Is N1 enough to work in Japan?

silhouette of man sitting on grass field at daytime

When I read Reddit, I noticed that there is a lot of debate about whether N1 is enough to work in Japan or not. If I think from my experiences, it is the needed Japanese level that you can work in Japan. However having N1 is just a first step for working in Japan and you have to improve your skills and language abilities more for promotion. I want to talk about this reason today.

The Noken is an exam to test your ability in academic Japanese.

First of all, language is a very complicated skill, which is made up of several elements. For example, the Japanese used in an academic field and the Japanese required for business use different terminology, The required sense of communication is different as well.

For example, in the history major in which I studied in university, you are considered to speak Japanese well if you can explain historical facts logically and criticize the other people accurately. However it would be a big problem if you criticize the customer logically in business. Sometimes it is important to appeal to the emotions and say exact the same thing which other people wants to hear it. (I am not a scammer)

In this way, the required Japanese ability is different depending on the various situations. Noken examination measures your academic Japanese ability. So it’s better to be aware of that if you want to study Japanese in a teaching center, this exam is very appropriate. However, if you want to work in a Japanese company, this exam is not suitable. One of the reasons is the lack of business terminology.

Additionally the most important ability for working in Japan is “空 気 を 読 む”; you have to understand the context of Japanese language very highly.

To read air

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Photo by Tom Leishman on

“Reading the air” is a skill which means being able to understand the environment you are in and being able to demonstrate a correct response/reaction in various type of situations . In Japan, the Japanese people who can use “reading the air” very well can promote themselves in their work. On the contrary, foreigners are remaining under stress because they did not learn much about “reading the air” in their countries.

But, you don’t need to think badly if you can’t read it, because not many Japanese can’t do it very well either, Plus they miss out on having a steady job in interviews. In fact, every year university students complain about that how wrong this culture is. In my opinion before complaining about it, they should study it.

Then it would be so nice to know where you can buy a book called «The text to be able to read the air». Sadly there are no books in this country. Well, the only solution is to talk to the Japanese people in many cases and making mistakes again and again and don’t give up on trying again. It is the main reason for not being able to learn easily.

If you already decided to leave Japan, wait and you should think positively. It is a very difficult skill to understand so it is worth a lot, right? If you can speak Japanese very well and understand the culture of “reading the air”, you would be almost the only foreign person in your company, and the Japanese respect you a lot. Reading the air is so difficult, so if you know it, you are special from the point of view of Japanese people.

Lastly, I want to share a good way to learn it. It is entering a school in Japan except for Japanese language schools because there are no Japanese in there. If you can, you should enter a university as a regular student but if you cannot, go to Japan for an exchange student and enter the university clubs where only the Japanese are. Before making a big mistake in your work, you should learn and experience Japanese culture in school with a lot of practice.

This is Asia. The common sense of the western world does not work in Japan likewise the common sense of Japan does not work in your country. That’s why you have to try harder. Thus you can be a very powerful and special person. Japan is a very good country to try something difficult.

I hope you can improve your life in Japan and Japan gives you the right difficulty.

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