Honestly, my initial interest came from anime and video games, and the challenge of trying to teach myself a language in high school. Through a summer exchange program, I developed an interest also in the culture and history of Japan. And through formally studying the language and
literature in college, and another semester spent abroad, I also became deeply fascinated in Japanese art and literature, and understood more fully how much differently it’s possible to express oneself in Japanese. (Though don’t get me wrong – I still play video games and watch anime, I just read Murakami and plan trips to the Japanese countryside as well.) Most of the impact of Japanese has been a personal fulfillment, in the ability to better understand Japanese art, media, and culture, the ability to express myself in a different language, and the expanded thinking that comes with it. Occasionally, I’ll help a friend draft a formal business letter in Japanese, or translate news articles or emails into English for my coworkers, but the occasional professional use of Japanese, at least to me, is an afterthought compared to the personal enrichment.