Thursday, April 17, 2003
Yesterday was a record day for hits on MarkCity, which is currently growing by between 50 and 75% every month. Amazing. Anyway, the article on ELT News brought more emails from people asking me, as the world's No.1 authority on all things Japanese (ho ho), for advice. Like this one:

Q: First, how hard is it to get by not knowing Japanese? Is it difficult to go down to the store to get a gallon of milk? Or getting directions across town?

A: My Japanese is terrible - just about good enough to say 'my Japanese is terrible', in fact. Watashi no nihongo wa hidoi desu. And I'm not even 100% confident that that's right. If you live in Tokyo it's pretty easy to get by without speaking Japanese. In shops, you don't need to speak at all - the Japanese don't speak to shop assistants. They don't even say thank you. So buying milk is no problem. If you wander around Tokyo with a map, looking lost, someone will usually stop and practice their English on you. Some things, though, can be hard - buying concert tickets, getting parcels redelivered, complaining that your coffee's cold in Doutor, explaining to railway officials that you did buy a ticket, honest, but that you've lost it... All these things happened to me. But I got by.

Q: Also, I don't know if this is anything you would have looked into, but is it hard to find an English-speaking Christian church? I'm not a Bible-thumping evangelist, but I wouldn't feel comfortable going several months without church. If you could shed any light on that, I would appreciate it.

A: There are quite a lot of Christian churches but I'm not sure about English-speaking churches! The American Embassy in Japan might be able to tell you. I'm sure they have a website - you could check on Google. In fact, I've just done it for you: US Embassy site.