Choose My Best Instagram Photos – Round 1, Group 1

I have an Instagram account, and have amassed 616 photos on it, though I haven’t done any recently. Surprisingly, I still get people liking my photos. I’ve decided to see what you, my readers, think are my best photos.

Two or three times a week, I’ll post ten of my Instagram photos and ask you to vote in a poll for your favourites. I’ll have the poll set to multiple choice, so you can choose as many as you like. But I would like to ask you to choose at least 2, but no more than 4. 3 is ideal. I will take the top photos (around the top three) and advance them to the second round.  There are 616 photos, so this may take some time.

Here are the first ten photos. The poll follows at the end, so please look at the entire post. I would like you to also leave a comment explaining your choices. I’m very interested in knowing.

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Izumino station from the train

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Finally sunny again in Yokohama

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You must run through the exit!

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Blurry train arrives at the station

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Odakyu Shonandai station

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Food's all gone!

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Ecoる Coca-Cola

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Going up to the train.

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Lots of lines in Machida

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Nakamise

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Thanks for voting! Please explain your choices in the comments below.

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A Japanese Language Barrier Just Shattered

Something just happened a few minutes ago that has me quite surprised. But I’ll get to that in a moment.  First, a little background.

I started studying Japanese when I was in university in Victoria way back in 1997. I took just one class, and I thrived. I learned hiragana and katakana in just two weeks and could read and write fairly well within a month. I seemed to have a knack for it. I also had a very good teacher who supported us extremely well. By the end of the term, I could give someone a tour of a house. I was tremendously pleased with how quickly I learned. Unfortunately, I couldn’t take the second class because of schedule conflicts.

Fast forward to 2005. I arrived in Japan and was like anyone who’s traveled to a foreign country for the first time, completely enamoured by the sights and sounds of Japan. I was happy to notice that I could still read hiragana and katakana and recognised some of the kanji, too.  I bought textbooks, and I intended to study and start speaking with people.  What happened was different. I spoke English all day at work. I spoke English with my friends. It seemed I only spoke Japanese with shop staff when I was shopping, and that was very limited.

In 2007, I challenged the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) level 3, which is survival Japanese.  I studied hard for 3 months before the test, but it wasn’t enough.  I failed, but just barely.  A year later, I studied furiously for 3 months and passed the test with a huge improvement in listening.  Why exactly was my listening so good while everything else was just mediocre? TV. I watched a lot of TV, and that helped my Japanese comprehension a lot.  At that point, I could understand the topics people were talking about, but not the details.

After that, my Japanese studying stagnated.  I still used English all the time at work. There weren’t many opportunities for me to really use Japanese.  When I met my wife in 2010, I still spoke English. When I met her family in 2011, I tried my best to speak with them in Japanese, and still do to this day. However, I felt like my Japanese never improved, and that was because I just wasn’t trying to use it as much as I should have. I couldn’t really at work, because it’s an English language environment.  And with my daughter around at home, I only use English because I’m the only source of fluent English for her to hear.

Everywhere I go, I still hear Japanese. My wife speaks Japanese with my daughter and quite often with me. And I’m always telling myself that I need to study. I need to try.

But something happened tonight that amazed me. I was watching a video where someone was interviewing people on the street about what is great and not so great about Japan, and I suddenly found myself understanding. Not just the 10 or 20% that I’d been understanding of people around me.  But it was more like 75% understanding! I was listening to them speaking and I knew what they were saying! It just suddenly came naturally. Such a strange, yet wonderful feeling.

I’m hoping this feeling happens more often. It’s given me a bigger push to work on my Japanese. I hope by the end of this year, I can have decent conversations with people, especially my wife’s family.

今から一生懸命勉強しますよ!