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4 Reasons You Need To Visit Japan Now! — 29 Comments

  1. My very first attempt at learning japanese was in October 2012… no more than a month later I quit haha. Then fastforward to june 2013 and I started back learning, up until now. Now in March, I will be going to Japan! So this post makes it feel even more like a good idea to be going right now haha. My only problem is that right now I’m starting to lose motivation with japanese… sounds weird right? Going there in 3 weeks, shouldn’t I feel like I need to learn as much as possible before then? But it’s having the opposite effect atm “well I really can’t use japanese much, 3 weeks really won’t change anything so what’s the point?”. It’s sad but that’s what’s happening. If I can’t discipline myself enough to keep at it, I’m hoping that at the least, like you said, that my trip will give me the motivation I need to last until I reach the intermediate phase where I can start learning from native material!

    • Trust me. Things will change once you go.

      If you need some motivation to study over the next 3 weeks, rather than continue with your general textbook studying, you might want to start picking up Japanese for specific places you want to go and things you want to do.

      Take a look at a Japanese train map, a Japanese guide of a tourist spot, or a Japanese menu of a restaurant you want to go to (maid cafe?) You can do this all online for free.

      Stay excited! The first trip to Japan is unforgettable!

      • I may just do that actually, thanks! My problem though isn’t so much about learning new things, I have the motivation for that… the problem lies in reviewing haha. Not sure why but these days I just can’t bring myself to get on anki and review, even on days that I have no more than 100 reviews all decks included

        • Think about it like this. Every 100 reviews you do over the next 3 weeks will make your enjoyment of your vacation go up by 0.25%.

          • So that means I would enjoy it 5% more, huh… haha thanks, I love me some numbers, so even if they are random numbers it helps

  2. Visiting Japan was a huge motivator for me. I self studied Japanese to an intermediate level using various resources. I thought I was doing quite well until I arrived in Japan and discovered I couldn’t understand anything worth understanding (despite having studied the language for three years). I resolved to take the language more seriously and eventually discovered JALUP.

    Many of my friends remain convinced, as I once was, that Japan is a particularly unaffordable destination for the tourist. This is a myth. Budget food and budget hotels in Japan are nicer and cheaper than in my home country, and most of the good tourist activities cost next to nothing. Although I suppose that does depend on one’s definition of a good tourist activity.

    • I highly agree about the cost. A plane ticket is one thing, but the cost of food and fun can be very cheap.

      I seriously love restaurant prices in Japan. Where you can get a great meal for somewhere between 700-1200 yen (including tax, and no tip required). And of course you can go cheaper than this as well.

  3. I went to Japan after just over a year of very intensive self-study. It was a curious experience for me as I have lived in many parts of this world from a very early age, and nowhere really feels like home, and no culture feels like “my” culture (I speak English but am more ignorant of English-language popular culture than most non-English speakers – I am just teflon to it somehow). Japan was not my home obviously. I would always be gaijin there – but then I am always gaijin anywhere. It DID seem the nearest thing to home of any place on this planet I have ever been. I become natsukashii when I see a Japanese coin, for example. Nothing else affects me this way.

    But ahem – language! I would agree absolutely about Japanese seeming real once you have actually been there. I didn’t just go in a touristy way but stayed for some time. I did some touristy things, but spent a lot of time wandering places of no especial importance. It seemed very odd to my hosts and I could only explain that I was 日本を吸い込む. I also experienced things like a pre-school (as an oneechan looking after some children), a high-school festival, attended calligraphy classes and so forth. How does that affect language? – In ways that are hard to explain, though one explainable way is that you realize that all the complicated and abstract rules are actually realities that small children speak (with no idea of the rules) all the time.

    Also for me the language and culture are inseparable. One gets a deeper grasp of what ganbari is and why it matters so much (to take one example of dozens). To me it did not give me a home in this world, but it certainly made it feel a lot less alien.

    • It really sounds like you have had a great experience and grown a deep connection with Japan. This is something I hope all Japanese learners (especially those that frequent this site!) get to experience.

  4. I loved my trip to Japan last year! I stayed with two people fluent in Japanese, and they made my trip fantastic. The people in Japan were friendly, kind, helpful, and interested in talking with me. I enjoyed every minute I was out and about. I even experienced a typhoon, which the Japanese seemed to take in their stride. And the little out of the way restaurants, where locals go, had delicious food at amazing prices, in addition to a warm, welcoming ambiance. I envy everyone who is going for the first time. Or the second time. Or any time. You will have a blast!

      • Absolutely agree. Frankly I am such a baby I don’t think I could (in purely practical terms) have done what I did anywhere but Japan. Random strangers saved me from disaster without being asked, sometimes two or three times in a day. I went through a typhoon too (tree-trunks were broken in half in the grounds of where I was staying. No one seemed hugely perturbed). To an emotionally homeless doll, Japan became the nearest thing to a home country I have ever had, and it still is.

        • Wow, it seems like you’ve grown extremely attached to Japan. I really wish I could go there soon, I won’t forgive myself if I go on an exchange programme for the first time when I graduate university… in 2017 T___T. Anyway, I hope I get to call Japan a ‘homey place’ too, even though I was born in Brazil, which is one of the world’s greatest melting pots, my mixed looks confuse a lot a people LOL. I’m Portuguese/Native American/Japanese but I’d never be able to pass as fully anything, I don’t actually belong to a particular place so I’m really anticipating their reaction. Everybody feels like a gaijin there, but Japanese people are some of the nicest ever, and as you stated, having the language+culture knowledge really makes you stand out from other usual tourists and goers in general, and it’s way easier to mingle when you know what’s going on and have topics to talk about (RocketNews24 FTW!). Making friends on Line and self-studying through immersion have been great so far but I’m DESPERATE to experience the real deal. Japan, I’ll make my dreams will come true no matter what, I’m coming for ya~

          • I never pass as anything either. I sometimes say – the only jin I am is gai.

            I believe you will get to Japan and I am absolutely convinced you will love it.

            頑張ってください。

  5. Great article. I think motivation is really one of the biggest things. It’s very easy to feel disconnected from the actual language when you’re studying thousands of miles away.

    As of yet, I haven’t visited yet and don’t know when I’ll be able to – at the moment I’m in quite dire financial straits, but I’d definitely like to take a trip when I can. I have a native Japanese friend who wanted to take a trip to see her family this year that I may go with sometime.

    • Just ask that Japanese friend to pay for your ticket and if you can stay at her house. Problem solved!

      Seriously though, you’ll find a way. You will get there.

  6.  I wonder how travelling and living in Japan would work for a 引き篭もり like me、 I 「have a blast」every time I break my almost unchangeable routine so I probably won`t know where to go or what to。
     I can always show up somewhere or some event and randomly choose what to do but I guess this would led me to a cardiac attack。

    • Huh. This seems interesting. There’s quite a few “Japanese language only” opportunities listed on the site. Anyone have any experience with this?

    • Those posts are found here

      It is a great way to experience Japan in a different way. But as the posts reveal, doing your research is vital to having a great time!

    • Still a definite yes (especially for reason 2).

      You’ll also get to experience two Japans. One where you know Japanese, and one where you don’t.

  7. I agree, I went to Japan less than a year after having started studying it. I even did the wwoof thing. I felt that I needed to make Japan a “real” place just like you said. Wwoofing was a good experience, but I had some bad experiences traveling on my own too, that actually had nothing to do with Japan itself. So in the end, I actually was not super motivated to learn Japanese after coming back home. I’ve done a bit of studying on and off since then (it’s been three years) and only recently has a fire been lit to try to really get better. So I guess more than just two results can happen?

  8. I just found out that I’m probably going to Japan! My school may be sending me along with about 20+ other students for two weeks to stay with host families and see different parts of the Japanese culture. As I’m just going into grade 10 now, I think this is almost perfect timing because the motivation will carry out till’ the end of school, which is when I want to be fluent by. But this also means that I have a lot of work to go through! I am 400 JJ cards in which means that there are obstacles that I will probably face this year like branching and the mid-level blues. Hopefully the news will motivate me all the way through what may be the most challenging(and hopefully most fun and rewarding) year of my life!

    • Congrats! There is nothing like the motivation of knowing you are heading over to Japan. You are going to have an incredible time.

  9. I’ve been to Tokyo twice, and it is magic. I managed to get by on extremely bad/almost non-existent Japanese, but I missed out on a lot because of it (or at least I had to lean heavily on native friends for things like reading menus, etc). It’s not like Europe where English is everywhere, but you can get around and survive even if your skills are super-basic. I found that my Japanese did not improve much while there, though, as most people I interacted with attempted English or some combo of basic Japanese and body language.

    This year is Kyoto and maybe some other smaller cities. I want to be quite a bit better for that.

  10. I have pretty much baby level Japanese (I’m halfway through RTK and JALUP Beginner 1000 atm), and I’m going to Japan for three weeks in April. I hope I get to practice my Japanese, even though I’m usually very uncomfortable doing stuff I’m bad at, lol. Looking forward to it and really glad I decided to go for it, first I thought I won’t go before I’m fluent. Wish me luck! ^_^

    • You’ll have an amazing time regardless of your level. April is a great time, and you have a nice little motivational boost over the next 3 months. Have fun!

      • Thanks! It really is a motivational boost and makes my goals more tangible. I just picked up some manga, happily going through it with a dictionary and pumped about each sentence I sort of get. ^_^

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