I really like this photo Dan took of me last night when we went out to find some dinner. Especially at night, the surreal saturation of this city is just intensified - all the lights come on in all the shops, down all the streets and little lanes and it's just stunning.
The strangest sensation for me so far is that suddenly I find myself completely illiterate. I'm so used to looking at language and immediately understanding it - without thinking. Language is my strength, the thing I always feel confident about. In Japan I feel like a two year old, struggling with the absolute basics. So far I can say:
- Domo Arigato (thank you very much - truth, I only know this because of the Mr. Roboto song)
- Domo Arigato Gozimas (thank you very much, but said more politely)
- Konichiwa (good morning/ early day)
- Konbanoi (good evening - I know I'm not spelling it right but that's how it sounds)
- Hi (yes)
- Kudesai (please)
I really need to learn/remember: two, can I have, the check, pardon me/excuse me, vegetarian (I'm not one, but occasionally this feels like the safest option), bathroom/toilets, do you speak english, I don't speak Japanese. If I can get these down within the next week I'll be happy. Dan is much more advanced than I am - he can even read a number of the characters.
This sense of confusion and muteness really underlines how life-changing the ability to read and use language is and what a core right learning those basic skills of communication should be. Without being able to speak and read the local language, you're always a gypsy - someone merely passing across the periphery of a place, looking for ways in.