I do not claim that my Japanese is amazing, because it simply is not. But I do try everyday to speak to at least one person in Japanese, even if it is simply asking how much something is. I am trying though.
Depending on where in Japan you go people will react differently to you when you speak Japanese to them. Some will have a look of relief on their face (I’m guessing cause they think their English isn’t good or non-existent) and some will speak English with you even if you speak Japanese (mainly touristy areas).
My favourite coffee shop is on the way to work and I will stop there a few times a week. The first time I went in there, the employee greeted me and you could see on her face that she was thinking something along the lines of “Oh my god, my English is really terrible what do I say if he cannot understand!?”. Once I ordered, completely in Japanese, you could see the relief on her face.
Another time was in a Shibuya, which is a very touristy area. Being a typical Canadian, I wanted some McDonald’s. So, I went to one close to Shibuya Crossing (they are everywhere much like Starbucks). The lovely girl behind the counter greeted me and I started to order in Japanese. I thought nothing of it. Then when I was done ordering the girl has this look on her face like “Holy crap, seriously you can speak Japanese, that’s awesome!”.
I find it interesting being foreigner and talking to Japanese people from different parts of the country and/or city. The reactions you get will be vastly different. Which I think it pretty awesome in itself.
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If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter you know I share quite a few pictures. Especially since moving to Tokyo. While those are great for sharing photos in the moment, it’s difficult to put any deep explanation of the photo being shown. So, with that I’m going to give one and explain every last thing about it and why it’s significant to my daily life here in Tokyo (or wherever I may end up).
I’m a huge Starbucks fan, and I will admit it’s a bit of a comfort when I’m feeling homesick. We all enjoy something that is familiar and take comfort in it. While I’m all for getting out of your comfort zone and experiencing new things, somedays having something (somewhat) familiar is welcomed.
Not that walking into Starbucks was easy at first, I had to learn how to properly order in Japanese. Although the names of most drinks are the same in English it’s more answering the questions the lovely baristas ask you:
Are you having it in or taking it out?
Do you already have a table? (Most Starbucks in Japan you need to have a table already if you want to stay in otherwise you wait for a table before ordering)
Did you want your [pastry name] heat?
Do you want a mug?
The first time I went into Starbucks on my own, I completely messed up and was unaware that I needed a table before I could order if I wanted to stay. The girl first told me in Japanese, but I was a bit flustered and didn’t quite understand her. She then switched to English and explained the entire process to me. I won’t lie, I did feel a bit stupid for not understanding her when she first told me in Japanese.
Now that I’m completely aware of how the system works I go into Starbucks now fully confident in my ability to order in Japanese and know to get a table if I want to stay in. So, now it’s a place of comfort just like it was back home in Canada.
Now, if only they would get the Eggnog Latte here, but I don’t see that happening. For now, the Crush Marron Pie Latte will have to do.
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