Movies about self-discovery inevitably seem to include a trite allusion to “how did I end up in this situation?”. I never gave it much thought. It always seemed intentional — a device meant to manipulate the audience’s expectations.

And then it happened to me. And the feeling hasn’t dismissed yet.

At the tailend of my flight from San Francisco to Vancouver, where I’ll be connecting Osaka, I took out my Lonely Planet Japanese phrasebook. It’s an unassuming pocketbook as thick as American toast but roughly 1/3 the size. it’s divided into 5 sections, includes a primer on the language, and jumps into more detailed sections based on the context, ie restaurants & food.

I don’t speak Japanese but I’m also not unfamiliar with it, due to years of some anime + manga obsessions I’m almost too embarassed to admit. However, it wasn’t until eyeing these phonetics that I had my moment:


Phonetic Spelling:
mot-to-yuk-ku-ri-ha-na-shi-te-ku-re-ma-sen ka

English Translation: Could you please speak more slowly?


It became obvious I wouldn’t be able to use that in any setting. What’s really underlying the “oh shit” moment though is realizing that I’ll lack the control and the tools to respond competently in most upcoming situations. But it’s also why I’m doing this.

If you’re interested in following along, stay tuned. I’ll document my travels and I’ll also be experimenting with the journaling (read: please bear with me).

*P.S. If you speak Japanese, you’ll notice the inconsistency. Why? I snagged this from Google Translate.


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