FAQ by the Japanese

If you’re a foreigner in Japan like me, every time you meet a Japanese who can speak some English, you likely went through something like the following:

Hi! My name is Toshi. Nice to meet you.
Hi. I’m Rémi.
David?
No, Rémi.
Henry?
Ré-mi.
Lemmy?
R-E-M-I. Rémi.
Remi? But that’s a girl’s name.
Yes, in Japanese, it is. But not in my language.
Where are you from?
Canada.
Oh! Really? I love maple syrup.
Uh, yeah… Me too.
I went to Vancouver before. For two days.
Okay… Uh… So, did you like it?
Yes! I loved it very much.
Good.
Your Japanese is very good.
How much of my Japanese have you heard so far?
Did you learn Japanese for long time?
Well, as a hobby, here and there, around 10 years, but it wasn’t anything solid.
Oh wow! 10 years?! That’s why it’s so good.
For how long have you studied English?
Three years.
Oh wow! That’s why you speak English like a Canadian.
Can you speak French too?
Yes.
Oh! So you are from Quebec?
No.
Where in Canada are you from?
You don’t know the place.
East or west?
East.
But not Quebec?
No.
Where?
New Brunswick.
I don’t know it.
I know you don’t. You know Prince Edward Island?
No.
How about “Anne of Green Gables?”
Oh, yes, I know!
Well, she’s my neighbour.
Really? Wow! That’s interesting! By the way, I can speak some French too.
Oh, really…
Uh… Bonjour !
Ça va ?
Saba?
I’m asking “How are you?”
Oh. My friend went to Toronto last year!
Great. Never heard of any Japanese going there before.
Are you a student?
No.
Are you an English teacher?
No. I’m a Web developer.
Oh! Web designer? That’s very cool.
Yeah, sure… designer… (Grabs some edamame.)
You like edamame?
Yes, very much.
Do you like natto?
No, I don’t like the smell.
Many foreigners do not like natto.
I know some who do, you know.
Can you use chopsticks?
No, after years of eating Japanese food, in Canada and in Japan, I have absolutely no fucking clue how to hold two stupid wooden sticks in my hands and use them as utensils. Can you use forks?
Oh, yes, it’s really easy!

Today, after being in Japan for two years, I sometimes avoid meeting people. I used to do that because I didn’t know how to introduce myself to strangers, but now, it’s because I wish I didn’t learn. I even lie sometimes when someone I know I won’t meet again strikes up a typical small talk introduction with me. That’s when I’m from Zimbabwe or I’m half Japanese.

Now, I can’t wait to be asked dozens of times about my experience in the earthquake of March 2011 when I go visit Canada someday.

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