Tokyo: Welcome to Japan!

My conscientious boyfriend had been learning Japanese all the way around New Zealand. We struck a deal – I would drive and he would learn Japanese. Sounds fair! On the plane to Japan we were strangely calm… which is really very strange looking back, as we had not booked any accommodation and we couldn’t speak the language. I attempted to learn my usual repertoire of words (Yes, No, Thank you, Please, Sorry). My boyfriend on the other hand had a fairly good grasp of basic phrases, (do you have a non-smoking table please? please could we have a room for one night? do you speak English? etc). He practised his Japanese language on the air-steward on the plane, who informed us that Japanese people do not say “No” as it is considered rude. This threw us a bit, as “No” was one of the words we had learnt!

On the train on the way into Tokyo we felt scruffy – everyone was very well dressed. In our previous travels we had felt like the rich westerners – now we felt like people were going to give us money as donations for food. 😉

We arrived in Tokyo late at night and went to a nearby hotel. My boyfriend asked for a room in his best Japanese. The hotel man (who was standing about a metre from him) pointed at him and laughed loudly. To this day I have no idea why – whether he said “penis” by mistake or his accent was funny… who knows! Obviously I found it very rude at the time and felt sorry for poor boyfriend who had taken a great deal of time and effort to learn the language. But looking back it is pretty hilarious! I have resolved to point and laugh at my boyfriend more often, for my amusement. If he asks why, I’ll say I’m being cultural. Continue reading

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