One of the reasons why it is important to learn Japanese is because globalization opens international markets. After the United States and China, Japan is the world’s third-largest economy. As the fourth and fifth-biggest economies in the world, Japan is larger than Germany and the United Kingdom combined.
With 128 million people speaking it as their first language in only two countries, the Japanese language is the ninth most widely spoken language in the world. There are 128 million native speakers worldwide.
While it might be more difficult to locate a “Japantown” than a Chinatown, there is a large Japanese diaspora worldwide. Japan’s largest community is in Brazil, followed by the United States, the Philippines, China, the United Kingdom, Peru, and Canada.
In this article we give you 10 reasons to learn Japanese, and we discuss other advantages of speaking this exciting Asian language. Let’s dive in!
1. It is the ideal gateway language
The language can be a gateway to other Asian languages but can be a challenge to learn. For obvious reasons, the Japanese language will seem very different for English speakers. Due to the use of two alphabets and characters, as well as honorifics and different ways of speaking, learning Japanese can be a challenge indeed! Moreover, Japanese has a complicated writing system. All this differences however doesn’t mean that learning Japanese is impossible for English speakers.
2. Japan is the world’s second-largest economy
Asia’s most diverse economy is located in Japan, a prosperous country. Japan’s economy grew to $4.9 trillion in 2005, making it the second-largest in the world. From 1980 until 2021 the GDP growth rate of the country averaged 0.43 percent, reaching an all-time high of 5.40% in the third quarter of 2020. One of the largest, most efficient, and best-known firms in the world is a Japanese company Toyota.
Chances are you will compete with or work for a Japanese entity, whether you are in business, engineering, manufacturing, research, economics, or politics.
3. It builds up your cultural awareness
Experiencing different cultures makes you more open-minded and curious. Japan has historically been an island nation. In addition to learning the language, you will learn more about Japan’s history, and you will better understand the differences that exist between Japanese and western cultures. You will also develop a cultural awareness about the language. Because of the uniqueness of the culture, certain words in Japanese cannot be translated into English or other languages.
Similarities, as well as many differences, exist between cultures. Regardless of where you are coming from, learning about a new culture very different from your own will open your mind and develop your cultural awareness.
4. It can lead to business opportunities
Approximately 100 billion dollars are spent each year on consumer goods and services in Japan, including food, clothing, travel, and entertainment.
Typical households have over $100,000 in savings and $2,800 in disposable income each month. Considering that the Japanese have this much cash to spend, it should come as no surprise that the United States exports more goods and services to Japan than to any other destination.
To win the trust of potential clients or customers in Japan, you need to communicate with them in their language. Furthermore, learning Japanese gives you an insider’s view of the culture in addition to developing proficiency in the language. A business deal can be made or broken by understanding the Japanese work ethic, their business etiquette, and avoiding cultural faux pas.
5. Japan is the 3rd largest language group on the internet
Only English and Chinese speakers are bigger online communities than Japanese speakers. 9.6% of the global online population resides in Japan, or 88 million people.
Learning Japanese will give you instant access to this audience. The people you will be communicating with could be future friends, colleagues, business associates, or even people you hope to work with.
6. You may be able to study abroad
In Japanese schools, all levels of education are held to high standards. Studying abroad in Japan would be a wonderful experience.
You will gain the most benefit from studying in a foreign country if you know the language well, so be sure to have a firm grasp of the Japanese alphabet before embarking on this undertaking.
7. Cultural exports from Japan are booming
Japan’s culture has become part of international culture, from anime to sushi bars, karaoke to manga, bonsai to origami. By understanding Japanese, you will be able to watch Japanese animation, comics, and films.
Additionally, you gain an understanding of the terminology used by your favorite martial art or craft. Understanding the origins of the samurai warrior, the cultural basis for kamikaze training or ordering sashimi like a native at your favorite Japanese restaurant: these are all experiences that will enrich your general culture and make you a more interesting and informed person.
8. Allows you to sing your favorite Jpop songs
You miss out on the full enjoyment of Jpop (Japanese pop music) if you don’t speak Japanese. You might think that it’s enough to hum along to the melody and sing the lyrics and words in English. But when you can understand the meaning and emotions behind certain songs, it is an entirely different experience.
9. Japan has many international tourists
In 2004 a record number of 16.8 million Japanese tourists travelled abroad because of all the disposable cash in their pockets. The number of Japanese tourists visiting the US that year was second only to the number of British tourists. The U.S. travel trade surplus was mostly driven by Japanese visitors in 2004, who spent $12.4 billion in the United States.
In 2019 the Japanese overseas travelers exceeded 20 million for the first time, reaching a new record and a long-standing goal. The Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) announced that the number of Japanese overseas travelers was up 5.9% year-on-year, exceeding 20 million for the first time in 2019.
A study found that 94% of Japanese visitors to the U.S. made purchases during their stay, and they were more likely to pay with cash than any other group.
10. It is easier than you think!
Despite the difficulty of learning any new language, your English skills give you an advantage when learning Japanese. That’s because, the basic sentence structure in Japanese is the same as in English: the SOV, or “subject-object-verb” structure.
The problem with learning the Japanese language is that its writing system is different from what you’re used to. Japanese is written in three ways: with kanji, hiragana, and katakana. The Hiragana and katakana alphabets are not particularly difficult to remember, but kanji is a major hurdle for learners who haven’t used and written in characters until then. But with regular practice, you will discover how easy Japanese characters are to learn. For more advice and insights on the Japanese alphabets and writing system, make sure to read our recent article “How Difficult is it to Learn Japanese Characters?”.
Many people begin by learning the hiragana and alphabet from their Japanese teacher, so if you plan to self-teach, consider learning these characters first.
One extra reason to learn Japanese
And finally, here is one more reason to learn Japanese! Did you know that the Japanese language has the fewest swear words? Actually, most of the offensive words that do exist in Japanese are either related to animals or local plants. It is considered that this is because Japanese people have a high sense of respect for each other, making insults rare. It is also true, that swearing in public is seen very badly and both young and old people avoid cursing in public or even in front of friends by fear to “loose face”.
A major benefit of globalization is the opening of new markets and the ability for countries to engage in trade more quickly, and for cultures to connect and learn from one another.
However, communication always poses an issue due to the differences in languages spoken by different nations, which is why it is becoming increasingly common for people to learn new languages.
You can efficiently learn Japanese with the help of mobile apps or websites such as italki. When learning with our online Japanese teachers your communication and understanding of Japanese will improve, and you will quickly develop an ability to speak Japanese.