Japanese Is Useless And A Waste of Time: Stop Learning It

“In psychology, procrastination refers to the act of replacing high-priority actions with tasks of low-priority, and thus putting off important tasks to a later time.”
Wik The Pedia

“No human thing is of serious importance.”
The Republic

Procrastination is putting off important things.

But Japanese isn’t important.

Why do you have to know it? You already know English. There’s tons of music in English. Tons of books. Tons of English speakers. Stuff gets dubbed and translated into English. Every flavor of human being in the world speaka the English.

You don’t have to know Japanese. You’ve come this far without knowing it. Most people go their whole lives without knowing Japanese. And they do fine. Most of the world’s billionaires are monolingual.

Japanese isn’t important. Eating your vegetables is “important”. Looking both ways before you cross the street is “important”. Filing your taxes is “important”. Drinking enough water is “important”. Getting hugs is “important”. Japanese? Who?

Honestly, who cares?

Don’t bother. Stop raking yourself over the coals as if you “should” learn Japanese or you’re “supposed to”. You’re not. It’s just a game. It’s a just a silly game some people play for fun. **** it. Go do something important.

The world will not end because you didn’t learn Japanese. Your life will not end. If you don’t want to learn Japanese, then don’t. Stop making it something you “have to” do and “should” do and “would do”, but don’t do, but guiltily do, but run away from and feel like a pile of pooh about all day.

You don’t have to learn Japanese. You can quit any time. Save your money. You can quit right now. Today. Game over.

You can be free! FREE! Free to move on. Free to play something else. And you’ll never have to see or hear anything Japanese again and no one will blame you for it. No one will hate you for it. No one will cry. No one will yell. No one will miss you. No one will be angry.

Your well-developed, quasi-religious sense of guilt is useless. It’s useless to you and it’s useless to the human race. I have never once benefited from the fact that you feel bad about yourself. No animal was ever saved because some stupid girl called Stacy went “awwwwww”. The world will not be a better place because you go about perpetually feeling like a schmuck.

Try it. Kill yourself. No improvement. Cut yourself. Take a whip and hit yourself on the back until you bleed (“It’s a plague! Let’s beat ourselves!”…No, kid). Nothing will get better. You’ll just make a mess that someone else has to clean up. You selfish bastard. Oh, now you’re crying. Yeah, crying really helps — let’s waste some Kleenex. Oh, now you’re wiping snot on your shirt — good plan, now we have to clean your shirt. Really constructive there, champ.

If you care about something, either fix it or forget it.  I am here to tell you, in the case of learning Japanese, to forget it. **** it. Dude, you’re probably going to die one day, and your brain will be eaten by maggots and it won’t matter whether it contained Japanese or not.

Don’t go around making long faces as if that’s somehow a meaningful contribution. The plague was cured by playful minds, by people having fun, not by gangs of weepy emo kids with whips.

Procrastination is putting off important things. But Japanese isn’t important. So don’t put it off any more. Just stop doing it. You have that power. It’s your time. It’s your money. Don’t wanna do Japanese? Don’t! It’s that simple. It really is.

Sure, it was fun while it lasted, but now it’s boring. Now you’ve got yourself pretending it’s important. Let go. Get up, get out and get on with your real life. Vegetables to eat, streets to cross, air to breathe.

Don’t force yourself to do things that aren’t important.

Japanese is not important. Japanese does not matter. You don’t have to know Japanese. You don’t need to know Japanese. And you clearly don’t want to learn Japanese, otherwise it wouldn’t have turned into this quagmire of emotions and good intentions gone awry. Sure, you “want” to know Japanese, but…whatever…come on. We all having passing wants. I “wanted” that guy, I mean, girl at Starbucks the other day. Screw it. Let’s play something else.

Stop the madness. Stop whipping yourself. Stop wasting your time.

Stop learning Japanese.

“There is no such thing as discipline. There is only love…You are the result of what you love most.”
Charles Poliquin
The Myth of Discipline

  53 comments for “Japanese Is Useless And A Waste of Time: Stop Learning It

  1. watt
    August 8, 2011 at 00:47

    I wholeheartedly disagree. Even maggots appreciate eating Japanese every now and then.

    • Chagami
      August 8, 2011 at 01:56

      Also, some people get cremated and maggots certainly don’t eat ash. BAM! How’s that Khatz? I just COMPLETELY DESTROYED your entire article, website, personal philosophies, beliefs and grasp on reality!

      (jk :P)

  2. Chagami
    August 8, 2011 at 01:49

    I was waiting for the turn around point in this article where you switch from the negative tone to revealing a new positive way of looking at Japanese, and as I began to conclude that there wasn’t one, the closing words revealed it:

    >“There is no such thing as discipline. There is only love…You are the result of what you love most.”

    I love Japanese, therefore I will keep going (:

  3. Joshuah
    August 8, 2011 at 02:27

    Great motivational and inspirational post as always Khatz!.. Wait what??!!
    Lol, anyway I’m off back to my reps :D

  4. ライトニング
    August 8, 2011 at 03:19

    Luckily I love japanese too much to quit.

    I may fall behind in my kanji reps just a tiny bit, but english is never a major part of my life (Still have to go to school y’know), and even then at lunch i read mangas and listen to japanese music during lunch and during class to a certain extent.

    Yes, SRS reps are fun (they are to me), but that new japanese ps3 game i just bought, or that new installation in a manga series i just got is just funner :)

    • ライトニング
      August 8, 2011 at 03:40

      As an extension to what i already said, I always choose japanese。 Not once since 2011年8月18日 Have I chosen The engrish, because like khatz said in one of his earlier posts “you do not know english” I think it was a post about monolingual. Why would i choose something i don’t know?

      • Erik
        August 9, 2011 at 00:49

        8/18/2011? Are you from the future? :P

        • ライトニング
          August 9, 2011 at 16:27

          Excuse me, 2010 :)
          Scratch That, I am from the future :P

  5. Dakota Kun
    August 8, 2011 at 09:57

    Being told I don’t have to learn Japanese, makes me want to do Japanese even more. Kind of a “don’t push the big red button” sort of thing.

  6. 魔法少女☆かなたん
    August 8, 2011 at 13:00

    I spend the overwhelming majority of my time doing stuff that’s unimportant and doesn’t matter, and I still turned out alright. Sort of. Maybe. Depends on your point of view.

    Anyway, it’s better than doing stuff that could actually kill me, although I suppose my love of alcohol probably does count as said “stuff”.

    But then again, this blog entry seems directed towards…the same kind of people who inhabit certain online message boards about Japanese. Who take their perceived “level” as some kind of contest that determines the fate of the world. Whose wit and wisdom is now immortalised in SilverSpoon banners. You know who you are. And you should be getting drunk like me.

  7. phil p
    August 8, 2011 at 16:06

    how did you come across a Charles Poliquin quote?

  8. Natsu
    August 9, 2011 at 00:15

    Well… Reverse-psychology perhaps? ;D

    Lemme say this… I recently misplaced my MP3 player and misplaced my only Okaasan to Issho DVD, and after we had an important guest from Oregon over, I didn’t have those things to help me with Japanese while she was here (I did but I really didn’t), and so I went a month without keeping the water boiling. Now I have to start once again, and keep learning things. I feel bad because I’m not feeling as “in-tune” with the Japanese I’m hearing like I did a month before now, when I was watching three episodes (Megavideo won’t allow more) episodes of anime a day, plus drowning my head out with Japanese music and LIKING IT.

    Point is, I’m getting to the point where I feel guilty and a bit empty when Japanese ISN’T in my life. I love it so much. :)

    “… You are the result of what you love most.” Well I love Japanese. The result is obvious. ;D

    Interesting post, Khatz. Very unexpected. I love this website. :D

  9. Clint
    August 9, 2011 at 01:35

    At this point, “And you’ll never have to see or hear anything Japanese again,” I had a miniature little panic attack about never being able to listen to my favorite Japanese bands again.

    Subtle, but effective.

  10. David
    August 9, 2011 at 05:25

    I wanna say thanks for this Khatz. I did 2 years at Uni and spent one of the best years of my life in Japan. The truth is, I was holding on to that memory of being in the Japanese University, and letting it hold me back to this day (3 years later). I have moved on, got married and a job since, but I was always feeling a niggling in the back of my mind… like I “should” be learning Japanese for some reason.

    The truth is, I think I’d done what I needed to. I got the Japanese out of my system, but I was holding on to it… I should do it, or I needed to for some inane reason. As you say, everything I need is translated nowadays. I still enjoy music, but that’s simply because I enjoy the music. I also enjoy Korean music, but have barely even learned the hangul.

    The truth is… I don’t want Japanese enough anymore, nor do I need it. I achieved what I wanted, and I’m not ready to move on. Maybe one day, in the future, it will happen again. Maybe I’ll need to. Maybe I’ll be called there again. But for now, I have other things to achieve and I’ve found other happiness. A big release came today knowing I don’t HAVE to do this anymore. I can do it when I’m ready, when I want to… if I ever want to or need to.

    So, though it didn’t have the reverse psychology effect you may have actually wanted, I’m glad you wrote this. I feel free again now, free to enjoy subbed anime and translated games and english manga. Thank you.

    • August 11, 2011 at 10:18

      You’re in charge of  your own destiny. I choose Japanese because I love the language and wish to know more. Sure, I chose a career in interpretation, and so I learn other languages like Spanish and Mandarin simply because they are in more demand(and I have different reasons why I love those languages than I do Japanese, which I think is a healthy way to go about learning languages, find what you love, rather than what you NEED)
      But Japanese always has a special place in my heart, much like English. I feel Japanese, even though I never once set foot on the country’s soil.
      I have yet to meet anyone in California for longer than a few minutes that speaks Japanese, except for a friend of mine who prefers speaking English. He’s an American now. He is doing what he loves. HE DEFINED HIS OWN DESTINY.
      I, however, would love to speak Japanese all the time, and use English as a hobby. Read a few books, write a few… keep up a blog. But at this present time, English and Spanish are the only languages I can really use on a daily basis.
      I still keep my Japanese going. I keep that water boiling. Why, last night I watched some movies in Japanese after an entire day of Mandarin listening.
      It’s like my English feeds my Japanese, which feeds my English, which feeds my Spanish, which feeds my Japanese and English, which feeds my Mandarin, which feeds my Japanese, which feeds my Korean, which feeds my Russian… you get the point!
      Learning Japanese has helped me learn Chinese characters, which will prove to be very helpful while learning Mandarin. Now I don’t have to go through that same, head to desk segment of my life where I just mindlessly drew the characters. Now I actually understand radicals and stroke counts and how they work inside any given character.
      Sure I  have a lot of work to do with Chinese, since sentences are constructed in a uniquely Chinese way that is vastly different than Japanese, but because I learned Japanese, I can now get straight to the language.
      Everything you do, do it because you love it.
      This is what I got from this article.
      There is no point, there is no reason why Khatz does these. Everybody has a unique reaction to what they read. This is what I have learned from thousands upon thousands of hours of listening to Japanese. Stop looking for an agenda. Stop looking for hidden meanings. The meaning comes from YOU.

  11. 藤原健二
    August 9, 2011 at 08:53

    If you’re going to quote a fitness trainer, quote someone who is not preoccupied with trying to sell his audience products, like Martin Berkhan from www.leangains.com.

  12. Agent J
    August 9, 2011 at 12:07

    I’m guessing the moral of this one is “do things out of love and not duty”.

    Was still a bit scary to read all of it though. v_v

    • August 11, 2011 at 10:22

      Nothing you read or hear can hurt you. It can only hurt you if you allow it to.
      This is part of learning. Take away the pride, take away the agenda. Empty your cup, only then can it be filled, and you will empty it many times into the basin that is your knowledge.

  13. August 10, 2011 at 02:22

    Provocative, yet true. You’ve caught on that there are a lot of people “shoulding” all over themselves, and really, it’s better to not just go through with it if it’s a should for you. Life’s way too frickin’ short.

    I’d say, if Japanese or some other language for you is a should and not a must, experiment with some other languages. Then if that doesn’t work, I’d say drop language-learning completely. :)   

  14. August 10, 2011 at 02:23

    At least, temporarily.

  15. Pingfa
    August 10, 2011 at 04:05

    This is now my favourite article on this site.
    This is something that most people will not be able to truly embrace, and it’s something people who are not conventionally bound are generally too afraid to say.
    “No human thing is of serious importance”
    Indeed, nothing is inherently trivial or important. Things are worth as much value as we place on them.
    It’s all just fluff.
    I’ve said it to a friend of mine multiple times when he’s feeling a little off. There is no point, that’s the point.
    The point is’pointing’ – because there is an endless variety of points. The fact that most people see pointlessness as a bad thing is a funny thing. I’d be more concerned about the idea of being bound to one single point – one’s own personal prison.
    The point I’m making is… who cares what the point I’m making is? If you don’t like it, go point somewhere else!

  16. August 10, 2011 at 04:57

    You read Poliquin? Dude, that’s awesome!

  17. Terry
    August 10, 2011 at 08:03

    Good point. Do it because you love it. Not because you programmed it in your head that you should.

  18. simon
    August 10, 2011 at 15:08

    Very few people know how to work. Inspiration, everybody has inspiration, that’s just hot air.

  19. August 11, 2011 at 05:20

    I don’t want to learn Japanese. That’s only because I travel mostly in Spanish speaking countries though.

    • August 11, 2011 at 10:24

      The cool thing about Khatz’ articles is that it can apply to any language. I’m glad you made it here.

  20. August 11, 2011 at 06:49

    I love your website, and all I can say is: thanks for this article. Not that I needed it. :)

  21. August 11, 2011 at 10:25

    How do I “like” the new like/dislike system? LMAO

  22. アンソニー
    August 11, 2011 at 12:42

    What I took from this article is, “do NOT try and convince yourself that Japanese is important!”
    If you take it seriously, you will want to put it off for another time, like the opening quote suggests.
    I actually didn’t respond to this post as if it were ‘reverse psychology’, or an attempt to let those who didn’t really want to be studying, go free. I think it literally, Khatz is suggesting that Japanese is in reality NOT serious, NOT important, but just a silly game for playing and having fun. And if we hold this attitude, we can play with it and not resist it and put it off like other serious things.

  23. August 11, 2011 at 23:31

    I agree with the last comment, but convincing you that you don’t have to study Japanese in order to study it better is kinda counterproductive, don’t you think?

    • Jorge
      August 12, 2011 at 06:09

      The point is to get people to figure out if they actually want to learn japanese versus feel obligated, Japanese is better if you do it because you want to instead of forcing yourself to

  24. Gary
    August 12, 2011 at 11:51

    I was actually quite shocked that Khatz would post such an article. I started learning Japanese 3 years ago when I saw some really amazing J-drama or some manga – I forgot which. Since then I’ve tried to turn my life into Japanese, just like Khatz sad.

    But I felt greatly unrewarded. I didn’t take it to the next level – I didn’t have Japanese friends in real life, I wasn’t doing anything Japanese in my life other than doing some SRS reps, listening to some Japanese songs, and watching Japanese dramas (sadly, with English or Japanese subs).

    I then have recently realized, I don’t think I really need to know Japanese. There is lack of a Japanese community around where I live, and the only reason why I would learn it better is because I probably get to put down the fact I passed some level of JLPT as an extra credential. That’s pretty much it. I used to want to work in Japan for the rest of my life, but I have come to accept that as a naive idea, and I have since thrown it out the window.

    So yes, I am going to divorce with Japanese. I still enjoy challenging myself by reading the Japanese subs when I watch doramas, and enjoy recognizing the words I hear in a song, but I have suffered too much agony over what I couldn’t do because I lacked the Japanese skills. Unfortunately, there was practically no outside motivation for me to continue pursuing – and now I fail to see the positive side of learning it strictly for self-benefit as well. 

    • August 12, 2011 at 14:44

      We’ll miss you.
      Really, if you don’t have the drive to learn, you may as well pick something you truly are passionate about.
      I love Japanese, and even though there aren’t that many people who speak it as compared to, say, Mandarin or Spanish, I feel a great reward knowing that I can understand a lot of things that most people simply shrug off as “some crazy Japanese shit.”
      Well I actually get to read literature that only a few people outside of Japan can  truly appreciate.
      Plus, since I am pursuing a career in interpreting, Japanese will be a good part of my resume, since it is my second most fluent language. Actually…I’m starting to doubt my English… I really can’t tell which one I know more. I think in English, but really, I have problems communicating with most people. I am shy, I tend to hijack conversations because it’s easier for me to talk AT people than to talk WITH people… I feel I can break out of this habit with a fresh language.
      I will be saving up funds and getting prepared to study in Japan for at least 2 years of my life. The way I see it, even if I HATE it(which I won’t, because I’d rather be around Japanese speakers) it’s just the same as living anywhere else, so I may as well.
      And most likely I will have a wonderful experience.
      I’ll pretty much never run out of things to learn. I am starting to get the hang of Mandarin now, and so I will have an entire new adventure with Chinese text. I think I should be able to get a job as an interpreter with English, Japanese, Spanish, Mandarin, Korean, Arabic, Hebrew, and ASL, but really I have a lot to learn. I am virtually retarded in the last 4, and am a baby spitting up sounds in Mandarin. Japanese and Spanish I can understand what people say, for the most part, but have trouble coming up with what to say in response.
      Not to mention I am absolutely terrible at translating Japanese to English and English to Japanese. I kind of just understand what’s being said without really thinking about the English equivalent. I really don’t know how to explain it.
      Anyway, that’s my little 5-minutes of pride thrown on here. It makes me feel better about myself knowing that I am learning so much. It just hurts that I most likely won’t be able to get any work for quite some time. I may have to do a lot tutoring.
      I can definitely tutor Japanese, but so few people really want to learn it. It’s really hard convincing people that it’s not as hard as it seems…

      • Chagami
        August 13, 2011 at 00:15

        >I feel I can break out of this habit with a fresh language.
        You’re treating English like an old cellphone/computer that you’re wanting to dispose of. You just blew my mind with that awesomeness! 
        >I kind of just understand what’s being said without really thinking about the English equivalent.
        I know what you mean! Though I think of this as an advantage. Like, if I hear, 写真, I will understand it, but my inner monologue will say, “photo”, which is annoying because I just want to understand the word without translating. But take the word, 最高. I can’t really explain what it means in English (if pressed, I’d translate it roughly to “awesome”) but I understand it in Japanese, as a Japanese word. I like this because I feel more monolingual this way.

        • August 13, 2011 at 14:34

          I think you got what I meant, but just to clarify, I don’t want to get rid of my English, I just want to get rid of the bad social habits I have.

        • August 13, 2011 at 14:36

          oh and 最高(さいこう) always messes with my mind, because I know what it really means, but in my mind I hear “psycho!”
          A lot of times I feel like I’m just listening to gibberish(less so in Japanese, more with Spanish and Mandarin) but I know from experience that as I continue to listen and learn new vocabulary and grammar through textbooks, it becomes less and less gibberish and starts to feel more and more like I’m listening to English. (my L1)

          • Chagami
            August 14, 2011 at 01:05

            >[...]as I continue to listen and learn new vocabulary and grammar through textbooks[...]
            At least for Japanese, excluding RTK, about how much of your study depends on textbooks?

  25. August 13, 2011 at 00:42

    If an article is convincing you not to learn a language it’s better that you don’t because it means you really didn’t have the commitment and desire necessary for success.

    • August 13, 2011 at 14:33

      If anything on the internet convinces you to stop doing something you are passionate about, you have more problems than anyone on the internet can help you with.

      • September 9, 2011 at 08:56

        True dat. It’s like spending your time reading drawing websites and looking at purty pictures instead of taking a pen and FREAKING DRAWING.
        I used to be like that.
        Do something, anything, but don’t go all “Mom help me Japanese is too hard and mean Khatz just made me give up” 

  26. Jason
    August 15, 2011 at 02:01

    A lot of the translated manga isn’t even that good.
    All the goods are the unscanlated ones.

    • August 15, 2011 at 08:38

      I’ll probably be reading a lot of Chinese scanlations though. With Spanish I’m sticking with books at the library… there just doesn’t seem to be a strong manga community and most Spanish scanlations have been either translated from the already translated English (Multiplicity, anyone remember that movie?)  or is a typo-ridden translation of the Japanese.
      Bah, I don’t really care, just give me language and I don’t care! BWAHAHA

  27. panicinduced
    August 20, 2011 at 14:24

    Um, what’s the purpose of this post? It’s reeking with negativity. While I respect the opinion, to each his own right? It’s not like a part of you will be taken away just by studying something. I say learn by thinking of it as a hobby (like a video game perhaps?) and it’ll turn into a passion. Don’t think of it as something that you should do, just enjoy the moment of the learning process. That’s it. 

    P.S: If you’re really passionate about something, you’ll pursue it no matter how hard someone tries to convince you otherwise. Don’t think about the time that may pass, or how it’s too late for you to learn something because you’re old–time DOES pass, there’s nothing you can do about it. By the time you realized that time has indeed passed you by, voila, you’ve already learned the language. 

    • August 21, 2011 at 01:47

      You sound like me! For me, positive reinforcement is way more helpful than this negative vibe. However, something I’ve sort of noticed about AJATT is that a lot of things are repeated, just from different angles and perspectives. For a long while, I didn’t “get” AJATT, but then, a post came along and things just clicked. I knew what I needed to do.
      This type of negative motivational material doesn’t really work for me either, but it works for some. Just look at the wide range of interesting comments here!

      • August 21, 2011 at 02:28

        I think it’s helpful in the sense that it helps you picture what your life would be if you weren’t studying Japanese. If picturing a Japaneseless life makes you feel bad, you know what to do.

  28. fio
    September 9, 2011 at 07:42

    But English looks / sounds so ugly now.

    I don’t get excited over English words. They don’t make sense.

    And how am I meant to fall asleep without softly spoken 日本語? 

  29. Eme
    June 18, 2012 at 17:02

    Well, This is pretty much the mentality I used for my entire life. That’s why I achieved nothing.
    On the other hand, I started learning Japanese just for fun and didn’t plan on sticking with it (as you said, play a game until it gets boring and then leave it), but after so long I’m still eager for every day of learning Japanese.

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  31. October 11, 2013 at 18:32

    It really is that simple. Japanese isn’t important. I don’t have to learn it. I don’t have to deal with it. I don’t have to spend my days suffering in agony for a reward that is not worth it. So, why am I still here? That’s a good question. So is “Why is the sky blue? Why is the grass green?” The answer is the same for those questions as it is for this question; because it is. Or, in this case, because I am. I think, therefore I am. I learn Japanese, therefore I am. Japanese is a part of me now. Whether I want it to be or not, It’s a fact. Trashing Japanese is equal to trashing a part of myself. And I’ve come way too far to do that now. It doesn’t matter if I started learning Japanese simply because I can, or for a more justified and “meaningful” reason, the point is, I’ve started learning Japanese. “It doesn’t matter how I get there, results are all that matter.”

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