Is Speaking English in Japan Unavoidable?

A reader named mintyroll recently commented:

The “Japanese People Don’t Want you to Speak Japanese” part is one of those minor things I’ve always been afraid of whenever I think of how my first trip to Japan will be . . . Consequently, it’s made me want to reach at least fluent level of Japanese before I ever make the trip.

So mintyroll—-is that a Spanish name?—-well, I can’t say what Your Japan will be like, but I can tell you about My Japan. And maybe we can extrapolate a bit.

Life in Japan as a Foreigner

Take yesterday, for example. It was a hot, gray day, and I finished work early then hustled to the station. Running up the stairs, I found myself surrounded by school kids, who immediately began yelling, “Hello! Hello!” in English. That warms my heart. Or maybe it’s just the humidity, I never can tell. Continue reading “Is Speaking English in Japan Unavoidable?”

Japanese Snack Bars and Some Tough Love

So here I am rushing home from my Japanese grocery store last month, and it’s dark out and I’m carrying bags and bags full rice and vegetables and seafood. This is all part of my new diet plan, whereby I eat healthily by schlepping home nutritious groceries, which also counts as exercise. So that’s a win-win. Anyway, the road’s got no sidewalks and it was a dangerous sensory overload of headlights and engine noise as I hugged the buildings to my left and clutched all these plastic bags in front of me so they didn’t get smacked by a Honda or Nissan or something.

Then as I was hurrying, I passed a small Japanese child, crying like mad. Continue reading “Japanese Snack Bars and Some Tough Love”