When I came to Japan, almost 3 years ago, I was significantly lacking in understanding. 90% of my day was spent either misunderstanding or exclaiming "I don't understand" [ wakarimasen in Japanese]. People would constantly attempt to engage me in conversation with words I could not understand. My dictionary was like my bible and even then it only helped to ascertain the meaning of certain words and not the context in which they were being said. It would take almost 2 years of individual study as well as a tutor and a few summer intensive courses for me to feel comfortable and confident enough to engage a Japanese person in conversation sans dictionary and constant awkward pauses.
This moment of understanding, albeit limited, is one I have been yearning for since my arrival. To finally be able to understand what people are saying around me and what the announcements were in the stores and on the train. Now, I feel good about myself. Proud even.
But sometimes, just sometimes, not understanding shit can work to your benefit. For example with the NHK guy, Jehovah's Witnesses and of course (something I've recently tested and proven) the police [don't ask.]
I suppose what I've come to realise is that sometimes Ignorance can truly cause Bliss. And knowing while not knowing can at times be an asset to save you from additional expense.