Why is everyone learning Japanese?

Good luck with both that application and with your Japanese studies, hope you get in :+1:

I’ve been listening to Vocaloid music for years now, and I basically never listened to music in English (yes, English is my native language and I was born in the US). I memorized the lyrics to so many songs without actually understanding how to read the lyrics or the exact way they translate.

It’s gotten frustrating to find the composers I like on twitter, but not be able to understand their tweets, so I figured I might as well learn. I’m really happy with the progress I’ve made in the past couple months honestly.

5 Likes

ooh a fellow Vocaloid fan! Who are your favorite producers?

and to answer OP’s question, i’ve been interested for the past few years, but never really studied that seriously. I guess I’m just learning casually so it’ll be easier to understand media (like video games, songs, or manga) that don’t get translated to English

3 Likes

Studied in Tokyo (Rikkyo) as an exchange student for about a year, lived in the real Japanese inaka (on JET) for five years, no convenience stores within an hour drive! I left Japan at the end of 2018. Really want to keep up with my studies, still have weekly one-to-one lessons, but decided to get back onboard the WK machine to help with mainly my reading comprehension, but also because learning kanji fascinates me and I want to reach the final kanji goal. I thought that living in Japan I would get enough exposure, but even though I studied a lot, I found it hard to get into native materials. So even though my kanji recognition is pretty high, (i’d say around 1300 to 1500), my reading knowledge of said kanji is not so much, so basically i’m here to brush up on my kanji on and kun yomi readings (and of course vocab). Also a personal goal of mine is to pass the N2 after multiple attempts (and multiple major demotivating fails). Good luck to all on ‘the journey’!

6 Likes

This is so true! :sweat_smile:

1 Like

I’m here because I took Japanese in college, but fell off the wagon due to depression seriously interfering with my life some time ago . . . I want to make up for that lost time. I also want to visit Japan since that opportunity was taken from me by my illness. If possible I want to communicate in Japanese when I’m there.

I became interested in Japan and Japanese culture in kindergarten when my class did a “pretend trip to Japan.” I don’t remember why we did it—maybe we were learning about the countries of the world or something—but we made our own passports and arranged our chairs out in the hallway so they resembled plane seats. There, our teacher told us facts about Japan while the “homeroom moms” decorated the classroom and dressed in “kimono” (I put this in quotes because they were not real kimono, but the bathrobe-like garment commonly called kimono in the West). When we returned, it looked totally different, and we learned to count from one to ten in Japanese (albeit incorrectly, since shi was included instead of yon), and wrote the numbers with black tempera on white paper. We also sat on the floor Japanese-style and ate rice (from Chinese takeout boxes . . . :confounded: ) with chopsticks.

It was a simple event, but I’ve never forgotten it. :slight_smile:

Around the same time, I was introduced to anime by the original dub of Sailor Moon. I could be wrong about this, as I have no way to check my assertion, but I think I knew it was a Japanese show in spite of the localization due to Naoko Takeuchi’s name being in the credits . . .

Anyway, those two things combined inspired a love of Japanese culture and caused me to study the language in the first place.

8 Likes

Honestly? I’m not sure anymore. Originally, I wanted to learn Japanese because I like puroresu. Then it was so I could visit the monastery Dogen founded. Honestly, it’s unlikely that will ever happen. I imagine I’ll spend all this time learning a language that will never have a practical use. And one hand, it’s great brain exercise, but sometimes I wonder, what am I really going to get out of it?

4 Likes
Long version

When I was a kid, my dad’s company had business with Japan. He went there a few times, and some Japanese people came to our town to live for a few years. This is how I was introduced to Japanese culture, but of course I mostly just remember watching Totoro over and over.

In college I was thinking about what courses I wanted to take, and I picked Japanese kind of on a whim. I had taken French and Spanish in high school, but they didn’t really hold my interest. So I took a few years at college and did a summer study abroad trip to Tokyo and Osaka, where we studied Japanese language and traditional theater (kabuki, noh, etc). I really like some of those traditional arts and crafts now. I also discovered during my trip the world of cute characters and mascots, and I really enjoy those too!

My husband and I had our honeymoon in 2016 and decided to move to Japan later that year. We got it all figured out, and moved to Yokohama. My husband knew zero Japanese, so I had to handle most things, which was an incredible motivator for studying! I have been studying Japanese technically from 2010, but honestly I feel like I didn’t really start properly studying until maybe like 2017/2018? I wasn’t focused at all in college, due to life stuff.

We’ve been here for about three years now. I actually see the Japanese man who used to live in my hometown when I was a kid from time to time! My aunt lives here too, which is nice. I’m interested in making Japanese a part of my future career, but we’ll see. I really enjoy how different it is from English, and it feels good to study it, if that makes sense.

I feel like now I want to learn Japanese to enrich my life–be able to chat with people more, read books, read signs at museums, temples, etc. (I’ve never been really into anime, but I’m open to any kind of media. Right now I think I’m most interested in books/manga.) Also just being able to do daily life tasks with less stress would be nice–taking my cat to the vet, writing up student feedback reports, going to the ward office, etc.

Tldr, my reasons have evolved: Japanese media/culture --> tourist/student --> living and working in Japan.

4 Likes

Somebody on another thread mentioned that he/she was doing it for vanity, which honestly, I can relate with pretty well. I’ve always felt like I was kind of a boring person, which lead me to pick up a multitude of hobbies in which I can express my interests. Be it learning to play an instrument, a new sport or in this case studying a foreign language, I want to more than ‘your average’.
Not sure how I can convey this without sounding like an arrogant asshole, but that’s pretty much what it is.

As for why I chose Japanese? Well I guess that answer is, ironically, the most average reason; I like Japanese pop-culture such as anime/manga/visual novels, and have a general curiosity for the culture and it’s people.

9 Likes

About 18 months in and the goal is still to translate web novels.

I can already do that with the tools at my disposal but it’s slow, it needs to go through a translation checker, and my writing gets stiff when I’m unsure about what’s written in the story.
In the beginning it used to be erroneous translations galore with very stiff writing. Nowadays the translation checker feels out of the job and the editor just complemented me on the most recent chapter they edited, telling me that with all the TNs they worked with I was definitely in the 90th percentile despite me at best being at a low N3 level. Definitely encourages me to keep going.

6 Likes

Mine is more out of necessity. I’m living in Japan with my Japanese husband and our two children. My 4 year old is better than I am :see_no_evil: I want to pass N3 by the end of 2021 and N2 by end of 2022. As for Kanji I want to finish WK by end of 2021 before my eldest son starts elementary school in April 2022. Having been pregnant and looking after 2 small children the whole time i’ve been in Japan, made it hard to concentrate on anything other than their needs. Now they are a bit older (2 and 4) i’m hoping to study lots and get on with it.

10 Likes

Okay it’s tough to choose here. I guess I really like Jin/自然の敵P and Mothy and Owata-P. I have almost zero friends who like Vocaloid, though I introduced my boyfriend to some songs and he wants to see Miku Expo with me this year (!!).

1 Like

That being said though, do you personally enjoy studying the language? I can imagine it feeling quite rewarding being able to read and understand some of the words and phrases after living there for (I assume) a longer period of time.

I’m not too big on vocaloid myself, save for a dozen songs or so, but I know there’s gonna be a Miku Expo soon in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, which I live pretty close to. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t intrigued. :sweat_smile:

1 Like

No I don’t enjoy studying language, I’m a scientist by nature, studied Human Genetics at university and worked in Genetic Toxicology in the UK before I became a SAHM (stay at home mum) in Japan. The difference in my life is vast. I did have some interest in Japan before I married my husband and came to live here but I think it would have fizzled out after spending a year abroad here like my initial intention was. Mostly now I just want to be able to communicate properly and fully with everyone. I’m still only N5 level and really just living in Japan won’t help. You have to study, you have to have time to listen and engage with people (not staying at home looking after kids). My situation is starting to get easier so I’m starting to study. I may be living here for the rest of my life.

4 Likes

I’ve also always been bad at languages, even English :sweat_smile: definitely do better in science and mathematics.

1 Like

I’m about 11 months into my self studies, I first got interested because lots of my friends were talking about some comics that I knew nothing of, and I thought it would be cool to read them in original Japanese, since translation doesn’t normally convey everything perfectly (or even remotely closely in some cases now that I can distinguish it myself :sweat_smile:). My main goals are to be able to read some light novels, learn about the culture, and talk with people!

I enjoy language learning in general, but whenever I used to start learning one like French, Spanish, or Italian, I always let it go after a few weeks. I think I one of the main (and unusual?) reasons I stuck to Japanese is because of the different writing/reading system and characters. It interests me to read vertically, and mainly to learn another set of characters.

6 Likes

The first episode of Sailor Moon that I saw, my dad walked by and was like “That’s Tokyo.” (he actually had a job that required him to spend some time in Japan, but it was before I was born) and I guess I doubted him because he said “that red Eiffel Tower is Tokyo Tower”. Whenever someone says they didn’t know Sailor Moon was Japanese I always think “how?? I always knew!!!” but I guess I knew because my dad told me the first time I watched it.
Also a fun story, that was before it was on Cartoon Network and I told my sister she had to see it so the next Saturday (idk for sure if it was Saturday but I’m gonna continue saying that day) we went to watch it together and some other show was on. I spent a few Saturday mornings searching the channels for it ;o; Eventually I gave up accepting that I’d never see it again ;o; but then Cartoon Network announced its Toonami lineup and there it was ^o^
Also, we did stuff like that in elementary school although never with Japan. We definitely did a similar thing with China. And we did eat rice out of Chinese takeout boxes while sitting on the floor.

5 Likes

I’m learning Japanese because I’m going to be spending about a year in Japan as an English as a second language teacher. There is no requirement for me to know Japanese, but I want to learn the language so I’m not completely isolated from the community while I live there. :smile:

4 Likes

I thought it might be a challenge to learn it. I was correct. Besides that, there is no real reason behind. I want to learn one more language. Most likely Arab or Russian.

4 Likes