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.
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 Jamaipanese.com 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?