If you are interested in Japan, going to move to Japan, wanting to understand Japanese pop music, movies or TV, doing business with a Japanese company or wanting to date/marry a Japanese person, it’s highly advisable to learn a few basics of the Japanese language.
Japanese (or Nihongo in Japanese) is the national language spoken by about 125 million people in Japan and also by Japanese emigrant communities such as in the US and Sao Paolo in Brazil. It’s not an easy language to learn because the language is written with a combination of 4 different types of inputs:
Hiragana is syllabic and the most original writing system in Japan. It is used for simple words, conjugations, particles and children’s literature as it is the first set of writing which is taught. Katakana is used to write foreign words. Kanji is based on the Chinese writing system and consists of about 2000 characters. Recently, Romanji, a romanization of Japanese words – has developed too especially in use for inputting characters into a computer keyboard.
If what I wrote sounded confusing, watch this video
To add to the complexity of this, Japanese people use 4 different ways of addressing people: kun, chan, san and sama. Kun is somewhat condescending, chan is used for intimates and children, san is the universal mode and sama is deferential. Its also important to note that vocabulary can vary according to gender of the speaking person: women use other vocabulary than men.
For complete beginners or those going to Japan for the first time, here are some really helpful videos clips teaching simple phrases.
Japan Sugoi Videos
See next page for more helpful video clips