Student: “I like studying Japanese language / culture, but you’re telling me I can use it in a job?”

Photo by Kristine Bassett

Answer: “YES!”

The college graduates I have interviewed in the past always amazed me with their Japanese language skills and/or knowledge of Japan.

Some of you may be studying Japanese because it is fun or a neat class credit. Your family and friends probably ask you whether that major/minor even makes any sense for your post-college future. Some of you grab another major/minor like sociology or business in order to have more appeal to future employers. Or you may be convinced that you want to be a doctor or an engineer, and you decide to minor in Japanese because it’s fun.

Well, I have news for you. You may not realize it now, but you are honing a skill that will make you stand out from other job-seekers. Actually, the fact that you LIKE studying Japanese language or culture is your secret weapon.  

In this exciting global economy, companies and people are completely connected. You can buy a product made in a different country and have it at your doorstep in days. Business is nearly 24/7, so time zones can almost be ignored. Consumer products like cars and electronics have components from multiple countries, so OEMs must be able to communicate with global suppliers.

While many expect that English has become the universal language, and online translation software is said to almost replicate human interpreters/translators, Ikigai Connections is here to say instead that the human factor is most important:

  • A bilingual engineer communicating with both Americans and Japanese will thoroughly understand the project and serve as the pivotal link between the two.
  • A Japanese-speaking American who is a die-hard anime fan working at an anime studio will be a better, more creative employee – and will have the satisfaction that they are doing something they love.
  • An office assistant with limited language skills but experience in Japan will be able to easily provide travel advice to fellow employees who need to go to Japan, such as orienting oneself on the Japan map, train schedules, and food recommendations.
  • An American doctor/nurse who speaks in the same language as his/her Japanese clients provides them a sense of peace and comfort, even if they speak good English.

Why do you study Japanese?

Be honest with yourself, and don’t hold back any thoughts or ideas. Do you like the language, culture, or history? Are you fascinated with the food or desserts? Let us know in the comments, and don’t forget to sign up for the mailing list at

Photo by wow_Kristine on Instagram.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top