While the Japan Language Proficiency Test is the most recognized test of Japanese, and likely the best for anyone studying the language to focus on, there are other, more abstract tests of one’s Japanese ability. Like ordering a pizza, and explaining to the person on the other end of the phone how to get to your house. Or ordering fast food at a drive-thru and trying to get one’s Japanese accent so good that the person on the other end doesn’t know you’re a foreigner. Another test that “lifer” gaijin like me will eventually need to pass is giving a speech in Japanese, which I’ve done many times. In fact, because I run a company, whenever one of my Japanese employees get married I’m often the guest of honor, expected to give the longest speech. The other day the J-List crowd got together to say thanks and sayonara to Asami, the J-List employee who keeps us well stocked with bento, traditional and fashion products. I’m in San Diego with family now, but I wanted to write a little speech to let Asami know how much we’d appreciated her hard work over the last three years, which I had my wife read in my place. Thanks, Asami, and welcome to Ai-chan, her capable replacement.
Live in Japan long enough, and you’ll have to give a speech in Japanese.