Fully immersing yourself in Japan’s culture is absolutely key to mastering Japanese. Japanese culture is amazing. It is wild. It is weird. It is deep. If you have yet to visit Japan, you will be in for one of the best adventures of your life. If you get the chance to study abroad for a semester, take it. If you can live and work in Japan after college as an English teacher, do it. And if you can make Japanese part of your career, live the dream.
With all this non-stop contact with Japanese culture, there is a bad habit you need to avoid that sometimes starts to creep up among foreigners. Foreigners start making too many comparisons to their own culture, start developing a dislike of their own culture, and eventually try everything they can do to avoid it and put it down.
For the most part this shouldn’t be a big deal. It’s your life; do whatever you want. Follow whatever you want. But there are 2 things you need to watch out for if you start to fall down this dangerous path.
1. You will miss out on gaining a deeper appreciation for both your own culture and Japanese culture
Learning to appreciate your own culture and Japanese culture results in a double reward. You see things that you never saw before in both. You achieve a modern cultural enlightenment. Don’t underestimate the benefit of this.
If this doesn’t appeal to you, more practically:
2. Japanese people are dying to talk to you about your culture
When you meet or talk with Japanese people, culture is one of your biggest conversation points. It’s what will intially get Japanese people interested in you and gives you the ability to easily make friends. Enter a conversation with “I don’t really like my country, I don’t know anything about my country’s media, or I don’t know anything about what is happening in my country” and you will very abruptly end the possibility of many long lasting conversations and relationships. Japanese love foreign culture and you don’t want to turn them away.
Try reversing it for a moment. You love Japan, Japanese and Japanese culture. You meet a Japanese person and want to dicuss something related to the above three. The response they give is “Yea, I don’t like Japan or the Japanese language.” Did you just lose a bit of interest?
Solving one final contradiction
The point of the Japanese Level Up method is to fully immerse yourself into Japanese/Japanese culture for as much as you can every day. You don’t want to be spending time on English things when you don’t have to. The simple way to keep up with your own culture while fully immersing yourself in Japanese is to keep up with your culture in Japanese. Read Japanese newspapers of your country’s news. Read Japanese websites discussing your country’s current events and media. Read best selling books of your country translated into Japanese. Watch your country’s movies dubbed into Japanese. Keep this mentality: do whatever a Japanese person would do who was interested in your country but spoke no English.
What do you think? Keeping your own culture not worth the trouble?
Founder of Jalup. iOS Software Engineer. Former attorney, translator, and interpreter. Still watching 月曜から夜ふかし weekly since 2013.