Discovering Japan

Do you really know Japan? Well, it's quite unlikely! Most likely, you don't know the country where you live and grew up, just like me. For this reason, let's now try to explore aspects that tend to go unnoticed or are, from my point of view, distorted by the mainstream media.

What can we truly say about Japan? About Japan? Maybe you really like the culture, but which culture? Japan is as complex a country with as many nuances as any other; it's not just anime here and cosplay there. We, fans of the culture dubbed "otaku" by Westerners, tend to see Japan in an extremely limited way; after all, we are all in bubbles.

Regarding Japanese society, we can say that it is an extremely polite people and, depending on the locality, very traditional. Yes, you can find an even more traditional life and a close-knit community in villages farther from bustling cities, where you tend to find a more "chaotic" society. These villages are not as uncommon as you might imagine!

For many, the previous paragraph might be uninteresting content; for others, a life plan. Japan tends to cater to all audiences. Do you want to live by the beach? Get to know Okinawa! An island currently recognized as Japanese and located south of Japan. And no, it's not a small island like you just imagined. There, you will find a unique culture, a people proud of their culture and history, and warmer climates, along with the most beautiful beaches you've ever seen.

What? The more tropical climate doesn't appeal to you? Then the north of Japan will surely please you. See? Just search, and you will find your place. As for volcanoes, earthquakes, and tsunamis? Complicated issue… But I'll be careful (or not) to say that it's not as you imagine and as the media tries to sell you. Every time you watch on television that a natural disaster happened in Japan, it's a well-sold show, and in reality, if you think about it, it's not all that.

The Japanese have developed technologies and systems for decades to overcome these situations! For example, the Japanese government has mapped all flood risk areas, tsunami-prone areas, and areas at risk of being affected by volcanoes. These geographical maps are even used by many to choose future properties or investments. These and other warning and defense systems are almost never mentioned, as well as the real reality of the situation.

Think with me, for example, I live in Brazil, an extremely dangerous country in terms of public safety and other areas. It's infinitely more likely for me to die in a poorly armed robbery or run over in my home country than due to a natural disaster in Japan. Although Brazil doesn't face any of these natural dangers, deaths from other causes are infinitely higher. We could spend a long time talking about this subject, so I'll leave only this reflection. Next time you see the mainstream media putting on a show, think about everything that's really involved.

Japan has its ups and downs, but people usually only talk about the downs. In my humble and irrelevant opinion, it's an escape not to admit that, yes, Japan can often be a better country to live in than your current one. After all, I've seen many of these same people consuming its culture and even doing exchange programs to live there. Well, if Japan is so bad, why do you want to go there so much? Wouldn't it be better to stay here, where you like it so much? So, don't be ashamed to say that you don't feel comfortable where you live and that you want to change your life.

Now, finally, let's talk about the Japanese language. Well, yes… it's true that it's a complicated language to learn, but it's not all that. Keep in mind that it's a long journey; the main mistake of Japanese students is trying to digest everything in a short, sometimes no time. But the reality is that it's all a matter of time and consistency. If you can maintain consistency in your studies, you will certainly achieve fluency.

The Japanese do have three distinct 'alphabets,' namely Hiragana, Katana, and Kanji. We will talk about them in future lessons; for now, let's only discuss Hiragana and the linguistic type of this beloved people.

The Japanese language is syllabic, meaning that each symbol represents a syllable, making it phonetically simpler than alphabetic writing systems. The basic system includes Hiragana characters, representing purely phonetic syllables of Japanese, Katana, used for foreign words, and Kanji, Chinese-origin ideograms representing words or ideas. Writing is vertical, from right to left, and there are various nuances in the language, including levels of formality and expressions that reflect the rich Japanese culture and etiquette.

The journey of learning the Japanese language is, without a doubt, a challenging adventure, but one filled with fascinating discoveries that bring us closer to the cultural richness and essence of the Japanese people. While Japanese presents unique nuances, with patience and dedication, you can navigate this linguistic universe in a rewarding manner.

By delving into the "alphabets" of Hiragana, Katana, and Kanji, you unravel the sounds and meanings that weave the tapestry of Japanese communication. Remember, it's a journey of consistency, not speed; each stroke, each learned syllable is a step towards fluency.

The Japanese language, with its syllabic nature and pictorial systems, reflects the intrinsic poetry of Nipponese culture. Vertical writing, the elegance of forms, and the richness of linguistic nuances create a learning environment that goes beyond words, involving the understanding of a millennia-old mentality and traditions.

Don't be intimidated by the challenges; instead, be inspired by the unique beauty that Japanese offers. Each new piece of knowledge is a bridge to understanding not only the language but also the soul of Japan. Allow yourself to fall in love with the melody of words, the expressiveness of Kanji, and the gratifying feeling of communicating in such a special language.

Understand that, by learning Japanese, you're not just acquiring a linguistic skill but also opening doors to a deeper understanding of Japanese culture and history. Be open to nuances, traditions, and the beauty that this language holds. The journey may be challenging, but the destination is a rich experience that will enrich your life in unimaginable ways. Forge ahead with enthusiasm and curiosity, and discover the hidden charm in the words of Japan.