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Lead With Japanese



Why Learn Japanese

Japan Plays an Important Role in the Global Economy

Japan is the third-largest economy in the world, and U.S.-Japan economic relations remain strong—with close connections that show how deeply integrated our trade and national-security interests are. According to a U.S. Congressional Research Service report, in 2012, the United States and Japan accounted for an estimated 30 percent of the world domestic product, making them the two of the largest economic powers with the potential to influence economic conditions in other countries.

Knowing Japanese Will Set You Apart from the Crowd: You’re Learning How to Navigate and Fish in Less Traveled Waters

Studying a language such as Japanese shows that you have what it takes to be successful in life. You possess determination, patience, and absolutely no fear of challenging yourself. The majority of people who learn a foreign language choose a European language like Spanish, French, German, or Italian, because it is familiar. You can show that you have a multicultural perspective that goes beyond the familiar. You are adventuresome! Whether it is a resume for a job or an application for a prestigious fellowship, noting that you have studied a less commonly taught language will make you a memorable candidate. It will show that you are up to any task that may be put before you.

The Japanese Are Innovators, Designers, and Creative Engineers in Cultural Exports

Anime, sushi, Sony Playstation, Nintendo, Hello Kitty, Sudoku, karaoke, manga, martial arts, origami, and more—just think about how our daily lives are enriched and entertained by products from Japan. The Japanese are known for their love of design, precision, and mastery. Whether it is designing electronic gadgets or high-end fashion clothing, the Japanese value craftsmanship, quality, and pleasing the consumer. Japanese pop culture has a universal appeal around the world. Some say Japan has reinvented the concept of “soft power,” and if something is created or made in Japan it is part of “Cool Japan.”

“I Love Japan!” Japan Is an Ideal Study Abroad Destination

Japan is one of the best study abroad destinations for students who are venturing abroad. It is one of the safest countries in the world, with its low crime rate, secure borders, and renowned transportation system. The Japanese have a profound respect for learning and are proud of sharing their language and culture with international visitors and students alike. Internet access is non-censored and the Japanese, who are constantly on the move, are linked to the world through mobile devices. They are likely to know the weather in New York as well as that in Tokyo. Most students who spend some time in Japan want to immediately turn around and return to study, work, or simply visit. There is something that resonates within each individual, whether it is the neon lights of Akihabara, the upward soaring glass skyscrapers, the glistening moss in the garden of an ancient temple, or the delicate beauty of a carefully arranged boxed lunch.

Jump on the Bandwagon!

The number of people studying Japanese language in the world continues to grow, and the Japanese language teaching profession in the United States is one of the most highly developed in the world. You are not alone in your interest in Japanese. There are many people just like you who love the language, culture and history of Japan. Take advantage of having skilled teachers of Japanese in K-16+ who are dedicated to inspiring, motivating, and supporting learners of all ages. You will likely never forget your first Japanese “sensei” who initiated you into an entirely different world of sounds, writing systems, and visual excitement.

What Should You Know About the Japanese Language?

One, it’s not as hard as you think! Two, part of being an able communicator in Japanese means that you can read a host of non-verbal cues and you will quickly understand how language is not always spoken or written. Awareness of self and others is a vital part of communication in Japan. Competency in a language such as Japanese means you have the skills to travel the globe. Speaking and understanding the oral components are just one small part of a dialogue.

You Will Be Exposed to Multiple Perspectives and Learn How to Effectively Relate to People Different from Yourself

You will become skilled at processing new ideas that are different from your own. In other words, you will better understand the diversity that defines the United States and how a global perspective actually makes us better fellow citizens in a country that was founded by immigrants from around the world. Whether you end up working here in the United States or abroad, studying a language other than your own is just one way to understand how perspectives shift according to ethnicity, gender, generation, sexual orientation, and socio-economic background.

Who Am I? Learn about Yourself

The fact that the Japanese rarely use the word “I” in daily conversation, and yet clearly understand who is “you” and who is “I,” tells you much about their world. The fact that it is almost impossible to sustain a conversation in English without the word “I” tells you about your world. Understanding your place in the world at any given time or in any given place is the most important lesson in life. Want to know more? Study Japanese!

Adapted from American Association of Teachers of Japanese

How Will You Lead with Japanese?

Scholarships and Grants

Asian Pacific Fund Scholarships

The Fund administers 12 scholarship programs that provide financial support to undergraduate and graduate students; criteria range widely and include academic major, ethnicity, parent’s occupation, and place of residence.

Bridging Scholarships

The U.S.-Japan Bridging Foundation offers about 100 scholarships annually to assist undergraduates with travel and living expenses incurred while studying abroad in Japan.

Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program – Japanese

Run by the U.S. Department of State, the CLS Program is a fully funded overseas summer immersion program promoting the study of critical languages, including Japanese.

Foundation for Asia Pacific Education Scholarships

The Foundation provides monetary awards to U.S. and Canadian students for study abroad expenses in a select number of Asian countries.

Freeman Awards for Study in Asia (Freeman-ASIA)

Administered by IIE, Freeman-ASIA Scholarships provide need-based funding to U.S. college students for study abroad experiences in East or Southeast Asia.

Japanese American Citizen’s League (JACL) National Scholarships

JACL currently offers over 30 scholarship opportunities to League members planning to attend university full-time, no matter their ethnic background.

Japan Foundation Grant Programs

Japan Foundation offers several types of grant opportunities, including funding for students, teachers, institutions and organizations.

Japanese Government (Monbukagakusho) Scholarship Program

Japan offers federal financial assistance to many types of scholars—including students performing research, completing teacher training, earning undergraduate degrees, concentrating on Japanese studies, attending the college of technology, and pursuing special training.

Japanese Student Services Organization (JASSO) Scholarships (and external funding source pamphlet)

JASSO offers international students a variety of scholarships for study at Japanese universities and language institutes—including options for science majors, privately-financed students, and short exchanges. They have also compiled an extensive pamphlet entitled “Scholarship for International Students in Japan” which breaks down a multitude of external monetary awards available to international students by participating institution, amount, visa type, and other criteria.

Mizuho International Foundation Foreign Students Scholarship Program

The Foundation supplies scholarships to ten Japanese universities each year, who in turn suggest candidates for the award; students should inquire at their preferred university to determine if they are a participating institution.


Looking for a Japanese college program? While initially developed to report language enrollment figures, the MLA database provides a comprehensive listing of postsecondary language programs, allowing you to refine your results by language, geographic area, and/or type of institution. The data is based on MLA’s most recent survey of 2013.

To Get Started:   

  1. Select your language(s), up to eight
  2. Narrow your search, as desired, and click “search now”
  3. Expand your findings to reveal specific schools offering programs in your language by clicking on the small triangles on your results page

Search the Database

Search the Database


For additional “Hey, I Am Learning Japanese!” and “My Japan” videos, visit the Japan Foundation, Los Angeles‘ YouTube channel.

Student Blogs

What’s it like living as an American undergrad in Japan? These study abroad bloggers bring you along for the adventure!

Studying Abroad in Japan! 2013!

Sarah studied Japanese for three years before studying abroad in Japan with AFS.

Alyssa in Tokyo

Finance and international business student Alyssa traveled from Hawaii to Sophia University in Tokyo for her study abroad experience.

A Life of Studying Abroad in Japan

Sarah spent her senior fall semester studying in Osaka.


In Association with Japan Foundation


Speak Japan: A Campaign by the Japan Foundation, Los Angeles