In this paragraph:


My interpretation of 身にしみる is for something to really penetrate through to your heart. Something you think about deeply or 'touches home' (jisho.org)

My translation of this paragraph is something like:

Incidentally, my Japanese and English skills are about the same. Only at the conversation level is my Japanese better. Basically, it's not a language problem. I also have a lot of close Japanese friends!

Here's where I trip up. The last sentence has three components that I really can't put together:

  1. Since I escape to English
  2. Just from really feeling that difference
  3. You'd probably think I was a shy person if I spoke just Japanese
  • 2
    From what you've written, the "difference" the author is referring to isn't really clear, but in the original context it is. Why not summarize the author's remarks about the contrast between her experience interacting with Japanese-speakers at the conference and her much more satisfactory experience operating in "gaijin mode" with English speakers? Alternatively, you could link to the blog itself. jaguchi.com/blog/2019/12/japanese-is-hard (You should also look more closely at the content of your "three components." E.g., it's not "you'd probably think…" but "I'd probably think…")
    – Nanigashi
    Commented Apr 7, 2020 at 18:29

1 Answer 1


Although there may be nicer expressions, the simplest translation of this 身に染みる would be "to realize" or "to become keenly aware". This だけで means "it's just that ~" rather than "just from/by ~ing".


(It's just that) I am realizing this difference because I have a refuge area called 'English'; if I spoke only Japanese, I would probably think of myself as a shy person.

The difference she is referring to is that, in Japanese, it is culturally/constitutionally harder to get along with people you first meet in a business setting. She's saying she could notice this cultural difference because she somehow could communicate smoothly in English. (I'm not sure how true her opinion is...)

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