Those of you reading this post should be interested in pagodas, shrines, gardens, urban skyscrapers, shopping, clothing, dining, museums, electronics, and pretty much everything else that Tokyo or Japan has to offer. Many of you may visit every 2 years, but some of you may hesitate to go there because of the language barrier. This post will eliminate all your fears.
You have to first realize that not many people speak English, even in Tokyo. Of the 127.8 million inhabitants, only 1.2% speak it as a 2nd language. So if you’re lost on the streets of Tokyo and you can’t see any Caucasians, only 1 in 86 Asians can potentially help you. Fortunately, if you’re holding a thick travel guide with the word Japan on it, then that 1 person would actively come over to direct you to where you need to go. Even if he isn’t familiar with the area, he can ask someone else in Japanese, listen to the directions, and tell them to you in English.
Undoubtedly, many of you will learn a few basic Japanese phrases to aid you on your travel expedition. There is, however, 1 often-overlooked word. Suimasen (すいません). Suimasen is the casual version of sumimasen (すみません), and is best used if you want to speak naturally with other Japanese. This useful word actually has 3 meanings. The 1st meaning is thank you. When the waiter takes away your finished dishes, instead of saying arigatō (ありがとう), you have another option of saying suimasen. The 2nd meaning is excuse me. When you need to get off the crowded train, you can say suimasen before gently gliding out. The last meaning is sorry. So you can use suimasen as an alternative to gomen’nasai (ごめんなさい).
So there’s really no need to be worried. Just go to Japan, now.