In Osaka, Japan, I had recently taken the opportunity to sign up for a recording device “experiment” through a company that needed native English speakers to test out their translating device on Japanese people in some sort of field experiment. All I knew was this, and that I would get paid 100 dollars for about three hours of “work”. Most often, I signed up for things like this because for one, the extra money never hurts and two, it always turned out to be an interesting experience. I have found that if I walk into things blindly and with no expectations, I always have a new and interesting experience to talk about later. 

This recording was taking place in Kyoto, which was only a stone’s throw away from Osaka, about 45 minutes by train. On this particular day, the heat was soaring and I was suddenly very sorry that I had signed up. If anyone has survived a Japanese summer, you know what I'm talking about. Muggy, hot, humid...no wonder the Japanese carry umbrellas everywhere in the summer to shield themselves from the intense sun.

The experiment, I discovered, involved completing three tasks in which you had to use a translating device in various situations, and get Japanese people to speak into the device. The experiment was to test out the device to discover if improvements could be made on it and how convenient it would be to use them. The translating device, I was told, was worth about $4,000. I just hoped that I wouldn’t drop it. 

My first task to complete was to buy pickles, using the device to translate my English into Japanese, after which we had to try to get the Japanese speaker to speak into the device, translating their Japanese back into English so that we could communicate. 

This was not as easy as it sounded. 

Approaching the pickle stand, I chose the my first victim, a rather young and nervous looking guy. 

“Excuse me, I’m looking to buy some pickles. Do you have any recommendations?” I asked loudly into the device in English. 

The young man looked at me in alarm. 

Pressing on the button to translate my sentence to Japanese, I held the recorder up to his ear. He jumped back and shook his head. 

“It’s okay, it’s okay," I soothed him in Japanese. “I am testing this equipment. Please speak into this device.”

“I can speak English,” he stuttered, still looking at me with wild eyes, clearly terrified of me and my strange device. 

“No, no, please just speak in Japanese,” I replied back.

He looked at me in confusion and then looked at the recording device like it was a ticking bomb. I noticed his hands were shaking. Again, I pressed the button so that the device would translate my previous sentence into Japanese. Since he seemed reluctant to get anywhere near the recording device, I showed him the character translation that appeared on the small screen. 

“Aaaah…so ka,” he said, indicating he understood. 

Pointing out some fluorescent yellow pickles, he nodded. 

I pointed to the device again, indicating for him to speak in Japanese into the device. 

“You should try these pickles,” he said in English.

I sighed softly to myself. This was not working. 

“Dake Nihon-go,” I said, instructing him to speak only in Japanese. 

He nodded. 

I tried again.

This time, he replied in Japanese, which I showed him, was then translated into English. However, he still looked absolutely terrified of the handheld device. I was sure he thought I was just another crazy foreigner. I had to get this done quickly or else he was going to run away and I would have to start all over again with someone new. 

After asking a few more questions such as “how much are they?”, “do you have any other recommendations?” and “do you have any for under 500 yen?” and nearly pulling teeth to get him to answer me, I was finished with my first task. And I had a bag of delicious pickles to show for it. 

My next task was to ask for directions in the train station. 

This time, I was looking for someone who wouldn’t want to run off screaming into the night after talking to me. Approaching a young and hip-looking guy leaning against a wall and smoking a cigarette (surprising fact of the day: 70% of Japanese men smoke), I confidently walked up to him, large handheld device in hand. 

“Hello! What bus can I take to get to Kiyomizudera temple?” I asked (into the device).

Looking at me like I was the biggest nerd on the planet, he shrugged. 

“Basu….ni-ju go…tabun,” he replied, taking a drag of his cigarette. 

I pressed on.

Indicating to him to speak into the device, I felt extremely embarrassed. Why had I signed up for this? Fortunately, he obliged and spoke into the recorder. Pressing the button to translate it back into English, I showed him how it worked. He nodded, uninterested. Unfortunately for him, I had been instructed to ask at least four questions. 

Four questions later, he was clearly annoyed. I apologized.

Finding the facilitator, I let her know which sentences I had asked him and what responses I had gotten for her notes. 

“I’m sorry, can you ask him one more question? Can you ask him if he knows how much a bus ticket is?” she asked.

It is really hard to say no to the Japanese when they ask you to do something. When you are asked to do something for your job, you do it, no questions asked. 

I nodded but inside I was groaning. That guy was going to kill me. 

Setting off to find him, I was happy to discover that he was still in the same place, smoking another cigarette. 

“I’m very sorry but I have to ask you one more question”, I said, approaching him timidly. 

He did not look happy. 

“How much is a bus ticket?” I asked, then showing him the translation.

“Wakaranai,” he replied. I don't know. He didn’t know and I wasn't going to press the issue with him any longer. I mean, if he didn’t know, he didn’t know right?

Finding the facilitator, I let her know this and also that I was unable to ask any more questions of this particular individual for fear of him taking the $4,000 dollar device and smashing it to bits on the ground (leaving out the last part of course). She nodded.
My last task of the day was to buy a souvenir at a traditional shop in Kyoto.  Entering the shop, I groaned. All the shop staff were elderly ladies. There was no way they were going to want to talk into a $4,000 dollar piece of equipment and to a foreigner at that. 

Approaching my first elderly victim timidly, I admired a stand of delicious looking Japanese sweets to give her a chance to approach me. I spoke into the recorder.

“I’m looking for some sweets for a souvenir for my family. Do you have any recommendations?”

She looked at me strangely and backed away a couple of steps. Pressing the button to translate my English into Japanese, I held it out to her so she could read the kanji. She looked at me as though I was carrying a live bomb and backed away further.

“It’s okay, it’s okay,” I soothed in Japanese, as though speaking to a small child. 

From the look on her face, it clearly wasn't.

She came closer, squinting at the letters on the small monitor of the device. 

Nodding, she pointed to a box of strawberry-flavored daifuku, a Japanese dessert. 

As I motioned for her to speak into the device, she backed away again. I was clearly getting nowhere. Thanking her for her time, I shuffled back to the facilitator, my tail between my legs. I had failed the task.

Explaining to her that none of the older ladies in the shop seemed receptive, I threw up my arms to indicate that I wasn’t sure what to do. She nodded. 

“I would like for you to ask that woman at that snack stand over there where the bathroom is,” she replied. 

This woman was a slave driver! This seemed to be the final task however. I could do it! 

With confidence, I walked to the lady at the snack stand, asking the question into the recording device. Laughing heartily in response, she pointed to the left and began rambling away in Japanese. Pressing the record button on the device, I tried to record everything she said. Giving a small bow to show my appreciation, I finished the recording and walked back to the facilitator.

“And what does this mean?” she asked, listening to the translation. 

I had no idea. 
 


Comments

08/06/2014 7:50pm

It was a great deal of work opportunity you have taken. A man should never keep himself to one job if he can work too in some extra shifts easily because extra money never hurts and also the work add more experience in your work life. Your work was not that easy but seems interesting.

Reply
06/04/2015 1:02am

I just wanna thank you for sharing your information and your site or blog this is simple but nice article I’ve ever seen i like it i learn something today.

Reply
05/23/2017 11:55pm

Bothering people for money is not a bad thing to do, especially when you have good intentions. Borrowing money from your friends is a hard thing to do because it takes courage and guts to do it. I experienced borrowing money from my friends and it was not as easy as it looks. I persuaded them and convinced them that I will return their money immediately as soon as I have the right amount of money. A piece of advice, if you are planning to borrow some money from your friends, make sure that you have the right intention.

Reply


This is good site to spent time on .I just stumbled upon your informative blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your very well written blog posts. I will be your frequent visitor, that’s for sure


Reply
06/15/2015 2:17am

Thanks for this great share. This site is a fantastic resource. Keep up the great work here at Sprint Connection!

Reply
08/17/2015 7:49am

Such an advantages ;) hahahha I would run from such stranger for 100% hahahahah

Reply

A man should never keep himself to one job if he can work too in some extra shifts easily because extra money never hurts and also the work add more experience in your work life. Your work was not that easy but seems interesting.

Reply
03/01/2016 5:04am

Interesting information and cute writing style

Reply
05/25/2016 12:11am

I really had no idea as you too...

Reply
07/09/2016 12:47am

gmail download here.

Reply
07/13/2016 6:31am

I personally use them exclusively high-quality elements : you will notice these folks during:

Reply
07/18/2016 11:46am

Prisma Apk

Reply
07/18/2016 11:46am

Prisma For PC

Reply
07/18/2016 11:46am

Prisma Apk Download
ss

Reply

Know the Samsung Galaxy S8 Edge Features here

Reply
08/24/2016 12:11am

Wow, marvelous weblog format! How long have you ever been running a blog for? The entire glance of your web site is magnificent, let alone the content!

Reply
03/12/2017 11:22pm

This post makes a lot of sense indeed and I appreciate the work

Reply
04/09/2017 7:24am

This is really an informative and awesome blog to see, thanks for sharing such a terrific blog..

Reply
04/12/2017 10:42pm

Some people just do it for no reason.

Reply
04/13/2017 12:43am

Sad but true fact it is.

Reply

That is 100% true.

Reply

How long have you ever been running a blog?

Reply
04/21/2017 12:10am

Nice post.

Reply
04/21/2017 12:12am

Nice sharing.

Reply
04/25/2017 11:32am

I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your blog posts.

Reply
06/10/2017 3:19am

New Year is the perfect time for everyone to make a good New Year resolution and stand on that throughout the year

Reply
07/11/2017 10:09pm

Get writer help UK aims to offer the flawless assignment writing services to all the students around the world, who are hunting help for assignment writing.

Reply
07/11/2017 11:05pm

IBPS RRB Result 2017 CWE VI Officer Scale Office Assistants: This link for the www.ibps.in RRB Result 2017 is now available in this month of Dec. IBPS RRB Office Assistant Result 2017 CWE VI available shortly

Reply
07/23/2017 3:02am

Great post!.Keep up the good work I'm very glad to find this site.

Reply

it's a very wonderful blog with many ideas. very useful content. great work

Reply



Leave a Reply