It's happened. After all the time of hearing about other people visiting Tokyo I finally got my ass over there. All it took was an Oculus-sponsored trip to Tokyo Game Show for me to finally make the time to do it. As anyone who's been to Tokyo knows, the city is amazing. I couldn't believe just how dense it is, like a sea of buildings. Naomi and I already want to go back again and venture a little bit outside of Tokyo to see some of the countryside and the other cities. This trip was also kind of a big deal for me though because I've been engaged with Japanese language studies for a long time - pretty much off and on since high school where me and Rob Patton took Japanese courses at Citrus and Mt. Sac. From that aspect the Japan trip was eye opening in a couple of ways.
It was my first time actually attempting to speak in Japanese with Japanese people. And of course, I wasn't very good at it. I've always wanted to think of myself as pretty good at Japanese because I've been studying off-and-on since my last two years of high school. I think I procrastinated on going to Japan for so long because I wanted to be perfect at it before going, and then just show up and be awesome. But of course that's not how things work. For all the time I've spent playing games in Japanese, learning kanji, and looking up complicated words, I was pretty bad at just performing basic functions like ordering curry. I'm glad I finally went over there and just sucked at it to clear my head of any pretense and help me actually focus on getting better in a practical way. I think this lesson will stay with me for a lot of other things as well.
In particular, my listening skills need a lot of work. I'm going to focus more of my studies from reading and into listening so that I don't have to return to Japan and still be the kind of person who can speak but not listen. If I had gone to Japan and had this realization sooner I'd probably be a lot better right now than I am. Alas it's not my livelihood so I won't be too hard on myself about it. Naomi and I are already ready to go back and next time we want to explore a wider area. Now that I know better what to focus on I intend to be reasonably functional so we can enjoy exploring where people might not be great at English.