Tackling your Communication Challenges

Have you ever come to a country without its language skill? What will you do to “survive”? How do you communicate with others? Language is undeniably important tool when you are living in a place where the culture and language are dissimilar to your homeland. For “outlanders”, like me, Japanese language skill is totally necessary.  
It happened to me when arriving in Hokkaido, Japan, in the end of March 2015. Without Japanese language skill, living in Hokkaido for around six months offers me a significant challenge. Mostly information in public facilities is written in Japanese language using Katakana, Hiragana, and Kanji characters. Only few things are informed in Romaji characters (alphabet). For instance, when you come to a minimarket, most products are described in Japanese characters (Figure 1). Additionally, it is not easy to practice English, because almost people or workers who work in public facilities (e.g. city office, bank and minimarket) did not speak English. Even though you are excellent in English, sometimes it is unhelpful. Japan is not English-speaking country. Briefly, communication is upmost problem.