Kiera Rosenberg is a senior at Black River Falls High School who enjoys spending time with family and friends, drawing and something most wouldn’t even dare to try — learning the Japanese language.

Japanese is an East Asian language spoken by about 128 million people, primarily in Japan, where it is the national language. Rosenberg said that she’s been practicing the language for about six years.

“At first, I was interested in manga and anime,” said Rosenberg. “There were certain things I couldn’t understand, so I started learning what they meant.”

Rosenberg said that some of the manga and anime she enjoys includes One Piece, Bleach, Soul Eater, Say I Love You and Sailor Moon.  

Rosenberg said that anime wasn’t only enjoyable, but it helped her to bond with others who shared the same interest as well.

“That really helped me come out of my shell when I was a kid and start relating to other people,” said Rosenberg. “I guess that’s sort of the nostalgia that’s kept me with it.”

Rosenberg said that learning Japanese is tricky at first, but once you get the hang of it, it isn’t as challenging as it seems to be.

“Certain aspects of it are hard,” said Rosenberg. “I’d say the hardest part about it is learning Kanji and learning the alphabet since there are 46 letters in the Japanese alphabet.”

Japanese has no genetic relationship with Chinese but it makes extensive use of Chinese characters, or kanji, in its writing system.

Several thousand kanji characters are in regular use. Each has a native meaning, and most have more than one pronunciation, the choice of which depends on context.  

“Kiera’s ability to speak Japanese and her fascination with language in general is actually randomly carried over into my life,” said Michael Shepard, a history teacher at Black River Falls High School.

“I will see some of the things that she’s talked about, in terms of anime or with different words, and then I’ll see that and I’ll be like I know a kid who talked about that,” said Shepard. “I feel more enlightened to know someone that’s trying it.”

Rosenberg said that learning Japanese has helped her to find her true self.

“I think when I started out learning Japanese, it was when I was in middle school, and I was trying to find out who I was,” said Rosenberg. “I’ve really grown to love the Japanese culture and the Japanese language.”

Rosenberg said that her love for the culture inspired her to get a tattoo representing her endearment towards it.

“I have a set of kanji tattooed on my thigh that roughly translates to wake from death and return to life,” said Rosenberg. “The tattoo symbolises the rebirth of who I was–that shy and insecure girl–to who I am now, just not afraid to be who I really am.”