Story #1 Which Demonstrates That Not Being Able to Speak the Language Can Be Embarrassing

I’ve mentioned to you all before that Japanese is not an easy language to learn. When I first moved here I had no intention whatsoever of studying it beyond whatever necessary phrases I might need for basic politeness. I had just spent the previous six months living in South America and learning Spanish and I really figured that one new language was enough for the time being. Mr. D on the other hand, was determined to learn this language and he was determined to drag me along with him in this endeavor. I’m not sure what it was in the beginning that convinced me to try… It could have been the fact that after my first few months of living here, I realized that despite my initial expectations, everyone in Japan does NOT speak English and that knowing Japanese would actually make my life a hell of a lot easier. Or maybe it was just my innate sense of competition- how could I allow Mr. D to learn it and not learn it myself ? No no no! That would never do. If he was going to learn it, I was going to learn it too and learn it BETTER! Nine months later we’re still studying and although we’ve certainly made progress, I’m still lucky if I can manage a very basic conversation with someone about the weather. Sometimes it feels like half the time I speak, people don’t understand and the other half, they laugh. To be honest, I don’t blame them. The following are some of my recent faux pas…

-“I’ve decided to start painting pictures of carrots because I went to see an art show where they had young carrots dressed up in a sexual manner and it really inspired me .” (When trying to describe an exhibition of dolls that I’d seen. This would have gone fine except for the fact that I got the words for doll “ningyo” and carrot “ninjin” mixed up.)

-“I decided to walk home last night because there were so many pretty fish in the trees!” (This time mixing up the words for cherry blossom “sakura” and fish “sakana”.)

-“Last year I traveled for 6 months and studied Spanish on the Nambu (a subway line in Tokyo- the word for South America is Nanbei- an understandable mistake no?)

-“I really love it when candy falls from the sky” (The words for candy and rain are almost interchangeable to the nonnative speaker so…)

Story #2 Which Demonstrates That Not Being Able to Read the Language Can Be Embarrassing

Recently Mr. D had to buy a new white shirt to wear to his cousin’s wedding in Italy. While shopping in a Tokyo department store he came across a rack of white button down shirts which were marked for only 2,000 yen (roughly $20). Thinking he’d found a great bargain, he searched through them for a while, pulling several out and holding them up against himself. He had just begun to wonder why there were no shirts in larger sizes when he looked around at the surrounding racks and realized that he was shopping in the high school girl’s uniform section.