I'm a native Southern Californian (27 years!) who now resides in Arizona so I can tell you quite a bit about both states. :D When it comes to overseas travel, I have been to Japan and most definitely will return someday!
Arizona, United States
Interestingly enough it is very English friendly. When I went earlier this year, I barely had to use any Japanese (basic words, btw). Like most have already stated, the subways for the most part are in both English. From getting your train ticket, signs both on and off the subway, and even the announcements for each stop are in English. Then again when I visited, it was just the big cities that I frequented (Shibuya, Shinjuku, Asakusa, etc. etc.) so maybe more traditional cities may not be as English friendly. :/ In any case, so long as you go prepared with the basic Q&A's to ask if you need to and become as familiar as you can be with maps/guidebooks and overall surroundings when you're in Japan then I think you'll be just fine. =) almost 8 years ago