Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Japan: Language Barriers

So you are ready to travel to Japan, but are asking yourself “Do I really need to learn Japanese? Fortunately, the answer is no. BUT because the majority of Japan doesn’t speak much English it is important to learn a few key phrases and know how to translate common Japanese characters.

First and foremost, learn directions in Japanese AND how to ask for them. The language has a formula and is kind of backwards in form compared to English. Luckily, the bigger road signs in cities tend to be bilingual, as are signs in train stations, most train station maps, and the buses in Kyoto city (meant mostly for tourists.)

For example:
If you want to ask, where is Shibuya? : Shibuya wa doko desuka.
**Doko means where, Desu means is and the ka turns it into a question.

I do not understand Japanese: Nihongo o wakaranai

In english please: Eigo ni kudasai

Do you understand English: Eigo wa wakarimasuka

There is an abundance of free online material that can aide in your Japanese schooling Also, make sure to purchase a pocket guide so that you have a something to fall back on. This may all seem difficult at first but being in Japan with NO Japanese would be far more difficult.

Everyone is very helpful if you ask them politely. The only turn off is if you appear angry or frustrated, Japanese people do not like to deal with this and it is disgraceful to show ones frustration. Most visitors to Japan report that it is fairly easy to get by with little to no knowledge of the Japanese language, so do your homework and you will feel more than prepared!

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