Oriental Studies and Japanese Personal Statement Example

Through Japanese animation and manga, I found that the language resembles a puzzle. It is constructed of three scripts, all with epochal influences. This occurs most noticeably in Kanji with the adoption of the same characters and meanings as Chinese, my first language, all the while having different pronunciations. Japan overflows with rich traditions that are preserved in their intricate culture and a market-orientated economy that has revolutionised the methods of production. All these pieces of the culture, history and society fit perfectly together to create the beautifully complex picture of Japan we know today.

In English, I independently studied Golden's 'Memoirs of a Geisha' for my NEA, looking into whether it is a sensationalist novel. This allowed me to research into Japanese society. Sugimoto's 'An Introduction to Japanese Society' aided in my exploration of the representation of women as he delved into household roles and marriage. I drew upon this when discussing the presentation of the protagonist's sexual freedom as a geisha. While the novel was a window into Japanese culture, it is not an authentic reflection, but rather a result of the male Western gaze. I hope that studying Japanese would enable to me to read Japanese literature in its original form to gain a deeper understanding of the culture.

Japan's place in the global economy fascinated me. I discovered in Neary's 'The State and Politics in Japan' that the integration of Japan with the rest of the world during the Meiji period meant that they were more financially and politically secure, allowing the government to invest in the technological industry. For this reason, the paradox in their rapid development of technology and slow economic growth in recent years intrigues me since Japan is not the isolated feudal state they once were.

Working in my family's Chinese takeaway has led to my curiosity of adapting languages to a business management environment. By communicating with my parents in Cantonese for customers, I'm able to experience the use of language in a business on a small scale. My work experience at the Japanese bank Mizuho allowed me to experience this on a bigger scale. While being in Global Transactions, I was asked to organise data and figures for an oil deal. Through this, I saw that being multilingual and possessing an understanding of the client's culture were key in marketing products and maintaining a solid relationship with a global firm. It was also an opportunity for me to see the influence Japanese culture had on the work dynamic, from their strict work ethic to their willingness to take risks. The bank showed me how harmonious languages and business can be and the extent to which language skills can enable a firm to blossom globally.

I fervently enjoy reading manga, a favourite of mine being Tsukasa Hojo's shounen 'City Hunter'. The peculiar combination of Ryo's heroic and perverse nature resulted in me taking a Japanese subculture online course by Keio University where I delved into the rise of promiscuity and battle narratives in manga, in relation to the modernisation of Japan. The course also let me engage with others with similar interests to mine; I hope to further embrace this in university through societies and clubs. My involvement in Japanese taster lessons led by a SOAS student let me familiarise myself with Hirigana and has motivated me to self-study them. Taking part in the Rivers of the World art project and being part of the planning team for the Sheriff's Challenge also allowed me to explore art within different cultures and enhance my organisational skills.

With Japan being a principal hub of innovation in various sectors, I believe this degree will provide me with the language aptitude and cultural understanding to not only open up the prospect of working in a global firm, but be a stepping stone in elevating a more fluid business environment where language will not be a barrier to any ventures.

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Received offers from Oxford, Cardiff, Sheffield, Leeds and Manchester. Applied for Japanese and Business Mangament at all unis except from Oxford.


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