Konnichiwa Northlanders. How about learning basic Japanese if you're planning a trip to the Land of the Rising Sun for the Rugby World Cup?

Kevin Sharrock of Whangārei did just that and his "reasonable handle" of the language has helped him catch public transport, dine in and thank locals for their generosity during 10 to 12 trips to Japan.

He's off to the Rugby World Cup this year where his knowledge of the local language will come in handy for the umpteenth time.

Whangārei mum Satomi Chave is running classes in Japanese for beginners from August 1, particularly for Northlanders who plan to travel to Japan for the World Cup.


A trained Japanese language teacher and flower arrangement designer, Chave moved to Whangārei in 2011 after husband Graham wanted to come back home to Northland.

Prior to that, she taught Japanese in Malaysia, Brunei and to Chinese and Korean students in her home country.

It wasn't until last August that she rekindled her interest in teaching the language and started with a group lesson in central Whangārei as well as private tutoring at home.

"There's not a hell of a lot of interest in learning Japanese here in Whangārei but I do get requests from people who want to visit Japan. I want to focus on travel, especially those wishing to go and watch the World Cup," Chave said.

"The locals will appreciate you talking in their language. Japanese grammar is difficult to learn but people can memorise practical, useful words contained in about 50 sentences.

"Japanese people are very shy. Tokyo is multicultural which is okay for people who can't speak Japanese but in other places, locals are not very used to foreigners."

Chave said even using simple phrases like "Oh that tastes great" would make the locals think of you as more than just a tourist.

Sharrock is accompanying his wife, daughter, and four friends to watch the Rugby World Cup and is urging people followed suit to learn at least common words such as greeting, thank you and goodbye.


"When you try to speak their language, they just feel so gratified, they go out of their way, and will make life very easy for you," he said.

Kevin Sharrock's rudimentary knowledge of the Japanese comes in handy every time he visits Land of the Rising Sun. Photo/Supplied
Kevin Sharrock's rudimentary knowledge of the Japanese comes in handy every time he visits Land of the Rising Sun. Photo/Supplied

Sharrock's six-week trip will take him to Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, Kyoto, and Hiroshima to watch All Blacks games plus the quarterfinal.

"I've got a reasonable handle on the Japanese language, not yet ready for a full-on conversation but I can manage if I need to get on to a train or a bus. I can ask if I want a drink or to eat something.

"The first time I went over I thought it was just hard work but now I can pick up what people are saying," he said.

Chave can be contacted on 021 135 5083 or satoyanc72@gmail.com

Words that may come in handy during the Rugby World Cup:
Hello - konnichiwa
Thank you - arigato
Beer - bīru
Rugby - ragubī
Where is the stadium - kyogi jo wa doko desuka
Currency exchange - ryogae
Cash - genkin
Ticket booth - chiketto uriba
Yummy - oishii
Some more - motto