Whether you want to pursue interests (such as zen meditation, anime, or Japanese cooking), travel to Japan, improve your career prospects or simply eat real sushi or ramen, knowledge of Japanese will be very useful.
If you’re still on the fence about learning Japanese, read on to learn about this fascinating language and why it’s not as hard as it seems.
Japan is a creative country, churning out anime, manga, j-pop, j-rock, novels, video games, and films like no other. Japanese arts like gardening, calligraphy, cooking, karate, and pottery are also famous around the world.
To experience this culture, most of us rely on translations. However, after a certain point, that simply is not enough. After all:
Learning the language would also let you understand the country behind all these cultural creations. For example:
Just think: How cool would it be to not only enjoy your favorite Japanese content in its purest form but also to understand the cultural circumstances that made it possible?
Whether you want to ...:
… speaking Japanese will help you make the most of your trip to Japan.
The language barrier can be a real problem when traveling to Japan. While many Japanese people speak English, they lack confidence and shy away from lost foreigners asking for directions.
And unfortunately, your translation app won’t be much help. (Just check out these horribly translated restaurant reviews.)
Learning Japanese will allow you to:
And worst comes to worst, you’ll be able to ask a friendly Japanese person some questions without scaring them away!
While Chinese gets a lot of attention these days, Japanese is still one of the top languages to know for business.
Japan is the world’s 3rd largest economy and the largest investor in the world. And the continued impact of Japanese companies on the world is undeniable.
Just think of all the Japanese companies you know: Panasonic, Uniqlo, Toshiba, Sony, Toyota, Honda, Nikon are probably just a few.
Because of the few people who speak Japanese outside Japan, companies that wish to operate in Japan will welcome you with their arms wide open if you speak the language.
In addition, due to the relative lack of bilingual talent in Japan, you’ll also have a huge advantage in the Japanese job market, if you choose to “try your hand” there. It has also become easier for foreigners to find work in Japan due to the country's labor shortage.
So whether you want to work for a company trying to expand to Japan, sell Japanese products abroad, or find employment in Japan itself, knowledge of Japanese will help your career.
Lastly, Japanese isn’t as hard as people say it is.
Learning any language is a long-term commitment, and motivation is the key to success. In other words, how much do you want to master this language?
As an old Japanese proverb puts it, suki koso mono no jozu nare (“you become good at what you like doing”).
So you’re better off learning a “harder” language that you actually like and have good reasons for studying. (Yes, “buying limited edition game consoles from Japanese websites” is a good reason.)
And there are actually many aspects of Japanese that make it easy to learn. These include:
As a result, linguists believe that spoken Japanese is relatively easy to master.
Plus, Japanese is a gateway to other East Asian languages. Studying kanji (the characters in Japanese) makes Chinese much less painful, and Japanese grammar gives you a head start with Korean.