My interest in Japanese culture started when I was young. My brothers got into videogames and eventually anime, so I got as well. I watched a bunch of anime and instantly fell for the Japanese language (although, of course, anime Japanese is not the same as real life Japanese). So then, when I was about 13 or 14 I started learning the language with "Japanisch in 30 Tagen" (all books are mentioned for information not for advertising) but I only made it to the 13th chapter (of 30). I stopped learning, because I thought, I would not be able to go to Japan with out redoing a school year when I would've gotten back to Germany. And I didn't want to lose my friends or be longer in school than I needed.
So in summer vacation between grade 11 and 12 I again looked for exchange organizations and was thrilled, when I found several (I think it was 2 in the end) that offered student exchanges for people that have graduated as "Abiturienten" (the Abitur is the graduation at the highest secondary school in Germany). So I made up my mind that I still had a chance to experience Japan as a real senior high student. I also applied for and actually received a (partial) scholarship.
While I wanted to perform well at school I also tried to study at least a little Japanese.
WHY I WANTED TO GO TO JAPAN is ... actually, I don't have exact reasons. It's rather several small thoughts that developed in my head: