Pera Pera Kai is run in one of the rooms at the HowHow Manga Library every week. To keep the balance between English speakers and Japanese people even, seats are limited (around12-13 seats for English speakers and Japanese people each) so a booking before hand is necessary (only at reception counter). Many of the Japanese people that take part are language students and working holiday makers.
The English speakers that come are students learning at the Japanese school on the same floor as HowHow, people studying Japanese, and people who have lived in Japan before.
First of all everyone breaks up into groups of two or three people and starts chatting about whatever. At Pera Pera Kai, English time and Japanese time are divided up into 15 minutes blocks. Then every 30 minutes the groups are changed.
The first person I spoke to was K, a student learning Japanese. He spoke in broken Japanese but he had no problems understanding me. He was planning to go to Japan for a trip next year.
The conversation went a little like this,
K： I wonder where I should go in Japan? (English)
Writer Y: Hmm usually everyone goes to Tokyo and Kyoto? How long are you going for? (Eng)
K: About three weeks. It depends on how much money I have. Yeah, I guess I have go to Tokyo and Kyoto. Oh and I’m planning to ride the Bullet Train, I’m really looking forward to that. (Eng)
Writer Y: What’s that? (Eng) Whats the Bullet Train? (Japanese)
K: Ah it's the Shi, Shin, Shin…..(Jap) Ah, I forgot what it’s called! (Eng)
Writer Y: Ah! Shinkansen! (Eng)
K: Shinkansen! That’s it! (Jap)
Writer Y: I see, so it’s called the bullet train in English? The Shinkansen’s really fast! (Eng) It’s chou ii! (Jap)
K: Cool. Ah…What does chou mean? (Jap)
Writer Y: Ah… chou is… (Eng)
The conversation progressed in this fashion, mixing English and Japanese. Teaching each other words we didn't understand.
The ratio of English to Japanese in a conversation depends on the language levels of your partner and changes back and forth naturally. But of course, during Japanese time, you talk mainly in Japanese.
Since there’s a group change throughout the meeting you can talk to a variety of people. By the end of the two-hour meet I was completely worn out from talking. At Pera Pera Kai, because conversations are held in small groups of two to four people, you can have a leisurely conversation. Which I felt was one of the most appealing points of Pera Pera Kai.
So when you want to have a conversation in a peaceful environment, be sure to come to Pera Pera Kai. It's a popular group so I suggest you book early.