Nihongo ga hanseruyo ni narimashita

By on February 1, 2011

I came to Japan on assignment merely to start up a branch office with nointention of staying any longer than 10 months. I knew no language besides English and Italian. I recall how challenging my first few days, weeks, months in Japan were struggling to get by in a predominantly Japanese-speaking working environment. I did not see the need to learn Nihongo because one, I was only here for 10 months; two, I always had a support at work who spoke English; and three, I believed I did not have the talent to learn the language. But even so, I found myself entangled in unnecessary troubleshooting scenarios which I can very well say now were merely caused by communication and cultural gaffes.


Fast forward. Business picked up, I did 10 months, am now doing my tenth year and want to be around for more. What made me stay longer? The fact that communication and my life is working back to normal. Only after having snapped out of pessimism that I started discovering the thrill of learning something so useful and precious. How has learning Japanese turned around what used to be a boring life in Tokyo?


1. Freedom

Eversince I learned Japanese, I became completely free to move around and no

longer reliant on an interpreter.


2. Productivity

I did and still do a lot of negotiating at work. English expressions are quite direct to a Japanese listener and are so often misunderstood as brashness that could risk business relationships. By being able to express things the way it should be said in their language, I was able to get my message across, swing deals and get speedy results.


3. Mindset

Understanding Japanese exposed me to the local mindset enabling me to have a good grasp of how things are done to suit mutual interests and eventually create and build a healthy smooth flowing working relationship.


4. Friendship

Working with the Japanese is not only about business. It is also about forging congenial relations where both benefit. I now feel confident joking around with my colleagues and have a fun night out for some drinks or karaoke.


5. Communication Tool

Learning a language in a country where it is spoken yields maximum benefit to the learner. I have met loads of people who learned the language in another country

but are not able to communicate as effectively as someone who studied Japanese in Japan.


6. Skill

Learning a language skill opened me up to another opportunity to learn another Asian language: Chinese.


7. Cultural Appreciation

My family and I have never been more happy than being able to try out new restaurants, amusements and other cultural offerings around Tokyo.

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