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15 Apr 2002
Japan is truly amazing!

I'd say that most folks spend at least 3-5 hours a week just learning something. I'm pretty confident about that statistic since everybody is learning something, and age itself means more learning.

Just a few examples:
English, Spanish, German, ikebana, kimono, golf, American country art, cooking, anything basically.

I'm always surprised by how much time the Japanese spend on learning and the number of materials that can be found. Many folks complain that learning English in Japan is a waste of time, but when I look at the TV, several NHK based language shows, the radio does the same. Videos are basically all American. Normal flooded with English songs. The DJ speak in English. The road signs are in English. Come on. Japan must be the best place to learn anything! Especially when it comes to English.

1 problem is that much of this training and learning is most what the Japanese like to call "image training."

They buy books, videos, magazines, a full set of clubs, and practice aids for golf, but yet many have never stepped on the green since they have no time or not enough money. Hehe... probably should have bought only a book and rented their clubs.

But still, even with these strange intricacies, I respect their efforts to learn something.
That's really amazing, as is the efficiency of how (spare) time is used, reading (and studying) even in the most crowded trains. Not a minute is lost, even if it's just dedicated to a little nap.

English education: when I visited Japan for the first time I felt very much ignored. I remember I once met a group of uni students (they had enjoyed 12 years of English classes) and was treated like air. Afterwards I've found out that they preferred to ignore me rather than to speak English and make grammatical mistakes. That night it took them a lot of sake and Suntory to loosen their tongues. And it took me a while to understand and accept that mentality.
English is a language that is extremely hard to grasp as it contains a lot of words that are pronounced the same but have different meaning and spellings, for example, "there and Their" or "Where, Wear and Were" even I have a problem at times putting the right (or write, hehe)word where It belongs, :p.

I tried to learn the Irish language while in class. It was great, but meeting one of the students outside the class was a different story. My words' awareness level was overpowering, and I was afraid to make a fool of myself and say the words wrong or be overheard by a fluent speaker. This caused me to avoid conversations in Irish, so I can understand what they were doing for the students, Thomas. Silly, I know, but that's what happened to me when my confidence level was restricted to a classroom,

as for the learning you describe that the Japanese people do as a pass time, its a wonderful way to live, this is not practised by the majority of countries that I know of, and free time is becoming a way of life for people I know, the time is spent watching sitcoms, drinking in pubs or simply laying around the home relaxing, which is a waste of life, and to get motivated is like moving a mountain, lol👍
Part of the problem too is that Oral communication is very limited and many English who are Japanese prefer to speak in Japanese in class. I do my share too but ...
Also combined with a sense of not wanting to mistakes basically stops any type of conversation with somebody who is not drunk.

@Machine guns
Although many prefer to clam up some do want to practice anywhere and anytime, and may start off a conversation with you without even pausing to think that you just might be busy or don't want to offer free English lessons on the street.

Many people use circles or activites as a way to make friends too. Many mama-san volleybally or ping pong circles exists throughout the cities. It's really nice to see the over 50 generatin out and active. 1 student I teach is so busy after she retired she wishes at times that she was still working full time.

definitely a habit more countries should pick up!
Wow thats rather interesting...I knew that they had english around them but I never knew that there radio programs and such were in English too. I suppose they do that to make it easier on the people who live there and only speak english; at least I think thats why.
English is amazingly weird for people who speak an Asian language to learn, especially for the Japanese (the majority of whom end up speaking a variant form --- Engrish). Mainly due to the absence of certain sounds such as the phonetic "yee" sound ("yi" in Japanese) so the word "years" may be a bit of a challenge

Japan appears to be a place rich with resources (learning resources, not natural resources)! English is everywhere so the average Japanese person living in a populated city such as Tokyo will have a good grasp of reading and perhaps written English. Perhaps times are changing now with the flurry of Western music and shows penetrating the Japanese media, but most Japanese people do not get a chance to actually speak English, at least not regularly and on a day-to-day basis. This also explains the popularity of conversational English classes to teach Japanese how to speak like a native Brit. I think conversation is a major hurdle due to using new muscles in the mouth and making new shapes for the different "Western syllables and sounds." If you've got a good grasp of English, I highly recommend Bill Bryson's "Mother Tongue." It really is a witty insight into how fortunate native English speakers are!

Curiousity is a wonderful engine. Sure, it may have killed the cat, but I think the cat was misinformed! I too treasure every moment of the day, pursuing my many hobbies and trying to catch that sly nap (during work). It's a good sensibility even if you don't get to use it in practise, because knowledge is key to anything
Maybe, learning something is not a passtime to Japanese people. Maybe it's a necessary thing to do, like breathing or eating. When someone becomes habitued to studying hard in schools and universities, it's virtually impossible to lost this habit.😌
Welcome aboard Fugu!

That's a good point that might be related to the schooling thread. There is immense pressure on the schoolkids to perform well during their exams since the college one goes to governs the potential success of one's career. On a personal note I feel that it is the enthusiasm of Japanese people that makes it seem this way. There are a lot of trends that come and go and the constant enthusiasm keeps people up to date. Perhaps it was also ingrained from childhood since there are lots of hot trends amonst schoolkids (which change every few weeks to a month) e.g. Pinback buttons, Pikmin, etc. I mean, because of the world cup, look at the influx of enthusiasm into football, which was a dying sport over there prior to this. Now, merchandise (especially for the England team) are selling by the 1000s and consequently are selling out. It would be interesting to see how much this enthusiasm fades post-world cup!
Wecome aboard Fugu.

learning is a habit. Nice idea. I have never thought of it that way. hmmmm

they come and go virtually with the season. Anything that lasts is guraneteed bug money.

Sapporo is a test market for many products.

Wouldn't really be that harsh, but true the last few seasons have seen a major decrease in popularity.

Yep, English soccer merchandise are going fast. Because ... Beckham! Finally, Brad Pitt get's knocked off number 1 dream date.
Just checked with some students who also teach [juku] cram school.

They mentioned that Japanese don't have confidence in their own creativity therefore they study from others in a sense imitate their teachers.

Also, they mentioned that Japanese like to belong to a group and by studying they can make friends with others who have the same type of interests.
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