I wrote this for applying for FFLC in Fukuoka, Japan, you can read the review on the link. I’d also be sure to check out my review of this school before deciding to join up with them. Very very recommended.
So I wrote this while filling out the forms, and later I found out they only wanted a paragraph of why I wanted to study Japanese in Japan. Of course my wife told me while filling hers out. But I guess it sort of reinforced the reasons and maybe brought out a few more that I wasn’t totally conscious of. Either way, it took me 5 hours to do this, and I still told the agency I went through to fix their system, because a little black box was suppose to show up to tell me all this. But whatever I guess right? Here it is. My reasons for wanting to learn Japanese!
The reason I’m learning Japanese is to follow a feeling I got when I started researching and looking into the Japanese culture when I was 15 years old, and from that, it’s grew to something that I could have never predicted. I started to learn the language after learning a bit more about Japan’s history back when I was in 9th grade. Then my friend at the time introduced me to his neighbor who was an older Japanese woman. She came over to the USA after WWII, her name was Mika and she would sit there with us for hours and tell us about Japan and what it was like, teach us words and sayings and some of the etiquette in Japan.
She gave me my first Japanese book, which was an old beat up red grammar book that her husband had used in WWII while he was there. Then another friend of mine at the time had an Aunt that grew up in Japan so I got more exposure to the Japanese language and the history and from there I kept bumping into friends and family who were either from Japan or worked in Japan. Then my friend with the Aunt from Japan told me that his big brother was moving to Japan to teach English, so I got to speak a lot with him, furthering my interest.
I then ended up going to a technical school after 11th grade and ended up getting my GED because I wanted to get out of High School and start college. I ended up going to Red Rocks Community College here in Colorado (when I was 19) and I ended up taking a conversation Japanese course while I was there. I ended up in a very bad car accident near the end of the semester and could not finish my classes to pass. Afterwards, I got caught up working in construction for many years after to pay for bills so I didn’t go back to school.
I ended up moving out when I was 21 and my room mates at that time were also interested in Japan, so I started getting back into it. But, since I never had real guidance I never got very far with the language part. I managed to make it through half of the first level of Rosetta Stone, but I never could really get into it and fully understand what I was saying. When I look back on it understanding more Japanese particles, I certainly could see myself being able to go further, but I never have been a fan of Rosetta Stone. Which I note on my Japanese blog at: http://nihonscope.com/learning-japanese/.
I did eventually run into a freeware software by Denton Hewgill called Kanji Gold. I quickly learned the first level of Kanji (It does not teach Kun or Onyami though so I only learned to recognize the characters). Since about I was 16 I’ve had this program on my desktop of my computer to dabble with from time to time. I feel I’ll be able to move more through this program when I have a bit more support to also understand how to say the words and to work with them more. To date I know level 1 fluently, level 2 semi well and level 3 not so well.. from there, I have not moved past it any further.
Level 1: 80 Kanji characters (know them all)
Level 2: 160 Kanji characters (150)
Level 3: 200 Kanji characters (40-50)
6 years ago I met my now wife, and she help me revitalize that feeling I had about Japan many years ago when I was a teenager, she help me believe that it was still possible to go to school and learn Japanese and because of that this goal of mine to study and live in Japan is starting to merge with many aspects of my business, my philanthropy projects, and my personal growth goals.
So now I feel perhaps it’s ‘guuzen’ that the feelings I felt as kid and what I’m doing now are starting to making itself known, and is the reason it’s come full circle to why I’m now applying for school in Japan. About 2 years into my relationship with my now wife we started to get really involved in Japan and Japanese. We started to look up other ways to learn Japanese and that’s where we found several different sites:
http://japaneseclass.jp (where I first learn hiragana and katakana)
http://nihongomaster.com (mostly goes over info to help pass the JLTP – great site)
http://yesjapan.com (learned about this from his book series “Japanese from Zero”)
http://japanesepod101.com (studied a bit from them, don’t care too much for it though).
We then bought close to $1,000 in text books and other material to find what would work best for us. From there, we’ve gone through more of the websites then the books.
But these are my favorite text books and books:
Hajimete no Nihongo, Japanese the Manga Way, Japanese from Zero, Genki and The Japanese Particle Workbook.
I want to have friends and associates from Japan. I want to be that weird family in the USA who speaks to each other in Japanese. I want to see the world through different lenses and from different perspectives. I want to be that person who says they want to go to Japan and ACTUALLY do it! I know that by experiencing new ways of living, understanding life in Japan can benefit not only myself, I can benefit my family, my society and the world at large. I think my main goal here is to become more compassionate and understanding of others and how people live, and be able to meld and respect other traditions and ways of being.
I’m also interested in attending many of the festivals celebrated in Japan, Japanese art, religious studies, the history of yokai all the way to minyo folk music and dance, and honestly I keep finding more and more reasons I want to learn Japanese and visit Japan every time I get time to research more about the culture.
Perhaps it’s the hero’s journey in me, but I feel by taking on this course of action I’m opening myself to something much bigger then what I currently have or would have if I simply let this dream die.
My business goals:
I run a successful digital marketing business (SEO / Search Engine Optimization) online. I’ve helped local companies get listed on Google, Bing and Yahoo for 3 years. I’ve marketed my own offers successfully online for over 8 years I own http://honorableSEO.com. While I was already interested in Japanese a long while ago, I’m becoming more and more interested in Japanese SEO (digital marketing). Being the 3rd most users of the internet in the world I see a HUGE opportunity to help local Japanese businesses take advantage of the internet to get their products out to the world or the local market, and I tend to want to help businesses that can make people’s lives better. I’m also in a mentor group for SEO online marketing (as you can’t learn it in any school/college in the world – at least correctly), I’ve run into a few people who are actually from Fukuoka, Japan in the mentor group, and it would be wonderful to do joint ventures with them in the future when I’m able to look over a Japanese website and know what to do to help it gain more exposure on Google, Bing and Yahoo.
I’m also connected to hemp growers here in Colorado, and they would like for me to possibly be able to communicate with prefectures/legally operated hemp farms in Japan to see if we can possibly learn a few things from each other. This is a side goal, and is not at all a major reason I’m learning Japanese, but in a way it does lead into my philanthropy goals a bit as you’ll read later about farming methods I wish to explore a bit deeper.
My Philanthropy goals:
When I started my business Health & Economics of America LLC 8 so years ago I created it to more so be in service of humanity then just a paycheck. I wanted to learn how to create self-sustaining communities, I wanted to help people heal from illnesses, I wanted to learn to become an energy healer of sorts, but not in a fringe scientist type of way, I wanted to learn methods of healing the world that ACTUALLY do help and have scientific studies to back it up. I actually performed a personal meditative ritual to help me plan and attract life situations that could help me reach these goals, and I’ve gotten more opportunities than I could have imagined at this point, and a lot of these goals keep pushing me to learn and live in Japan.
Over the many years a lot of very interesting things have occurred. First thing that occurred soon after creating my life plan/goals was that I got super sick one year after dealing with a death on a job site I was working on. I was sick for over a year, then I ended up getting sick of being sick and soon afterward I attracted/found a situation where I was able to be mentored by people like:
Kevin Trudeau – Marketer, Author and Researcher
Dr. Leonard Coldwell – Highest cancer cure rate in the world 92.3% out of 35,000 patients
The Morters – http://morter.com created a treatment called B.E.S.T (Bio Energetic Synchronization Technique, which evolved from the practice of Chiropractic care). I was mentored by many other doctors, entrepreneurs and scientists which eventually lead me to the cure for myself, which I’ll explain a little bit later.
Because of that mentor group I ended up meeting a man named Robert Miller. This man in a nut shell summed up the self-sustaining communities plan/goal I saw in my meditative/planning ritual so much to letter that the hair stood straight up on my head (in a good way!) as I walked into his office and saw everything he was doing. For over 7 years I’ve been a friend of his and have helped him with his initiative as much as I possibly have been able to (online and offline). He has met with the President of Mexico and Vice President of Vietnam to try to help push this initiative even further. Vietnam ended up having to cancel the community plans because of inflation in their country (or that’s what I remember him saying), but the President of Mexico has been slowly working with him to create this community, they have had land donated to them and this is a REAL opportunity for it to happen.
http://orphancommunities.org is his website it’s called “Our Family Orphan Communities”.
Here is his book he wrote: “Poverty My Teacher: Sustainable Communities”
Here is his other website: http://www.sustainablefamilycommunities.org my wife and I have done a bit of work on this site for him over the years.
But to move forward, there was one very interesting piece of information I ended up stumbling upon while researching more about the Fukuoka prefecture that led into another reason to come to Japan. I stumbled upon a man named Masanobu Fukuoka, and I saw he is was a ‘Do Nothing’ farmer that published several books and traveled around the world helping tribes to cities increase their food production and to end desertification in their area. The more I learned about him, the more I saw the opportunity to help Robert and his communities.
This did not surprise me when I saw it though as I feel like life is taking me for a ride and showing me what I need to know to accomplish the goals I’ve set out to accomplish, and this became just another reason to go to Japan to learn Japanese; I want to speak to more people about this that are and have done it. The process of ending dangerous methods of growing food that compromises not only the food itself but the land and people is something that interests me greatly for many many reasons. Robert Miller owns a few of Masanobu Fukuoka’s books, but he still needs people who are practicing this form of farming to talk to, to be able to implement it into the communities properly over time. Which again would be another reason for me to know Japanese, to be able to help ease any language barriers with this.
I find this information about Fukuoka-san really resonated with me because while I was in that mentorship group I also ended up finding a Dr. P here in Colorado who helped cure me of my sickness by helping me fast with proper foods and with herbs. I then started to understand more why people were getting sick because of food, and since then I’ve been a constant researcher of food and illnesses, and I’ve been getting more and more into the Japanese diet and how to use it prevent disease and to cure it, so I’m very interested in learning more about Japanese food and being able to use my knowledge of traditional Japanese food to help others (which leads to my desire to become more of a Japanese styled chef for my own personal reasons). This is the reason Fukuoka-san is so important to me and what I’d like to do with his work by passing it more easily to others who can take it and REALLY use it in everyday life, by being able to communicate with those who are practicing this technique!
I also ended up attracting a woman who stumbled upon a healing device called the ‘Life Vessel‘ (now called the ‘Harmonic Egg‘). This ‘fringe’ like healing device had me very skeptical for quite awhile when I first ran into the information and the device, but the more I’ve been dealing with Gail Lynn from http://lifecenter.us (a now client of mine) the more I’m finding that this healing technology could have a very precious place in Japan over time, as it continues to keep surprising health care practitioners and the scientists who are researching this device. It’s showing it has the capacity to eliminate not only heavy metals from the body, but also radiation. This could very well be something that could help a lot people effected by increased levels of radiation from the accident in Fukushima and any other place in Japan.
Of course this has huge benefit to the world, but I saw that my going to Japan could be helpful to certain people. This goal of mine is not something that would happen immediately, I would want to meet up with alternative and traditional health care professionals in Japan and possibly help them get a hold of this technology and see where it goes from there, so it’s more so to introduce the technology only and hope that it’s beneficial and is able to help people in need.
So to wind this down, I’d like to say, I could reach further into why I want to go to school in Japan. But I think if this doesn’t say it, I’m not sure what would. I absolutely love the idea of being able to speak Japanese, people call it one of the hardest languages in the world to learn and I want to prove to friends and family you can do whatever you set your mind to. When I started going to school as a kid I was considered ‘slow’ and ‘had trouble learning’. I was then stuck into a program called ‘Special Education’, from there they thought I wasn’t going to make anything of my life, in fact they said it to my face while I was in school all the way up until 11th grade (which is why I got my GED). I ended up continuing my education on my own and through mentors. I’m by nature a researcher, and because of that I’ve managed to continue learning new things since I left High School.
So yes, learning Japanese in Japan is for my own personal/selfish reasons, but I guess in the end, my desires and goals just so happen to be beneficial to a lot of people in the world and the magic that was set for me to do this continues to guide and push my limits. I can have, do or be anything I want, and learning Japanese is something that is going to help continue to prove that to myself, because I truly believe anyone is capable of miraculous things, and what a better way to teach that then to do it? All the while benefiting many people trying to do good in the world!
Thank you for your consideration,
Nathan Joseph Scheer
Discover the good the bad and the ugly of Japanese living from actual foreigners who came to Japan and ended up staying + my own experiences of the #brokenfantasy
Throughout my 15 years of studying Japanese culture I’ve noticed one thing when it’s comes to researching about Japan, and it’s that very few places ever tell it like it is, there’s always a grass is greener attitude with many Japanese hopefuls (people wanting to go to Japan for work or school).
The reason I believe is because many people when they want to elope to another country want to see it as ‘greener on the other side’ and of course that comes with a side effect of what I call bullshit blinders. But the fact of the grass is greener is not always the truth. But it goes farther then just creating a fantasy island in your head and ignoring the troll under the bridge.
It starts from your own personal experiences and attitude of where you are at right now beyond what the true ‘bad’ or ‘ugly’ that may be cascading through out the given society at any given time.
…What do I mean by that?
It means that the ‘grass is greener on the other side’ does not work because of YOU, not because of the place you are currently at vs where you want to go. It all stems down to your attitude about where you are now. There is an old story about a monk who was sitting at a cross road between two cities. As he sat there resting, a man traveling trekked up to him and asked him “I just came from the city in the west! Do you know how the people in the east are like?” and the monk looked at him for a lengthy period of time then asked “How were the people in the west?”and the traveling man said “I loved the west, the people are wonderful”, and the monk quickly stated “The people in the east are wonderful as well”. An hour went by and another man trekked up to the monk and he asked the same thing but this time he said he was from the east and the monk again replied similarly “How were the people in the east?” and this time the man blurted out “The people of east are pompous, snobby and mean” and the monk took a deep breath and replied “I’m sorry to be the one to tell you this, but the people of the west are also pompous, snobby and mean”.
The point of the story if you’ve not caught it yet is to basically tell you, if you are looking for greener grass to escape from something you dislike, chances are, you’ll find it where you’re going as well. The point I believe in fantasying about moving to Japan is to be realistic and open to all varieties of experiences but to create a positive attitude where I am now and take that with me. So my goal in studying for Japan is to not only see the wonderful things about Japan, but to also see it’s strife, it’s poverty, it’s robotic society and how they operate through shame and fear. I believe many of otaku (Japanese culture nerds) believe they want to live in Japan for all the glorious reasons that one would want to live in Japan, but end up never seeing the darker sides of Japan. I’m sure for many of these individuals seeing or hearing about these darker sides could very well burst their fantasy bubble that they’ve held on to for so long and emotionally invested in, thusly creating doubt or cognitive dissonance. I’m sure this territory here is quite scary for some folks #brokenfantasy (it doesn’t have to be though – and shouldn’t).
So being the person I am, and having been mentored and taught by many different entrepreneurs and mind mentors through out my life, I have a sort of perspective that some don’t naturally have when it comes to being lost in the mind of fantasy. Don’t get me wrong, dreaming of the good that will come from a change in ones life is the bread and butter of the mind, it’s the reason anything really changes for anyone, so I’m not knocking on creating the fantasy, but at a certain point one must recognize that not everything is as it seems or better yet, it’s not always going to be peaches and cream when you get to Japan (or where ever). Knowing how to handle yourself when something happens, be it political with the law or by just social standards of how you might be treated or to even how you might be living when you arrive in Japan is all very much a positive to know before coming over. Now, you’ll never know exactly what you might be up against, but knowing some of how the culture is in a seemingly negative way, might be good to know, this will fortify you in a way before ever arriving.
I believe many people make a country change and immediately regret it because they had a land of fairies and green isles dancing in their head, but when they finally arrive to their locale of their dreams they quickly see the same load of crap that they left behind landing right back in their lap before they could even leave the Airport. So my suggestion here is, keep researching your fun and exciting interests of Japan or whatever place you may be going to, but also let a good %15 of negativity come in with it as well. I don’t want to give up my dream of living in Japan for a period of time, I don’t want a political craze or social difference to break my will to experience Japan, it doesn’t actually have to be what you or I think of as negative, it is what it is and it’s good to know but not dwell on. So living it through others experience’s can give you time to prep for some up coming battles that will undoubtedly happen while you’re in Japan, in fact when I day dream I also see the tough times that could come down the road and see how I would deal with them when they come up, which makes me confident. (this is not dwelling, I do not accompany these thoughts with the feelings of fear, except I see these challenges and use the feeling of confidence while day dreaming – #mindtrick tip)
I see things like:
being pissed off about the amount of homework I might end up with, getting pissed about someones attitude I didn’t agree with, getting pissed at a teacher, getting pissed that a cop would screw with me because I’m a foreigner, getting frustrated not being able to communicate with someone fully…
These things are fears, but the more I can go to these fears through research and being up front to myself and the world (and feeling confident), the less these things will even take place and when they do, I’ll be prepared long before they happen. I’m much more excited then I am worried about anything that will happen, but being able to work these things out and know they could exist help me feel even more confident in moving to Japan for two years, in fact it may seem weird, but having the feeling of being the minority is something I look forward to experiencing. I know I’m much more then just a water bag implanted with encopretic emotional spew (involuntary defection) that’s purely triggered by emotional responses of my surrounding reality, so I know I could very well appreciate the awkward feelings and use them to my life experience and advantage. Feeling what many throughout the world have to deal with their entire lives gives one an eye into a world that is fully real and offers much more compassion by understanding it at a core level, in the end gives those such as myself a better light to guide future generations forward (children and society).
In the end, I do feel that there is more positives in experiencing and moving to Japan then any of the negatives and perhaps you will feel the same after you view the video I listed here on this page. I’ll be sure to mark all my ‘negative Japan’ posts with #brokenfantasy and through my meta tags. But even now after watching information about the working poor, politics and fear and shame tactics I’m still just as excited if not more, because the #brokenfantasy is allowing me to see exactly what I’m getting myself into and I honestly don’t think it’s that bad at all considering all the pros an cons at this moment in time.
I guess the ball is in your court, what do you think about learning about the negativity of the culture you want to move into? Is it positive… or more negative in your eyes and why?
If you’re totally confused about when to bow in Japan, this quick crash course guide and videos will give you an idea of when and how to use these bowing methods.
The more I researched into this field of etiquette the more I found that it’s not as easy to really completely master and understand. But, it’s good to note that the Japanese do not expect foreigners to bow and really understand the nuances of this social custom, so for those who are visiting don’t sweat it, but I still suggest do as the Japanese do and learn these three basic bowing customs. This video here though is good to take note of as it will show you several examples of other types of bowing body language that you may see while in Japan.
While you’re in Japan or if you are watching movies about Japan or Japanese people or their culture you will notice that when watching the Japanese bow, the person initiating the bow is expressing appreciation and respect to the other person which is being bowed to. When a person bows, they bow from the hips, not the chest. But it can be used to say hello, good bye, thank you, I’m sorry or, I’m EXTREMELY sorry and many other types of expressions.
There are three different types of bowing in general in every day use in Japan and it really all depends on how deep one bows from the waist/hips when it is performed. The first is the most casual bow, it’s called ‘eshaku’. Eshaku is when the bow extends from the waist at about 15 degrees, it is also common to dip the head slightly and your gaze is straight out from the level of the head. This eshaku is preformed in casual greetings or if you happen to pass by someone of a higher social status then you.
It’s also proper to speak when passing or meeting, but if you add eshaku while saying thank you it will further the expression of how you feel towards being grateful towards the person. It’s said that %7 of our words convey what we really say to another, but our body language is what is really speaking, and the Japanese truly want to express themselves through the act of body language instead of just language, which is quite interesting, being that some western body language is barely seen at times when someone is conveying gratitude or appreciation, yet feels it!
The second most common situation with bowing is called ‘keirei’ bow. This is generally used for business interactions. The bow comes from the waist, and the torso of the body reaches down to about 30 degrees. It’s used when leaving or entering reception and meeting rooms as well as when meeting or greeting a customer.
The third is called ‘saikeirei’ and it is the most polite bow. It’s extends down to 45 degrees and is used for express extreme feelings of thankfulness ‘Domo arigatou gozaimashita’ or if it needs to be a very sincere apology. ‘Gomenasi!!!’.
There is another custom that can be noted here as well. There is a gesture called ‘gassho’ which is clasping of the hands. It’s a gesture of putting the palms of both of your hands together in front of your chest. This gesture originally comes from Buddhism, and being that most of Japan is Buddhist it’s fair to say that this custom is common. It’s custom to ‘gassho’ before and after when it eating.
Which is a word that means ‘to receive’ or ‘accept’, it’s a way to express thankfulness towards the food and who prepared it. But at times could also come off like ‘LETS EAT!’.
Here is a great video with a bit more bowing etiquette within it! It’s great to actually hear stories from an actual Japanese person about bowing, you really can start to understand it a bit more by seeing it through their eyes.