Do you speak Japanese?

This a quick post to describe what it’s like not being able to speak Japanese, and how difficult it is getting around only being able to speak English.

The answer is: it hasn’t been as hard as I thought I thought it might. Everyone seems to have at least a few words of English, so I can generally make myself understood. (Do you speak English, I ask? A little, is invariably the reply. And it’s usually just enough.) The menus have pictures so you just need to point at what you want. I found I can ask simple questions like “Chicken or pork?” and staff are able to understand and tell me.

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Where I need English, for example, when I exchanged my JR Pass, there were English speaking staff. Ditto at my hotel. The ATMs and smart card chargers at the stations have an English language selection. And all signs (road, subway, trains) are also written in English. On the trains and subway, and at station stops the announcements are also in English.

So, all in all, not being able to speak Japanese has not been the impediment I thought it may have been.

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