Finding Your Way in Japan

“Does this bus go to Nagano Station?” Sounds like a pretty common question, huh? You might just need to ask something similar to get around in Japan. You will also need to understand how to talk about the existence of animate and inanimate objects. If it sounds tough, you just need to gain some basic skills to understand how to discuss existence in Japanese.

This Newbie Japanese article is designed to help you further understand how to ask questions about your destination so you can get where you are going. In addition, you will learn how to talk about arimasu and imasu in Japanese. These two words mean “to exist.” This Japanese article will teach you which one we use for animate objects and which one is used to describe inanimate objects. This article exists to help you speak Japanese like a pro!

Vocabulary: In this article, you’ll learn the following words and phrases:

basu – “bus”
eki – “station”
ikimasu – “to go” (masu form)
wakarimasu – “to understand” (masu form)
Edo – “old name of Tokyo”
mimasu – “to see, to look” (masu form)
takusan – “many, a lot, much”
samurai – “warrior in the Edo period”
imasu – “to be (animate), to exist” (masu form)

Grammar: In this article, you’ll learn the following words and phrases:

Useful Vocabulary and Phrases


Mimashita ka.
“Did you see it?”


Mimasu is a masu form of the verb miru, which means “to see” or “to look.” Mimashita is the past tense of Mimasu.


Past tense of Masu form of a verb


Masu form (past tense)

  1. Drop –masu
  2. Add –mashita

Masu form negative (past tense)

  1. Drop –masu
  2. Add –masen deshita

“English” / Masu Form (non-past) Masu Form Negative (non-past) Masu Form (past) Masu Negative (past)“to exist” / arimasu /arimasen / arimashita / arimasen deshita
“to exist” / imasu / imasen imashita imasen deshita
“to go / ikimasu ikimasen ikimashita ikimasen deshita
“to drink” / nomimasu nomimasen nomimashita nomimasen deshita
“to understand” / wakarimasu / wakarimasen wakarimashita wakarimasen deshita
“to buy” / kaimasu kaimasen kaimashita kaimasen deshita
“to look” / mimasu mimasen mimashita mimasen deshita
“to eat” / tabemasu tabemasen tabemashita tabemasen deshita
“to come” / kimasu kimasen kimashita kimasen deshita
“to do” / shimasu shimasen shimashita shimasen deshita


Kono basu wa Nagano-eki ni ikimasu ka.
Does this bus go to Nagano station?


Please review the following vocabulary:

  1. Kono basu – “this bus”
  2. wa – “topic-marking particle”
  3. Nagano-eki – “Nagano station”
  4. ni – “particle indicates direction”
  5. ikimasu – “to go”
  6. ka – “question-marking particle”

This sentence pattern was already covered in Article 21. Read the following conversation to review the grammar points.




  1. Sumimasen. Kono basu wa doko ni ikimasu ka. “Excuse me. Where is this bus heading?”
  2. Nagano e ikimasu. “It’s going to Nagano.”
  3. Matsumoto-joo ni ikimasu ka. “Does this go to Matsumoto castle?”
  4. Iie, ikimasen. Demo Matsumoto-eki ni ikimasu. “No, it doesn’t. But it goes to Matsumoto station.”
  5. Arigatgo zaimashita. “Thank you so much.”

—————————————————————-Today’s Target Phrase

O-samurai-san ga takusan imashita.

There were a lot of Samurai warriors.


In Articles 23 and 24, we introduced the usage of arimasuArimasu means, “to exist,” but it can only express the existence of inanimate objects. We express the existence of animate objects with imasu.

Please review the following vocabulary terms:

  1. O-samurai-san – “samurai warrior in the Edo era”
  2. ga – “subject marker”
  3. takusan – “a lot of”
  4. imashita – “to exist” (the past tense of imasu)
  5. O-samurai-san – [polite prefix o-] [samurai] [polite suffix –san]


[inanimate object] ga arimasu. “there is ___ / there are ___ / I have ___ .”
[inanimate object] ga imasu. “there is ___ / there are ___ / I have ___ .”


Affirmative Sentences

  1. Object ga imasu or arimasu (“to exist”)
  2. Jikan ga arimasu.
  3. *Hima ga arimasu.
  4. Mizuki-san ga imasu.
  5. Samurai ga imasu.

*hima “free time”

*In today’s conversation, Lori was saying there “were” Samurai warriors on the bus. Therefore, she used the past tense of imasu, which is imashita.

Negative Sentences

  1. Object ga imasen or arimasen (“to not exist”)
  2. Jikan ga arimasen.
  3. Hima ga arimasen.
  4. Mizuki-san ga imasen.
  5. Samurai ga imasen.



  1. Suiyoobi, tesuto ga arimasu. “We have a test on Wednesday.”
  2. Sumimasen. Ima, jikan arimasu ka. “Excuse me. Do you have a minute?”
  3. Petto ga imasu ka. “Do you have any pets?”
  4. Sakana ga imasu. “I have some fish.” / “There are fish.”

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Author: Uzumaki Naruto

Expert tips before traveling Japan, including reviews of Japanese food and restaurants to help you make your trip as enjoyable and rewarding as possible.

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