Wondering why Japanese culture has become so influential in the UK in recent times?
Interestingly, much of it has to do with childhood nostalgia. Think of many of the UK’s favourite Christmas toys over the past four decades, and many of them have a strong Japanese connection.
From Transformers and Tamagotchis, to Power Rangers and more recently Pokémon, nearly every child growing up in the UK has a fond childhood memory of at least one Japanese cultural touchstone – so it’s little surprise that more and more people are choosing to explore Japanese as they grow older. More recently, the growth in availability of Manga comics and the critically acclaimed films of Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli have helped continue the Japanese cultural phenomenon currently sweeping the UK.
Food is another leading factor in why Japan’s influence both culturally and linguistically is in the ascendancy. The rise of popular chain restaurants, and availability of healthy, convenient lunches for the busy Londoner have certainly played their part in growing the popularity of Japanese food in the capital. Interestingly, many of the most famous Japanese chains that have popped up on streets across the capital only date back to the mid-1990s, and one of the UK’s biggest supermarkets recently revealed it now sells 90,000 packs of sushi a week. This suggests the time where Japanese food was considered an ‘exotic’ meal choice for hungry Brits is now long past – it’s now a simple fact of many people’s daily routine.
The growing needs of the business world are another huge reason behind the Japanese language’s rise in popularity. Japanese companies employ around 140,000 people in the UK, so unsurprisingly, there has been a surge in uptake in people learning the language for career development over recent years. Proficiency in Japanese is becoming particularly important for anyone who wants to pursue a career within one of the country’s ‘boom’ sectors – science, technology or robotics.
Finally it’s also worth noting that interest in Japanese culture and Japanese language courses is likely to show no signs of letting up over the next few years, as Japan will also be at the centre of the world’s attention in 2020 as the Olympic Games come to Tokyo.
The games will take place at multiple locations across the city and surrounding islands, and are anticipated to be the most ‘high tech’ games of all time – both in terms of the venues and competition technology. Expect robots, laser refereeing and even driverless cars to usher spectators to the games. So, why not get ahead of the games and impress your friends with your language skills as you watch the 100m final light up Tokyo come 2020.
Thinking of learning Japanese? Meet Chika!