Traveling in Japan
Traveling in Japan

Why study Japanese? Seven fun reasons

Japanese is a fascinating language, but studying it can be a challenge. Whether it’s the complex writing system, the unfamiliar sentence structure, the heavy emphasis on honorifics, or the plethora of particles, there will inevitably be times when you will feel utterly perplexed and ask yourself, “Why am I doing this?”

Japanese is a fascinating language, but studying it can be a challenge. Whether it’s the complex writing system, the unfamiliar sentence structure, the heavy emphasis on honorifics, or the plethora of particles, there will inevitably be times when you will feel utterly perplexed and ask yourself, “Why am I doing this?” So, if you are thinking about studying Japanese, you are going to need some motivation. And one way to be motivated is to have some simple, realistic, but enjoyable language goals. Here are seven fun reasons why you should study Japanese.

1. The Geek Factor

Love manga? Love anime? Love games? Are you a massive otaku for Japanese geek culture? Why wait for the best material to be translated when you can read, watch and play it in the original language? Many people find themselves inadvertently drawn into Japanese language study through their interest in Japanese comics, games and animated movies, and it makes sense. The enjoyable element keeps them motivated, and both grammar and vocabulary can be more easily absorbed in such a memorable context. Using all of these diverse materials as your primary source materials will also give you a solid grounding in the key areas of reading and listening.

2. The Cool Factor

There’s no question that achieving proficiency in Japanese is pretty cool. And it should be! Learning Japanese takes a lot of time, effort, and determination, and that makes you special! However, this is not just an excuse to show off to your friends. Acquiring such an unusual skill will make you stand out from the crowd and boost your self-confidence. And this in turn will create a virtuous circle, because the more self-confident you become, the easier it will be to practice your second language and learn even more!

3. Travel

Imagine how much even a little Japanese language ability can enhance and enrich your experience when traveling in Japan. If you can throw out a little more than the occasional arigato and sumimasen, and actually have some simple friendly conversations with the people you encounter on your trip, it will create happy memories that will stay with you forever. Setting a date for your trip will also give you a fixed goal to add impetus to your studies. Keep that dream trip in your mind, and it should get you through the hardest study periods!

4. Ordering sushi.

Do you know your saba (mackerel) from your sake (salmon) ? Your ebi (shrimp) from your ika (squid) ? Your unagi (eel) from your uni (urchin)? Study in advance and order sushi like a pro. That way you’ll know exactly what you’re eating, and how to order it again. And what more memorable context for language acquisition could there be than a sushi bar? The taste is unforgettable, so the language should be too!

5. Karaoke

If you ever live and work in Japan then karaoke participation is a requisite of office parties. Why fall back on Stevie Wonder when you can impress your coworkers with a heartfelt enka rendition or get the party bouncing with some lively J-pop? Studying songs is also a great way to pick up vocabulary, and improve your intonation and pronunciation. Just choose a song you like, and get studying.

6. Making Friends

As most Japanese either can’t speak English, or lack confidence in their English language ability, you will definitely need to learn the language if you want to make Japanese friends. But the general lack of English ability in Japan, is actually a real boon to your Japanese studies. Unlike some countries where English language ability is common, Japanese people will be happy even when you speak to them with the most basic, beginners’ level sentences. And what purpose does a language serve if it doesn’t help us to connect with other people? Making friends through the medium of Japanese should be your ultimate aim.

7. Japanese is Beautiful

Japanese is an elegant language with gentle intonation, a fluid rhythm, a strong emphasis on politeness, humility, and respect, and almost no cursing. The language has a long and diverse literary heritage too, which includes the world’s first novel, and poetry composition as a popular pastime. And if you have ever seen any Japanese calligraphy, you will know it has a strong visual aesthetic too. Endlessly pleasing on the ear and the eye, it is a joy to converse in Japanese and just as delightful to read it.

Michael Lambe

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