Is it Hard for Filipinos to learn Japanese?

Is it Hard for Filipinos to learn Japanese?

Is it Hard for Filipinos to learn Japanese?” is a common query. For Filipinos, the unexpected answer is often “No.”

Person with box on his head with question mark

Famous Filipinos who know Japanese

Many might wonder, “Is Japanese challenging to grasp?” A testament to the contrary can be found in the roster of famous Filipinos proficient in the language. Like Jose P. Rizal our National hero or Carlos P. Romulo Jr. who was aide-de-camp to General Douglas MacArthur. Their linguistic journey stands as inspiration, breaking the myth about the complexity of learning Japanese for Filipinos.

Cultural Similarities

Stemming from the same continent “ASIA” both Japan an Philippines share cultural similarities which is mirrored by their respective languages.

black and white's knight chess piece

The Filipino and Japanese cultures, represented by their languages Filipino (or Tagalog) and Nihongo respectively, have distinct historical and linguistic roots. However, centuries of interaction, especially in recent decades, have led to shared elements and cultural parallels. Below are some of the cultural similarities between the Filipino and Japanese people:

High Value on Respect

Both cultures place a significant emphasis on respect, especially towards elders. In the Filipino culture, the “mano po” gesture, where the younger person asks for the hand of the elder to place it on their forehead, is a sign of respect. In Japan, bowing is a common gesture that indicates respect.

Indirect Communication

Both cultures often employ indirect ways of communication to avoid confrontation or causing discomfort. For instance, instead of a direct refusal, they might give a vague response to show hesitance.

Strong Family Ties

Family is central to both Filipino and Japanese societies. Elders are taken care of by their families in their old age, and there’s a strong sense of duty towards family members.

Value on Hard Work

The Filipino trait of “Sipag at Tiyaga” (hard work and perseverance) parallels the Japanese work ethic, where dedication and commitment to one’s profession or craft are highly valued.

Shared Culinary Elements

While Filipino and Japanese cuisines are distinct, they share a love for rice, seafood, and certain vegetables. Both cultures also appreciate the aesthetic presentation of their dishes.

Love for Karaoke

Both Filipinos and Japanese enjoy karaoke as a form of entertainment, bonding, and expression.

Number of JLPT Passers

The Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) is a globally recognized exam to evaluate non-native speakers on their proficiency in Japanese.

growing statistics

Over recent years, there’s been a marked increase in the number of Filipinos passing this test. This growth not only indicates an escalating interest but also shows that when faced with the challenge, “Is learning Japanese difficult?”, many Filipinos answer with astounding success. The rising stats of JLPT passers from the Philippines refute the misconception about the difficulty of Japanese for Filipinos.


Number of Filipinos in Japan

The growing Filipino community in Japan speaks volumes about the adaptability of Filipinos when it comes to overcoming language barriers. With over 298,740 in December 2022 Filipinos in Japan, many have acquired a commendable proficiency in Japanese, illustrating that the notion of Japanese being hard to learn can be easily debunked.

What does the No. 1 Japanese Language center say

UNMEI NIHONGO CENTER a Japanese Language School in the Philippines since 2009 has accumulated awards for being the best Japanese language school in the Philippines from 2012 to present.

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Unmei Nihongo Center, a top-notch Japanese language center in the Philippines, has seen countless Filipinos tackle the question, “Is Japanese tough to master?” According to them, while there are distinctions between Japanese and Filipino languages, it isn’t insurmountably difficult. The center believes that with tailored methods for Filipinos, the process of learning Japanese can be rewarding. Embracing the culture, they say, further simplifies the Japanese learning journey.


Every language presents its own set of challenges. However, the question, Is it hard to learn Japanese?, especially for Filipinos, is answered by the successes of JLPT passers, Famous Filipinos, and the vast community in Japan. Insights from institutions like the Unmei Nihongo Center further reinforce the idea that excelling in Japanese, done the right way, is attainable and not as difficult to master as many has been led to believe.


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