How My Reason for Studying Japanese Evolved
Everyone has a reason for studying Japanese. This reason exists from day 1. Without it, you would never have even started your first “How do I learn Japanese” Google search (which sadly does not bring up Jalup as the first search result).
Top 3 reasons
- Video games
Not surprising at all because they are some of the most worldwide spread material and they are ridiculously fun. No one is starting to learn Japanese because they like green tea (or maybe you are)?
But your reason is not stagnant. It is constantly evolving. Most people starting Japanese only have a very superficial understanding of Japan, so it’s only natural that as you get more involved, your reasons start blooming like cherry blossoms over a bunch of drunk people who are not supposed to be drinking in the park because hanami was banned (whatttt?)
It is often something you never pictured yourself enjoying when you first started. These reasons are fun and show how Japanese changes you. So I thought I would take a post where we could share some of this goodness.
Answer in the comments:
1. What was your initial reason(s) for studying Japanese?
2. How has it evolved now?
Founder of Jalup. iOS Software Engineer. Former attorney, translator, and interpreter. Still watching 月曜から夜ふかし weekly since 2013.
At first my aim was to understand simple anime like Doraemon and Shinchan.
Then it was simple Visual Novels like Gyakuten Saiban.
Now, it’s to read Stein;Gate 0. It would probably a few months though. I bought the game cd to keep me motivated.
My first reason was to understand Japanese media without translation, but since I’m good enough for that now, my goal is to improve my reading speed that I can read Japanese as fast asa German (my mother tongue) and English.
I’m in my 30s and first discovered my love of anime and manga a year ago. I first wanted to try and learn Japanese because a lot of the things I wanted to watch and read aren’t in English. Now after a year and a half it has evolved from that to…I want to pursue a career in translating, subtitling, or teaching/tutoring Japanese as a second language. I want to change careers anyway and my love of Japan/Japanese has changed me so much in just a short amount of time. All these years I’ve searched for my passion and I think I finally found it is such an unexpected place! I don’t know if I will ever get good enough to translate and I don’t have the money to go back to school and get a bachelors but I am hoping that I can fulfill my dream somehow.
I took my first Japanese class at the end of junior high because I loved anime and manga. Since then, after almost three years of study, my interest in anime and manga in itself has waned, and I’ve come to view them more as cool study tools, but I’m still continuing to study the language. Why? I’ve fallen in love with the Japanese language, and want to continue studying it simply for the sake of studying and being awesome at it. In addition, my love and knowledge of Japanese has opened the doors to so many opportunities. Having been to Japan twice in the past year and a half for missions work, I’ve been exposed to so many different things. I don’t want to major in it in college, but I’ve put a great deal of time and effort to this language, and I want to be good at it. I’m only a junior in high school and barely have my drivers license, but if I’ve come this far before even being a legal adult, I can’t wait to see where I’m at in another three years.
The only reason I started learning was that I had just starting watching my first anime in Japanese and thought it’d be “cool” to know a few of the words they were saying. But there’s no way I’d study for more than a week or two, right? Well now I don’t just want to understand anime, but manga, and video games as well (I thought I would never be interested in manga). And also speaking fluently with natives and possibly live in Japan have a job involving it. Yeah, it turned out to be more “cool” than I could have imagined.
Initial Fuel: Desire to read/watch native materials (especially dramas, manga, cute/shoujo stuff…). Just enjoy the language/cultural exploration. Immeasurable, general aim to understand/explore/experience all the things!
Worst Hurdles: Not sure of my ability to do it or what exactly I’m doing.
Response: Experiment, baby steps, find mentors, and see where it goes.
Newer Fuel: Desire to listen/write/speak (i.e. connect) better with Japanese-speaking friends/pen pals. More measurable, specific aims that reflect my individual personality/interests: sing more songs with greater ease (i.e. translate/learn X song for karaoke with friends), learn more recipes/crafts/etc (to cook/make for loved ones), learn maps/geographical names (for traveling purposes and understanding when my friends describe their hometowns/etc), read XYZ books (queued on my bookshelf), learn more conversational fillers for adding warmth/polish to friendly interactions (i.e. more natural things to say when coming/going/between activities — to compliment, show interest, help comfort/relax, build connection, express joy that will meet again soon, etc)…
Worst Hurdles: Translated materials (ex: textbooks for English-speakers) and stilted conversations with friends (i.e. being limited by our combined vocabulary) aren’t satisfying any more.
Response: GOOD! More reason to put in the time/effort to improve! Finish RTK, make the J-J switch, and 日本語できるだけ with friends, native materials, etc! Above all, be patient. You’ve only been studying for 2 1/2 years. You’re just a toddler! You’re not even in language-preschool. On the other hand, think of what you’ll be able to do when you’re a language-kindergartener, etc.
As time goes by, I also find it helpful to savor “lightbulb” moments more, no matter how small. They help me be more patient and trust that I am making “progress” overall, even when I can’t sense it at the moment.
[Recent example: there is a San-x theme called すみっコぐらし. I had been wondering for a while about the theme because, visually, the mix of characters seems random. A bear? A plant? Is that a kappa-penguin or something? How are they connected? Are they just random cute critters, or are they some kind of imaginary community? However, I finally took a moment to read the website, and it all makes sense! Basically, they’re misfits! For example, a polar bear that doesn’t like cold…and my favorite: the tail leftover from エビフライ (that nobody wants to eat) ^_^…etc Read more for yourself here: http://www.san-x.co.jp/sumikko/profile/ ]
Initially: very vague reasons. I’ve always been intrigued by Japan. By chance I came across an anime for the first time and liked it, which was the spark. The intellectual challenge appealed.
Now: I began watching anime to help with Japanese and totally fell in love with it. I want to understand more in the native language. I’ve made several Japanese friends on a trip out there and I want to communicate with them better. I keep bumping into Japanese people, including those with poor English, and I would so like to be able to talk to them.
Also, sheer bloody mindedness. I’ve started this quixotic quest so I shall jolly well finish it!
Yep, started with anime. But now I barely have time to watch anime, and am learning Japanese for my career.
It all started with Perfume <3
It has evolved into mostly idol groups and tv shows.
By the time I started on Japanese, I already had experience teaching English in Asia (South Korea and China (which is amazing considering I barely even know what grammar is)) but I really couldn't find anything that really kept me interested in studying those languages. Japan has Perfume <3 I think about my life there often, and getting lost in all things Japanese brings me back to my days living in that general area (all 3 countries are different, but very similar). So I guess that's another thing that keeps me going now. It's a way to connect back to that area I used to live in and still love very much.
1. I just wanted to be fluent in every aspect. I fell for the culture and really liked anime.
2. Now I just have a huge love of reading and so am focused more on the written side of Japanese.