Language, Life/Living

Five Things Every Nihongo (Japanese language) Student Can Relate To

If you are studying or have studied the Japanese language, there are some experiences we all share. Here are my top 5.

Maiku Miraa San

If you use or used the Minna no nihongo text book, then Maiku Miraa san is your homie. This is the character in the book you were supposed to learn the language alongside. Maiku Miraa is the Japanese way of pronouncing the name Mike Miller. Mr. Miller is a company employee who is new to Japan and is trying to learn the language. The book shadowed his movements in Japan and  the student is supposed to learn what to say in different situations from Maiku’s experiences.



We all have that moment of dread when we start to learn kanji. The transition from hiragana and katakana, which have relatively easier stroke orders, to the multiple strokes Chinese characters can be disheartening. The fear of Kanji is compounded by the fact that one kanji character can have more than one meaning. At first you ignore Kanji characters and stick to Kana but soon you realize you’ll never really be able to read in Japanese without the Kanji. You muster up the courage and after a lot of practice you realize it’s not so bad.


Anime Reality Check

Most people who chose to study Japanese do so with the expectation of being able to watch anime without the subtitles relatively soon. It soon dawns on us that it would take a while to get to that level. If you were learning the polite -masu form, for instance, you would need to conjugate the verbs into the casual form first because most anime use casual Japanese. However, you still keep the hope alive and celebrate the little successes like when you understand an entire phrase or even episode without subtitles 😀


The accent and non-verbal cues

This also resonates with other language students. Once you have the grammar and vocabulary down, you need to muster the correct intonations and facial expressions. More specific to Japanese, as a student, you are assimilated into the world of bows and constant use of your facial expressions. Every ‘yoroshiku onegaishimasu’ and ‘arigatou’ is accompanied with a bow. Furthermore, there are different kinds of bows which carry different meanings.



Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) is an annual exam that tests your language proficiency level. All nihongo students aspire to rise up the ranks to the prestigious N1 level. In my twenty something years of the 8-4-4 system, I have yet to find a more rigorous exam system.


Let me know what experiences you find unique to the nihongo student.

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