The Asian island nation of Japan is home to over 125 million people, as well as one of the world’s most fascinating and unique cultures. Learning about Japan can be important whether you’re interested in the history of its prominent and changing role in global affairs, its popular and influential art, music, and animated movie genres such as anime, or Japanese cuisine such as sushi, sashimi, and tempura.
Learning about Japan can also be important for careers in business. According to the World Bank, Japan has a gross domestic product (GDP) of over $4 trillion, making it the world’s third largest economy. Leading Japanese companies such as Toyota, Mitsubishi, and Softbank are some of the world’s largest industrial and technology firms, and understanding the basic rules of Japanese etiquette can be critical to developing business relationships and closing deals.
Given the size of Japan’s economy, a familiarity with Japanese language and culture can be a tremendous asset for careers in many industries - particularly the technology sector, where Japan has long been a global leader. Even understanding the basics of Japanese pronunciation, communication, and etiquette can help bridge gaps in the business world that can be challenging for foreign companies given the specificities of the country’s business culture.
If you become fluent or near-fluent in the Japanese language, you can pursue a career as an interpreter or translator. This career path can offer exciting opportunities to travel, work with prominent business and political figures, and delve deeply into important texts of Japanese poetry and fiction. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, interpreters and translators earned a median annual salary of $51,830 in 2019, and these jobs are expected to grow much faster than average due to the increasing globalization of the economy.
Yes - or, hai In Japanese! Coursera offers opportunities to learn remotely about a wide range of languages and cultures from all over the world, including Japan. You can learn about Japan from top-ranked global universities like the University of Tokyo and Saint Petersburg State University no matter where you live. And because Coursera lets you learn on a flexible schedule, this opportunity can fit into your existing work or family life.
Anyone with an interest in Japanese culture or language can start learning about Japan, but it may be beneficial to have some basic knowledge of the country before you begin. If you are considering learning the Japanese language, you will likely need some soft skills like patience and persistence because the alphabet and phonetic systems are different from English. It can take some time to understand them. You also may find it helpful to feel comfortable making mistakes if you want to learn the language.
Learning about Japan may be right for you if you have a strong interest in the country’s history, language, or culture. The Japanese language can be a gateway to other Asian languages, such as Chinese and Korean. One of the writing systems used in Japanese uses Chinese characters, which can be helpful if you later decide to study Chinese. Japanese and Korean languages have similar grammar concepts, which may make it easier to learn Korean in the future. You also may enjoy learning about Japan if you like watching anime, playing video games, reading manga, or making sushi. Understanding cultural influences may deepen your understanding and appreciation of them.
Other topics related to Japan that you can study include broad subjects like history, economics, gastronomy, religion, and linguistics. You also may follow your interests and study specific topics associated with the country, like anime, manga, samurai, video games, and haiku. If you like learning about the arts and humanities, consider learning more about Japanese poetry, calligraphy, and music.
Places that may hire people with an interest or background in Japan include schools, hotels, restaurants, and organizations that work with Japanese companies. You may be able to apply your knowledge of the language or culture when interacting with customers and business partners. Learning the Japanese language also may an advantage when you’re looking for a job. It’s less commonly studied than other world languages, especially if you’re a native English speaker. Learning it may show that you’re a dedicated individual who is able to set goals and overcome challenges.
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