#1
I am seriously considering going to Japan in my junior year of college to study there for a semester (~4 months) edit: I;m a sophmore in college now, so I have anywhere from a little under a year to a year and a half till when I leave depending if I go 1st or 2nd semester.

However, I do not speak a work of Japanese (at the moment anyway)

So... How much English is spoken there (in the cities anyway), I would also love to at least get an elementary understanding of the language before I go (although my school doesn't offer japanese) I like to think I am fairly adept at learning languages.


Assuming language isn't an issue for a moment what other cities should I look into besides Tokyo, and what are some non mega-urban places I might want to look into.

Overall, is the country pretty traveler/visitor friendly?

Thanks
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Last edited by Msword7 at Sep 22, 2010,
#4
When I went there most people knew English. Most signs/books/magazines are in Japanese though.
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#5
Quote by jibran
You will ALWAYS be an outsider to them.

This. I have many friends who have been to japan, and you will always be considered a gaijin, no matter how well you speak japanese.
#6
I live in Japan and English is a really popular language; you'd be surprised. But in small towns, you might have some trouble.

All you need to do is learn a little Japanese, and watch a lot a Japanese TV shows, because the way they talk is quite different, but easy to get used to.
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#7
uhh.... here's my experience. a lot of them would know some english, but can't really communicate well with a native speaker; what I mean is, they have their stange way of pronouncing english words, and a lot of them can only speak/understand that japanese-style english.... and I had this trouble in a pretty decent hotel that frequently does business with tourists (this was in Osaka, btw)

one real life example from the top of my head is that freakin "biiru"
we went to an arcade that's near the hotel (so it should get foreign customers every once in a while), and found a restaurant/bar, and ordered a "beer." the waitress had no freakin idea what we were saying, so after many failed attempts with "beer," we resorted to using the japanese way of pronunciation, which is "biiru". it worked...
**EDIT: another one off the top of my head is "taxi"/"takushi"

again, I was there for a short period of time (like a week and a half) and I wasn't even in Tokyo, so don't quote me on everything, but expect your fluent English to fail frequently... on the other hand, the place was very traveler friendly

my experience as a short-term foreigner should be vastly different from yours as a student, so I suggest listening to other, more helpful replies to come :P
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Last edited by thelax at Sep 22, 2010,
#8
While knowledge of Japanese, especially reading, would be REALLY helpful, English is a required course in Japanese schooling, so you're likely to find someone who knows at least a bit of English if you look hard enough.

And a lot of streetsigns are in both Japanese and English letters, so you'll be able to read them (like signs on highways).
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#9
When i was in Japan, the fact I was an outsider was all too evident and clear.

They speak very little English there for the most part, although you can of course find some people that are fluent, and lots who speak a little.

Japan is very unlike North America, in that Japan is like 98% japanese people, very little multiculturalism.


All that being said, japan was the best place i've ever visited and I'd steamroll a field of infants to be able to go back.

edit: also, they drive on the left side of the road there, that tripped me out quite a few times.

ALSO, if youre looking for a big steak and big old north american foods and red meat and stuff, thats a little bit harder to come by. Food is quite expensive, but everything else is rather affordable
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#10
Quote by larrytheguitar
I live in Japan and English is a really popular language; you'd be surprised. But in small towns, you might have some trouble.

All you need to do is learn a little Japanese, and watch a lot a Japanese TV shows, because the way they talk is quite different, but easy to get used to.


He's right, English is spoken relatively well over there.
Also, the TV shows are awesome, so spend some time watching those.
I have a basic understanding of Japanese from watching a lot of series
(Although i couldn't speak fluent Japanese if my life depended on it)
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Last edited by OMGWTFBBQ? at Sep 22, 2010,
#11
most ive met so far either speak moderate english, chopped (leaving out particles), or have the basics. There are some who are near fluent/great but they are usually business men.

Knowing japanese helps a WHOLE GODDAMNED lot. Trust me.

It's traveler friendly but avoid sticking out like a sore thumb or being rude (in their standards) as they'll be less likely to help you. but almost everyone is friendly

well the hokkaido region is more 'spread out' as its more country side out here and colder.

i like it here.
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Last edited by Deadlock Riff at Sep 22, 2010,
#12
Oh well, our school trip started in a little place called Zentsuji. There, no one was able to talk in another language than japanese (even at the university in english classes ... oh well, the american teacher could...). We were well prepared for that... in that place. Once we moved to Osaka we thought it would be different but... even at the central station or airport we'd rarely find someone who could speak english ôO (The same in Kyoto) The only people we met who were fluent in another language were foreigners themselves xD

So, I'd say... the language is quite important (from my experiences) but the people were always helpful even if they didn't understand you. So, have a dictionary at hand (a small one that fits in your pocket).
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Last edited by UltimaWeapon at Sep 22, 2010,
#13
Most people know a tiny bit of english such as "herrooo" and "my name is...".
I don't think it'd be a good idea, I'm part japanese myself and can speak a fair bit of it yet I have difficulty communicating at times. Also, Japanese people study a lot more then white people so the competition would be a lot more fierce.

Also, if you have blonde hair, you will always get crowded by chicks, and if you also have blue eyes as well prepared to act like a rock star. If you don't have either still be ready to get crowded by heaps of crazy, may i say CRAZY high school girls. And no, they aren't the stereotypical anime ones with basketball sized breasts.
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#14
My experience might be a bit out of date, but I went to Japan in 1997 for a little more than a month (I was 17 at the time.)

I already had a very good grip of English (my native language is Portuguese but I also do speak German and can handle myself in Spanish and French.)

Anyway, I stayed in a small town called Himeji - region of Kansai - in a family house and they were used to receiving foreigners. The mother spoke very good English, but the father couldn't speak a word of English to save his life :-)

Most people in the streets and commerce did not speak English, but it might have changed by now. I learned a few key sentences in Japanese, to help me with ordering things, asking directions and being polite in general.

Speaking a little Japanese, just to get by, will do wonders to how Japanese people perceive you. They usually reacted in a very positive way when I tried to use some of my broken sentences (specially the girls, they seemed to love how I'd mix sentences and that lead to very nice interactions with them and their culture!)

If you have a chance, try to go to some cities in the Kansai region. Himeji has a really, really beautiful samurai castle; Kobe and Kyoto have amazing shrines and temples; and Osaka is such an amazing city.
Last edited by strangedata at Sep 22, 2010,
#15
Quote by strangedata
My experience might be a bit out of date, but I went to Japan in 1997 for a little more than a month (I was 17 at the time.)

I already had a very good grip of English (my native language is Portuguese but I also do speak German and can handle myself in Spanish and French.)

Anyway, I stayed in a small town called Himeji - region of Kansai - in a family house and they were used to receiving foreigners. The mother spoke very good English, but the father couldn't speak a word of English to save his life :-)

Most people in the streets and commerce did not speak English, but it might have changed by now. I learned a few key sentences in Japanese, to help me with ordering things, asking directions and being polite in general.

Speaking a little Japanese, just to get by, will do wonders to how Japanese people perceive you. They usually reacted in a very positive way when I tried to use some of my broken sentences (specially the girls, they seemed to love how I'd mix sentences and that lead to very nice interactions with them and their culture!)

If you have a chance, try to go to some cities in the Kansai region. Himeji has a really, really beautiful samurai castle; Kobe and Kyoto have amazing shrines and temples; and Osaka is such an amazing city.



Haha. I agree, Himeji castle is awesome, as was Osaka castle.

I love Japan for the simple reason that there can be such advanced, modern technology and ways of living so close to ancient culture and artifacts. they exist harmoniously.
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#16
Yeah, Osaka might be my favorite city in the world. Especially the castle; I spent almost 5 hours there my first trip. Dragonfish statues

Most Japanese people will be more than thrilled if you attempt to speak Japanese to them, even if it's wrong. I went to a McDonald's (which is actually edible in Japan), and when the cashier wanted to give me an English menu, I told her (in Japanese) that it was ok, I could read the Japanese menu.

She called everyone working in the store forward to hear the American speak Japanese. It was embarrassing.

So I called my friend an idiot when he fumbled his money, and everyone laughed. I got a free soda
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#18
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Bring back as much hentai and doujinshi as you can! And please confirm if you can buy video games from vending machines.

Not difficult, there are no restrictions on pornography in Japan

And yes, you can buy video games from vending machines. I bought Jump Ultimate Stars and Pokemon Pearl from one. They even have DS/PSP vending machines, along with MP3 players.

I didn't see any used underwear machines, though. There were plenty of clean ones, though. Since most people use the train to commute to work, and the trains stop after a certain time at night, sometimes you need to stay at a cheap hotel near work because you don't have any transportation, so you need a clean pair
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#19
Quote by PlayMadness
Yeah, Osaka might be my favorite city in the world.


It has to be one of the best places in the world. I spent so much time in america mura area. and right across from the road of my hotel was a guitar store too which was pretty cool even though i didnt get anything.
But yeah, I found the part of osaka i was in more interesting then tokyo and sapporo. Which is a pretty cool place to, but then again I lived there for the first few years of my life and i know a lot of people there.
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#20
I've never been to Japan on holidays, but I often stop at Tokyo Narita or Osaka airport on my way to visit my family in New Caledonia (small French island next to Australia). And I must say, while you could expect the personnel there to speak fluent English, it's often embarrassingly poor. They have a very strange way of pronouncing words, and they get really confused when you don't understand them.

I'd say the best advice is to learn a few key sentences and try to speak Japanese whenever possible, because even the sternest Japanese will appreciate a gaijin trying to speak the language.

Also, if you're into Asian girls, get ready for action. They absolutely love foreigners, which is not surprising since 98% of the population is Japanese as someone said before me.
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#21
Lots of people seem to have good things to say about Osaka, I will look into Osaka. Also, thanks for the other comments so far.
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#22
Quote by Astyan
Also, if you're into Asian girls, get ready for action. They absolutely love foreigners, which is not surprising since 98% of the population is Japanese as someone said before me.


You sir are correct. I'm only half-white yet when i'm over there i have chicks staring at me all the time. I even had several of my dad's hit on me last time i was in japan, and none were milfs.
I was also in a really remote town and pretty much all the girls were staring at me and these little kids were all crowding around me and trying to talk to me. It was really weird
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#23
i've been studying in japan for over 3.5 years now.

from my experience, in the eyes of the typical japanese,
english speaking white people/caucasian >= japanese > asians/others (me)
you'd probably score better with the girls if you're american. they are very passive people, you'll have to make the first move when making friends.

nevertheless, once a gaijin always a gaijin.
it is very safe here you won't get hurt even if a racial confrontation occurs. but be prepared for social ostracism. yet they are very peaceful, relatively speaking.
i'm not at home with the cultural barrier. their social etiquette, mentality, and even sense of humor etc. might not be compatible to you. for example, they don't enjoy my jokes, while i find theirs lame.

also, you won't make it without basic japanese.
people don't go out of their way to speak english with you on a daily basis. they'd rather avoid talking to you.

there are many places besides metropolis like tokyo, eg. nara, hokkaido, kyuushu, hiroshima, shizuoka, chiba, nagaoka, sendai, etc. i live in chiba, which is the in-between of metropolis and the countryside.
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#24
You're not gonna be there for very long and you say you only want at least a basic understanding, but if you're ever serious about trying to learn the language all the way I command you to read AJATT. The only way to learn a language is to experience it, and if you're experiencing it you might as well follow some of what the site stands for. Like an SRS program.


Quote by Fiddly Diddly69
You sir are correct. I'm only half-white yet when i'm over there i have chicks staring at me all the time. I even had several of my dad's hit on me last time i was in japan, and none were milfs.
I was also in a really remote town and pretty much all the girls were staring at me and these little kids were all crowding around me and trying to talk to me. It was really weird

As a foreigner people in general stare at you all the time because they're curious, you're just rare. Yes, girls could be hungering for you, but don't take all the stares personally.

edit: Not that I've actually been there myself while you have, but as an important note to people.
Last edited by Neer at Sep 22, 2010,
#25
Quote by PlayMadness
I didn't see any used underwear machines, though. There were plenty of clean ones, though. Since most people use the train to commute to work, and the trains stop after a certain time at night, sometimes you need to stay at a cheap hotel near work because you don't have any transportation, so you need a clean pair

i saw used underwear vending machines at akihabara last week. they have "worn a day" and "smeared with menstrual discharge" types. costs 2000 JPY for a pair.
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#26
Quote by necrophilic
i saw used underwear vending machines at akihabara last week. they have "worn a day" and "smeared with menstrual discharge" types. costs 2000 JPY for a pair.




Please tell me that is a lie. I have heard about those vending machines, but not that. Gross.
#27
asian girls.. thats all you need to know
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