Japan has the 2nd largest economy in the world. Japan is a prosperous country and has the most diverse economy in Asia. With a GDP of $4.9 trillion in 2005, Japan's economy is 2nd only to that of the U.S. The leading Japanese companies are among the largest, most efficiently run, and most well-known firms in the world. Familiar names like Sony, Toshiba, Sanyo, Casio, Canon, Minolta, Honda, Toyota, Mitsubishi, and many others have infiltrated the world market in a variety of sectors.
Knowing Japanese brings business opportunities. Japanese consumers spend 100s of billions of dollars each year on consumer goods and services like food, clothing, travel, and entertainment. The typical household has over $100,000 in savings and a disposable monthly income of $3,800. With all of that cash to spend, it is perhaps not surprising then that the United States exports more goods and services to Japan than any other overseas destination. In 2004, exports to Japan accounted for $54 billion of the U.S. GDP. In addition to these exports, 1000s of U.S. companies have successful branches in Japan. In 2004 alone, U.S. businesses spent $78 billion in direct investment in Japan.
Japanese is a gateway to other Asian languages & cultures. Throughout its history, Japan has been shaped by the influence of Asia's great civilizations: India, China, and Korea. While the cultures of these Asian countries do differ, Asian cultures together share many similarities that differentiate them from Western ways and norms. So a study of Japanese can open your perspective on the values that other Asian nations share with Japan, including religious beliefs, ethics, and aesthetics.
Japanese-speakers are the Internet's 3rd largest language group. The Japanese make up the third largest language community on the Internet, after only English and Chinese speakers. An estimated 88 million Japanese, or 9.6% of the world's online population, are connected to the Internet. Knowing Japanese can connect you to these people in an instant.
The Japanese are innovators. Considering that Japan is geographically isolated island nation that is densely populated and poor in natural resources makes the strength of the Japanese economy seem even more impressive. The Japanese have relied on their creativity and scientific know-how to succeed not only economically but also in ecology- and effiency-oriented ways.
Japanese cultural exports are exploding.From anime to sushi bars, karaoke to manga, bonsai to origami, Japanese culture has become part of international culture. A knowledge of the language will give you direct access to Japanese film, animations, and comic books, give you insight into the special terminology used in your favorite martial art, help you understand the cultural basis for kamikaze training and the origin of the samurai warrior, and develop your ability to order sashimi like a native at your favorite Japanese restaurant!
Knowing Japanese will set you apart from the crowd. The majority of people who learn a foreign language choose a European language like Spanish, French, German, or Italian. Choosing a less commonly learned language will pop out on your resume and differentiate you from the crowd.
The Japanese are international tourists.With all of the disposable cash in their pockets, 16.8 million Japanese tourists headed to destinations abroad in 2004. In a survey, 94% of Japanese visitors to the U.S. reported shopping during their stay, and more so than any other group, the Japanese were more likely to pay for goods and services in cash.
It's not as hard as you think! It's true that Japanese has a much different system of writing than English or any other European language. However, foreigners can get by with learning the 44 or so hiragana or katakana characters that represent sounds in much the same way as the English alphabet does.
Japanese is a stepping stone to learning other Asian languages. Like other languages of Southeast Asia, Japanese is a highly analytical language, relying heavily on function words rather than extensive systems of inflection to denote linguistic properties. These languages also share a similar subject-predicate sentence structure.
Where is Japanese spoken?
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What does Japanese look like?
What does Japanese sound like?
Did you know these words come from Japanese?
Bonsai "tray gardening"; the art of tending miniature trees
Haiku, a very short poem consisting of three lines of 5, 7, and 5 morae (not syllables as commonly thought)
Kabuki, a traditional form of Japanese theatre
Karaoke, "empty orchestra"; entertainment where an amateur singer accompanies recorded music
Kirigami, similar to origami, but involves cutting in addition to folding
Origami, artistic paper folding
Kanban, literally a "signal" or "sign" signals a cycle of replenishment for production and materials and maintains an orderly and efficient flow of materials throughout the entire manufacturing process (part of Six Sigma).
Keiretsu, a set of companies with interlocking business relationships and shareholdings
Tycoon (from "taikun"), "great prince" or "high commander", later applied to wealthy business
Kimono, a traditional full-length robe-like garment still worn by women, men and children
Edamame, soybeans boiled whole in the green pod and served with salt
Ginkgo or ginnan, a gymnospermous tree (Ginkgo biloba) of eastern China that is widely grown as an ornamental or shade tree and has fan-shaped leaves and yellow fruit (the word is derived from 17th Century Japanese ginkyō)
Hibachi, a small, portable charcoal grill; used in North America to refer to a teppan or a small
Shichirin like aluminium or cast iron grill
Sake, an alcoholic beverage, brewed from rice. In Japanese, the word can also refer to alcoholic drinks in general
Soy from shoyu
Sukiyaki a dish in the nabemono-style (one-pot), consisting of thinly sliced beef, tofu, konnyaku noodles, negi, Chinese cabbage (bok choy), and enoki mushrooms among others
Sushi a dish consisting of vinegared rice combined with other ingredients such as raw fish, raw or cooked shellfish, or vegetables
Teriyaki, a cooking technique where fish or meat is being broiled/grilled in a sweet soy sauce marinade
Tofu tōfu bean curd. Although the word is originally Chinese, it entered English via Japanese.
Wasabi, a strongly flavoured green condiment commonly known as Japanese horseradish
Shogun, shōgun, the title of the practical ruler of Japan for most of the time from 1192 to the Meiji Era
Judo judō, refers to the Olympic sport.
Zen, from Chinese (Mandarin Chán), originally from Sanskrit Dhyāna / Pali Jhāna, a branch of Mahāyāna Buddhism.
Geisha, traditional Japanese artist-entertainers
Rickshaw (from jinrikisha), a human-pulled wagon
Sayonara is the Japanese term for "goodbye" (note, though, that in Japanese, it has formal and final connotations: one would not say it if one expects to meet again soon)
Sensei is the Japanese term for "master", "teacher" or "doctor". It can be used to refer to any authority figure, such as a schoolteacher, professor, priest, or politician.
Shiatsu, a form of massage
Sudoku, a number placement puzzle, also known as Number Place in the United States.
Tsunami, literally "harbour wave"; Large wave caused by earthquakes or other underwater disturbances.
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