I learnt Japanese with great enthusiasm from my Japanese friends who lived in Belgrade at the time, a few years before I officially enrolled in Mandarin Chinese at the University back in the early 1990s. For two years I studied the two languages simultaneously until I gave up on Japanese in the third academic year, mostly because of the hectic lecture schedules which made it quite difficult to physically keep up with both. My level of Japanese had already advanced to upper intermediate by then and I thought that was good enough.
My Japanese friends, both high school teachers, encouraged me to move to Japan and work there, but I was absolutely reluctant to leave my parents and so I declined their kind invitation.
Anyway, a couple of months ago, quite inadvertently, I came across an interesting Japanese drama called バンビーノ! (bambino or bambina, a general term of endearment for kids in Italian). I became curious as to what Italian had to do with Japan, so I watched the first episode. Being so absorbed in other languages I use daily, I almost forgot I’d be hearing modern spoken Japanese again, and after a long, long time… And with the story related in a way to my Italian roots, I watched on, all eleven. Needless to say, I was stunned at how the language surged back like a flood from a long unopened shelf in the back of my mind to the point where I can again speak it quite well, even though I haven’t used it much for almost two decades.
For anyone interested in Japan and their culture, and how it fits in the 21st century, Bambino has it all. The educative focus of the story is on the typically Japanese mentality of “giri” (duty) and perseverance, something we all should learn and practice, no matter where we are in this big wide world.
And if in addition to all this you enjoy cooking, especially Italian food (who doesn’t? ) and perhaps (like me) cheered for Samurai Blue’s amazing football performance in the World Cup in Russia, please, have a watch of the rebel boy Bambino, I’m sure you’ll love it !