Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Do they speak English?

Certain areas in Tokyo are known to have higher number of English speakers from North America, Europe and Australia, while other areas are known to have large numbers of residents from mainland China and South Korea who speak both Japanese and their native languages.
Tokyo Consult, TokyoConsult. English. Shinjuku. Kabukicho
Shinjuku, Tokyo. English

-To read about how much to budget for your trip to Tokyo, visit Budget: How much does it cost to go to Tokyo?
-To read about how to plan your trip to Tokyo, visit Planning for your trip to Tokyo
-To read about where you can find the best Ramen in Tokyo, visit Best Ramen in Tokyo.

One of the most puzzling questions I have encountered when talking about traveling in Japan is "Do they speak English in Tokyo, Japan?"

The same question comes up when talking about international traveling in general.

My take on that is that there are hundreds of languages spoken in the world, Japanese language fluency is certainly not needed for Japan travel.

If you are reading this blog, I assume that you have decent level of command of the English language. With an open mind, and the right attitude about world travel, knowing some simple English is perhaps all you need for your vacation in Tokyo, Japan.

The only Japanese phrases I knew back in 2001 were "Where is the bathroom?" "Where is the train station?" and "Check please!"

and those phrases were all I needed for exploring the metropolis Tokyo city in 2001.

For non-English speaking countries, Tokyo train/subway system is perhaps the most well-labeled in English or romanized letters in the world. With common sense, it is the easiest train/subway network system to navigate through.

Most of the major train stations in Tokyo are staffed with English speaking staff at the information desk. If there is any question on train routes or schedule, answers could be easily obtained from the helpful staff.

Fluent English speakers are difficult to come by on a daily basis. Most of the staff at touristy/shopping areas have basic English skills to serve the customers. Roppongi, being the most popular areas for non-Japanese for night life, the pubs/bars and disco clubs are well staffed with English speaking employee in order to serve their clientele. Akasaka is an area with many international embassies, which also consists of high percentage of English speaking residents. Shinjuku and Ikebukuro are the two of the most bustling areas of Tokyo that are known to have high number of mainland Chinese residents. Shin-Okubo area is known to be the biggest Korean town of Japan. In my opinion, in order to have an authentic travel experience, try to venture out and visit places where only locals hang out. With a little bit of common sense, a little bit of charades, and with the help of smart phone translator application, there would be no problem navigating through this city.

What is the fun of traveling when everyone is from your own culture or speaks your native language ???
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