On The Road

Gone Gone Gone

haven't posted recently as I had a mountain of work to do throughout June and the beginning of July. Soon as the workload was finished, I hit the road for an extended break.

As anyone that has read the blog can guess I was living in England. I decided I needed to get away from my present life and do something way different.

I flew 6,000 miles to Japan, to spend time here travelling around, meeting people, sampling the culture, gawking at the amazing structures and struggling with the language.

I bought one of those Japanese Language Survival books. I spent quite a while in the book store browsing through the available English language books. Remember everything here is in Kanji - Chinese script.

I found one that looked useful. But I was wrong. Its turned out to be pretty awful.

All the road signs, railroad stations, buses, bus stops, maps, everything is written in Kanji.

Few people speak English. I read somewhere its only 10% of the population, and they are mostly located in the big cities like Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and so on. Once you move out the cities, you may as well use sign-language to communicate. You have a better chance.

After my first Japanese language book purchase, I heard about a second hand book store in a Tokyo suburb selling English language books. I made my way across town and hunted it. It was located on the second floor of a modern block. Took me close to an hour to find it, even with the help of natives.

I spent over two hours searching for the right book. Having learnt from my initial mistake, I eventually settled on three books that have turned out to be an excellent choice. In addition, when I got to Osaka, I realised I could not survive any longer without a Japanese/English - English/Japanese dictionary. I found a good one at KinoKunya, a modern bookstore with branches all over Japan. It has over eight floors of books.

One big problem with so many Japanese language books, is they promise, if you buy the book, you will be speaking the language in no time. Or maybe just a couple of hours. Yeah right.

What they don't tell you is even if you can get the question or statement out and pronounce it correctly, when the Japanese dude or lady you are talking too smiles and thinks you can understand Japanese. Then response at 10,000 miles an hour in a language you can barely grasp and I dialect you never heard before. You're gonna be baffled and grinning like an idiot. Nodding your head, pretending to have caught at least a little of what they said.

Another headache for Net and Web users are the keyboards. They are laid out real odd, with plenty of Kanji characters keeping the Latin alphabet company. If you're used to touch-typing on a western style keyboard, be prepared for some interesting surprises.

Anyhow its getting late and I have limited Internet access. Gone are the days of all day limitless Broadband.

So I gotta go.

I will try to post again soon on my adventures in the land of the rising sun.