Re: Japanese lessons for your trip to Hombu
Josh and others,
There is actually a book called Making Out in Japanese by Todd and Erika Geers that has some of what Josh is mentioning in it. It's pretty funny, and useful. Just remember that context is everything in Japanese culture.
It was quite embarrassing when people in the Iwama Dojo would pick up the Japanese that was spoken to them and use the same level of politeness (or rather lack thereof) towards Saito Sensei. I remember him giving me a clear explanation of when you could call yourself "boku" and when not - for instance not when speaking with Saito Sensei :-) Live and learn...luckily the mistakes I made were ones that let me live :-)