Easy Japanese for Emergencies

By Asuka Naito
October 8, 2013

Although Japan is considered a relatively safe country in terms of crime, emergencies and disasters can of course happen. Being able to contact emergency services and explain your situation using basic Japanese could potentially save a life. Here are some basic phrases and patterns you can use when in a dangerous situation.

Fire truck by Guwashi999 cropped

First of all, if you want to make an emergency call, dial 119. The operator will answer and may say:

Dispatcher: 火事ですか、救急ですか。 (Kaji desu ka, kyuukyuu desu ka?)

Fire or ambulance?

You: 火事です。 (Kaji desu.)

It’s a fire.

Or: 救急です。 (Kyuukyuu desu.)

Ambulance (medical emergency).


The dispatcher might then ask you what has happened:

Dispatcher: どうしましたか。 (Dou shimashita ka?)

What happened?


To explain your situation, you could use some of the following phrases:

火事です。 (Kaji desu.)  There’s a fire.

けがです。 (Kega desu.)  I’m injured.

病気です。 (Byouki desu.)   I’m sick.

交通事故です。 (Koutsuu jiko desu.)  There’s been a traffic accident.

胸が苦しいです。 (Mune ga kurushii desu.)  I’m having difficulty breathing.

意識不明です。 (Ishiki fumei desu.)  (Someone) is unconscious.

高熱です。 (Kounetsu desu.)  (I have) a high fever.

出血です。 (Shukketsu desu.)  (Someone) is bleeding.

You will be asked your name, address and number. You can say:

ジョンスミスです。 (Jon sumisu desu.)  I’m John Smith.

住所は…です。 (Juusho wa…desu.)  My address is…

電話番号は…です。 (Denwa bangou wa…desu.)  My phone number is…

Even if you’ve only recently arrived in Japan, it’s a good idea to memorize your address and phone number in Japanese, as these things come in handy in many everyday situations.

Ambulance by Miki Yoshihito cropped

Finally, if you need someone’s help to make an emergency call for you, this simple phrase can be used:

…を呼んでください。 (…o yonde kudasai.)  Please call…

 For example:

医者を呼んで下さい。 (Isha o yonde kudasai.)  Please call a doctor.

救急車を呼んで下さい。 (Kyuukyuusha o yonde kudasai.)  Please call an ambulance.

警察を呼んで下さい。 (Keisatsu o yonde kudasai.)  Please call the police.

消防車を呼んで下さい。 (Shou bou chou o yonde kudasai.)  Please call the fire department.


For more information on different emergency numbers available in Japan and when to use each one, click here.

In the next article we will be looking at useful phrases for visiting a hospital and seeing a doctor.


For more useful Japanese learning materials, including PDF cheat sheets and podcasts, please visit Learn Japanese Pod

Fire truck photo by Guwashi999; ambulance by Miki Yoshihito.