Japanese has also been on my languages-to-learn wishlist! I don’t have as much of a story with it as I do with German, but here goes.
I always thought it was a cool language as a kid- Japan and Tokyo seemed like exotic, faraway places. Sushi wasn’t particularly popular when I was growing up, and my family weren’t adventurous eaters, so I wasn’t exposed to Japanese food until I was in high school I think. Chinese food was common when I was a kid, but other kinds of Asian food weren’t. Sushi was also expensive back then, I think it’s more common to find cheap $7 sushi packs in the grocery store, now that it’s accessible in 2021. Ramen is also more common now, and I learned the benefits of cheap & easy ramen squares in college that I could upgrade with extra veggies to make it fancy.
As a kid, we played lots of video games that we knew came from Japan. It was the land of Nintendo 64, Gamecube, DS, as well as Pokemon, Digimon, Yugi-Oh!, and so many anime shows that we watched on TV. Bonsai trees, Cherry blossom trees, and Fuji water come from there, as well as Japanese car brands that I see on the road.
When I started learning Chinese, it was because I had a Chinese roommate in grad school, so I had a connection to continue learning it. In looking for Chinese content online, I often found more Japanese content. Since Japan is a little more of an open culture, I now follow several American/Australian/Canadian youtubers that live in Japan who vlog about their experiences there. I found that culture would seem to suit me better than that of China.
But when I was first learning Chinese, it was so different from any other languages I’ve learned, and I didn’t want to add in Japanese and confuse myself. Now that I have a base in the language and I’ve been learning it for a few years now, I think I’ll be able to start learning Japanese properly as well. I also found out that Kanji characters in Japanese are based on Chinese traditional characters. So the meaning is usually the same, and then pronounced differently in Japanese. So hopefully that gives me a leg up! I’m also pretty comfortable writing in Chinese characters now, and recognizing a logographic writing system. So I think that learning Japanese characters won’t be too much of a stretch for me.
My plan is to have an every-other-week rotation with my lower priority languages- Icelandic, Polish, ASL, as well as German, and Japanese now. I don’t have any current travel trips planned, or a reason in my life (work, relationship, etc) to learn it at a higher priority. So I’ll learn a little here and there, and enjoy myself. I’ll see where Japanese takes me!