If you’re here, you’re probably already thinking about learning Japanese online. Or maybe you already started! But for everyone there is a probably a different motivation behind their studies. This week we’re exploring the different reasons people learn this super-cool language.
10. Traveling to Japan
Most people like to pick up a little of the local language before traveling to a place, though often you can learn some key phrases and get by without ever becoming close to fluent. Many people that choose to learn Japanese online for this reason could probably get by with just a phrase book and some help with pronunciation. Either way, it’s always admirable to get some language skills before traveling to a foreign country.
9. You’re a Linguaphile
This may be one of the less common reasons to learn Japanese, but some people just want to learn as many languages as possible! There are many websites and blogs devoted to these omniglots, who travel the world learning every language they come across. It’s very impressive, but also very hard to do for many!
8. Using the Internet
This one may come as a surprise…don’t most people just internet in English? Not true. Most East Asian cultures have their own sites for almost everything. One great example is Google. Japanese and Koreans don’t use Google nearly as much as they use Naver. It has directions, restaurant reviews, public transportation maps, blogs, culture, and so much more. As Japan is one of the most internet-savvy countries in the world, learning Japanese can open up a whole new world of the internet for you to explore!
7. Career Opportunities
Everyone these days is talking about learning Mandarin for business purposes, but lots of people are also learning Japanese for career opportunities in Japan. With large corporations like Sony, Panasonic, Toyota, and Honda, there are plenty of reasons to start. And if you’re learning Japanese online, it makes it easy to fit it into your spare time or nights and evenings after your current job.
In the past decade, JPop has exploded as a cultural phenomenon reaching far beyond Japan. With Baby Metal bands popping up everywhere, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu on a world tour, and the global success of 可愛い (kawaii) culture and 原宿 (Harajuku) fashion, Japanese trends are inescapable these days. So it’s no wonder that people want to learn Japanese to understand the music and and culture a little better.
5. You have Japanese friends or family
Just because someone speaks your language doesn’t mean you can’t learn theirs as well! Many Japanese-Americans that were born and raised here were never taught by their parents for a variety of reasons. As you get older, you may think ‘I should really learn Japanese so I can understand my family and culture better.” Or maybe you have a Japanese friend who speaks perfect English but you decide “I will learn Japanese so we can speak in his native language as well sometimes.” No matter who in your life speaks Japanese, they will be thrilled and impressed when you show them how dedicated you are to communicating with and understanding them better.
4. Japanese Video Games
You may think this a relatively small group of Japanese learners, but it’s actually a huge market! Many amazing Japanese video games are never translated into English, or they take several years to make it overseas. Which means if you want to play, you’ve gotta pick up at least some of the language. Japanese can be a very difficult language to learn with three different alphabets and thousands of kanji to memorize, so you know these are some dedicated gamers!
3. To Date Japanese Men and Women
I can’t say I 100% approve of learning a language just to go to a country and date the people, but if you do happen to fall in love with a Japanese man or woman, then learning the language to communicate with their family is definitely respectable. There are a large number of Western men and women living in China, Korea, and Japan for just this purpose! How do you feel about that?
2. Anime and Manga
Many people say learning Japanese just for anime and manga is a bad reason. To them I say, まさか! Whatever reason you choose to learn a language is up to you. Learning Japanese can be extremely difficult so having a strong motivator is key to success. Oftentimes, much is lost in translation in anime and manga from Japanese to English and learning the language allows you to understand the subtleties in the dialogue that were originally intended. Also, anime and manga can often be R-Rated and English translations may make them more “kid-friendly” for America. If you can understand Japanese then you will know what they’re really talking about. There is even a term just for these people in Japan. They are known as おたく (otaku).
1. Japanophile Mania!!!
Our #1 reason may be a bit of blanket, but it’s definitely the most popular one. It’s a bit of a combination of all the other reasons put together: you just love Japan! You love the culture, the people, the language, the art, the fashion, and everything else. You want to study abroad in Japan, you want to travel to Japan, you want to move to Japan! Maybe you can never be Japanese, but you want to know and understand as much about Japanese culture as possible, so kudos to you! One of the best ways to understand a culture is through the nuances of its language.