I’m writing this from Hanada airport in the departure lobby having just spent 8 days in Japan. This is the first time I can actually say that I understood more than a token word or phrase here or there.
This time, I could get the gist of menus, informational placards, and signs if I read them very slowly and carefully. Announcements are still mostly too fast, but roughly half the time I could get the gist of what they were trying to convey if I put a lot of effort decoding everything they were saying.
As last time, characters and words caught my eye everywhere and I would know them or at least know that they were familiar. I couldn’t even turn the recognition switch off and go back to the days when Japanese text was simply meaningless texture. Japanese text is looking more and more familiar to me now. I’d say it looks vaguely as familiar as looking at French where I may not understand but the characters don’t look foreign anymore. And as with French, I can look at Japanese text and decode much of it if I go slow and concentrate.
I feel like next time I come, I will be able to interact much more confidently and easily.