HomeNews & Views How Japanese Cinema Inspired My Passion for Japanese Language and Culture

How Japanese Cinema Inspired My Passion for Japanese Language and Culture


Meet Nithya, a college student who shares with us this week how her early interest in anime grew to include other aspects of Japanese culture and eventually a love of the Japanese language.  In her own words:

I was around 13 when my best friend introduced me to my first Japanese movie—Studio Ghibli’s Spirited Away. I had always been a child that loved stories; I was constantly looking for something new to read or watch. Spirited Away captured my heart immediately. Next was Howl’s Moving Castle—all the Ghibli films one after the other. Then I began to branch out; I watched Patama Inverted, Onigamiden, more and more until I discovered the anime TV shows.

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That first movie started an unstoppable domino effect for me, allowing me to enjoy more stories than I had ever dreamed existed. Even so, I began to recognize that there were things I couldn’t understand without knowing the language; jokes and puns, cultural references and nuances. Little by little I was able to connect the dots, figuring out simple vocabulary and turning to the internet for the rest. I practiced writing hiragana (the Japanese syllabary, similar to our alphabet) every night in my diary—and my enjoyment continued to grow with my understanding. I branched out even more with music and novels, and with each new encounter I learned something different.

I continued to teach myself all throughout high school, until I was able to take my first Japanese course at 17 in my freshman year of college. It was amazing to be able to have a normal conversation in a completely different language! Especially since I was self-taught—it was like all my work from before had paid off.

Altogether, it has been 5 years since I started Japanese, and I have loved every minute. Through watching films and shows in a language I never would have thought to explore on my own, I was able to gain incredible memories and skills. Not only that, but I was able to meet people who shared those interests, some of whom have become life-long friends. To this day, I’m still gaining, and I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Has foreign film or television made an impact on your experience learning another language? Sparked your interest in a new language that you then took up, or maybe motivated you to continue learning a language beyond the basics?

Tweet us @LeadWLanguages to share your story.