Yes, sad but true.
In my three years in Japan I learned just about enough Japanese to be considered equivalent to a Korean kindergarten student who has moved to Japan weeks ago.
I was a functioning illiterate.
As strange as it sounds, it was actually quite easy for me to get by. That's what friends are for.
Even still, I spent most of my time pretending I understood what was going on around me, while somehow dating more women than a guy like me should even have been allowed to look at.
Sometimes, it is better to be lucky than good. Japan was one of those times that lasted more than three years.
Anyhow… my attentions were initially good when I arrived in Japan back in 1990 as part of the second wave of the JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Programme. I even learned both the katakana and hiragana 72-letter alphabets, and then learned the first 500 kanji the Japanese learn.
I ran out of steam when I realized, that even though I had all those thing memorized, I had no concept of how to use those words and letters to create sentences, let alone sentences that made sense.
It was very frustrating for me.
Part of the problem was that I did immerse myself enough into the Japanese culture… I mean sure… I might have known plenty of stuff about its history and stuff, but I kept dating non-Japanese women. And while there is nothing wrong with that, if I had dated a Japanese woman in the early days - within the first year - it is possible I would have learned Japanese, or at least been encouraged to learn Japanese.
But… by the time my second year began in Japan, I had slept with too many women to get off my lazy butt… including a female Japanese phys ed teacher… and all without knowing how to speak Japanese.
In my second year, I finally dated a Japanese woman, and while she ended up to be a stalker with a great bod, she also spoke pretty darn good English, and was always willing to speak to me in English…. except during sex, but I suppose the blood wasn’t flowing properly through the brain for either of us.
By the third year, when I managed to snag and date and become engaged to a real life normal Japanese woman, she also happened to be a Japanese teacher of English.
She would always swear and mutter at me in Japanese, but even so, I never picked up on it, as I was always too busy trying to translate one of those muttered words into a recognizable English word. I couldn’t… which is the problem when someone is so comfortable around you that they can mutter at you in slang.
That’s Matthew, as well… honestly buddy, half the time in Japan when you would chatter at me in Japanese and i would laugh or smile or nod my head and grunt, I had no freaking idea what you were saying.
I could have used Google Translate or an App… but then I’d have to go and spend a few bucks and finally buy a cellphone… I
So… I ran the whole mess of Japanese writing contained within Matthew’s greeting through Google Translate… all those letters… and it came out as Happy Birthday!
I have no idea what the rest of it says within the drawing, but the point is well understood. Ne? Mm.
Stupid Auto Correct.