Saying that you want an object

ほしい is an い adjective and means ‘desirable’.

It is translated as ‘want’ in English. ほしい inflects in the same way as an い adjective.

Present Future Past
Plain ほしい ほしかった
Plain polite ほしいです ほしかったです
Plain negative ほしくない ほしくなかった
Plain negative polite ほしくないです

ほしい indicates that the speaker wants something.

In full, the original sentence is 私はゆかたがほしいです, but 私は is usually omitted.

〜んです is the colloquial speech for 〜のです.

おなかがいたいのです。→ おなかがいたいんです。

It is used when the speaker is explaining or asking for an explanation.

In the example sentence,ゆかたがほしいです, the speaker is explaining the reason she is at the counter/shop. It sounds a little blunt and unnatural without it. In informal speech, んだ is usually associated masculinity and の with femininity.

Male: くつがほしいんだ。

Female: かばんがほしいの。

Topic 2 Unit 4 Expand

Department Stores (デパート)

City department stores usually have about ten floors. Some would have a car park in the lower basement. The first basement is frequently connected to the subways. Often when you get off the subway you will find yourself at the entrance of a large department store. Most of the department stores have a similar arrangement of goods on different floors (see image below).

Floor Guide for Takashimaya Osaka

Toward the top, there is a restaurant floor. Many different restaurants serve a variety of dishes to the shoppers. There are cafes as well. On the roof, there is often an amusement park where children play games or have a ride on a merry-go-round. The large Japnese department store is not just a place to shop. People go there to eat, play and look. There is usually an exhibition hall (ギャラリー) where some kind of art exhibition is being held.

Department stores are usually open daily from 10am until 7pm with the exception of one day per week when they are closed. This day is usually not at the weekend, as Japanese people go out shopping on weekends. Every department store has a bargain sale now and again. As the prices drop 50% at these sales, the place becomes very crowded. They are particularly crowded at gift-giving seasons which are in mid-summer and at the end of the year. Every department store has a delivery service free of charge for short distances, and a gift wrapping service which is also free of charge.

The shop assistants at departments stores are specially trained to serve the customers well. When the store opens shop assistants line up at the door and bow to every customer who comes in. Neatly dressed elevator girls keep bowing, shop assistants serve with a smile. Change is never ‘handled’ by hand. It is always passed on a dish. You certainly feel like a king at a Japanese department store. The sale tax of 5% (2006) is included in the price.

Watch the following videos for a better understanding of the Japanese Department Store culture.


Topic 2 Unit 4 At a Shop

By the end of this unit, you will be able to:

  • understand the role department stores have in Japanese people’s lifestyle,
  • understand and communicate in polite speech often used by shop assistants,
  • communicate with the shop assistant in a store to buy a desired item and
  • count various items using the appropriate counter according to their shapes.


  1. Expand
  2. Vocabulary
  3. Kanji
  4. Saying that you want an object (ほしい)
  5. Saying what you want to do (~たい)
  6. Requesting a favour politely (~が)
  7. Counters

Topic 2 Unit 1: Expand

Watch the following videos to learn about Japanese houses.

Traditional Japanese house

In a traditional Japanese house, many of the ‘walls’ can be removed. The tiled roof is supported by stout wooden columns. The ‘walls’ consist of light panels that can slide in wooden runners. These panels come in three types.

しょうじ (sliding door) 


These are very light wooden panels covered in white paper, which is very translucent, but not transparent. The paper is usually replaced at the end of December each year. This has both a practical and symbolic significance. It represents a new start for the new year.


ふすま (sliding door) 


This is similar to shouji except that it is covered with a light cardboard-like material and usually has a painting on it. The painting could be very valuable as they are often hand painted by artists. They are not usually replaced and are indeed considered heirlooms in old houses. They are used for interior dividing walls only.

あまど (rain door) 

Literally a rain door. They are panels of wood (today they can be amde from light sheet metal) that are placed around the exterior of the house and are able to be locked at night.

Topic 2 Unit 1: Your House and Japanese Houses

By the end of this unit, you will be able to:

  • Discuss the similarities and differences between Japanese and Australian/your homes;
  • Talk about where your house is located;
  • Describe your home and the rooms;
  • Describe what is in your house;
  • Describe your home with multiples of adjectives


  1. Expand
  2. Vocabulary
  3. Kanji
  4. Explaining where an item is/isn’t
  5. Talking about where you live
  6. Describing your house/room
  7. Talking about the number of rooms in the house