The other day, when I was returning from my favourite temple, an elderly man started talking to me. In good English, although using simple words and sentences, he asked me where I was from, how I liked Japan, the standard chat. When I said I lived in Kyoto, he warmed up a bit more, showed me a little booklet with a number of English phrases, and finally explained that he liked to talk to foreigners because he wanted to practise his English. The reason why he is studying English in the first place are the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2020 – yes, that’s 6 years from now – and he said he was making an effort in anticipation of all the foreigners who would come to Japan during that time so he was able “to give good directions”. I can’t help chuckling a little about this reason, but hey, he has a goal to strive towards with his lessons! We said goodbye with mutual “gambatte!”

a page from my Japanese dictionaryToday I received a letter from the mother of my Nagoyan friend. It was a very interesting letter – written in English, German, and Japanese! She started out stating her purpose in English: She had translated a Japanese children’s song into German, hoping that I would understand what was going on despite her bad grammar – the song was cute and her translation very good. Her goal is to learn German because she wants to go and visit Germany a few years down the road, and she’d like to correspond with me to learn a bit more easily.  I will start answering her letters in German and Japanese – I hope we both can learn something this way…

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