INTERVIEWS

Kanako’s English Journey

My name is Kanako, founder of the Omusubi Japanese.

I usually help people who want to improve their Japanese. So I don’t talk much about my English journey. But I had a ton of English learning histories that I’d like to share with you.

I thought I’d use this opportunity to tell you about my journey.

[ Who am I ? ]

I am Japanese, was born and grew up in Japan. I’m 29 now, but until my age 26, I would say my English was lower intermediate. I’m still learning English daily basis. ( I should say I enjoy watching English native speaker’s Youtube contents every day, not learning on the desk.)

[ Beginning ]

Let’s start from the beginning. When I was in elementary school, a toy called たまごっち(Tamagotchi) got super popular in Japan. It was so hard to get it here, so my father bought it in US when he went for business trip. The first Tamagotchi I got was English version. That was the first moment I actually met the language “English”. Sooner I lost the tamagotchi though.

[ Interest to the world ]

I remember in my age 13, my teacher made us research another country and give a presentation. Strange Kanako appeared. I chose “Republic of Sierra Leone” that I even didn’t know where it is at that time. I read books and gave a presentation about what is happening at the country, one of the most shortest life span country in the world. My teacher praised me about the presentation and put the report on the school newspaper. This was my first small success and expand my interests to the world.

[ Age 19 ]

​My father’s friend who was a professor in US brought 20 of American students to Tokyo for a uni program. At that time my English was so poor. But my father made me to show them around and we had a great time.

[ Age 20 ]

I went to Indiana, US to visit them. That was my first solo travel. I got lost at the Minneapolis airport when transit. It was pretty scary. 20 yo, poor English skill, first solo travel…Cry! I stayed at the student house and had an American Bacon very first time. The taste changed my concept of bacon. They also told me about their favorite artist ,Tupac. That’s why I sometimes listen to Tupac songs still now.

In my uni, they had study abroad programs, so I wanted to try. But they told us it will cost $30,000 per year to join. Holy cow! I could have asked my parents for help, but I couldn’t even tell them after hearing the price. So I gave up studying abroad.

[ Age 21 – 25 ]

I traveled a lot while I was in uni and worked for a company. I went to US, Korea, Thailand, France, Italy, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan with crazy cheap tickets.

Oh, in New York I saw Mamma Mia alone. There were no one watching it alone with crying except me. After the show, I walked back to the hotel late at night as I could not find any taxi and didn’t know how to buy Metro pass. I didn’t have a courage to buy metro pass, but I had a courage to walk at night by myself.

Another story. In Thailand I lost my passport and iPhone and money. But luckily in that bag it had my Thai friend’s business card written in Thai. A Thai taxi driver picked it up and kindly called to him. If I didn’t have the friend, if he didn’t speak English and Thai, my stuff would be in somewhere in Thailand still now and I would had been in big trouble in Thailand as I was visiting there for the business trip.

[ Age 26 – 29 ]

I couldn’t give up my dream living overseas, so I decided to quit my job and moved to Australia. A year in Australia was amazing for me.  I worked as a cleaner at the restaurant and worked from 6:30am. The cleaning job was like morning exercise for me and I could make quite good habit waking up early and exercise. Also sometime I found coins someone dropped while they were drinking lol Sometimes it was like $20 ish lol

But there was one things I didn’t like. Cleaning up someone’s vomit was super disgusting! From this experience, I sworn myself that I will never vomit in public because of over drinking.

….Oh I totally forgot to tell another story. At the job, I came across a thief. There were only me and the guy in the room and he was holding my wallet on his hand. I couldn’t understand the situation, then I just said “That’s my wallet. Give it back, please. ” in English. Then he gave it back and left!!! After he left, I understood the situation and super scared. Living overseas, many unexpected things happen. But you know, now I am here!

By the way, about my English?

Even though I was in Australia for a year,  I didn’t have enough chance to talk to native English speakers , which means my English didn’t improve like I expected. This is embarrassing to tell, but I only had 2 Australian friends. So I understand making foreign friends is not easy even you speak that foreign language.

After that I move to New Zealand. There I worked at very small Japanese language school. I taught Japanese to kiwi kids. We cooked Sushi together. They are super lovely and I was so happy that they seemed to enjoy speaking Japanese.

As you can see, my English is not perfect yet. But I came to the level that I can have little bit of confidence speaking in English.  

Until I get here, I failed a loooot.

– It took 10 years 

* I put my English exam score progress below

– I guess I spent more than $10,000 for learning English.

– I gave up learning so many times 

* Every year I set my English goals, but never achieved. It’s kind of funny to look back my old journals. 

But thank to those experiences and a lot of fails, I found my passion to share my experiences and my mission that connecting my country Japan and world.