Kellie Pickler Says Kanpai to Tokyo

And Says Konnichiwa to the Language

“I’m pretty much a local now.”

That’s what the all-American Kellie Pickler told Ellen DeGeneres on Tuesday (Sept. 27) about her recent trip to Tokyo.

She explained that when she travels far away like that, she does what she can to fit in.

“I always feel like it’s respectful to try to learn as much of the language as you can,” she said. “So I’m pretty fluent in Japanese now. I know the most important word is ‘kanpai.’ Which is ‘cheers.’”

And even after she thought she’d mastered the basics like “hello,” “thank you,” and “excuse me,” she had a mini conversation fail when she was greeting an elderly woman walking her dog.

“I thought I had ‘hello’ down — it’s ‘konnichiwa,’ but I said ‘Kawasaki’— and she kind of gave me this bless-her-heart kind of look,” Pickler said.

It had always been Pickler’s childhood dream to be a foreign exchange student. So on this trip, she and her husband Kyle Jacobs finally had the chance. They lived with the Asada family while they were there, taking in every bit of the Japanese culture.

CMT’s hour-long special, I Love Kellie Pickler’s “I Love Japan” episode, airs on Thursday at 10 p.m. ET/PT.

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.