Five not-so-obvious benefits of learning Japanese for work and business

Learning a new language will almost always benefit you, especially if you’re in the localization industry or work adjacent to it. Additionally, there are some secondary benefits of learning a language such as Japanese.

1. It raises your status in the workplace

Although this is quite obvious, it may not be in the way you think. Knowledge of Japanese for business will increase your value as a global employer and market player. Whether it’s business Japanese or just getting your foot through the door with basic greetings, your potential clients or business partners from Japan will greatly appreciate your efforts.

Japanese business language might lack the conversational tone you are more used to, so more formality is required. It’s best to study exactly what is or isn’t allowed, and this will save you from committing any faux pas. Learning the basics helps get you started, and it helps you appreciate a foreign culture even more.

2. You will become more approachable

Japanese for business shouldn’t be your only goal. A little known fact, unless you have lived in Japan, is that the Japanese do not speak much English. Not only that, a large majority of the population is reluctant to speak or use the English they do know. Even if you speak just a little bit of Japanese, a simple “ohayho!” will make a noticeable difference. It will prompt Japanese people to be friendlier and more welcoming — after all, you took the trouble to learn something about them instead of expecting them to do all the work.

3. You can further appreciate Japanese culture and entertainment

While we’re pretty sure you have tried sushi or ramen in your home country, there’s a lot more out there. Learning Japanese can help you understand the origins of ingredients, styles of cooking, and even converse with chefs (however basic the conversation may be).

You may also be familiar with adorable animated characters such as Totoro and Hello Kitty. But do you know the thought and stories that go behind the creation of these beloved cartoons? Likewise, Japanese anime has taken over the entertainment world by storm.

And take one of the most vaguely familiar aspects of Japanese culture: Sumo. Sumo wrestling is a sacred sport that originated during the Edo period. It’s extremely unique, and the reason for the sport may not be known to many. Sumo is actually a religious ritual, and to be a pro sumo wrestler is a difficult task. Wrestlers live with many limitations, but are very well respected.

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Knowing more about entertainment and what’s trending in Japan could open up opportunities for conversation with your Japanese clients or business partners, and this can be important in relationship-focused business cultures like Japan.

4. It’s a self-imposed challenge

In the workplace, many managers and supervisors give raises and promotions based on the work you produce. Many admire a person that challenges themselves with personal growth.

5. It opens up more doors and job opportunities

The Japanese have their own way of life, different laws and a unique way of doing things. This makes certain integration more difficult for some foreigners.

However, the Japanese market is enticing to potential investors and organizations looking to extend their reach. The country is known to be very poised, educated, and tech-savvy, coming out with new and innovative technologies every year. This is a great reason to localize from a corporate perspective, and it’s a great reason to learn Japanese from a more personal perspective.

The way business is done in Japan is quite different from the west. Business negotiations go down when the sun does. Having to go out after work for lengthy periods, and appealing to the client’s pleasures and preferences, work best. If you are not able to speak a lick of Japanese, it could make this tough to do.

Anne Martone is a marketing specialist from Preply, an online learning platform. She's passionate about corporate learning and foreign languages. When she's not busy with work, she spends her time with books or traveling.

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