Why learn Japanese? If you're asking yourself why you should learn Japanese, then it sounds like you're on the fence about whether or not to start.
If you’re just starting out on your language learning journey, it can feel overwhelming to look ahead and see all of the challenges and concepts waiting for you. Don’t get discouraged!
By the way, if you want to learn Japanese fast and have fun while doing it, my top recommendation is Japanese Uncovered which teaches you through StoryLearning®.
If you’re ready to get started, click here for a 7-day FREE trial.
Why Learn Japanese: 12 Reasons to Start
Learning a foreign language comes with a huge number of benefits, and Japanese, in particular, opens the gateway to unique opportunities you might not even realize. It's not only the ability to converse with native speakers, but learning Japanese can open up a world you never knew existed.
Here are twelve fascinating reasons to speak Japanese—and they barely scratch the surface of just how far Japanese language ability can take you.
1. Japanese Knowledge Opens Access to Hobbies
You may already know that Japan is one of the largest exporters of some of the most prominent hobbies in the world. From J-pop music to video games and Japanese movies, there’s a lot to love that comes from Japanese language and culture.
Learning about a new culture is always eye-opening. Even if you have no interest in speaking Japanese on a day-to-day basis, knowledge of the language can open a lot of opportunities to enriching hobbies that might bring you a lot of joy.
As far as video game studios, remember that powerhouses such as Nintendo, Square Enix, Capcom, Konami, Sony, and Sega all come from Japan. Not all games are released to all audiences, and knowing Japanese will gain you access to games only released in Japan.
But don’t forget that there’s a lot more than video games when it comes to Japanese hobby exports. Anime and manga are another huge realm of enjoyment for a lot of people, but don’t stop there. Consider origami, bonsai, and more!
2. Japanese Is Linked To Other Language Opportunities
Next up on our list of reasons to learn Japanese is how the language gives you a global perspective. One of the nicest things about Japanese is that it’s related to some of the other languages in other Asian nations.
If you spend time learning the kanji writing system, the character system of Japanese, you already have an advantage for dipping your toes into Chinese!
For example, the word “college” is the same in both Japanese and traditional Chinese characters: 大学. In Chinese, this would be read as dàxué, while Japanese reads it as daigaku. You might note that the first character, 大, is either da (in Chinese) or dai (in Japanese).
The Japanese language developed from Chinese roots, so you may find the transition from one to the other easier than you think. Remember that all language skills are transferable, so your Japanese language skills can help you out more than you realise. Japanese could be a gateway language for other languages.
3. Expand Your Business Opportunities
As you may have expected, Japan is a burgeoning business metropolis and has the third largest economy in the world. You need only take a quick look at places like central Tokyo to see that knowledge of Japanese broadens your access to the Japanese economy, business contacts and job opportunities.
If you’re considering learning another language to open up work possibilities or look for new business opportunities to partner with existing businesses, Japanese is certainly a worthwhile choice to consider.
On average, almost $100 billion is spent each year in a combination of direct investments within Japan and in exports to the country.
Those who speak Japanese plus another language are in high demand and knowledge of the language can seriously benefit your professional life. When you learn Japanese to use in the workplace, you should also learn about Japanese business etiquette, as other cultures often conduct business differently to your own background.
You may also find that some subsets of the workforce—such as teaching English—are almost always hiring. So if you've always had the call to teach English and want to experience other cultures, start learning Japanese!
4. Make New Friends And Broaden Your Horizons
Of course, Japanese language knowledge doesn’t stop in the classroom. You can use what you learn!
Whether you choose to connect with a pen pal from Japan or visit Japan yourself, you will find yourself more equipped than ever to make genuine connections and expand your perspective on the world.
There are many opportunities within Japan that go beyond the typical tourist sites and delve into experiences speaking with native speakers where knowledge of the Japanese language usage is vital.
You don’t need to miss out on these opportunities if you spend time increasing your mastery of Japanese. The friends that you make could remain friends for the rest of your life!
What's more, understanding Japanese culture can also help you to get an insight into similar Asian cultures.
5. Deepen Your Appreciation Of Japanese Culture
In a similar vein as broadening your horizons, your deep dive into Japanese will unveil a lot more about Japanese culture than what you would get from English-translated materials.
Japan is known for having some highly unusual cultural traits which are hard to understand if you're looking in from the outside. If you can read cultural material from Japan in the original language, you will get a lot more insight and understanding.
Learning Japanese allows you to more fully understand everything about the rich culture, from important events and ceremonies to the way that people behave when they meet you.
Language and culture are intertwined and the language tells you so much about the culture. That’s why Japanese has –masu form, keigo, and kenjougo as just a few of the ways to change formality and tone. Learning Japanese will help you discover how it differs from your own culture.
Understanding Japanese culture is easier when you speak the language—even if you’re starting from scratch!
6. Speaking Other Languages Makes Travel Easier
Travelling to Japan is one of the things that makes learning Japanese the most exciting.
English speakers aren't so common in Japan, especially outside the larger cities. So, if you want to discover Japan and its secrets off the beaten path, knowledge of the language will get you much further than if you only stick to your own language.
Imagine discovering secret spots, and trying delicious Japanese food because you can interact properly with most people. Learning Japanese shows appreciation for the culture and you'll be seen differently from the average tourist.
7. Boost Your Memory And Brain Function
Of course, we can harp on how awesome Japan is all we want, and a lot of people would tend to agree. That being said, learning Japanese can help you in more ways than just connecting you with Japanese people and culture.
Did you know that learning a second (or third, or fourth…) language literally boosts your cognitive skills and how your brain functions?
That’s not an exaggeration—studies have shown that brains that remain engaged with learning languages tap into the same modes of operation that children do when they’re learning to speak.
This is called plasticity, and it refers to how effectively your brain learns and remembers new things.
If you encourage plasticity in your brain, you're more likely to remain quick-witted, and your overall cognitive function increases.
In fact, those who regularly exercise their language-learning muscles boost memory and recall and are able to hold more items in their short-term (or “quick access” memory) than those without practice.
So when you're doing grammar exercises or mastering the writing system, you're boosting your brain function at the same time.
8. Level Up Your Native Language Too
While two highly unrelated languages might not have a single root or sound in common, there’s still a lot that they share.
All languages are made up of constituent parts, like nouns, verbs, and sentence structure. By mastering these elements in a foreign language piece by piece, you are more equipped to identify them in your first language and any others you already speak.
This comes with a number of benefits. People who speak at least two languages tend to find learning new content easier, and they average more advanced word choice than their monolingual peers. You can level up in two languages at once!
9. Multi-Lingual People Are Better Decision-Makers
Part of increasing your overall brain health by learning a language is improving how you make decisions.
As it turns out, people who know an additional language beyond their native tongue make better choices overall, and especially in that language. Scientists are still studying why, but it appears that you are more logical and rational in a non-native language.
They posit that it has something to do with the areas of your brain that activate when you learn new languages. Because new languages are often taken in factually—here’s a list of vocabulary words, and don’t forget these verb forms!—they stimulate the rational part of the brain.
Compare this to the emotional feeling you get when you hear “I love you” or “I’m proud of you” in your native language.
Studies show that these types of statements produce electrical activity on your skin that indicates an emotional response—but not in languages you’ve learned later. You’re training your brain to make better decisions by practicing a non-native language!
10. Japanese Improves Your Spatial And Interpretive Skills
Of course, the brain train doesn’t stop there, and there are some things that Japanese in particular can contribute to your cognitive abilities.
Think of all the characters that you learn as part of your Japanese language education. Those who study languages with written characters rather than solely phonetic letters stand to improve their spatial reasoning and visual interpretation.
Part of the reason this happens is because Japanese has you taking pieces of kanji and putting them together in new orders. This exercises the part of the brain that certain questions on IQ tests also do. You know the ones—take a shape, flip it three times, and then identify what it looks like. This is called spatial intelligence, and it has to do with visualization, mental reasoning, and object permanence.
This can help you in a lot of other ways, from improving your ability to dance (proprioception, or having a better visualization of what your body looks like in space) to becoming better at solving puzzles. Japanese has you covered!
11. Learning A New Language Is Great For Personal Growth
Starting to learn a new language is no easy task, especially difficult languages such as Japanese.
If you want to make progress in your chosen language, you will need disciple and perseverance. The only way to improve is through consistent practice and study.
These are great transferable skills that you can take into other areas of your life.
12. You'll Stand Out From The Crowd
If you're an English speaker, chances are you were offered to learn a foreign language like French, German, or Spanish at school. Not many native English speakers choose to learn Asian languages as they opt for an easier European language.
Learning Japanese will help you stand out from the crowd and perhaps even bring you new career opportunities.
Why Learn Japanese? For The Huge Number Of Benefits To Your Life
So, why learn Japanese? Of course, the only real reason you need to study Japanese is that you want to.
But if you’re looking for more motivation, there are a lot of contributions that Japanese study can make to your life and wellbeing—not only academically but also personally, mentally, and in your work.
Don’t give up on Japanese just because it seems tough. Like any language, it can turn into a snowball. Get started with something small, and the further you roll, the bigger—and easier, and faster—you’ll start to pick things up.
And of course, if you want to make learning Japanese both fun and effective, use the StoryLearning® method and read stories to pick up Japanese naturally.
Why do you want to learn Japanese, did any of the reasons in this blog inspire you? Share your thoughts in the comments.