I’ve lived here for over 12 years now and the one thing that’s never changed is the Japanese love of English. Al Bartle said it best “It (English) is everywhere.” Japanese companies such as Toyota, Panasonic and Sony saw that having a company name written in English brought it more acceptance in not only foreign countries but here in Japan as well. It’s similar to the story of Haagen-Dazs, an American company that wanted to sound European and separate itself from it’s competitors – and it worked. So many times when I speak English I’ve heard people say “kakkoi (cool).” For me it’s nothing special, hey, I was born in England and never gave it a second thought but for people here in Japan who’ve spent 6 years studying English grammar I’m still amazed at how few can actually speak English well. And even fewer people can say that they’re good at all four areas of the language; reading, writing, speaking and listening. Usually people fall short somewhere.
And yet, the Japanese love of the West is evident everywhere from Camaron Diaz’s commercials, or Beckham’s chocolate commercial to the lyrics in songs and influx of English words in their language. Each year I notice a new word that has been taken from the West and is now used in Japanese – season, brainstorm, shake, etc have all permeated their way into Japanese. And while Japan remains very much Japanese more and more Western qualities seem to keep popping up some of which are good and others, well, not so much.
I really do love that Japan is constantly undergoing change. It’s exciting and it inspires me to improve myself each and every day.