Bret Mayer '04 first foreigner to earn top certification in Japanese kanji

Kanji, a modern Japanese writing system, incorporates more than 6,000 unique Chinese characters for everyday use. And Gettysburg College alumnus Bret Mayer ’04 knows them all.

After five years of preparation, Mayer became the first non-native Japanese speaker to master the Japan Kanji Aptitude Test, which determines a student’s ability to read and write characters and decipher related vocabulary and phrases.

Although the Asian Studies Department was relatively new while Mayer was at Gettysburg, he was hooked after taking a course in the discipline. This passion was later enhanced while he was abroad.

“Being able to study abroad at Kansai Foreign Language University in Osaka, Japan, while a Gettysburg student was the defining experience of my college career,” Mayer said. “That paved the way for my transition to working in Japan after graduation.”

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