Nihongo Mata


It’s been a while, ten years or so, but there’s a honeymoon in Kyushu coming up so it’s back to the Japanese textbooks cos if I don’t know how to say, “which way to the island volcano?” then we’re fucked.

If we were heading to Tokyo or Osaka it wouldn’t be a problem, but we’re going to isolated places and I’ve been to Sado Island before so I know what’s coming. I know they only speak Japanese, formal Japanese too, the words with no end.

Last time on Sado, Aya was there so I didn’t have to say much. In fact, she specifically told me not to speak as my Japanese was bad.

It’s true, I had problems putting equal stress on the whole word.

E.g. I would say To-MO-mi, instead of To-mo-mi.

It’s quite hard to get the hang of cos English speakers are used to putting stress somewhere.

This time I will be better. I’m sure of it.

Oh Aya, whatever happened to her?

She was a bit pretentious, but so was I so we got on okay.

I remember we shared a futon in the Sado Island ryokan and I woke up in the night and she was staring at me.

‘Oli, what does Fibreglassy mean?’

Apparently, I’d been talking in my sleep and one of the things that kept coming out was, ‘it’s not fibreglassy, it’s not fibreglassy.’

I tried to explain a little but gave up when she asked how fibreglass could travel so far from my Dad’s hangar and why it managed to infect so many people who’d never even touched the stuff.

‘You can’t be fibreglassy if you’ve never touched it, that’s not logical.’


I always liked Aya, was even attracted to her a little, but I couldn’t ever imagine having sex with her. I think she felt the same way about me.

I wonder if she’s married now?

Tomomi probably is.

To-mo-mi…the girl who worked as an engineer in a male-dominated Kawasaki power plant…the girl who came to lessons and wouldn’t speak directly to other male students or sit in Voice if the pervy Australian teacher was there, even though she spent five days a week surrounded by men.

I was the only one she gave her phone number to, I don’t know why. She never seemed that impressed with me. I quite liked her though. She reminded me of the Jehovah’s witness girl I had a crush on when I was in high school, only not so insane.

Actually, she gave her number to a female teacher too, so part of me suspected she might be gay or at least bisexual.

Then one day she became her boss’s mistress.

Which just shows that a] my reading of people’s characters is pretty weak, b] Japanese men can be adulterers too, and c] 99% of Japanese women don’t want to fuck western guys who come up to them drunk in train stations and HMV and tell them their English is good before saying the only three words they know in Japanese.

That’s probably too harsh.

I know at least 4 western people who started families in Japan, and I know for sure that 2 of them are now fluent in Japanese, so…

Back to the textbook…

I recognise a lot of these words, but I can’t remember how to say ‘how old are you?’

This is my method for all language learning. Fuck the basics, how do you say, “I believe that aliens are telepathic saints.”

Joanna is more systematic.

She wants to know how to pronounce the sounds first. This is probably why she can speak three languages and I can only speak 1 and a half.

Maybe if I watch Naruto, things will improve.

Or Takeshi’s Castle…

Naruto wo mitai.

Omoshiroii mitai desu.

Double mitai?

I think that’s right.

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