Trip in Japan

It is better to speak to Japanese people in writing than to speak to them in English

woman covering her face
Kaoru Sugiura

When a foreigner travels in Japan, there will be times when he or she will have trouble.

In such cases, there will naturally be times when you need to ask a resident.

In this case, if you try to speak to them in English, you will often be bewildered or be told “I don’t speak English” and run away.

My opinion as a Japanese person is that it is better to hand them a piece of paper written in English than to speak to them in English.


English education in Japan is specialized in READING

books in black wooden book shelf
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Japan’s level of education is one of the highest in the world, but its English proficiency is not high.

For about 150 years since American Admiral Perry visited Japan, Japanese people have adopted foreign technology by reading books written in foreign languages.

Since this method has led to the current English education, Japanese people’s English ability is specialized in READING.

On the other hand, speaking has not been emphasized much, so Japanese people can read and understand English, but can hardly speak it.

English and Japanese have different vowels, making them difficult to understand.

two women holding pen
Photo by Tirachard Kumtanom on

It is well known that Japanese people pronounce English incorrectly, as in “Engrish”.

This is due to the difference between Japanese and English vowels.

Japanese has five vowels: a, I, u, e, and o.

This is the same as in Spanish.

In other words, it is difficult for the average Japanese person to understand the other vowels.

Therefore, it is difficult to understand English spoken by Americans and British.

On the other hand, English with a Spanish accent and Indian-English are very easy to understand.

For me, as a Japanese, the English spoken by WHO Director-General Tedros is also very easy to understand.

Japanese people run away when I speak to them, but read my paper when I give it to them

woman covering her face
Photo by Pragyan Bezbaruah on

When I speak to Japanese people in English, many of them run away.

This is not because they don’t like foreigners, but because they feel bad because they cannot communicate perfectly in English.

Japanese people are often said to be perfectionists.

Japanese people feel guilty about speaking in English which is less than perfect for the other person.

In particular, many people feel as if they have done something wrong to the other person by asking back or using “pardon”.

On the other hand, if you give them something written on a piece of paper, they will read it anyway.

By reading it, the Japanese have taken upon themselves the obligation to respond to the other party in good faith.

For this reason, Japanese people will answer your questions with the utmost sincerity and will do their best to resolve your doubts.

In some cases, they may even drive you to the location.

It is better to speak to Japanese people in writing than to speak to them in English

your doubts.

In some cases, they may even drive you to the location.

Kaoru Sugiura
A man who was president of a motorcycle circle when he was a student
・Motorcycle history 10 years
・Mileage over 100,000 km
・Achieved around Japan
Hobbies include long-distance camping touring and playing with motorcycles
Currently riding TRX850, W650, PCX, Mark X

I am creating articles with the aim of creating a blog that can be useful to those who read it.

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I'm still learning English, so please point out any mistakes