Although getting good will certainly require lots of effort (as with any language), acquiring Japanese is by no means unachievable. An issue many people struggle with when learning a new language is motivation. Weighed down by responsibilities, it can be hard to find time to practice Japanese. However, if you know the benefits of knowing Japanese, it can help you to stay motivated and find more time to practice. In this article, we will try to figure out whether or not learning Japanese is a worthwhile use of your time.
Four Major Reasons Why You Should Learn Japanese
Since lifestyles and opinions vary, and what motivates one person may not motivate another, we have chosen four of the major reasons that can influence people to learn Japanese. Let’s check the reasons one by one.
Why Learn Japanese? (1): Economy
You will benefit from the Japanese economy, which is third largest in the world. For better or for worse, most Japanese people are not good at English or other foreign languages. Thus, if you are fluent in Japanese, it is likely you will be able to find a good job (e.g. getting a job for a Japanese company and negotiating business with that company’s foreign counterpart). Today, Japanese manufacturers like Toyota, Honda, Sony, and Panasonic are expanding all over the world. Toyota alone has 54 factories all around the world, with products being sold in 170 countries. Even if you live in your country, there is a possibility to get a good job in a Japanese company.
The most common Japanese business structure is called 終身雇用, which means lifetime employment. As you have probably already guessed, this is where one works for the same company their entire career. Recently, some Japanese companies have been westernizing themselves. However, 終身雇用 is still major in Japan . In exchange for dedicating one’s career, these kinds of Japanese companies offer you the comfort of a stable life, with a few years of job training, annual pay increases, bonuses, cooperate annuity, retirement allowance, etc. Japanese companies systematize their work process to make it easy for anyone to get a job. With high employment, the companies have less money to pay the higher ranking office officials, and thus the salary gap between low and high is relatively small. While you may not get a high salary, you won’t get a low one or get fired easily, either. When Japanese companies establish an overseas affiliated company, they may choose to localize its working conditions to match those of the foreign culture. However, their core values remain the same. Japanese companies highly value those who work for them for a long period of time. If you are someone who seeks a stable life, working for a Japanese company might be the perfect fit for you.
Why Learn Japanese? (2): Living Environment
If you’re fluent in Japanese, moving to Japan can be your option. One of the biggest benefits of living in Japan is safety and peace of mind. According to the 2015 Global Peace Index given by the Institute for Economics and Peace, Japan is the eighth safest country in the world.
If you look at the score in detail, Japan is the first most peaceful country in terms of social safety and security. Let me tell you my personal example. I rented a car when I traveled to Nagasaki, Japan. Then, after enjoying sightseeing, I returned the car to the dealer and started walking to a station. 10 minutes later, I noticed that the dealer was running after me while shouting, “Hey, you forgot your wallet in the car!” Can you believe it? That’s actually normal in Japan. According to the Metropolitan Police Department, even if you dropped your money, the percentage that it would be your hands again was 74.2% in 2014. Now, let’s hear opinions from people living Japan already.
The convenience in Japan is remarkable. For example, Japan has Convenience Stores which are literally very convenient. You can buy or use these kind of items or services for 24 hours every day: fast foods, meats, vegetables, spices, sweets, soft drinks, alcohol, medicine, clothes, cosmetics, toiletries, books, manga, DVDs, ATMs, mailing, printing, paying tax, utility, and insurance bills, restroom etc. As you can see from the map above, where red pins represent a convenience store, it’s available all throughout Japan. The service quality is also very high. We even have this saying, “お客様は神様 (customers are Gods).” You can receive high quality services from any establishment at affordable prices.
When it comes to moving to Japan, your concern is probably how to acquire a VISA. As Japan is facing an issue of an aging population, the opportunity for foreigners to get a job offer is expanding steadily. The closest way is to be an English teacher. The Japanese government hire English teachers and assign them to each public school. Private English schools are always looking for good English teachers. However, if you’re fluent in Japanese and have a profession, of course there are other options as well. Please check the following links later.
Why Learn Japanese? (3): Entertainment
The first encounter between you and the Japanese language may be Japanese subculture like manga, movies, animations and idols. By acquiring Japanese, you can deeply dive in the world. For example, one of the most popular idol groups in Japan is AKB48. The concept is “idols you can meet.” In fact, you can see them if you go to their own theater. You can even talk with them if you draw a number and purchase their CD. The following video shows how Akusyukai (lit. handshake session) will work. If you know Japanese, you can enjoy a conversation. *Note: This video can be provocative. If you don’t like Japanese idols, we recommend not to watch it.
Apart from the above, the more you know Japanese, the more you can enjoy Japanese subculture. Needless to say, the number of manga, animations, movies, and books which are translated from Japanese to English is very limited. In addition, translations between languages cannot be perfect, so you cannot understand the real nuances if you follow English translations. Moreover, a lot of Japanese people, including idols, singers, cartoonists, actors, etc. are using Social Network Service. Thus, you can interact with your favorite people via Twitter or Facebook.
Why Learn Japanese? (4): Cultural Maturity
This is not only through learning Japanese, but also by learning any foreign language. Through the learning process and interactions with native speakers, you will come to know a different culture. Such new insight will make your life more colorful and wonderful. As the world progresses in globalization, foreign countries and people are becoming closer to you. For example, your mobile phone may be designed in the USA, the part may be made in China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Malaysia, and then they may be assembled in China. You may need to communicate with a foreigner in your workplace or school tomorrow. There are various religions and races. In such a beautiful, diverse world, how can people nicely live together? This is the issue in 21st century.
There is a saying in Japan; “ご飯粒を残すと目がつぶれる (If you leave even a piece of rice [on your bowl], your eyes will be crushed).” This sounds crazy, doesn’t it? If you were raised in Japan, this would be what your parents often told you. In fact, a lot of Japanese people regard leaving nothing on your plate as good manners. The origin of this culture comes from our traditional religion. It was said that Gods dwelled in nature, from the sun to a petal, and even Gods dwelled in creations of people. A piece of rice is still a creation by farmers. We evaluate a piece of rice in terms of spirituality, not material. Therefore, we shouldn’t leave anything on our plate. Nowadays, Japanese people are not so religious, but the custom still remains.
Like the above, as you learn a foreign language, you will come to know a lot of different cultures. The experience, which is to understand unreasonable things, will be greatly helpful when you need to communicate with people who have a completely different background. A good life is built with good relationships. Let’s enjoy life with diverse people while learning a foreign language.
We hope that you have found Japanese worthwhile to learn. Please clearly imagine who you are after acquiring Japanese. Japanese can certainly be acquired, but you need to invest your time and money. Since you already know how to learn Japanese, all you need to do is just to fire up your motivation. Good luck!
- Realities of Japan: Working in a Rural City in Japan
- Complete Roadmap: How to Speak Japanese
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