Why is everyone learning Japanese?

So I saw another person asking the same question back in 2013 but it’s since been archived so I thought I’d toss out the question again. Why is everyone here? Everyone’s got different reasons, I’m sure. I want to be a translator in the future (more likely for Spanish/Mandarin/English, I don’t know if I’ll ever be good enough at Japanese to do it or if there’ll be enough demand) and Japanese is such an awesome language, a nice challenge, and a good introduction to Chinese characters (which I’ll start learning for real in college next year). But surely I’m in the minority in that regard. And of users who’ve achieved fluency or near fluency, how has it impacted your life and how often do you use it? Just really curious. Thanks :slight_smile:


There’s definitely a demand for JP translators, even if you decide not to go professional. With the rise in popularity for Japanese (and SE Asian/Asian) media, there’s a lot of demand for this or that to be localized.

As for why I decided to learn…reading and playing games, basically. Nothing deep. I used to want to be a translator for ATLUS or Square Enix or something, but I settled with being a hobbyist translator. I can read at almost the same speed as my native language now, so I guess I achieved what I wanted :man_shrugging: Doesn’t hurt to learn some more, though.


Nice to know, I’ll definitely keep that in mind. At the moment my plan is to go to college taking classes in Mandarin and Spanish and keep Japanese as a hobby, just since I just really love learning languages. But eventually if I achieve that level of fluency, I’d love to be able to add Japanese to my translating repertoire. And may I ask how long you’ve been learning/known Japanese? Judging by your comment it seems like you’ve been fluent a while and WaniKani is just for extra Kanji help. What other resources have you used?

An alligator ate my best friend.
That’s why I’ve been worshipping the Crabigator.


Just for the heck of it. Really no other reason.


I heard they were remaking ‘The Grudge


I started roughly 6 years ago, with some wide gaps in between due to personal things.

I’m actually just on WK still because I think it’s fun (and now that I’ve started, I want to reach level 60). The community is cool too.

I took formal classes in uni for ~4 years, but I basically just read books and played games throughout. Since I had so much free time, my method was “pop open a book you want to read and look up everything you don’t know”. I don’t really recommend it unless you’re also into it, but I also used to just read dictionaries and reference texts for grammar/kanji/idioms/etc.


Here is a poll/thread a few months back. Maybe it can hit a 1000 on a refresh:


This is such a weeaboo answer, but I want to study anime and manga academically, and specifically I want to become an anthropologist studying otaku subculture like my role model/stan Patrick Galbraith.

I initially started Wanikani because I wanted to get to a point where I could read as soon as possible–I wanted desperately to read the 2D love manifestos of Honda Tōru. I still want to read those, but now I think I want to give precedence to Morikawa Kaichiro’s Learning from Akihabara: The Birth of a Personapolis. (There’s actually a bunch of really interesting discourse on otaku in the early 2000s that I want to read. The language barrier is one of the biggest challenges to studying anime and otaku culture in the US–there’s so many untranslated texts. That’s a big reason why the broader field of fan studies in academia isn’t aware of relevant development in otaku studies.)

I then realized it was silly to only focus on reading when I would need listening and speaking for anthropological fieldwork.


I’m learning Japanese because I like Japanese music and I like Japanese literature.

Here is the longer story…
My family used to host Japanese students that were doing their semester abroad at the university here so I really wanted to learn Japanese. I also loved Sailor Moon and Card Captor Sakura which led to an interest in Japanese pop culture. I enrolled in several courses, which always got cancelled. And then I had to focus on German. I lost most of my interest in Japanese pop culture eventually as well.
A few years ago, I achieved a pretty high proficiency in German so I could relax on studying the language and then I saw the movie Helter Skelter by Mika Ninagawa, and I thought “I would like to get into Japanese again.” so I got into Japanese music and started reading Japanese literature (in English). Then I had to learn Japanese asap because someone who worked closely with my favorite musician wrote a book about the time they spent together. So learning Japanese was my New Year’s Resolution for 2018! At the time I didn’t know if I’d ever be able to go to Japan, but I went earlier this year. The book I mentioned before barely matters to me now (besides, I read it by looking up each word individually already!! X__X). I wanna be able to read the various authors that I’ve come to enjoy in their original language, read interviews with my favorite musicians, be able to understand their songs as I listen to them, speak to Japanese people who like the same bands as me online, and even use Japanese when I travel, and so on.


I mean hey, any reason is a good reason. And Japanese culture is cool, weeb culture is cool, and if it interests you, then more power to ya :3

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That’s awesome, and congrats on getting so far! Hopefully I’ll eventually have that level of profficiency too :upside_down_face: And good luck on your last 3 levels :+1:

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Thanks, this was kinda exactly what I was looking for lol

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okay, now I’m imagining you hiding in Akihabara behind a potted plant, speaking in a low voice like David Attenborough…

“The otaku is a very unique species in the urban savannah of Tokyo… oh look, there’s a mating dance… this dance requires a glowstick and something called AKB… hmm. Oh, look, is a female interested? Oh, poor fella. There’s an anime shop behind him. Well, better luck next time.”


Great question - I’m also curious to see what people say. I’ve been living in Japan for about a decade now and it has been apparent since the beginning that for most expats here, the physical/educational journey started with an interest in anime and manga. It’s actually a pretty common stereotype about foreigners in Japan (both residents and tourists). I feel a bit unfortunate for NOT being motivated by such things. I think that I would have made kanji study more of a priority when I began studying seriously 15+ years ago if engaging in a hobby depended on it. Speaking was my goal from the start, and I neglected kanji study until about 6 months ago.

Anyway, here’s my story… my grandmother was Japanese and immigrated to the US after WWII (a particularly difficult time to be a Japanese-American). She never spoke Japanese to my mother, and she passed away when my mother was just 16 years old (15 years before I was born). My whole life I felt like a part of me was missing. I knew I was part Japanese and that I had relatives still alive in Japan, and I wanted to be able to meet them and communicate with them. One Christmas I was lucky enough to get a tape series for studying Japanese from my parents and would go to bed wearing my walkman just hoping I would miraculously become fluent. I didn’t get very far. My interest ebbed and flowed in the years to come. My high school stopped offering Japanese classes right before I started, but then I was lucky enough to go to a college that offered 4 semesters of Japanese. That reignited my passion and lead me to visit Japan for the first time in 2006 and reconnect with my Japanese relatives. I realized then that my 4 semesters of classes hadn’t prepared me to actually communicate, and I eventually decided my best bet was to immerse myself in the language, so I moved here in 2008. Since then, I regularly visit my great aunt and second cousins. I have a second cousin who is about the same age as me, and we have some of the same hobbies, so we get together every so often. I’m actually surprised at how many kanji I learned over the years from just messaging/emailing back and forth with friends and family here. I’ve still got a long way to go though! A failure to clearly define goals has certainly hampered my progress over the years, so I’m planning to finally take N2 in July.


Sorry in advance if my reason is too personal, but…
I’m from a family of Japanese descendants. Pretty much all of my family is living there curently, but I ended up being a fourth-generation nikkei, which means I couldn’t get a long-stay visa like they did.
I have been living alone in a third world country. A pretty racist one, at that. Even nowadays I find people on the streets openly making fun of me for having asian features, or coworkers giving me nicknames and making unrespectful jokes about Japanese people around me. It’s a bit ironic, I’m too Japanese to be accepted here, but I’m not Japanese enough to live in Japan.
Well, at least that was the case until recently, since a new program for a yonsei visa opened. It has a lot of restrictions and conditions but I want to give it a try. One of the conditions is having JLPT N4 so that’s my main goal for now. It also has an age restriction, so I need to learn as much as possible, as fast as I can. I have been doing my absolute best to use all of my free time to learn the language. The idea of living in a country with better quality of life and relatively more respectful people sounds like a dream. However, more than anything, that might be my only chance to live close to my family again, so… 今日も頑張ります


I want to go abroad and will be applying to the JET program later this year. I might not get in, but if I do I want to know as much as the language as I can learn until then. Even then I might reapply next year or try another similar route


Well I live in Japan so it’s pretty important. Also it’s great to have a skill that very few people have.


That’s awesome that you might be able to reconnect with some family and find a better life, more power to you and seriously good luck. By the way, I’m not sure how this pertains to grammar, but WaniKani teaches you 95% of the vocab necessary to pass the JLPT N4 by level 16, and 95% of the N3 by level 35. So based on your level seems to me that dream is totally in sight. Good luck :heart:


How good is your Japanese? Like speaking-wise and Kanji-wise?