I know you’ve never heard of this before, but apparently Japanese people, on the rarest of rare occasions, may utter the following words to you: 日本語は上手ですね (your Japanese is good). If you’ve been blessed with such a blue moon occasion, you want to react in a way that is worthy of the beautiful language you have been bestowed with.
I once provided a list of stand out responses that’ll get you laughs, surprise, or awe. I also made an official video to further and scientifically explain the phenomenon. But these were just clever ways to handle the situation. My goal has always been to find the perfect answer. And clever isn’t perfect. I wanted something that would stir up the hearts of all whose ears happen to be present.
I’ve found my new go-to phrase. It’s simple, easy to say and understand, speaks from the heart, and is powerful beyond imagination.
Japanese person: 日本語は上手ですね (your Japanese is good)
Me: 日本が好きですから (It’s because I like Japan)
Japanese person: オーーマイゴーード！！
Here’s why it works
When you say this, you are genuinely complimenting them and their country in a way that makes sense. After all, if you didn’t like Japan, your Japanese wouldn’t be good. The better your Japanese is, the more convincing this phrase is. So you’ve instantly turned a compliment on you back on to them.
It makes them feel good, and at the same time it makes them want to know more. What do you like about Japan that caused you to get so good? Your response is an instant conversation expander that will go in a positive direction. You may make a new friend out of this.
The older the person you say this to, the bigger the smile that it’ll put on their face. And isn’t that the ultimate sign that you are doing something right?
The only lukewarm response I got once was
俺はアメリカが好きだけど英語ができない (I like America but can’t speak English…)
If you get such a sly response, you can reply with something like…
あなたの「好き」は足りないんじゃないの？(Your like for it isn’t enough maybe?)
No okay, maybe that’s back to that whole joking that can cause troubles. But that’s just one counter example I got among a sea of positive replies. This will work and I plan on using it until… I find my next go-to phrase.
Yes, try it. Unless you want to blow away my phrase with something even better?
Founder of Jalup. iOS Software Engineer. Former attorney, translator, and interpreter. Still watching 月曜から夜ふかし weekly since 2013.