Hiking the Shikoku 88 Pilgrimage Trail in 2018 - A Round-Up

Hiking the Shikoku 88 Pilgrimage Trail in 2018 - A Round-Up

The week I spent last spring walking the first leg of the Shikoku 88 pilgrimage trail was peaceful, thought-provoking, and challenging - often all at once.

Here’s all my writing about that trip in one place.

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Walking the Shikoku 88 Pilgrimage (Part 7) - Five Types of Rest Stop You'll Find Hiking In Shikoku

"Kyūkei shimashou" (休憩しましょう) is one of the first phrases I teach all my students, and it means "let's take a break".

Rest is every bit as important as activity - perhaps more important. In class, it helps you digest and absorb ideas.

And on a long-distance walk, rest stops (called kyūkeijo 休憩所 in Japanese) can be a good place to strike up a conversation …

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Walking the Shikoku 88 Pilgrimage (Part 6) - Shouting at the French

"Sumimaseeeeeeeeeeeeeeen!"

I shouted.

("Excuse me!")

The couple turned round, but they didn't move. They were both dressed in full pilgrim garb: long white clothes, their heads protected by conical hats.

"Otoshimono desu!"

("You dropped this!")

They stared at me blankly …

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Walking the Shikoku 88 Pilgrimage (Part 5) - Signs of Shikoku

"Gambatte kudasai" is sort of untranslatable but also extremely translatable. (The best kind of Japanese phrase!)

Gambatte kudasai means "do your best!" or "go for it!"

When I started learning Japanese at university in 2008, my classmates and I thought the phrase gambatte kudasai was quite funny for some reason ...

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Walking the Shikoku 88 Pilgrimage (Part 4) - How to Talk to Strangers in Japanese


A stranger, they say, is just a friend you haven't met yet.

And talking to strangers is a great way to speak lots of Japanese. I did lots of this while walking the first section of the Shikoku pilgrimage this spring.

But how do you start a conversation with a stranger? Here are some ideas to get you going, even if you're a beginner at Japanese.


1) the weather


Brits love to talk about the weather. Luckily, so do people in Japan. It's almost like a greeting.

Chuck one of these out and start the conversation:

暑いですね atsui desu ne! "Hot, isn't it?"
寒いですね samui desu ne! "Cold, isn't it?"

Very possibly, you'll get a そうですね   sou desu ne; "Isn't it just", in response, and you can start the conversation from there.


2) things you can see


You reach the top of a hill and sit on a bench. The person on the adjacent seat turns to greet you.

You can start a conversation easily by simply pointing and commenting on what you can see:

すごいですね Sugoi desu ne. "Amazing, isn't it?"
綺麗ですね Kirei desu ne. "Isn't it lovely?"
美しいですね。Utsukushii desu ne. Beautiful, isn't it?


3) ask simple questions

What about if you don't know what you're looking at? Just ask.

すみませんが、それはなんですか。 Sumimasen ga, sore wa nan desu ka.
"Excuse me, but what's that?"
これは日本語でなんと言いますか。 Kore wa nihongo de nan to iimasu ka. "What do you call this in Japanese?"

4) start in Japanese

If your Japanese is limited, and you speak English, it might be tempting to walk into a hotel or restaurant and start the conversation in English - or to ask if the person speaks Japanese.

Even if you're a beginner, try and start the conversation in Japanese, with a greeting:

こんにちは! konnichiwa! "hello"

こんばんは! kombanwa! "good evening"

おはようございます! ohayou gozaimasu! "good morning"

Remember, if you start the conversation in English (or another language), the chances of getting some Japanese practice are virtually zero. Try and at least start in Japanese.


5) smile


You might be nervous about speaking Japanese. But the absolute best way to get someone to speak with you is to smile while talking with them!

Hopefully, you can put them at ease that you're a friendly, wonderful person. Someone worth talking to. Which, of course, you are.

After all, you're just a friend they haven't met yet too.


Related posts:

Walking the Shikoku 88 Pilgrimage (Part 1) - Plan, plan, plan!
Walking the Shikoku 88 Pilgrimage (Part 2) - The Best First Day in Japan
Walking the Shikoku 88 Pilgrimage (Part 3) - What To Wear


P.S.   If you liked this post on talking to strangers in simple Japanese, check out my new course Survival Japanese for Beginners - starts July 26th 2018, in central Brighton. It's ideal for anyone planning a trip to Japan soon!

Six Ways To Say "Happy Birthday" In Japanese


Whether you're sending a birthday card, or writing on a friend's Facebook wall, it's good to share.

And you'll want to wish your Japanese-speaking friends "happy birthday" in Japanese, right?

Here are six different ways to share the love.

First of all, let's say Happy Birthday:

1) お誕生日おめでとう! o-tanjoubi omedetou


Simple and classic, this one means "happy birthday", or literally "congratulations on your birthday".


2) お誕生日おめでとうございます。 o-tanjoubi omedetou gozaimasu


Stick a "gozaimasu" on the end to make it more polite.

Good for people older than you, people you know less well, and definitely good for your boss.


3) ハッピーバースデー!happii baasudee!


This one is actually one of my favourites - a Japan-ified version of the English phrase.


If you're writing a message, it's good to follow up after the birthday greeting by also wishing the person well:


1)  楽しんでください tanoshinde kudasai


"Have fun!"

e.g. お誕生日おめでとう!楽しんでください ^ ^
"Happy birthday! Have fun :)"


2) 素敵な一日を sutekina ichinichi o


"Have a great day."

e.g. お誕生日おめでとう!素敵な一日を〜
"Happy birthday! Have a great day."


3) 素晴らしい1年になりますように subarashii ichinen ni narimasu you ni


"I hope it's a wonderful year for you."

e.g. お誕生日おめでとうございます。素晴らしい1年になりますように。
"Happy birthday. I hope you have a wonderful year."


As you may have noticed, birthday messages wishing someone well for the year are kind of similar to a New Years' Greeting in Japanese.

それじゃ、ステキな一日を!And with that, I hope you have a wonderful day!