Monday, December 4, 2006

Nihongo Around the World

I read in a couple of web news today that a good number of people around the world are quite enthused about learning Japanese.

One article said that the examinees for the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) have increased by nearly 50% in China, and the surprising part is not just that - it also said that the applicants reached the capacity of 100,000 people in less than an hour from the moment they started accepting applications. Wow. The reason behind this is economic, for it is understood that the increase has to do with the expansion of Japanese corporates into China along with the country's (China's) rapid economic growth. It seems like those with Japanese language skills have more advantages in winning the fierce job hunting.

The other one was about the situation in the US and I guess similar situations can be seen in other cultures. It was about some kids in high school who are crazy about Japanese manga (comic)/ anime stuff. They aren't just fans, they get themselves involved in lots of activities which stretch out to language studies and culture learning, even founding companies. I grew up with these manga and anime stuff around me so they were never really something special. But then, I recently realized how much potential manga/anime (actually movies and TV shows too) can have as means to tie multiple entities across borders which takes decades for politics to cross. Now I think it's actually a very strong tool that can be used in both ways.

On our website Japan Mode we offer this tiny service "Kanji Name Convertor" and the numbers of requests are rising rising rising. I have to confess that we aren't being able to catch up with the list that just grows longer each day. Some people tell us that they want to have the names tattooed, some made into name cards, just for fun etc etc. FYI if you make a request now it will take a good month to get back to you... just so you know.

Wow. I never knew Japanese stuff was so widespread not just in terms of materials but also culturally. I would have to spend years to observe how Japan is being seen from the other side of the world, but I wonder, is it similar to the way Japanese people see Western cultures?

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