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Japanese enigma

As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, for the past year or so I’ve become a bit obsessed with Japan and relearning and improving my Japanese. I haven’t really stopped to wonder why, but last night, as I was reading, the answer came to me. I suppose part of the answer is simply that if you are going to be living somewhere for a significant period of time you become more interested in it. But there is more to it than that.

mangajinI was reading Mangajin, No. 19. The feature story was interviews with translators. Gerry Harcourt was asked (page 19), “What do you like most about the Japanese language?” Her response was a bit of a nirvana moment for me. She said, “It’s so different from English. It jolts my way of thinking. I enjoy the surprises.”

And just like that I realized why the thought of moving back to Japan has caused my mind to think of little else. I’ve been jolted. And I enjoy the daily joltings and surprises that Japan and its language provides. After all, I can already speak, read, and understand Japanese good enough to have a great time in Japan. So I’m not really studying it to get by. I’m doing so because it is such a rewarding and interesting challenge.

Without the challenge and joltings I’m quite sure I wouldn’t be expending the time and effort.

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