5 Celebrities Speaking Japanese

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Studying Japanese?

You’re not the only one!

These five celebs all share one thing: a love for Japan and its language.

Take inspiration from these five celebrities speaking Japanese. If they can do it, you can do it too!

Ariana Grande

Ariana Grande has long been a big fan of Japan. And in 2015, she announced that she was learning Japanese! She even posted a snap of her hiragana notebook on Instagram.

Ariana was already pretty popular in Japan and a pop star and icon. When she shared the fact that she was studying the language, Japanese fans went wild!

She has even been known to tweet in Japanese:

Here she says 私達は、本当に、早く日本に戻りたいわ。

It means: We really want to go back to Japan soon!

Here’s a cute video of Ariana trying out her Japanese in a few different situations. There’s a super funny bit at the end where she teaches Jimmy Fallon to say a few phrases!

Hugh Jackman

Hugh Jackman has spent quite a bit of time in Japan in the few years. His two most recent movies – Logan and The Wolverine – were partly filmed on set in Japan, so it’s not surprising that he picked up a few words during that time.

In May 2017 he landed in Tokyo to promote Logan. Talented Jackman posted a video on his Instagram for his Japanese fans, saying ‘watakushi wa nihon de kuru to eiga tame ureshii desu’, which translates as ‘I’m very happy to come to Japan for my movie’.

Hugh actually made some small mistakes in his Japanese, but that’s ok! It just shows that you can still communicate well in a foreign langauge even if you’re not perfect. And if A listers aren’t perfect, you don’t have to be either!

Edward Norton

Edward Norton is one of the best Japanese speakers on our list! The Fight Club star studied Japanese at Yale university. At that time, his grandfather was living in Osaka where he ran a non-profit called Enterprise Foundation. After graduation, Norton moved to Japan for a while to work with his grandfather on a project at the Osaka aquarium.

Since moving back to the US and becoming a famous actor, he probably doesn’t use Japanese so much in every day life. But he’s still got it!

He’s apparently given interviews to the Japanese press in near-perfect Japanese, and has even chatted about his favourite karaoke numbers (it’s Billy Joel!).

In this video, he talks about his time in Osaka. His Japanese seems a little bit rusty now, but still speaks impressive considering several years have passed since he lived there.

Tom Cruise

Tom Cruise is well known for his role in The Last Samurai. You can see Tom Cruise speaks Japanese in the movie, but is that really him speaking his lines? The answer is yes! Cruise didn’t speak any Japanese before accepting the role, but he studied the language in preparation for filming so that he could better pronounce his lines.

Along with the Japanese language, Tom Cruise studied sword fighting and Japanese history to help him get into character.

His efforts to learn Japanese obviously paid off: The Last Samurai was a big hit in Japan, grossing an amazing $117 million more in Japan than in the US.

Cruise has apparently visited Japan more than any other Hollywood actor. To thank him for his great relationship with Japan, the country rewarded him with his own national day. Yes, October 6 is officially Tom Cruise Day in Japan!

Why not celebrate next Tom Cruise Day by watching Cruise speak nihongo as Nathan Algren in The Last Samurai:


Steven Seagal

Steven Seagal is the only western celebrity we found who is truly fluent in Japanese! The actor and martial arts expert lived in Japan for at least 10 years and previously had a Japanese wife, Miyako Fujitani.

Seagal moved to Japan at around 20 years old and stayed on to study marital arts. The fast martial art he mastered was aikido: he holds a 7th dan black belt in aikido and even became the first foreigner to open an aikido dojo in Japan.  He also gained black belts in karate, judo and kendo. Seagal worked as a martial arts instructor in Japan and America for many years before becoming an actor.

After spending so much of his life dedicated to Japan and Japanese culture, it’s not surprising that he picked up the language along the way. Here’s a video of Seagal speaking Japanese to his Japanese fans:

There you have it! Five top celebrities who speak Japanese… to various levels 😉

Feeling inspired? Why not try to outdo them!

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These 5 celebrities speak Japanese... but can you speak it better? Watch these videos and then have a go yourself! Learn Japanese along with Ariana Grande, Hugh Jackman and more. You'll be surprised! Click through to Team Japanese to learn more

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