Source: Gaijin Pot
For many travelers, getting to live like a local and having the opportunity to connect with new people is a big priority. In Japan, this can be challenging due to the language barrier. Since half of all communication is non-verbal, I figured there must be some ways for visitors to Japan to overcome language differences and really experience the country in depth.
Here’s five ideas to interact with locals and enjoy cultural experiences without needing to speak Japanese. Having said this, people will respond positively if you’re able to say a few key words which is why I’ve suggested one for each scenario.
1. Blend in with the baseball crowd
Attending a baseball match in Tokyo or Yokohama is like going to a basketball game in NYC, or the Melbourne stadium to watch Aussie football. The dedicated supporters in the stands match the energy and entertainment on field. No matter where you sit, you’ll be surrounded by cheerful natives who’ll encourage you to sing along and participate in crazy coordinated crowd dances which put the “Mexican Wave” to shame.
Given the sport’s American influence, English phrases are used to commentate the game and are intertwined into chants. The supporters’ outward love for the game becomes infectious, so don’t be surprised if you find yourself high-fiving strangers and repeatedly shouting chants, even if you don’t understand their meaning. The Hiroshima Carps and Chiba Lotte Marines are well known for their dedicated cheer squads.
One word ice breaker: Ganbatte! meaning “do your best!” Use this word to show your encouragement. You’ll hear it shouted throughout the game and featured within popular cheers.
2. Go on a nomihodai night out
This year, 2017, was a special one for the Tokyo Marathon in that it is the 10th year since the event began, in 2010.
This year’s Tokyo Marathon followed a slightly different course from previous years’ in that it didn’t skirt the
|Bystanders watch the Tokyo Marathon 2017 in Yanagibashi, Taito-ku, Tokyo|
|Picking up a cup of Pocari Sweat at the Tokyo Marathon 2017, Asakusabashi, Tokyo|
|Tokyo Marathon 2017, with a Chuo-Sobu Line train overhead pulling into Asakusabashi Station.|
|Cheering on Tokyo Marathon 2017 runners in Asakusabashi.|
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Cherry blossoms or “sakura” are not just beautiful flowers but it brings me a certain kind of joy that no other flowers or trees do. I remember my first visit here in Japan was during Spring of 2012. Together with my then-boyfriend’s mom (now my mother-in-law), I went to the nearest park where sakura trees lined up and we spent moments just admiring the trees. We took lots of pictures, too. I fell in love with the beauty of a fully-bloomed sakura tree on the first sight. But getting a closer look on a single flower made me love it even better.Since then, I always look forward to Spring and witness sakura trees bloom. This year, I got a pleasant surprise as some trees in our area already started to bloom. And it’s not even March yet. I am so happy I didn’t have to wait any longer. Also, my mom who is on a one-month visit had a chance to experience cherry blossoms before she comes back home again next week. Oh, what a joy! ;)Here are some photos from our February 2017 “hanami” (flower viewing).Also sharing some photos from my first sakura sighting on March 2012. …continue reading
I don’t get sick very often. Even when I do, I can work through most things. This is probably due to my obsession with perfect attendance. I loved getting that certificate at the end of every school year that congratulated me for not missing one day. There were times when my mom suggested that I stay home for my birthday, but I would always refuse because the certificate meant more to me than a shopping trip or going to the zoo. #nerd My desire for this prestige is only quelled by a stomach virus or food poisoning. It’s really hard to work or study with your head in the toilet (trust me I’ve tried). So when I call my Japanese boss and tell him that I can’t come in because I am sick, I am truly sick. A normal response would be, “I am sorry you’re sick. Get well soon.” In Japan, however, my admission of illness is met with, “Yes, but do you have a fever?” It doesn’t matter the illness. It doesn’t matter that I have just puked up the yakitori that I ate two years ago. No fever = ganbatte. Okay boss, but I might just “ganbatte” all over the floor while doing the Hokey Pokey. …continue reading