5 Japanese TEDx Talks to Inspire and Motivate

Need an extra boost of motivation? TEDx Talks, the famous inspirational and thought-provoking talks series that tries to change the way the world thinks, has made its way to Japan. While the topics have nothing to do directly with language learning, they discuss goal-setting, achieving your dreams, and discovering how to find what you want. All applicable to your language journey.

5 Japanese Ted Talks to Inspire and Motivate 1

Want some Japanese speakers to inspire you?  Here is an introduction to 5 great TEDx Japan talks.

5. Hope Invites – Tsutomu Uematsu

Creating a successful small company is hard. Creating a successful small company that independently develops rockets to send satellites into space is harder. Uematsu-san had a dream from a young age of building airplanes and rockets. Everyone told him to stop dreaming, and to just study like everyone else. He wasn’t smart, he didn’t have money, and his teachers discouraged him.

Can you only dream what you think you might be able to do? Or should you go beyond that? As he tried to break out of the standard Japanese school mold, people looked down upon and avoided him.

どうせ無理~  (It’s impossible, so don’t even try)

He was told this all along by people that had never tried. Uematsu-san realized the problem this phrase produced, and decided it needs to never be uttered again. You have to try what you’ve never tried before. It’s the only way to move forward.

4. The Power of Connections – Akiko Naka

Naka-san discusses the difficulties of finding a job you love and pouring everything into what you want to do. At 24, she had an elite job at Goldman’s Sachs in Japan. However, she gave it up to pursue her own dreams of what she believed in.

No one starts out passionate about something. They go through one option at a time, until they find out what they want to do. She went from trying manga writing, to starting a manga fan site, to becoming a beginning member of Facebook Japan, to eventually starting her own successful online business. Do what’s right in front of you.

3. How to Create New Ideas – Shinpei Takahashi

Takahashi-san works at a toy development company. He takes you through his thought process on how to create new toys that you’ve never seen before. He was frequently questioned by his supervisors whether there was data to show if his new toy ideas would work. His search for data resulted in nothing but failure. Instead he decided to play Shiritori. This lead to new freedom in his ideas, combining one word to the next, and resulting in never before thought of toys.

New ideas don’t come from data analysis. They come from trying new (and often ridiculous) things.

2. Reasons for Religion – a Quest for Inner Peace (Daiko Matsuyama)

Matsuyama-san was born and raised in a Buddhist temple, attended catholic school growing up, and discovered the way religion plays a confusing but important role in Japan. Japanese people celebrate holidays of all different religions unrelated to their own. He compares it to Japanese food (和食) and how there is no main dish. Every dish has it’s own important place. This is religion. The key is rather than “believe something,” “respect what others believe.”

1. The Asset of Time – Hidetaka Nagaoka

How should you use your limited time? Nagaoka-san deals with people all the time who say they want to achieve their dream, but just keep repeating that same line, never actually doing it. When they fail, they say it’s because they are too different from the people that could succeed. They provide a long list of excuses: lack of money, experience, connections, and time. Nagaoka-san then takes an in-depth look at everything you have to do during the day, and all the time you have left to accomplish what you want to do.

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Founder of Jalup. Spends most of his time absorbing and spreading thrilling information about learning Japanese.


5 Japanese TEDx Talks to Inspire and Motivate — 10 Comments

  1. Definitely will watch the 4th one. I feel like I’m in her shoes… pre quitting the job at least. I need another year or so here and finish paying off those lovely college loans, but after that who knows :)

    Thank you for recommending.

    • As she says, it takes a lot of courage, but it is worth it. Can’t let college loans control your life (despite them trying to!)

    • Thoughts on the (fifth) Uematsu talk – This is pretty easy linguistically (Jalup Advanced+). He speaks pretty fast, so assistance of Japanese subtitles might be required. The title sounds cheesy, but it’s *very* good, relatable, and is recommended for anyone struggling or on the verge of giving up.

    • Thoughts on the (second) Daiko Matsuyama talk : Linguistically, this talk is relatively tough, but completing “JalUp Expert” should make it easier to grasp. He speaks slowly and clearly. This talk touches on various minor topics. There are only 2 moments where it particularly shines – Near the middle where he compares Japanese curry to Indian curry and near the conclusion. The rest felt a bit disappointing. A good talk nonetheless.

  2. I’m making subs2srs decks out of all the Japanese Ted talks with subtitles! I did the first one on your list already. Seriously, I start crying during some of these. What a great resource.

    • Nice idea turning them into Anki decks. A little extra motivation on the go, and repetition of powerful ideas to remember.

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