Benjamin Boas: Learning Japanese through Popular Media


Benjamin Boas—author, mahjong master and martial arts expert—visited the Japanese 9 class on May 26. Although multi-talented, Boas visited ASIJ to speak on Japan, the Japanese language and his influences in learning about all things Japanese.

Benjamin Boas started off his presentation by telling the students in Japanese 9 a little bit about himself, such as where he grew up and his attendance at schools such as Brown, Tokyo and Kyoto Universities. He also described the role that popular media, including video games and manga, have played in his connection to Japan and his Japanese fluency. After the students got a clear idea of who he is, Boas gave them the opportunity to write any questions on the IdeaXchange white board. Questions varied from “what games do you like?” to “what are some tips you have for applying for college?”

Responding to the topic of several questions, Boas explained that he has a wide range of games that he likes, but he really enjoys Japanese role-playing games (RPGs), because he was able to learn everyday Japanese that he can use with real life Japanese people.

Boas spoke from experience as he also talked about how students should not worry about being unsure of their future plans. He himself went through a drastic change in majors when he went from studying games of chance, to studying Japanese.


Boas offered many helpful tips about college as well. He says that when applying for college, it’s important to know why you want to go to each specific college and the details of what you would do at that college. Boas also emphasized that transferring from one university to another is not a breeze. The changes in the environment and the newness of it all, along with the application process, can be quite overwhelming.

In the end, his most important message was that we should follow our passion, because you’ll be the most happy with your life if you do what you love.

This was an inspiring experience for everyone. Boas showed us that life has a way of working itself out if you work hard and follow your passion. (Hana Jacobsen, Grade 10, Sally Maeda, Grade 10, and the Japanese 9 class)

You can learn more about Benjamin Boas on his Facebook page or by reading his book.

The Japanese 9 class also exercised their language skills by providing this write-up in Japanese:

5月26日に、漫画やゲーム研究者のベンジャミン・ボアスさんがJapanese 9 のクラスにゲストスピーカーとしていらっしゃいました。ボアスさんは自己紹介から始め、子供時代の話や日本文化に興味を持った理由、ブラウン大学・京都大学・東京大学でのご自分の研究などについて話してくれました。