Interesting Things in Japan

Matt McCormick


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Thank you Mr. Toastmaster. Good evening everyone.

It’s been three months since I came to Japan now and I was thinking this week about my time here so far. Before I came to Japan in my city in Victoria there are many Japanese students that go to Victoria to study English or to study at university so I had known some Japanese people before I came here and they seemed like interesting people. So I thought “Oh, Japan must be an interesting country.” And it is so far. There’s been many interesting things that I’ve seen so far, that are maybe different from in Canada or that I’ve noticed.

For example, I live in Gifu right next to a Konbini - convenience store - and I love Japanese Konbinis. They are convenient not like in Canada. In Canada our convenient stores are not convenient. Here in Japan, there’s konbini’s everywhere. You walk for a few minutes, there’s a konbini. Walk for a few more minutes, another konbini. It’s great. I love it. And I have one right next to my apartment. My apartment is here and next door is a Mini Stop. It’s great because I don’t like to cook so when I’m hungry I can just go to the konbini and for just a few hundred yen I get a meal. They put it in the microwave and they heat it up - they cook it - for me. So it’s great. That’s one thing that’s interesting for me - the konbinis in Japan.

Another thing I’ve noticed is that in Japan there are lots of signs everywhere. So my apartment is right on an intersection near the traffic lights where the cars go and one day I was walking home down the road to my apartment and I see a sign on the side of the road. It has an arrow pointing straight and it says “kono kosaten” which means “the intersection is coming up.” So I think that’s interesting because if I’m driving I’m probably not going to look over there to see that there’s an intersection coming up. I see ithe intersection. Why do I need a sign to tell me that an intersection is coming? But that was only one sign. I walked for maybe 10 more meters and there’s another sign “kono kosaten.” And I walk a little more and there’s another sign “kono kosaten.” In maybe 100 or 200 meters there’s 5 signs “kono kosaten” warning the drivers there’s an intersection coming up. I just thought that was pretty funny that you’re driving “Oh here’s an intersection, I better prepare for it.”

One of the other interesting things I’ve noticed is Japanese people’s favourite word - “arigatou gozaimasu”. I hear this all the time. I thought Canadians were polite but Japanese say “thank you”, I think, more than Canadians. And at first I would try to say it properly “arigatou gozaimasu.” But it’s such a long word. In English we can say “thank you” or “thanks.” It’s very short. But “arigatou gozaimasu” is so long to say and I’ve noticed since I’ve been here that I’ve become lazy when I say it. When I came here I would say “arigatou gozaimasu” but now it’s more like “ari…” because I don’t want to say it all the way and one time in a restaurant I heard someone say it as “agemasu” and another person told me I can say “asas.” So that’s good to know. At least I can make it shorter.

And “arigatou gozaimasu” is said so many times. Always when I’m at a restaurant and I’m going to pay they say “arigatou gozaimasu” because I give them the money. Then they give me the money back and I say “arigatou gozaimasu” and then they say “arigatou gozaimasu” again. So I asked my girlfriend about it and she said “Oh maybe they’re just saying ‘thank you’ for your ‘thank you’.” So last time at the restaurant I paid the money and they said “arigatou gozaimashita”. I got the change and said “arigatou gozaimasu” and they said “arigatou gozaimasu” and then I tried again saying “arigatou gozaimasu” but then that was it. They didn’t say it again so I thought maybe it would keep going for hours and keep continuing.

So those are some interesting things I’ve noticed in Japan so far. I hope there’ll be many more interesting things to come. And I’m looking forward to it.

In Canada we were always taught not to end your speeches by saying “thank you” but here I need to say “arigatou gozaimasu.”