12 March 2013

When you come to Japan, it's good to know the language.

Check out this photo:

Note: I already used 6 and so I'm left now with just 2.
You know what it is -- it says "colored spoon." Above it is the description of the contents in Japanese, and it says カラフルスプーン / karafuru supuun. Did you read that out loud? It actually reads more like "colorful spoon." This is just a trivial thing but this is essentially representative of things you might have trouble with when coming here.

My one major example: train announcements. Sure, on major lines especially around major metropolitan cities, there are both English and Japanese versions of announcements. But after studying and learning Nihongo, I realized that the announcement in Japanese on one train I usually take is saying more than the succeeding announcement in English.

I'm talking here about the Odakyu Odawara Line from Shinjuku going to Hon-Atsugi. Basically, the English would just simply say "This is the express train bound for Sagami-Ono." So naturally, I would go down at Sagami-Ono and change trains to get to Hon-Atsugi station.

But when I learned more Japanese, I realized that the announcement is actually saying "This is the express train bound for Sagami-Ono. After Sagami-Ono, this train becomes a local train that will terminate at Hon-Atsugi." So technically, I don't have to go down that train!

I remember that scene in the "Lost in Translation" movie where Bill Murray was being prepped by local Japanese TV commercial producers on what to do, and they were saying so many things in Japanese, but his translator simply gave him one sentence. It's almost like that in many situations.

So yeah, when you come to Japan, it's good to know the language.

Of course, this could be true for any country. Have you encountered anything like this in Japan?

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