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. 2010/8/4 04:33
I was really badly teased and made fun of when we Americans tried to learn Japanese, so we quit trying.

As an American, who has studied (officially) and continue to study (independently) I have never been "made fun of" or "teased", in fact it has always been opposite of nothing but support and encouragement from both Japanese people and friends.
by ExpressTrain (guest) rate this post as useful

Bad Attitude 2010/8/5 18:17
What a terrible attitude your Gaijin 'friend'? has! I have recently moved to Japan with zero language skills however my partner & I are required to attend weekly Japanese lessons as part of his employment & are both very keen to make as much effort as we can to learn even though we have a translator available to us.
I'm not sure if your intention is to live here or you are already but as other posters have said - yes you can easily survive here without knowing Japanese however day to day life is so much easier for YOU even knowing a few phrases. This of course is very different to being 'accepted' by the Japanese however I'm not really sure what you mean by this - if you simply have a genuine interest in things Japanese why would you even consider letting this person turn you off learning something that will make things easier & knowing another language is a fantastic skill!
If this is to be our home we need to make the effort - this person seems very arrogant & as another poster says - he may be getting along just fine but has he thought about the extra strain on the Japanese people with which he undoubtedly converses where English is their 2nd language? I'm curious as to why he would ay so long if he has such a low opinion of those around him.
This time & on another previous short visit we have found that any effort to speak/read even basic words is met with nothing but enthusiasm & encouragement even if you feel a little silly for getting it wrong.
There are rude people everywhere who don't like foreigners - we can look in our own English-speaking backyards for evidence of that! Not just a Japanese thing.
We as English speaking nations are very unforgiving of anyone 'who can't speak our language' - I have come across many more Japanese who can speak even a little English to help me get by than the reverse at home!
I hope you aren't discouraged and keep learning - I'm still in very early stages but learning Hiragana felt like such a breakthrough so I'm happy to keep going! Good Luck
by Aussie Expat (guest) rate this post as useful

learning Japanese 2010/8/6 00:49
My own 2 cents...

I have practical japanese but not fluent by any means...I studied while living in japan, teaching english.

At first, when I tried to speak japanese or when I was in a situation where I just couldn't, people would force themselves to speak English or find somebody who could (when I was travelling around Japan, for example).

Then, as my Japanese got better, there was a code phrase used by many Japanese - oh, you speak Japanese so well! - which, while not true, was a signal that the Japanese person to whom I was speaking was done trying to speak English. I can't tell you how many times I heard someone say that - you speak Japanese so well! - that I came to dread it, because it would mean I would be on my own.

I have heard the same person who told me that, and afterwards didn't speak any English to me (when I clearly was lost), speak English to my husband who can't speak Japanese.

I came to wish I hadn't learned any Japanese at all. I am not the least bit reluctant to meet people halfway but it got very frustrating when the limits of my Japanese were reached...usually very quickly.

Now if I were fluent I would be very pleased about it but with a little Japanese I found myself dumped in the deep end.
by Spendthrift (guest) rate this post as useful

language 2010/8/6 05:21
Spendthrift..do what I do when I go to France..
I let my travelling buddy do the talking. He knows just enough French to start a conversation: Hello, how are you doing, nice day...then has to switch to English..
I stand back and only butt in when both are lost..for example when the French person doesn't get an English word or concept etc. They do look at me suspiciously but have no choice but to continue in English when I give them a Buddha smile...

Reserve Japanese for the times you are alone and if they switch to English pretend that you don't speak it...I have used French in Japan and found that the person I was talking to was more fluent in French than in English and was eager to speak French..didn't help my learning Japanese much mind you.... .
by Red frog (guest) rate this post as useful

i agree 2010/8/8 10:20
i have lived in japan for 8 years and speak good enough japanese to get by.

when i first arrived i was told not to bother learning the language as it was not necessary. this attitude also annoyed me.

however, i do think your gaijin associate is more than 50% correct. speaking japanese will usually help you in your life but also often works against you. it will also NEVER enable you to become accepted as japanese.

as for dave spector, he is ridiculed on television. he himself refers to himself as being a high paid panda. he justifies it by saying he would act the idiot for much less money.
by rick (guest) rate this post as useful

. 2010/8/8 11:42
It is almost like saying "Why work? The government gives me foods, house, and even a satellite dish." Probably it is his attitude that is not accepted.
by Ikuyo Kuruyo (guest) rate this post as useful

different opinion 2010/8/8 21:23
Unlike rick above, I have never, ever found that speaking Japanese works against me. How could it ever be a negative thing to be able to communicate with people and understand what is going on around you? Why would anyone want to be illiterate?

Sure speaking Japanese doesn't mean people think I'm Japanese- this doesn't bother me for a second.
by Sira (guest) rate this post as useful

IMPORTANT 2010/8/9 18:33
Don't listen to losers. I see a few loser answers to your question in addition to the person who stayed 15 years in Japan.

If mere words can change your passion for something, then you had better reconsider your commitment to it.
I'm born and raised in New York City, I graduated business school in Japan and Im going to start working in consulting in Tokyo from September.

I haven't been here for more than 3 years yet and I am business fluent(I learned from scratch). I worked as a real estate agent for more than a year and a half now. What drove me to become fluent in Japanese goes beyond logic and rationalization.

It requires no logic to make friends and to share emotions and have the best times of your life. It requires no logic to chase after your dreams and fuel your passion with each success.

Success breeds success.

There should never be an end to learning and growing. Since there is only one of you, you will have to decide what to give priority to and to reject what is not useful. As long as you have a goal that is positive and backed by your values, then many things like language and money will come with it as a result.
Good luck to everyone.
by TPanda rate this post as useful

Unbelievable! 2010/8/10 07:16
When I first decided to visit Japan, I made it my business to learn the basics. And with each trip, I like to think that my Japanese has gotten better. I'm actually moving there soon. In all of my visits, I've been complimented on my ability (and trust me, it's beginner), but I know hiragana and katakana. There is a level of appreciation by the locals that you made the effort to learn and communicate in their language.

It's truly horrible that people go to a foreign country, and no matter where they are, expect the inhabitants to speak English. It's rude. I once shared a cab with a couple from California (I'm from NYC). I was so embarrassed! Yelling English slowly won't make a non-Enlgish speaker understand you.

Only a loser bas***d can be in a foreign country for more than 10 years and never pick up the language. That is someone who obviously wants to be isolated.

I don't know how long I will be in Japan, but I do want to spend a significant amount of time living there. I want to get a better handle on the language just because that's what I want. It's simply a personal goal of mine. As a previous poster stated, Japan is a homogenous country, so no matter what you learn, etc. you will always be a foreigner. I do not expect to be considered Japanese - I could settle down, marry a Japanese man, and have kids (THIS IS NOT MY REASON FOR GOING!), but I will never be Japanese. But I also don't care.
by aurora (guest) rate this post as useful

my point of view 2010/8/11 05:17
Hi everyone,

I will be honnest and start to say that I didn't read all the messages of this post deeply. However, the first one and a few things read here and there in the other messages want me to say a few things more or less related :

- Don't trust Gaijins. The real word is Gaikokujin if I'm not wrong.

- The question of integrating the japanese society, and anything else related with the concept of nihonjin no kokoro, bloodrights and other topics that some people are linking with that so-called japanese racism to make tv audience higher is too complicated to be given in the hands of some people who are not sociology experts.
What we are doing here is bar talk. You know.. when the workers are out of their jobs, they like to drink alcool and explain together that if they were prime minister, the economy would be better.

- don't trust the medias either. They like to show those big black trucks claiming NIHON, NIHON ! I never saw one when I was in japan, and it's obvious that they are a minority. Like cosplayers, otaku, ganguro (at the time where there were still visible) etc..

- expats from my country I saw in japan are so proud of themselves that they act like real ugly gaijins.. I saw that a lot of times (100% agreeing with Uji).

- There is a proverb saying : "you will find what you are seeking for". If you find racism in japan, you will find it.

- japan is an group of island. Each island is more or less developping that kind of behaviour.

- that sort of behaviour is existing everywhere. I experienced what was discrimination in my own country since I'm ill.

- learning is never a waste. All king of learnings are linked and learning a new one is helpfull to understand the world you are in a little more.

- I'm living in an area where a lot of english old couples are buying a house to finish their lives. Some of them are only staying between english people and always complain when there is a problem and are only here for the good social system.
Some of them are trying to integrate, not always so much, but even a little is pleasure to see, because I also like to talk and share with them, and eat the english products in the english grocery they are running, or discover british tea.

- talking about tea, and back to nihonjin no kokoro : I believe that even the japaneses attending to a formal tea ceremony don't understand everything and don't get that "special feeling that a foreigner cannot feel".
kind of same topic : I had been lucky enough to be welcomed by a nice jgirl wearing a kimono for my first trip in japan. I "felt that special feeling that a jman seeing a jgirl wearing a kimono can feel" ;-)
same thing with sakura flowers falling down..

don't think too much about those things and see by yourself.


by Marsu rate this post as useful

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