…you can’t just assume you can get by with English.
I just went down to 7-11 (which BTW is one of my favorite places to shop in Japan) to get a night snack just now. There was a woman who kept asking the 7-11 night clerk how to use a public phone outside.
First of all, it’s not his job since it’s not a 7-11 phone. The unit is owned by NTT, which is the Japan equivalent of ATT. If she dials zero, an NTT operator will assist her. In Japanese.
Which brings me to my second point:
The Japanese speak Japanese. Japanese is Japan’s standard language by law, and most Japanese people don’t need to learn English after they leave college. How many of us can still speak the Spanish, French, etc. that we studied in school fluently?
Besides, if the store clerk spoke English well, he wouldn’t be working the night shift at 7-11.
I helped the lady out, but please, when you come to Japan, bring a Japanese phrase book. It’s going to make your time in the country so much better.