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Life is too short NOT to learn Japanese

Life is too short NOT to learn Japanese

BEFORE I went to Japan, I was convinced, that I would never be able to master that language. DURING my trip to Japan, I was highly motivated and convinced to master the language system, in like, a day. TODAY, I am convinced, that I might master the language, in what would be considered an inacceptable time frame, for anyone with the slightest spark of ambition.

Japanese is a fascinating writing system, that shows history, tradition and modernity, through four writing systems. There are Kanji, Hiragana, Katakana and Romaji characters.

Kanji signs are complex and have Chinese ancestry. Hiragana is the ‘simple’ Japanese alphabet and Katakana expresses mainly foreign (many English!) words. When you can read Katakana letters, you can understand them, because they sound familiar. Very cool. Romaji are Latin letters that Japanese incorporated without fuss, but truthfully, the main things to ‘read’ in Romaji are things like ‘Coca Cola’.

Japanese is art. If it was music, it would be as serious as Mozart’s Requiem, and light hearted like Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. I marvelled at Japanese writing on walls, signs and magazines because it is most DECORATIVE, beautiful and feminine. Japanese characters are graceful elements (Hiragana), complex stamp like pictures (Kanji), mixed with more comic and simple characters (Katakana), blending, to form alluring strings of writing. Above all, it may not be pretty easy, but it sure is PRETTY.

The other thing I love about Japanese, is that its function is NOT to show off. Japanese has been formed by supernatural beings, to convey peaceful ideas, express wonderful thoughts, to engage in friendly talk. It is reserved and respectful to its recipient. Shouting in Japanese sounds ridiculous. Unlike the loud, mostly dominant, harsh Arabic, American and most European languages. Japanese language conveys tranquillity and balance – if FENG SHUI was a language, it would be Japanese.

Its beauty lies in MODESTY and EFFICIENCY.

The writing system is also very flexible. This is a metro sign in Tokyo. The main station is written horizontally, the stations vertically.

Japanese horizontal, vertical writing Metro


Using limited writing space to the limit. The Tokyo metro map shows great space-efficiency-oriented typography.

space-efficiency-oriented typography Tokyo metro map


Kanji. This is a sign, which consists of 20 strokes that have a given sequence. The meaning is not straight forward and depends on context, like most Kanji. Japanese people, you are divine creatures that inhabit Earth. Look at this.

Japanese Kanji sign with a sequence of 20 strokes


Bring it on, Japanese! Most of the time, my motivation thresholds are as high, as they were in Tokyo. This is where it all started. Seeing all those different writing systems I couldn’t decipher, mixed with some Latin letter words. Japanese writing is very appealing to aesthetic minds (and big shoppers).

Tokyo city different writing systems



I have this helpful app, called JA Sensei, for Android, that I want to share, if you feel the same about Japan and are a total beginner in Japanese language acquisition, like myself. I am not getting any money for this BTW, rather did the app cost me, to be fair, a small amount.

JA Sensei has neat features, that keep me motivated to learn Japanese signs and vocabulary. You can learn vocabulary by LISTENING to the words. You can even DRAW single letters on your display, when learning to write Japanese. You can quiz yourself and JA Sensei will give you feedback on your performance. Through that app, I am learning to read Hiragana (which I keep forgetting) and to name all body parts (which need revision). Body parts are very useful, if you like Japanese HORROR.

JaSensei Japanese learning App for Android JaSensei Japanese learning App for Android

If you know any cool FREE apps to learn Japanese, you are more than welcome to share those!



I sort of missed out on the Manga trend, but I am thinking that Japan’s most terrifying and popular horror movie will do a fine job for Japanese language learners. I recently watched part zero and part one of RINGU, with gorgeous creepy Sadako Yamamuro. Beware of her power and curse. It’s no splatter flick, we are talking 90s soft horror, but still scary due to its suggestiveness.

How is that going to do anything about Japanese skills? Well, it is always good to listen to the language you want to master. In RINGU, plot and dialogue are not complex and provide some easy to repeat sentences. Even I, the blood thirsty bloody beginner, could understand names of body parts, which were mentioned during a horrific autopsy scene in the movie. I felt ecstatic rather than distressed. That can’t must be a good sign.

This was while watching the less successful part two, called RASEN – I do not know why on Earth there are TWO versions of the last part of RINGU. And then there is the American version, too. RINGU has been remade by Hollywood and was named accordingly, The RING.

If you are not watching RINGU to learn the language, then watch it to learn about Japanese movie history. Japanese long-haired girl, climbing out of TV, is still a profitable trend, as I found out in Japan, seeing those promotion treats for horror junkies. SADAKO 3D came out in May 2012!

Sadako Yamamura promotion for Ringu in 3d


If you like Japanese, then you will enjoy this introduction to the Japanese language in Germany, as much as I did.


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