Japanese Language and Culture

About the Author — 自己紹介

It's hard to believe I've been studying Japanese for ten years now, but here I am. I wish I could claim victory, but I'm still working on it, and probably will always be. I began my study shortly after finishing my graduate studies in engineering and coming to Fort Worth, Texas for work. Since then I met and married my wife who hails from Kanagawa, Japan. Our wedding was in Kauai, Hawaii: a halfway point for our families. That's where I am in this picture, with the Waimea River valley behind me.

Up until I was 10 years old, I never had much thought about Japan, and the only two Japanese words I knew were "hibachi" and "Datsun." But that year, I saw the miniseries Shogun on television. Shogun introduced me to some Japanese history and captured my imagination with the intrigue and action, samurai culture, and that certain Japanese aesthetic that still attracts me to this day. But I was 10, and the show ended, and I went back to thinking about other things.

In college I bought myself my first little compact Japanese-English dictionary just to check it out. Then, when I was a graduate student, I ran across a kana drill program for Macintosh called "KanaLab". The drill was addictive, and without knowing much else about the language, I almost mastered basic hiragana and katakana. But my graduate studies took precedence, and with nothing available with which to practice reading, it was all but lost.

About a year after coming to work, the idea of learning Japanese hit me again and I made a pledge to myself that this time I would become fluent. I started out with the Pimsleur language tapes and built from there.

Ten years later with much part-time self-study often interrupted by life happenings, like having a daughter, I can't yet claim complete fluency, but my progress continues, and I can generally hold my own. The more I've learned, the more interesting the language and culture has become to me. In simple terms, I love Japan for its intricate blending of ancient past and ultramodern present, but an analysis of what I find interesting about the country could fill an essay of its own.

Now that I have in-laws from Japan and a bilingual daughter, I am even more motivated to get a handle on fluency.

 

—Collin McCulley

 

Copyright © 2010-2011 Collin McCulley. All Rights Reserved.

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