Complicated Relationship with My Language

10/May/2023 in Tokyo

*Japanese ver

My relationship with Japanese language is very distorted

Will touch 4 aspects: Speaking/Writing/Reading/Listening

Listening is the biggest problem

But before dive into it, one fundamental thing should be mentioned

Over the past decade I was often abroad & always avoided Japanese people, always very desperately

So that I hardly used Japanese

But I used Japanese every day for writing

Writing is interacting with oneself

Simply put, I used Japanese for a communication with myself, not with others

Simply put, I viewed Japanese as words almost exclusively for myself, not for others

As a result, using Japanese for interacting with others felt like "too intimate"

Felt "too direct"

Felt a risk of letting others invade my privacy, my territory

And various distortions originate from here


I prefer not to speak Japanese

Speaking Japanese to others feels too much, as I just wrote

Also, speaking Japanese is often very inconvenient

Japanese is an unbearably unsuitable language for communication

especially with people we'e not so close yet not so distant (which means 95% of people around us)

Japanese is a difficult language to speak when a relationship between a speaker & a listener is unclear/unestablished

Japanese has too many words that indicate distance with others

Japanese can't be spoken without an endless constant measurement of distance

Japanese communication is always restricted by distance between a speaker & a listener

Japanese doesn't have "neutral" words & expressions

In addition to that, Japanese has to be spoken very hesitantly, very nervously, very timidly
with heavy stuttering
with a dead face
with obsessively avoiding eye contact

If Japanese is spoken clearly & confidently,

it just doesn't sound right

it just doesn't feel like Japanese

You have to be an idiot to speak Japanese


Something inside me

Something I want to express

To grab it & to drag it into the outside world,
Japanese is the only tool I can make use of

Also, just writing Japanese words is fun

Wiring Hiragana, Katakana & Kanji is very fun thing to do


Not for getting information
But for sensing & feeling something

Japanese is my only language

I'm 120% certain that Mishima or Tanizaki's novels in translation cannot bring this rich dazzling intoxication that one can get from an original Japanese version

Among speaking/writing/reading/listening, I spend a vast amount of time in reading

One problem of getting into writing......or getting into drawing/piano/football/sewing or anything......namely, doing production, not just

we notice small subtle things & we become precise & our standard gets higher

Books published recently, or online articles, are something I have a great difficulty with

Written in unacceptable, unbearable, unforgivable Japanese
Often I can't continue reading

This leads to the next & last point


Currently I'm in Japan

Japanese is heard everywhere from public announcements to online video advertisement

The most unbearable one is a normal conversation of Japanese people

In a cafe
If two Japanese sit next to me & start a conversation, I always put my earphone in order not to hear their spoken Japanese

Not finishing the sentence
Ending the sentence vaguely
Constant nodding/Aizuchi
Constant signs of approval/うん、うん、そうだねー
High pitch voice
Childish, immature, weird behaviours
Putting a hand on mouth, both men & women
Excessive smile
Pretending & acting

Through these traits, I can see only Japanese people's morbid weakness, morbid unconfidence, morbid avoidance, morbid self-consciousness, morbid attentiveness, morbid carefulness, morbid nervousness, morbid dependence......all these "good" qualities

Listening to Japanese songs don't bring any of these morbid feel

Only Japanese spoken by Japanese human beings does

The other day I received a message from some woman

Her text was very short & concise, written in Japanese, saying


In English this can be translated as in

"I like so much"

But these translated English words do not bring me any, even 0.0001 % of sentiment that original Japanese sentence contains

Sweet dazzling intoxication & some sorrow are completely missing, eradicated in these English words

Japanese words can get into the deepest part of me immediately, touch the most fragile layer of me bluntly

And I have no time to protect myself from
this freshness
this rawness
this violence