Akira Mizubayashi is a Japanese man who fell in love with French. He learned it so well, he obtained scholarships to study in France – twice. After getting his doctorate degree in French, he returned to Japan and taught French for the rest of his life. In his own words, this meant happiness. Mizubayashi wrote a memoir in French about how he learned French and how it changed his life – “Une langue venue d’ailleurs.”
I bought this book in 2014, read 70% of it, and never finished it. Life happened. When I embarked on this journey of reading 50 books in one year in 2023, I knew this would be one of the books I absolutely had to finish.
As a speaker of French myself, I can so relate to his feelings towards this “language which came from another realm.” The title is rather difficult to translate, but that’s the idea.
I could totally relate to his enthusiasm for French. He discusses how he raised his daughter bilingual in Japan – his wife being French. Also, how he insisted that his daughter learn piano because “it teaches discipline.” Totally agree. That is why we are giving our children violin, piano, and harp lessons.
The author even discusses how his dog is bilingual, understanding different commands in both Japanese and French.
Mizubayashi talks about the transformation he underwent from speaking only his native Japanese to fluency in French. He became a different person. Not that he was not Japanese anymore, but now he felt French, too. There is no going back. Once another language frees you to express yourself away from your native tongue, you are forever altered. I can totally relate.