are used to teach your Pokemon new moves.

きのみ
Berries and nuts. Pretty self explanatory.

大切なもの (たいせつな もの)
Special items. This is where your “key items” are kept that you will need to progess through the game.

フリースペース
Free Space. This is a bag where you can move any item to so that you have quick access to it at anytime. It’s very useful when you bag starts to get full and you’re tired of scrolling through dozens of items to get to the one you need.

Zクリスタル
Z-Crystal. This is where you keep your Z-Crystals of course!

やめる
Quit (exit a menu) – You can also just press the B button.

つかう
Use

はい
Yes

いいえ
No

匹 (ひき)
The Counter use for Pokemon

レベル
Level

Ok, let’s take a look at the section that goes over the Pokemon’s stats in both hiragana and kanji. When you’re looking in the menu, it’s written in hiragana. However, when a stat gets affected during battle, it’s shown in kanji.

つよさをみる
See (the Pokemon’s) powers/stats.

HP
Yep, that’s English! And it is an abbreviation for the “hit points” of the Pokemon.

こうげき – 攻撃
Attack. This is the name of your physical attack stats.

ぼうぎょ – 防御
Defense. This is the name of your physical defense stats.

とくこう – 特攻
Special Attack. This is the name for your special attack stats.

とくぼう – 特防
Special Defense. This is the name of your special defense stats.

すばやさ – 素早さ
Agility. This is the name of your speed stats.

The next words I’m going to share should probably be in the section on battles, but since they pertain to your status getting altered, and we just went over the names for said stats, I figure now is a better time to do them.

防御が上がった! (ぼうぎょが あがった)
Defense went up!

命中率が下がった! (めいちゅうりつが さがった)
Accuracy rate went down!

Hey, you got two new words in that last one! (^_^)b

Common Words in Battling Trainers and Wild Pokemon

コイキングが飛びだしてきた (飛び = とび)
Magikarp suddenly appeared! This is the phrase when you encounter a wild Pokemon.

ゆけっ!スリープ!
Go! Drowzee! Yes… Drowzee’s name in the Japanese version is “Sleep”

戻れ! (もどれ)
Return!

バッグ
Bag

にげる
Escape

たたかう
Attack

いれかえる
Replace/Substitute/Switch

コラッタは助けを呼んだ! (たすけを よんだ)
Ratta called for help!

In Pokemon Sun & Moon, wild Pokemon can call for help and sometimes one of their friends will show up to join the battle. When they call for help like this, you will see one of the two following phrases:

助けは現れなかった! (たすけは あらわれなかった)
Help didn’t appear!

コラッタが現れた! (コラッタが あらわれた)
Ratta appeared!

レベル19にあがった!
Grew to level 19!

他 (ほか)
Other

技 (わざ)
Skill

忘れさせますか? (わすれさせますか)
Make him forget?

When your Pokemon wants to learn a new move, but it’s already at the limit, you will see this phrase:

他の技を忘れさせますか?
Make him forget an other move(skill)?

To which you will then be prompted to choose one of the two following options:

わすれさせる!
Make him forget!

わすれさせない
Don’t make him forget

At which point you will be prompted to select a move and then choose:

この技を忘れさせる
Forget this move/skill.

Now, if you’re not confident enough in your ability to understand what all of the explanations are for the new moves, you can always do what I did as a kid and base it purely off of the type of attack, and the amount of damage it does.

The type of attack should be represented by the color of the background of the move. These next three words are what you need to pay attention to next:

ぶんるい
Classification. This basically tells you what kind of attack it is – Does it do physical damage, special damage, alter status, etc. If you’re going the “all out attack” route, then look for a orange box with a yellow explosion in it for physical attacks, and blue box with white rings inside it for special attacks.

いりょく
Power. This is basically how much damage it will do. The higher number it is, the better.

めいちゅう
This word translates as “hitting something that was aimed at” or as we like to call it in English: accuracy. Again, the higher number it is, the better off you will be.

マンキーはどうする?
What should Mankey do?

賞金 (しょうきん)
Prize money for beating a trainer

パーゲンは賞金として624円手に入れた
Poggin obtained 624 Yen as prize money (for winning).

回 (かい)
This is the counter for “times.”

当たった! (あたった)
Was hit!

2回当たった!
Was hit 2 times! You will of course see the numeral change depending on how well the attack went.

急所 (きゅうしょ)
Vital part (of the body)

急所に当たった!
Critically hit!

入れ替えますか? (いれかえますか)
Do you want to substitute (switch)? This is the question the games asks you when a trainer’s Pokemon fainted and they are going to send out a new one. You can choose to switch yours as well, or keep fighting with the same one you already have out. Here are your two choices in Japanese:

ポケモンを入れ替える
Change Pokemon

そのまま戦う (たたかう)
Fight in the current situation (don’t switch Pokemon)

こうかあり
Effective. This is displayed in Pokemon Sun when you know a certain type of move is effective against the Pokemon you are about to use it on.

こうかばつぐん
This means “super effective” and is a combination of the word こうか for effective and ばつぐん for extraordinary.

いまひとつ
This literally means “not very good” and is used within the context of battle to mean “not very effective”

やったー!
I did it!

アゴジムシを捕まえたぞ! (アゴジムシを つかまえたぞ)
Grubbin was caught!

ニックネームをつけますか?
Assign him a nickname?

どちらに送りますか? (どちらに おくりますか)
Where do you want to send him?

手持ちに加える (てもちに くわえる)
Add him to the team. 手持ち actually means “on hand” but in this context, it’s your team of up to six Pokemon you battle with.

ボックスへ送る
Send him to a box. One of the boxes you store Pokemon in… It sounds bad when I say it like that!

Will You Be the Next Pokemon Master?

This list of words ought to get you going and having a lot of fun playing Pokemon in Japanese.

You may be a little intimidated to start playing a game when you’re still at an intermediate or beginner level with the Japanese language, but you can actually do a lot in the Japanese version of Pokemon despite not having a strong understanding of the language.

It’s a great way to have fun with Japanese, and spend more time learning new words and phrases in an extensive learning kind of way.

Anyway, do you guys think this list was helpful? Would you like to see more like this, either more Pokemon words or even a different game entirely?

Leave me a comment and let me know what you think!

4 Comments

  • Gail

    I can see that this could be a fun way to learn Japanese, or at least some phrases. Your article is comprehensive and very detailed and I can see that it will help if people are trying to connect with other players around the world. Although I hope I never have to use the phrase “Critically hit” if I visit Japan! 🙂

    • Nick Hoyt

      Yeah, much like the grinding phases you go through in Pokemon when you are training up your team, the “core study” sessions of learning Japanese can become tiresome after you’ve put in a lot of hours.

      I think breaking it up with a little game time, especially when done in Japanese, can make the whole thing a lot of fun again. For me at least, it’s always been incredibly motivating to learn more when I play a game I love in Japanese, and I’m not be able to understand everything that’s said. I get that feeling of “I gotta know it!

  • Steven

    Yes since the 2DS and 3DS you can play in different languages, as well as on Nintendo Wii, WiiU and the newest console the Switch. With the Switch they even removed any form of region locking which is amazing.

    I read through your article and list and must say it is pretty difficult to remember every phrase. Maybe it’s because the letters are so small, but it was hard to find them back in the game or to compare the game to your list to understand what was going on.

    I think I keep to playing the English version instead 😉

    Steven

    • Nick Hoyt

      Yeah, I remember back when I was younger and region lock was pretty huge. Especially for games out of Japan, as they have a lot of laws around digital products and how they go about selling them to places outside of Japan.

      Yeah, this list was primarily created after playing about 8 hours of Pokemon Sun and paying attention to reoccurring words. Think of this list as a reference sheet that a person could use to quickly see the meanings of common words in the game.

      Playing games in Japanese-only is more of a high level way to learn the language if you do it intensively, but if you are really just looking to increase the amount of time you spend in the target language, and you don’t mind not understanding everything, then it can be a good way to learn some Japanese words extensively while you game.

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