As a hobby, I continue to study Japanese. While I am comfortable speaking Japanese on topics a tourist needs to cover, I cannot read a Japanese newspaper or a magazine. I am therefore on an endless quest to memorize the kanji, and slowly, slowly, slowly build my vocabulary. (The main character in my novel Getting Oriented is much more fluent than I am.) Because reading is such a struggle, I was delighted when I discovered that I could read without help the following in a letter I received from a Japanese friend a few days ago:
I believe it's the longest string of characters I've ever been able to read by myself. (Japanese conversation partners have always had to help me in the past.) It means "National History Museum" or "Museum of National History," and my friend was telling me that her husband is now a volunteer guide there. An ordinary sentence but it gave me a frisson of excitement.