Japan's Must-Read Magazine

Reasons NOT to Learn Japanese

I’ve lived in Japan for 20 years and don’t speak a word of Japanese. Call me an idiot. Call me lazy. But make sure you call me these things in your perfect Japanese, which the learning of, you will discover (if you haven’t already), was a complete waste of your time and energy. And if you actually paid for Japanese lessons, maybe you should look up the word “sucker” in that well-worn English/Japanese dictionary of yours.

So you can know what’s going on
Believe me, you absolutely DO NOT want to know what’s going on around you in this country. Do you really want to know what those two old hags are saying about you on the train? Trust me, they aren’t talking about how thrilled the Emperor is to have you as a guest to this Great Island of Tolerance and Diversity. And even if they aren’t making racist comments, do you really need to hear about the incredible deals they got on fermented bean mush while you’re trying to read your Tom Clancy novel? Ignorance is bliss, baby. Trust me.

So you can make friends
Well isn’t that a charming little notion. Let’s go to Japan and make friends! Look, if you can’t make friends with your own kind, or at least with people who speak your language, then it’s time to put down that damn Gameboy. Japanese lessons? Take a Social Skills class instead, and if you can’t afford that, you can always order a Making Friends with Barney video from Amazon.

You want some Japanese lovin? Speak English. Speak it all night. The reason that guy / girl started talking to you in the first place is because they wanted to practice English. If they can’t speak English at all, they’re probably the offspring of some right wing mafia guy who would slit your throat just to watch you die.

Career advancement
Career? What career? Hey Einstein, the Japanese boom thing ended over twenty freakin years ago! You think you’re gonna get a job using Japanese when you get back home? Dream on. Oh sure, maybe you can get work sacking groceries at a Japanese import shop (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Or how about working for a Japanese company right here in Japan? Great idea if you like working excruciatingly long days for suck-ass pay while sitting across from some dude with perpetual gyoza breath and skin so oily you can use his forehead as a mirror for putting in your contact lenses

Broaden your horizons
Look, sweetheart, you’re living in a country where you have to take your shoes off before going into the house and shower before you bathe. Your horizons have been officially and sufficiently broadened.

Impress your friends when you get back to your home country
Sure. Go ahead and show off. But first you might want to check your friends’ closets for form-fitting white sheets and pointy white hoods. Have you forgotten that since 9/11 your home country has become so paranoid of people not organically bred that anybody who sounds even remotely foreign is branded an instant security threat? Two words for you, Pedro, and listen carefully: Abu Ghraib.

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