I’ve spoken with a handful of people online but last week I actually spoke with my first ever real life Japanese person!!
I was on holiday in Barcelona with my family, on the rooftop terrace when I caught sight of a grandfather and daughter minding their own business trying to enjoy their holiday. Well never mind what they want! I’m a Japanese learner, I’m sure they’ll really appreciate my broken incorrect Japanese!
I siddled up next to the gentleman. I needed to confirm his status as bonefide 日本人 as I wasn’t sure. Sure enough I caught a 大丈夫 emanating from his lips.
By the way, my family were on the other side of the rooftop, wetting themselves with laughter all thoughout this. My family were really supportive during this time my wife corrected told me
I had no idea how to start. Before I’d realised it, I’d blurted out a すみません、日本人ですかぁ. The おじいさん turned and looked at me with surprise. My bum felt very squeaky in this moment. Then he beamed a brilliant smile at me and replied, はい、日本人です。日本語を勉強しますか (I think!).
We then had a little chat for what felt like a long time but was actually maybe 5 minutes. Broken Japanese, broken English, a lot of えぇぇぇぇとぉぉぉ from me but we managed to understand each other. I chucked in a cheeky little bunpro move ~ことがありますか question.
It honestly felt like juggling with chainsaws but it was really exhilarating and a lot of fun. I made tons of mistakes, I most likely insulted him inadvertently (I’d not spoken to someone older than myself and couldn’t remember what honorific to use) but I hope he didn’t mind.
I walked back to my family. They were impressed. My Japanese was terrible but never forget how low the bar is for people who know zero Japanese!
Apparently whilst we were chatting (almost embarrassed to call it that mind!), another European guy walked around the corner, saw/heard me talking and his jaw almost hit the floor with surprise. Yeah kids! Who’s cool now
No doubt the next opportunity I get, it will still be hard to cross that chasm of nerves to start a conversation but it will be a tiny bit easier!
Nameless おじいさん of the rooftop, I salute you!
And I’m sorry I didn’t introduce myself, or ask your name or any other many of polite things I should have done.