Or, I don't speak Japanese.
On Saturday night, my friends and I went to a bar, and I ended up sitting with a group of young Japanese people. It was a lot of fun, but they knew as much English as I know Japanese. All I could blurt out were the following:
-Ostukaresamadesu (Thanks for your hard work)
-Oazukarishimasu (I will take care of your child)
-Kono densha wa Nagoya eki ni tomarimasu ka? (Does this train stop at Nagoya station?)
-Oy shi (Tasty)
That's the extent of Japanese I know, mostly things I learned in training. The situation was comical, but at the same time kind of frustrating and sad. Not knowing Japanese creates a huge barrier- it makes it difficult to meet friends, makes it difficult to even order food.
I've been doing great at learning Katakana (some characters that spell out English words, like 'coffee' and 'latte'), so at least I can now read menus!