Visiting a foreign country and not being able to communicate can be frustrating. You might be scared of situations where you need to express yourself, but can not. Japanese have improved their English ability in the past 10 years, but if you happen to get to some rural area or just pass along someone who does not speak well enough here are some tips on how to survive.
If you happen to travel for just a week or plan to stay for longer, it is always a good thing to know greetings, numbers and short sentences you would use on a daily basis when being in your home country.
How are you：ogenki desu ka
First time meetings only：hajimemashite
Thank you：arigatou gozaimasu
I am sorry：gomen nasai
Help me please：tetsudatte kudasai
Help!：(When in danger) tasukete
Do not be afraid using them. Even if you can not make yourself understandable the first time do not give up. Japanese are usually very patient and will at least understand the effort you put in and try to help you anyway.
If you are going to Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka or any major city in Japan, get yourself a map. GPS and virtual maps can be a great help too, but will not work if you ran out if battery. Also, try to have addresses both, in Japanese and English. If you know there will be a situation in which you can not survive with English, check crucial vocabulary in advance. You might also feel safer if you have access to a dictionary, either a compact old-school, an electronic one or an app on your mobile device.