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  • One of the most intimidating and anxiety-inducing aspects of travelling overseas

  • is the sudden inability to communicate with the world around you.

  • It's probably no surprise then that over the years one of the most popular questions

  • I've got is how difficult is it to travel Japan without Japanese?

  • Now in the run-up to the 2020 Olympics many businesses across Japan

  • are Investing all their pocket money in preparing for foreign tourists.

  • But there's no doubt the language barrier exists here in a homogeneous culture

  • where English speakers can seem few and far between.

  • In this video, we'll discuss the most common problems that will pop up along the way,

  • from public transport and dining out

  • to some useful communication strategies that will help you break down the language barrier with the locals.

  • But I'll start with two pieces of reassuring news though:

  • The first is that I put a survey out on Twitter

  • asking people if they found Japan difficult to travel without Japanese.

  • There were 3600 responses with two thirds saying they didn't find it difficult.

  • Now that's great; then again Twitter questionnaires should always be taken with a pinch of salt,

  • Especially as I put out a follow-up survey,

  • asking people if they'd rather be a bagel or an Alaskan salmon.

  • Within 47 minutes 739 people responded with 45 percent respondents

  • choosing to be a delicious inanimate object over a living creature rich in Omega-3.

  • And that should have been a clear open-and-shut case - obviously the answer was salmon.

  • The second piece of reassuring news is that I've known numerous expats living and working in Japan

  • over the years across various sectors who have lived comfortably in Japan without knowing

  • any Japanese whatsoever and whilst it's not obviously ideal, it is completely doable.

  • I mean when I came here without knowing much of the language,

  • I was often a little bit anxious in various situations

  • that the the locals might get angry at me when they found out that I lived here

  • without knowing any of the language really.

  • After all, I'd had travel experiences in some countries in the past

  • where the locals had lost their temper or snapped at me

  • for my inability to communicate in their language.

  • Obviously, I'm not gonna name any names.

  • -hilarious fake cough- France.

  • But not once in my time here has anybody got angry at me or lost their cool for my inability to communicate.

  • On the contrary, Japanese people are very understanding and fully aware that

  • Japanese is almost exclusively spoken within Japan,

  • and it is quite difficult, and it takes a lot time to learn.

  • Thus if you do make an effort and show you know some Japanese,

  • you'll instantly win favour with the locals because you'll be in the minority

  • of foreign travellers who can speak and use a little bit of Japanese.

  • Better still though English is almost everywhere these days,

  • from restaurant menus and road signs to trendy t-shirts.

  • Mind you, the English might not always be native speaker level of English, but it gets the job done.

  • Take this notebook that I bought the other day for example.

  • It's covered in trendy, cool English expressions on the front here, like:

  • "relax time", and "keep calm", and "pleasing smell".

  • And yet the thing that gives it away that might not have been proof read or written by a native speaker

  • is the big word at the top where it just says:

  • Dribble.

  • "Dribble" - it's not typically the sort of thing you'd find on a notebook back home.

  • I don't know why they thought that would enhance the sales of the... of the notebook,

  • but nonetheless, it's English, just... just not as we... not as we know it.

  • So having just landed in Japan, typically at Haneda Airport or Narita or Kansai International,

  • You'll find getting out of the airport and into the city a fairly easy, seamless process.

  • Everything is wonderfully signposted.

  • But soon after arriving at the city problems might arise at one of the smaller stations

  • when you look up at the map to find it is exclusively written in kanji characters.

  • Now perhaps you'd think "No problem, I'll just use the ticket machine

  • and hit the English button and type in the name of the station.

  • Haha, I'm so brilliant."

  • But wait!

  • Because, you're not.

  • For local trains and the underground, rather than typing in the name of the station,

  • you need to know the ticket price of the place you're going.

  • And to find out the cost of that ticket you need the map that you can't read.

  • Obviously you can get around this easily by asking a member of staff;

  • as long as you mutter the name of the station or the general direction of where you want to go - no problem.

  • But my favourite option is just to get a Suika card or a passport card,

  • which you top-up with a few thousand yen.

  • I can't tell you the cost of going anywhere

  • in Japan or Tokyo just because - I use this.

  • So rather than knowing the cost of your ticket price,

  • just keep this filled up with a few thousand yen every day, and you're all good.

  • Same goes for the JR Rail Pass. That's half the benefit of getting the JR Rail Pass:

  • You don't need to worry about using ticket machines all the time.

  • And you can get this for 500 yen at pretty much any ticket machine across Japan.

  • I think for another few hundred yen you get your name written on it as well.

  • I haven't done that.

  • Because I'm... I'm cheap.

  • I would strongly urge first time travellers coming to Japan to get a SIM card or a portable Wi-Fi

  • so you have the internet with you, mainly just so you can use Google Maps.

  • It is the main way that I and most foreign travellers get around Japan.

  • All the train times and all the bus times are input into it seamlessly.

  • Honestly without Google Maps I don't think I'd even be here now.

  • I'd probably be lost in a forest somewhere scrounging for...

  • Berries.

  • Ber- yeah.

  • As somebody who travels around Japan quite a lot I found that this isn't an issue at all.

  • I think you'll have no problems with accommodation whether you're using

  • hotels, Airbnb or even staying at traditional, Japanese Inn.

  • That's a lie there might be one one issue.

  • If you're lucky enough to have a public bath or a hot springs built into your accommodation,

  • you'll find that they're segregated by male and female,

  • and sometimes they're poorly labelled as to which one is which.

  • This could end in spectacular disaster and lots of awkward conversations with hotel staff.

  • So what I would encourage you to do, just because not only do public baths use it,

  • but also toilets across Japan. They sometimes only have kanji characters in male and female,

  • especially at smaller bars and restaurants.

  • So I would actually encourage you to learn those two characters:

  • 'Male' and 'Female'.

  • They're probably the only two characters you'll ever need to know.

  • Better still you can impress all your friends and family at your next birthday party

  • when you whip out a pen and Pretend to know how to write lots of Japanese,

  • giving the momentary illusion that you are a genius with extensive cultural knowledge.

  • I mean, for that reason alone definitely... It's definitely worth it.

  • As somebody who eats out... Well, more than they probably should,

  • I tend to find in the bigger restaurants this isn't an issue - you will find English menus,

  • or even then just menus with pictures on that you can point at.

  • Typically the smaller the bar or restaurant and the further out into the countryside it is,

  • the less likely you will find English.

  • And in the terrifying event there's neither English nor photos you can desperately point at,

  • you are gonna have to wing it.

  • Now, I did make a video a few months ago talking about nightlife etiquette and dining out etiquette.

  • However, the most important phrase and thing in that video is the phrase:

  • "Osusume wa?"

  • "Osusume wa?" means "What do you recommend?"

  • If you point at the menu and say "Ososume wa?"

  • typically the staff will probably laugh in surprise, chuckle in surprise first.

  • That is the only Japanese phrase that you know.

  • And then they will try and do their best to explain what it is before you enthusiastically order it.

  • Unless of course you are vegetarian and the speciality is pork.

  • In which case you can just point it yourself and say:

  • "Vegetarian". Because fortunately the word for vegetarian in Japanese is:

  • 'Bejitarian'. It's kind of like the same.

  • And that's another really useful point for dining out in Japan -

  • many foods the words themselves are 'Gairaigo' or foreign borrowed words.

  • Take for example beef, chicken and pork.

  • For beef you can say "Bi-fu".

  • For pork you can say "Po-ku".

  • For chicken you can say "Chikin".

  • And for horse you can say

  • "BASASHI".

  • All right, there's a handful of exceptions but you get the general idea.

  • Take fruit for example:

  • Orange is "Orenji".

  • Banana is "Banana".

  • Apple is a "Appuru".

  • And cherry is

  • "SAKURANBO".

  • Again some - some exceptions.

  • The only other two words you really need to know are:

  • Beer, which is "Bi-ru" and

  • Whiskey which is "Uiski".

  • And there you have it

  • So don't be afraid to use 'gairaigo' - don't be afraid to try and say the word.

  • I'm not necessarily saying try and pronounce those words in their 'gairaigo' Japanese form,

  • I'm saying try and just say the word in English

  • and hopefully the staff will catch it and understand what you're saying.

  • You'll find in the absence of English conversational practice at school,

  • most Japanese people do tend to lack confidence in speaking and listening to English.

  • To talk a bit more about this along with the essential four Japanese phrases you need to know before you come to Japan,

  • I'll now hand you over to a real-life Japanese man who stole a British accent.

  • Even though we learn English [for] six years from junior high school to high school,

  • somehow or we can't speak or listen.

  • So what you have to do when you come to Japan is:

  • Don't make sentences long.

  • For instance, some people like me when you ask if the food is good or bad, you can say "Is it good?"

  • But when you say "Is it good?", it sounds like one word for Japanese people.

  • So you could just take one word, one most important word - in this case which is 'good'.

  • So say "good" or "bad" - just take one word and they'll understand you.

  • Instead of saying "Where is the toilet?", you can say: "Toilet? Where?"

  • "Can you speak English?"

  • Just say: "English? OK?"

  • And if you make it like really simple, they'll - they'll get you.

  • So there are only four phrases that you have to know when you come to Japan and that will get you by.

  • First one is "Konnichiwa", and that's like "Hello" - as everyone knows.

  • The second one is "I'm sorry" or "Excuse me" - That is "Sumimasen".

  • And then thirdly is "Thank you", which is "Arigatou".

  • Not like "Arigato" - "Arigatou". (That's very difficult to write in captions >.

  • It's said flat, with a facial expression of 'thank you', of course.

  • Lastly what you have to know is, when you don't understand or when you don't know things you can say:

  • "Wakarimasen", and that means "I don't know" or "I don't understand"

  • So these are four phrases - useful phrases that you might want to use when you come to Japan.

  • So some useful communication strategies from Ryotaro there.

  • One thing I'd like to add is that whilst Japanese people tend to be pretty shy and pretty reserved,

  • They're also extremely helpful and selfless in the event you need some help or assistance.

  • Never be afraid to ask somebody on the street or at a convenience store for help if you need it.

  • In the past, I've had shop staff stop working, stop what they're doing,

  • and draw me an elaborate map of where I need to go.

  • And don't be surprised if some shop staff even stop working altogether and like, escort you down the street.

  • It's happened to me numerous times over the years. When it happens you feel incredibly guilty,

  • but yeah, don't be surprised when it does - people here are surprisingly selfless,

  • and that's one of the best things about Japan.

  • Just make sure you carry a bit of paper, so somebody can draw you an elaborate map.

  • I guess that's as good a reason as any to get - to get a Dribble notebook.

  • Yeah... Dribble.

  • I've noticed There's a dribble coffee maker there, look at that.

  • What's all that about? Are they making coffee? From dribble?

  • What would that taste like? I don't - I don't even want to know.

  • Be careful what notepads you buy in Japan. I mean this cost 100 yen,

  • and look at all the time I've wasted trying to make sense of the strange, wacky English on the front.

  • All this dribble business has led me down a spiralling dark hole into nothingness.

  • So yeah, be careful what notepads you buy.

  • So I hope these quick tips have been useful.

  • If you're travelling to Japan and wondering how much it's going to cost,

  • you can check out our video 'How Expensive is it to Travel Japan?'

  • Which gives you a breakdown on everything from food and accommodation

  • to transport and the JR Rail Pass.

  • But for now though guys, I hope you have an amazing trip to Japan.

  • Many thanks for watching. We'll see you next time.

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  • Subtitles by Qdrophenia

One of the most intimidating and anxiety-inducing aspects of travelling overseas

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沒有日語的日本旅行有多難?| 日本旅遊攻略 (How Difficult is Travelling Japan without Japanese? | Travel Tips)

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    ayane 發佈於 2021 年 01 月 14 日
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