(Warning: this is a parody on all of the articles out there that try to discourage you and tell you why you shouldn’t/can’t/won’t learn Japanese. Viewer discretion advised…)
Interested in Japan? Plan on ever going over? Then you should learn a little Japanese. Phrases like “I’m a foreigner,” “I don’t speak Japanese,” “Do you speak English?” and “Help . . .” go a long way. But please, oh god please, only learn a little. Anything more than a little is a lot. And learning a lot takes a lot more time than just a little. Beyond this, you need to do some reflecting on whether you really want to continue learning Japanese. And since you don’t know, I’m going to tell you.
It’s decision time. And decisions take time. I want you to sign up for Mars One. Wait 10 years. Take your one way trip to Mars in 2023. Landed and settled in? It’s time to think. There isn’t much else to do.
Do you really want to learn Japanese? No. You don’t. And I know best. Let’s learn why.
It’s going to take a looooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooong time (at least 1 year for each “o”)
Learning Japanese is a wild party? I wish I could tell you this. But really? Learning Japanese is the equivalent of counting every second of your remaining life with an abacus that is made of the fossils of a boring mathematician.
You think you can learn Japanese quickly? Awww, how cute. Like a puppy. I’m petting you right now because you are a cute puppy. You’ve seen websites that tell you can learn quickly? Japanese Level Up? More like Japanese Level Down!
You want to know about the few people I know that really mastered Japanese?
What time do you think they woke up every morning? 4am? Wrong! They didn’t sleep. They say Thomas Edison only slept like 20 hours a year. And since learning Japanese is the equivalent of inventing the light bulb if it was the year 1350, you better plan on lightening your sleep load.
Being awake wasn’t enough for them either. They created exactly 444 flash cards a day (It’s some weird Japanese superstition thing), lived at a language school, and actually on a daily basis drilled physical kanji into their bones. And this only covered 5% of their Japanese study schedule.
The big issue is that selfish Japanese learners always desire more. At first I just wanted to be able to ask where the bathroom was so that I didn’t have to piss my pants on a daily basis. But then I wanted to be able to have conversations with girls. And short conversations weren’t enough, so I wanted to have more complex conversations. And since they realized that wasn’t enough, I had to go become a doctor. And I’m still trying to figure out this whole brain surgery thing.
How long do I think it takes to learn Japanese? How old are you? 20? You might finally be able to have a fluent conversation as you are lying on your death bed.
You won’t be making it back as a human being capable of love or emotion
Of the 40,000 people I’ve seen study Japanese, only 3 have succeeded with any resemblance of respectable ability. After pulling out my “tabs on everyone” folder, I can tell you that everyone stopped (and may have committed suicide, but I can’t be sure).
Now it’s your choice. Your life. But it seems like a waste of time to buy a violin, take classes since you were 5 years old, have numerous rehearsals and concerts, and then 20 years later decide that you want to be a lawyer. Either become a violinist or don’t. Don’t try. Anyone who tries, but doesn’t do, doesn’t wear Nike shoes.
The average length of time most people last while studying Japanese is 20 days. In the beginning, you have the flame of Miyagi-san telling you to wax on and off. But eventually you realize that you are not going to win the tournament by learning 2 moves, regardless of how great your training montage was. You are going to realize that you are trying to bite off something much bigger than you can chew (like a 2-headed-alien-robot-dinosaur).
You must know how long this will take. If you plan on doing nothing else but Japanese for the rest of your life, please decide this before you start (that’s what Mars One is for). Trying something and subsequently giving up is just nonsense, and quite frankly ridiculous.
The cost of opportunities
According to my super awesome dictionary:
Opportunity cost: the loss of potential gain from other alternatives when one alternative is chosen.
An easy example:
You buy an apple for $1. You can eat it, throw it, paint it, bury it, or give it to your girlfriend for a birthday present. But wait! Rather than have a happy girlfriend, you could have taken that one dollar and bought a lottery ticket. With that lottery ticket, you could have won 200,000,000. With that 200,000,000 you could have bought an island in Japan, and then hope that China doesn’t contest that it is really their island.
Studying Japanese costs money. And without winning the above stated lottery, it may be too much for you. But the real cost is time. In the time until your death that it takes to learn Japanese, you could’ve watched every single episode of every single TV show on Netflix, three times. And of course Breaking Bad five times.
The problem with learning Japanese is it’s actual use value. Yeah, you can use it Japan. That’s about it. To be honest, I don’t even know if it has any value in Japan.
How long will you be in Japan for? Even if you make a pact with the devil to learn Japanese in 1 year in exchange for your soul, if you are only there for one year, you’ve lost your soul, and a year, to enjoy a year. What if you are only in Japan for a month. Year + soul > 1 month of enjoyment (without soul).
Get it? Do you know how many people spend their entire lifetime learning Japanese, finally arrive in Japan, and then realize they are already dead? Even if they squeeze a few years out of their remaining life, they realize that they don’t like Japan as much as their anime and manga, and go home, and die. Violinist to lawyer? No. Please.
There is no need to learn Japanese
Now I’ve traveled to around 193 countries, and in my experience, Japan is the only country that tourists need 0% knowledge of the language to get by. Most foreigners get by with grunts, smiles, and good looks, and live a highly successful and happy life if they decide to stay.
Pretty much everything is in English these days, and Japanese are known for being incredibly articulate in English. If you try to speak in great Japanese to these English masterminds that are Japanese people, they will either respond in English, or grunt back at you hoping you’ll understand. Japanese people love to speak in English, are very proud of their ability, and try to show it off at every chance they can get.
Knowing Japanese is like having a scarlet kanji engraved into your forehead
Wherever you go, people will want and desire with unbridled energy that you speak in English. To them, you are superman, and your special power is speaking English (despite them also being able to do it as well. Some rumors state that they have language absorbing powers, which is why they demand to hear English, so they can secretly use it to improve their own.)
You speaking English is like spitting ecstasy pills into their eyeballs.
Whether you go to the bank, a convenient store, or supermarket, they will hope, and pray that you are going to say “Hello” and spout out beautiful Shakespearean prose.
If you speak in Japanese, they will tell you how great your Japanese is (while secretly annoyed that they don’t have an opportunity to absorb your English as mentioned above). To try to get you to speak in English, they will reply in English.
If they have already absorbed enough English for the day, they may just compliment you on your feeble Japanese attempt. If you are one of those unicorn-like people with amazing Japanese, they will reply with the word “heyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy” no matter what you say because it actually turns out that Japanese only consists of one unit of vocabulary.
Go to a country on a vacation and you will have a great time, guaranteed. Go to a country and live in it? It’s gonna suck. Things cost money, and you are going to have work, and use that money you made for work in exchange to pay for goods and services. It’s a system I don’t want to be a part of, and I don’t quite get.
From what I’ve seen through my vast experience living in Japan, life in Japan consists of three things: clubbing, onsen and karaoke. Each of these things cost money. Some more than others. Working to make things possible sucks. Any place you have to work will drain the fun out of everything else.
Now, I think it’s quite obvious from this article that I like Japan and all aspects of Japanese. Everything is good in Japan except for the buildings, the people, and the scenery. They kind of all suck. But don’t let that stop you.
Made your choice?
Do you still really really really really really really . . .
Really . . .
Really want to learn Japanese? I’m fully cheering you on. And when you are discouraged, you can read this article over and over. Now please . . . Get your ass (back) to Earth!
For those of you thinking to yourself “Woah! What the hell did I just read?”
This is a parody version of Ken Seeroi’s article that appeared on Japan Today titled “Why You Shouldn’t Learn Japanese.” This article stirred up a bit of emotion and controversy among Japanese learners everywhere back in May of this year.
Some readers from Japanese Level Up actually e-mailed me the article and asked what I thought of it.
Now Ken did succeed in writing an article covering a different approach to the question of whether you should learn Japanese. His writing is good and controversial. He is humorous, spent a lot of time on this, and he represents a certain type of person that engages with Japan and Japanese.
Obviously I completely disagree with everything in the article. While I understand he wrote it over the top for laughs, and I don’t know how much and to what extent he actually believes about what he wrote, I think it is extremely negative, discouraging, bias, and exaggerated. But I’ve met people with his attitude (if that is his real attitude towards learning Japanese), so there is an audience for it, and I respect that.
So I replied to those readers who sent me this article with the general idea of the above, trying to reassure them that it is just one negative opinion.
Fast forward months later.
I wanted to write up another topic for why you should learn Japanese, continuing on a previous motivation article. So to get some ideas, I entered “Why you should learn Japanese” into Google. And this is what came up as the first search result:
His article was number one. Now I understand the way SEO works. He has a lot of shares on Twitter, Facebook, etc. His keywords are good. And his goal of being controversial paid off. It is a very popular article, and one he should be proud of.
Which I think is fine if it was the number one result for people searching for “Why you shouldn’t learn Japanese.” These Google searchers are most likely looking for a reason to quit or not to learn Japanese in the first place.
But the fact that this came up as the number one article for people who are searching for the complete opposite bothered me. People who enter this search phrase are probably either starting out on their Japanese adventure or are having a down point and need some motivation. They need a boost. What they get is this article.
So my goal with this parody is simple.
Take all the bad things I dislike about this article and exaggerate them to such beyond extreme levels that anyone reading would see this as absolutely ridiculous. Hopefully then, if they see his article, they won’t take the original too harshly. And maybe I can knock his search ranking off of number 1 (though probably unlikely due to the popularity of his article). At least if I can get it to like 3 or 4, I’d be happy.
And there you have it. See what happens when readers on this site send me articles by e-mail . . . Again, no ill-feelings to Ken or his article. I just had to offer my version of it. Hey, parody is flattery right?
Founder of Jalup. iOS Software Engineer. Former attorney, translator, and interpreter. Still watching 月曜から夜ふかし weekly since 2013.