One of the first things I noticed in Japan was that nearly every purchase comes with a plastic bag – regardless of if it seems necessary or not! The first thing I wanted to learn how to say in Japanese was “I don’t need a bag”, and it was probably one of the most used phrases in my time in Japan.
Be Quick, Or It Gets Bagged By Default
Japanese pride themselves on customer service, and part of that is efficiently bagging your goods for you at the cash register. This means you need to learn the ‘no bag please’ phrase off by heart and say it as soon as you see the cashier reaching for a bag – otherwise it can be too late!
Refusing plastic for environmental reasons is becoming more popular in Japan these days, but the general mindset seems to be to bag everything. It is not rude to refuse provided you do it in a polite manner.
Here’s how to say that you don’t need a plastic bag next time you’re at the shops:
袋 は いりません (ふくろ は いりません)
I don’t need a bag (Literally: bag, don’t need)
This is a polite way to say that you don’t require a plastic bag and is super useful when you are making any purchases if you don’t want to be responsible for extra unnecessary plastic.
There is also the casual way to say this phrase (Fukuro wa iranai) but this should really only be used if the cashier is younger than you. It’s better to play it safe and just use the polite version ‘Fukuro wa irimasen’ all the time to ensure you don’t come off as rude.
I’ll Take It As It Is
Here’s yet another phrase you can try to indicate that you don’t need a plastic bag:
その まま で ください.
sono mama de kudasai.
I’ll take it as it is please (i.e. without a bag) (Literally: as it is, please give me)
Another Simple Way To Politely Refuse Items
If the above phrase seems a bit of a mouthful, there is a much simpler way to politely refuse items in Japanese.
The phrase けっこうです ’kekko desu’ is equivalent to ‘no thank you’ in English.
To pronounce this correctly, there is a slight pause at the double k in ‘kekko’ and you should also hold the o sound at the end briefly (it sounds kind of like ‘kek – kou’).
Japanese is very context driven so if the subject is obvious, you can simply use ‘
Here are some examples:
袋 は けっこうです (ふくろ は けっこう です )
I don’t need a bag, thanks (Literally: bag, no thanks)
Yet another way to
袋 は 大丈夫 です (ふくろ は だいじょうぶ です )
I’m okay for a bag (Literally: bag, it’s alright)
Although ‘daijoubu’ usually means ‘its okay’, ‘its alright’ , in this case the context implies that you’re alright without a bag. You can make the universal gesture for ‘no’ by raising a flat hand and making a slight waving motion in refusal, and easily be understood.
Refusing Plastic At Major Supermarkets
While some supermarkets do now charge you a small amount – usually between 2 to 5 yen – for single-use plastic bags (this
Some supermarkets have signs at the registers that you can use to indicate that you don’t want a bag. These will usually say “レジ袋 は 不要 です.” (
At convenience stores (“konbini”), plastic bags are usually provided free of charge and nearly always given unless you request otherwise.
Of course, there are other ways to say that you don’t want a bag. Google translate says plastic bag can be “Biniru
If you want to practice your Japanese
袋 （ふくろ）fukuro = bag
Sometimes you might be asked by staff:
袋 を おもちですか？
omochidesu ka? “Do you have a bag?”
In which case you can respond either:
daijoubudesu (はい、大丈夫 です) “Yes, it’s OK, I don’t need a bag ” ,or
iie, ichimai onegaishimasu (いいえ、一枚 お願いします) “No, I’ll have one bag please”
Alternatively the store clerk might ask:
袋 お いりますか？
Fukuro o irimasu ka? “Do you need a bag?”
You can reply either:
iie, daijoubudesu (いいえ 、大丈夫 です) No, I’m alright (without a bag), or
ichimai onegaishimasu( はい 、一枚 お願いします) Yes, I’ll have one bag please