Why Study Japanese?
Japanese is the official language of Japan and spoken by about 125 million people worldwide. Japanese is the original language of:
-animated films like Hayao Miyazaki’s My Neighbor Totoro, Spirited Away, Howl's Moving Castle, and Ponyo
-samurai films like Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai and Rashomon
-Kaiju (monster) films like those about Godzilla and Gamera
-manga comics and anime shows like Naruto, Sailor Moon, and Dragon Ball Z.
-trading card games like Pokémon and Yu-Gi-Oh!
For students who already love these things, watching them in the original Japanese can be a great way to practice their Japanese listening skills!
Japanese is the language of several Nobel prize-winning novels and famous poetry. The Haiku poetry form originates in Japan, as does the world’s first novel, Genji Monogatari (The Tale of Genji).
Japanese is the language of several martial arts like karate, aikido, judo, jujutsu, and kendo, whose practice relies on many core Japanese values like discipline, work ethic, and respect.
Even though Japanese is spoken by less people in the US than languages like Spanish, there are many opportunities available to those who use it. Although Japan is a small island country, its economic influence is huge! Who hasn’t heard of global companies like Honda, Toyota, Toshiba, Mitsubishi, Sony, or Nintendo? Many of these still maintain headquarters in Japan. There are great opportunities for those who are prepared to travel and speak to business partners in Japan. Additionally, teaching English in Japan has become popular among young people interested in Japanese language and culture and passionate about making connections with people abroad.
Japanese is unique among the languages currently offered at Dewey for using a writing system completely different from the alphabet used in English. Students who study Japanese will learn to “decode” and write Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji. Additionally, Japanese demands its speakers change how they speak to others depending on their relationship with them, teaching them to pay careful attention to relationships, manners, and respect.
Students who study Japanese will emerge with a richer understanding of the way language works in general, as well as come to appreciate the rich differences in culture around the world!