Today I met up with a friend I first met at Sakura House two years ago, when she was working there and often visited my building.
She then moved to London, where I met up with her several times whenever I was there. And she's here in Tokyo for a month before going back to London for another year where she's working.
We met in Kichijoji this afternoon, and we greeted each other in Japanese. I didn't think anything of it, because I usually greet Japanese friends in Japanese, and then have to switch to English when I don't understand, but that didn't happen!
I understood virtually everything she said, and anything I didn't understand, she explained in Japanese instead of switching to English. She has really clear Japanese, and spoke slowly so I could catch everything. She's definitely the easiest to understand Japanese friend I have.
And to my surprise, I ended up only speaking a couple of sentences of English the whole afternoon! The first time was by accident, when we were paying the bill for lunch. But all the other times she asked me what the English equivalent was for Japanese sentences she wasn't sure how to translate.
I was so happy! It was the most Japanese I've ever spoken! And it was a great confidence boost, as I am in dire need of speaking practice.
There were times when I wanted to say something, but wasn't quite sure how I'd say it in Japanese, and I usually give up and either just say it in English, or just not say anything at all. But today I forced myself to say more complicated sentences and it turned out that the sentence unfolded as I was saying it! I need to be braver in future!
I did notice that I started a lot of my sentences with the English word "like", and then the rest was in Japanese. So I'll have to try to knock that on the head before it becomes too engrained a habit!
We wandered around Kichijoji, and I tried a Sakura frappuccino in Starbucks, which was very nice, but would be better when the weather's nicer. (Speaking of weather, it's meant to be 21C and sunny tomorrow afternoon, so I'm really looking forward to that! It might call for the first shorts weather of the year, in early March!)
Then we went to Inokashira Park (井の頭公園, Inokashira Kouen) and wandered around for a bit, but then it started to rain, so we headed back to the station.
Hopefully we'll be able to meet up and go to karaoke with some of the other Sakura House people before she goes back to London.
So it was a greatly needed confidence boost this afternoon, I was extremely pleased. And Rob, Matt and I are meeting a Japanese friend who doesn't speak much English for dinner tonight, so I'll try my best to practice more then.