Nihongo wa Wakarimasen

The third trait of a “wapanese” person (“the term used to describe a person of non-japanese descent … who is incredibly obsessed with Japanese things”), according to the Urban Dictionary, is that they “Halfheartedly [study the] Japanese language and/or is a part-time practitioner of martial arts.”

I’m always the first (and probably a little too willing) to admit that I’m a disgrace when it comes to being a Japanophile. For most of my life, I’ve allowed family commitments, career tangents, worries about this and that, and other things to get in the way of really pursuing my passion, which is all things Japanese.

Foggy NC Mountains

Mountains of North Carolina

Of course, some of my limitations were due to where I grew up, deep in the mountains of North Carolina, long before the advent of the Internet. It’s not like there was a lot of multiculturalism going on in the land of Bible-thumpers and NASCAR fans. Despite my initial  fascination with Japanese culture, which began in 1980 with the television mini-series “Shogun,” there wasn’t a good outlet to explore it where I grew up. And so, my Japanophilia would wax and wane according to the availability of anything related to Japan.

Time Waits for No Man

Nowadays, I really have no excuse. I’ve since lived in two cities (Atlanta and Austin) that have relatively good exposure to Japanese culture, and I’m fully aware of the opportunities that abound.

That said, I’m really going to take on the commitment of learning Japanese over the next 12 months, as opposed to my halfhearted attempts in the past. I have the Rosetta Stone software and the Talk Now set (and even a Nintendo DSi game). And I have a lot of spare time (since I don’t have a wife or kids).

With that decision made, imagine my surprise when my Twitter pal @Jamaipanese announced a contest to win a copy of the Japanese educational game NihongoUp. Though I hadn’t really heard of this software before, I could see how it can help with my language learning after looking at the website. With NihongoUp, I can get a firmer grasp of one of the most difficult aspects of the Japanese language, namely the hirigana, katakana, and kanji writing systems.

(The rules for entry are pretty easy and straight-forward. Head over to if you’re interested in entering to win your own copy of NihongoUp. )

At some point, I’d really like to live and work in Japan to get a better understanding of this place that has held my fascination for nearly three decades. What better way to experience it than as someone who can speak the language and communicate with the locals?

9 comments… add one

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  • Jamaipanese July 15, 2009, 1:22 pm

    great entry pal!

    Thanks, you are only the second blog post entry so far so you have a very good chance of winning. Good Luck!

    Don’t forget you can enter via twitter too to increase your chances

  • Joseph July 15, 2009, 4:56 pm

    I’d also recommend the kana & kanji flashcards from White Rabbit Press ( ) along with the online learning tools at

    Push your employer towards telecommuting and work remotely from Tokyo too :)

    • Austin Otaku July 15, 2009, 5:45 pm

      Oh, I wish I could telecommute from two miles down the road, even more so from Tokyo. ^_^ … Thanks for the suggestions!

  • Jamaipanese July 26, 2009, 9:37 am

    Contest results posted! were you a winner? check ’em out here.

  • Will July 26, 2009, 9:47 am

    Great post and good win! Good luck with your study, nihongoup is going to make it alot easier!

    • Austin Otaku July 26, 2009, 10:10 am

      Thanks Will! Congratulations to you as well!

  • Philip Seyfi July 28, 2009, 9:18 am

    Nice entry, and a very interesting blog! Congrats 😉

    I’ll send you a serial key as soon as possible…

    • Veeresh December 24, 2012, 8:45 pm

      This isn’t supposed to be an atctak on Japanese culture, it’s meant to make fun of people in America who act like the people in the skit. You know the type, they dress in crazy clothes because they think the harajuku style is the actual Japanese style, they put Japanese words into English sentences and its mostly incorrect and they say ne? instead of right? I live in Japan and I showed a few of my English speaking friends here and the only problem they had was believing there were actually people like that in America. The only thing that was too much for me was thinking about all of the people I’ve met who act like that. I’ve never been to this site before, but judging by the name, I’m betting a lot of those people visit this site daily and my advice to anyone like that is don’t ever go to Japan, it will ruin all of your fun when you realize it’s nothing like what you think it is.

      • Austin Otaku December 24, 2012, 11:08 pm

        I think you overestimate the power of my site. If someone visits daily, they’re gonna run out of material pretty quickly. To your point, though, I agree. I find a lot of “weaboos” tiresome. The glompers and squee’ers at the cons are pretty annoying too. But, as tiresome and annoying as they are, I know they’re trying to find their identity in a way they feel is right for them. I figure if they’re looking at Japan, maybe somehow they’ll pick up some of that famous Japanese work ethic … something sorely missing in America, IMHBAO. … As for visiting Japan, I have to say that a person would have to have a really limited exposure to that culture to have a bad time there. I traveled there … gosh, about 10 years ago, and I loved it. I loved the people. I loved the hustle and bustle of Tokyo and the serenity of the mountains outside of Kyoto. In truth, I didn’t have a single bad experience there (aside from the ryokan in Takadanobaba that smelled like sewage) that made me regret my trip. Of course, I’m not a weaboo either. So … who knows?