What Can I Say?

Wednesday, June 10th, 2009 by Steph

Dad’s always asking me how my Japanese language skills are coming along, and I never know how to answer this question. (3.2? C+? 78%?) While my Japanese ability has progressed a great deal in the last 3 years, those of you who understand Japanese and have heard me speak know that I have a long way to go before I achieve fluency. However, should the rest of you be mildly curious about my ability to communicate, here are some small victories from the past week:

*Successfully explaining the rules of Sharks and Minnows to a group of elementary school kids, each of whom has the attention span of a small kitten surrounded by fluff and balls of string.

*Figuring out who that random guy at the pool was. I had one of those awkward moments where I was greeted warmly by some dude I swear I’d never met before. After a brief conspiratorial conference with the poolside manager, I was able to divine that he was in fact my old salsa teacher (who’s also, incidentally, the nation-wide champion of Japan. And a hair dresser.) In my defense, I haven’t been to class for about a year, and he was wearing a swim cap.

*Conversing with a saleschick. Mildly curious about the GAP that materialized recently in Akita, I cautiously entered this new store but was skeptical about trying anything on. As I explained to the overly-eager sales staff, I’d been through this masochistic pas-de-deux with Japan-based GAPs before in Tokyo. Theoretically, the GAP is supposed to carry western sizes that don’t exist in the boondocks of Akita, but instead I found to my dismay clothing that had been tailored to fit the Japanese frame, and thus, not my own. After hearing my tale of woe and betrayal, I was assured that THIS store (GAP*USA!) was different, because everything is directly imported from America, and as such I was encouraged to approach shopping with renewed optimism and vigor.

I don’t know if any of that’s going to be on the JLPT, but it’s nice to know that I can increasingly say what I want to say on the spur of the mo’.