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A Japanese American traveling in Japan 2011/10/23 06:11
I will be traveling alone in Japan, mostly Kyoto. I am a Japanese American woman from Hawaii. I know the Japanese will expect me to speak Japanese and think I am strange. I understand some Japanese and speak little. What can I do to make my travels easier?
I thought of wearing something that says ''Hawaii'' on it. What can I expect in my travels and any suggestions to make it a better trip?
Mahalo
by Maui Girl (guest)  

Re: A Japanese American traveling in Japan 2011/10/23 12:17
If you look Japanese, people would naturally start speaking to you in Japanese, but if you let them know you don't know the local language, that would be fine :) There are many people who look like locals but aren't.

Just be ready to say, maybe, "Sumimasen, nihongo wa amari hanasemasen" (Sorry but I can't speak Japanese much) and if people ask you where you are from ("doko no go-shusshin desu ka" or something of the sort) maybe answer "Hawaii sodachi desu" ("I grew up in Hawaii").

Wearing "Hawaii" might not work as you might expect - people might assume you are a local who's just been there :) Enjoy your trip! Mahalo
by AK rate this post as useful

Re: A Japanese American traveling in Japan 2011/10/23 13:08
Don't be overly sensitive or think yourself out of having fun.

Just say, "sumimasen, nihonjin dehanai node nihongo ga yoku wakaranai"
"Sorry, I am not Japanese so I don't understand the language. "

You could also tell them you are from Hawaii (Hawaii jin desu) if you want to share further.

It's really not a big deal.
Japan isn't really like America or Korea in this respect so no one is going to persecute you for looking one way and not living up to their preconceptions.
by kyototrans rate this post as useful

Re: A Japanese American traveling in Japan 2011/10/23 13:31
I think you don't need to try to speak Japanese.
When you speak English, people will recognize that you are a native English speaker.
Most Japanese people speak English at least a little bit.

Have fun!!

by Steve0612 (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: A Japanese American traveling in Japan 2011/10/24 04:05
No worry. Nobody bothers unless you speak first. Then say
"Sorry to bother you. I am a 3 sei(I presume) from Hawaii. I don't speak Japanese."
"Su(m)imasen. (watashi wa) hawai no sansei desu. nihongo wakarimasen." Then, speak Englsih.
Pronounce Hawaii, even hawai, not haWAii or bring a confusion.
by amazinga (guest) rate this post as useful

normal 2011/10/24 17:54
Maui Girl,

One of the largest populations of foreign tourists in Japan now come from China, and we have lots of Koreans coming as well as all the Japanese-American tourists or even the Japanese-South-American workers who have been coming for decades.

So no one will take it for granted that Asian-looking people would speak Japanese. Besides, most Japanese-Americans don't even look like the local Japanese.

I hope you have fun!
by Uco (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: A Japanese American traveling in Japan 2011/10/26 13:30
Thank you all for your encouragement. I leave on Oct 31st, so I'm getting nervous about traveling alone without my husband.
I contacted the Goodwill Guides and will have a guide one day, and I will go on the Johnny Hillwalker walking tour of Kyoto.
I appreciate your supportive words. It will be an adventure!
by Maui Girl rate this post as useful

Re: A Japanese American traveling in Japan 2011/11/1 16:34
------I understand some Japanese and speak little. ------

OK so you understand Japanese a little bit?
choppiri = a little bit

If you encounter people who think you're a Japanese just simply say you're from Hawaii and can speak and understand Japanese only choppiri.

by mrk (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: A Japanese American traveling in Japan 2011/11/1 19:54
Maui Girl

you'll be fine. most Japanese won't be surprised at all, having Japanese heritage but not speaking the language.
Like Uco said 'most Japanese-Americans don't even look like the local Japanese'.

I can relate to this, despite being ethnically Japanese people seem to think you're from abroad anyway from dress, grooming and mannerisms one has.

Hope you are having a enjoyable trip, interested to hear how it was.
by peaches (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: A Japanese American traveling in Japan 2011/12/17 04:21
This is a recap of my trip In early Nov.
It turned out to be a very special experience, which I could only have traveling solo. I met a Goodwill guide, who took me to Arashiyama. We had a lot in common, she was excellent. She volunteered to take me out another day with her friend, who had lived in the US. It was a delightful day. We felt comfortable, being of the same age and similar cultural upbringing, although in different countries. I hope she will visit Maui one day.
The Japanese are very kind. I only had to say "Sumimasen" and everyone would try to help. My very poor Japanese and saying I was from Hawaii created a little bond. If approached respectfully, the average Japanese wants to be helpful.
There is so much more to see in Japan and I will return.
by Maui Girl rate this post as useful

Thanks 2011/12/17 16:30
Thanks for the feedback. I'm glad you had fun!
by Uco (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: A Japanese American traveling in Japan 2011/12/17 20:51
oh wonderful! :-)
by peaches (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: A Japanese American traveling in Japan 2011/12/17 22:40
I one of the local of KYOTO, feel so grad !!

Actually , these days we ahve much guest from China Taiwan Korea , Even if U have east-asian out-look not so many citizen here thinks U must B quite-Japanese.

I hope U 2 come again and have good time !
by 36madcooky rate this post as useful

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