I started on my journey into Japanese culture 30 years ago when I went to Japan several times for work to interact with engineering/production teams in product development. I had studied French and Spanish before so I got a Japanese phrase book at the airport which I carried with me.
One memorable event took place in Tamana-gun, near Kumamoto. I needed to check out of the hotel and I had some heavy boxes with computer parts in them with me. I looked for a phrase for such an occasion (I think it was “I need a porter for my luggage”) and called down to the front desk. I recited the phrase to the best of my ability but was unable to understand the response. So of course I simply repeated myself a few more times, hung up, and hoped for the best.
About ten minutes later, there was a knock at the door. I opened it to a kimono-clad young lady who glided in with a thermos of hot water, set it down, bowed, and left. “Well”, I thought, “that clearly did not go as planned”. I managed to get all the boxes down to the lobby myself and checked out and waited for the taxi.
When I arrived at the factory, I told some of the guys I was working with what had happened. “Well what did you say?” they asked. I repeated it again. They mulled it over. “What you are saying sounds like ‘I am building a fire in order to boil water’”. LOL! No wonder!