Category: Just for Fun


Ways To Say Hello in Japanese

Introduction

One of the first few phrases anyone learns when picking up a new language is how to say hello. It’s the simplest greeting, or aisatsu (挨拶) in Japanese, and also sort of mandatory to know — or at least people assume you would know. 

I believe that there are more ways than one to greet someone — like in English, “hello” comes in various forms. Similarly in Japanese, you get to take your pick on which greeting you want to use. The only difference is that, while most of English greetings are flexible and can be used for almost any situation, Japanese greetings can be more specific to the setting.

It’s also best to note the significance of social status even in greeting forms. In Japanese culture, where you rank on the social status scale can affect how you speak to another. 

Let’s take a look at the top ways to say hello!

1. Konnichiwa (こんにちは)

Source: Flickr

The most basic form of greeting in Japanese is “konnichiwa” (こんにちは). Anyone who has ever picked up a Japanese textbook, or have roamed the streets of Japan, would be familiar with this phrase. It’s probably the first few phrases in Japanese a lot of people pick up. 

“Konnichiwa” can be both formal and informal. You’ll hear street vendors and salespeople greeting passersby to get their attention by calling out “konnichiwa”. This greeting can also be used when you first meet someone. 

Some people say “konnichiwa” can’t be used casually, but in my opinion, there is no wrong to that. You can definitely use this greeting to say hello to your friends and family — but it can be considered unusual since this phrase is perceived as somewhat semi-formal, so speaking to your family or friends in that tone might be odd. 

“Konnichiwa” can also mean “good afternoon”, so when you pass by a colleague at the office, a simple greeting like this with a nod is appropriate. 

2. Hisashiburi (久しぶり) 

The second greeting phrase is “hisashiburi” (久しぶり). This is quite different from “konnichiwa” — while you can use konnichiwa to greet someone at any time, “hisashiburi” is used to greet someone you have not seen in a long time. 

A long time can be subjective, though. Some can feel like a few months is long, while others may think a week is long as well. To me, it depends on who the person is — do I usually see them more than once or twice a week, or is it normal to see them once every few months?

Anyway, if you, personally, feel like it’s been quite some time since you saw your good friend, greet them with “hisashiburi!” to mean “it’s been a while!” It’s kind of like saying, “long time no see!”

You can use it casually and also politely — with the latter, there has to be a few adjustments. The polite form is “ohisashiburidesu” (お久しぶりです). This form of the phrase can be said to someone of higher status or people you are not so familiar with. 

3. Ya-ho (ヤッホー)

If you want to take it super casual when greeting someone, use this: “ya-ho” (ヤッホー). Some people say that it’s a feminine greeting, but I have friends — both guys and girls — greeting me using this. I feel like it has a more playful tone than anything, on top of a sense of familiarity. 

It’s quite similar to saying “yoohoo!” to grab someone’s attention. “Ya-ho” is a great greeting for someone you’re close with — say, your best friends or classmates. I would avoid using this anywhere in a formal setting like at work and the office.

4. Ya- (やあ)

Another casual hello to use to greet your friends is “ya-” (やあ). It’s kind of like the “hey!” in Japanese. It’s a simple and effective way to grab someone’s attention. It’s usually followed by the name of the person you’re greeting.

For example, your friend Haru is walking ahead of you and you want him to turn around and say hi. Call out, “やあ、はるちゃん!” (Ya-, Haru-chan!)

Alternatively, you can even omit the “ya-” completely and just greet them by calling out just their names. 

5. Osu (おす)

Here’s one for the guys: “osu” (おす). This is a slang greeting for guys to greet other guys. Usually, when they pass by each other or approaching one another, they’ll have a hand raised up or a nod to accompany the greeting.

Girls don’t usually say this, but I have a couple of friends who use it to greet their guy friends. Guys wouldn’t say it to girls, and girls wouldn’t say it to other girls either. I guess as long as the receiving end is a guy, it’s probably a safe bet.

Unlike “ya-” and “ya-ho”, “osu” is used when you already have someone’s attention rather than getting it. You don’t usually have their names followed after the greeting — you can if you want to.

6. Yo- (よー)

There’s nothing complicated about this greeting. “Yo-” (よー) is simply “yo!” in Japanese. Say it to your friends or schoolmates, but I don’t recommend using it to anyone older than you — especially your boss. Maybe colleagues would be fine, but only if you’re familiar with them and not total strangers. 

“Yo-” does have a bit of masculine tone to it, but that doesn’t mean girls can’t and don’t use it, too — just like how “yo” in English is used. I’d like to think that “yo” has a cooler vibe to it; maybe it’s the same in Japanese.

Some guys switch it out for “o-i” (おーい) for more of an exclamation and grabbing one’s attention. It can be considered rude, so use it only with people you’re comfortable with so as to not offend anyone accidentally.

7. Moshi moshi (もしもし)

In English, we usually say “hello” when we pick up a call on the phone. In Japanese, while it is somewhat okay to say “konnichiwa” when picking up the phone, it’s way more common to go with the phonecall hello, and that is “moshi moshi” (もしもし). This phrase comes from the verb mousu (申す) to mean “to say”.

This way of saying hello is usually only for phonecalls from friends and family. In any business situation — for example, if your client or boss calls you — don’t use “moshi moshi”. Instead, say “hai” (はい) which translates to “yes?”, like how we sometimes answer in English for phonecalls as well.

8. Genki? (元気?)

Last but not least, this way of saying hello is more of a “how are you”. “Genki?” (元気?) quite literally is asking someone if they are healthy or not, as the word “genki” mean “health”. You don’t say it every time you see someone — if you saw the person you’re going to see today, you won’t ask them “how are you”. It’s, in a way, similar to “hisashiburi” since you’ll only use this form of greeting after a period of time.

If it’s been quite a while, changing it to the past tense is better: “genki datta?” (元気だった?) It translates to, “have you been well?” or “how have you been?”

In the casual form, you can use it to friends, family and colleagues of the same social status, but if you want to greet someone of a higher social status, switch it to the polite form that is, “o genki desu ka?” (お元気ですか?)

Another way of asking someone how they have been is by using this phrase: “ikagadesuka?” (いかがですか?) It has a more formal tone — even more than the polite form of “genki?”. Usually, you use this to greet the higher-ups and asking how something specific is going rather than their general condition.

An example is asking your university pal how his new job is going: “shigoto wa ikaga desu ka?” (仕事はいかがですか?) This translates to, “how’s work going?”

Conclusion 

There are way more ways of greeting someone in Japanese, but these are the best ways to start you off depending on the various situations and familiarity level. Learning simple phrases for greetings is a great way to get yourself comfortable with the language while expanding your vocabulary! So, switch up your “konnichiwa” to a “ya-ho” the next time you see your good pal!

What To Do When You Feel Like Giving Up On Your Japanese Learning

Introduction

Trust me, I know the feeling. Not every day you wake up and feel the motivation to open that textbook. I know I’ve had my fair share of days where all I wanted to do was throw my Japanese notes across the room, and other days I just wanted to give up.

I’m glad I didn’t though because these feelings did eventually go away. Just like everything else, the bad times pass and the good ones come after. It’s all about bracing through the storm and coming back out in one piece. 

All of that motivational talk is easier said than done — I get that. So, instead of telling you to just pick yourself back up and keep going on, I’ll walk through with you the ins and outs of why you feel like giving up, and what are the realistic ways of bouncing back up from that slump. Let’s go!

So You Feel Like Giving Up…

Don’t beat yourself up for feeling that way. It’s okay to want to give up; that’s totally normal. Things get tough for most of us and the more times we convince ourselves to go back on it, the harder it gets. I’m here to tell you that probably everyone who’s ever picked up a Japanese learning textbook has thought about giving up. You and I both know it’s not the easiest language to learn.

Take a step back before deciding whether or not you want to put the Japanese books down permanently. It’s easier to just call it quits early on and just move on with your life because at the early stages you haven’t really put in much to learning the language. But there are ways you can fight and argue with yourself to stop yourself from giving up; first and foremost is looking at the causes of making you feel this way.

What’s Causing You to Give Up?

There can be quite a number of reasons that are making you feel like giving up. Believe it or not, what’s causing you to give up is quite common among other Japanese learners as well! I probably had all the reasons below. Let’s take a look at what they are.

Losing confidence

After months and months, or even years for some, of learning the Japanese language, you’re finally able to read a whole manga and watch an anime or drama without much trouble. You understood every single word and sentence — even the language humour, and that’s saying a lot! 

You switch to a different theme of drama or pick up a more serious Japanese book to read, and everything comes crashing down. You barely understand half of what they’re saying or what you’re reading. 

You travel to Japan, all excited to put all your studying to good use. The first chance you got, you messed up because you couldn’t understand what the cashier staff was saying, or what the restaurant waiter was asking you.

You went from an all-time high to an all-time low in a matter of seconds. Your mood changes and this sudden shift just brought a whole set of weight on your shoulders. You end up feeling like all the effort you put in just didn’t pay off. You lose confidence in yourself, especially your language ability. 

It’s tough to push yourself back up from such a setback, but also tell yourself that everyone’s a student one way or the other. We’re all learning, and there’s always highs and lows in everything, especially language. 

Comparing yourself to others

A comparison can be a real enemy. Whether it’s another student in the same language class as you, a friend, or just some stuff you read online, you start comparing yourself to them. Someone had learned in three weeks what you had in three months — and during that time you were really struggling as well.

There are two ways this comparison can affect a person — the first one being a good motivation and pushing the person to work harder, and the other is actually demotivating the person who ends up giving up because they don’t feel good enough. 

Just like in life and the various life stages, everyone has their own timeline. Stop comparing yourself and your progress with others. Different people have different studying habits, obstacles and timelines. You might be juggling three different jobs and using the limited free time you have to study Japanese, so don’t compare yourself with someone who dedicates their whole days to studying the language full time. Don’t run a bicycle race.

Frustration

I’ve been there, done that — getting frustrated at Japanese learning, especially when I’ve been stuck on a grammar point for a few weeks, and still not getting it! I’ve lost count the number of times I wanted to call it quits because I couldn’t grasp the structure of how the grammar works.

They say if you’re too close to something, you won’t be able to see the full picture. During times where you feel extremely frustrated because you can’t remember or can’t comprehend something, take a step back and put a pause on that specific thing. Go on learning others and get back to it when you’ve had a bit of time and space apart from it. You’ll come back with a fresh set of eyes and memory space.

Cultural triggers

This happens more often than you think, and it’s, unfortunately, one of the biggest reasons why people feel like giving up on learning Japanese. For those who haven’t been to the country, Japan is like a dream destination. Even for those who have been on holiday, it’s still a heavenly place on Earth.

There are times where Japan doesn’t live up to our expectations. There can be unpleasant bump-ins with some Japanese people, realizing that Japan is not all that it seemed or receiving unintentional condescending comments. All of these can definitely put a damper on one’s motivation to learn the Japanese language.

Times like these, you have to look at the bigger picture; why did you learn Japanese in the first place? Realistically, a country cannot be perfect in every corner; a small handful of people does not represent the whole race; comments are just comments and they won’t be able to affect you if you don’t let it. Look within yourself — are these encounters really worth giving up a whole language skill?

Ways to Bounce Back Up!

If any of the above reasons are what’s causing you to feel like giving up, I’m here to tell you that there’s a way out of all of them! I’ve been through them all, and I personally have used these ways below to bounce myself back up to feeling pumped about learning Japanese again.

Let’s take a look at what these ultimate ways are to pick yourself back up after falling down! 

Take a break

This is a way that quite a number of people neglect and forget to do. You always have to take a break, and not just a short pause in between grammar points and kanji memorization sessions. When you’re at quite a low level of motivation, it’s best to take a break from the Japanese language fully. Press pause for a couple of days. Get anything and everything Japanese out of your mind — music, manga, articles; all of it, out! 

This space between you and the Japanese language allows you to come back to the problem and fix it with a new perspective and not one that’s been clouded and affected by all the negative emotions. Even if it’s not a full 100%, you’ll definitely feel more enthusiastic about getting back into learning Japanese again with a renewed sense of energy. 

List the pros and cons of giving up 

When you’re feeling stuck between giving up and holding on, take out a piece of paper and grab a pen. Then, list out the pros and cons. Learning a new language is exciting and all, but is the language you have chosen the right one for you? If there’s not a strong reason and passion behind learning the language, the harsh reality is that you’ll always struggle with it.

List the pros of giving up — are there so many things going on in your life that you don’t have time to spare to learn a language, so giving up opens up your free time? List out the cons of giving up — do you have a strong desire in learning Japanese, and giving up your passion?

This list will be a good visual representation of what’s going on in your head with relations to your life situation. Only you have the power and the answer to make the decision based on this list. And only you know what’s best for you — you can drop it fully if learning the language is more of a negative impact than a positive one, continue if you really love it, or go for the third option and hit that pause button while you sort other things out in your life.

Try another learning approach

This is one that I highly recommend to those who feel like they can’t absorb anything that they learn. Everyone has a different learning style. Not one style fits all, so don’t force yourself to learn a language by memorization when you’re more of a visual learner. Some people learn better through audio, so go for some podcasts! 

The language learning world is your oyster, and in this modern day and age, there’s no learning tool that you can’t find to help you with your language learning using a different learning approach!

Find a study partner or group

I know that some of us are better at studying alone, but when it comes to learning a language, we all work better together! Having a study partner or a group not only motivates you to regularly pick a new learning point of the language, but you’ll also have people to practice the new skills you’ve acquired.

A study partner or group is so effective in improving your Japanese speech. Not only that, but you can also even have fun activities together like movie nights binge-watching only Japanese TV shows, movies and anime — only with Japanese audio and no English subtitles! Who says you can’t mix work and pleasure together?

Conclusion

I understand that the pressure of learning a new language can get quite overwhelming, but know that you’re not alone in this. Every one of us struggles with it at every stage of the learning process, but there are always ways to get back up! Ganbatte (頑張って)! We’re all rooting for you!

Japanese Language-Focused Gatherings

Introduction

Opening a Japanese textbook to learn the language would get your theory skills as solid as a rock. But what about actually using it? Regardless of whether you’re travelling to or living in Japan, you would want to be able to put your skills to good use. The question is, then: how?
 
It sounds like an easy task to meet local people to practice your Japanese with. Little did you know it actually isn’t effortless at all! Not to worry, there’s this wonderful thing called the Japanese language-focused gathering. This type of gathering can consist of speaking or writing in Japanese, or just talking about Japanese in English. There are all types of language gatherings that covers any sort of event you can think of.
 
Then the next questions follow: what is it, and how do I get into it? Well, you’ve come to the right place. This is your one-stop to all you need to know about the matter!

What is a Japanese language-focused gathering? 

As it suggests, a Japanese language-focused gathering is a gathering that’s committed to the Japanese language. There’s no rule to the flow of these sorts of gatherings. It’s not like a curriculum in school. It can be anything under the great blue sky! One thing’s for sure, no two gatherings will ever be the same.
 
If you’re wondering who goes to these gatherings, the answer is basically anyone and everyone. From local Japanese people to expats and foreigners like us, everyone’s welcome to participate! You’ll meet people near and far. But regardless of where we come from, we’re all here and using our Japanese language skills!

What happens in a Japanese language-focused gathering?

Japanese language-focused gatherings can target the different usages of the language. Some gatherings can be all about conversing in Japanese. Even with that, these gatherings can be categorised into different fluency levels or topics. So you don’t have to worry about being intimidated by big words! 
 
Some can be about reading, and the same categorisation applies. It’s exactly like a book club, only the books, or “hon” (本), are in Japanese.
 
Level up your Japanese language-focused gathering game by attending some that kill two birds with one stone. Some gatherings are a group of people cooking or painting together, and at the same time practicing Japanese. What better way to master your language skills than doing something that you love while at it?

Why go to a Japanese language-focused gathering?

The question shouldn’t be why, but why not? It’s a fun way to learn Japanese while not actually learning. You’ll be surprised at how much more you pick up when you’re out and about using it instead of being cooped up in a room with your textbook.
 
Not only are you improving your language skills, but you’re also making friends! Who doesn’t like making friends? Japanese language-focused gatherings expand your social circle in this great, wonderful country!

Ways to find Japanese language-focused gatherings

At this point, you’re convinced about this whole Japanese language-focused gathering. Now, you’re wondering how you can go about finding them. You don’t have to browse around the web for hours because we’ve already done that for you! We’ve even made things simpler by collating it into a list! Here are the top five ways to find some Japanese language-focused gatherings:

1. Meetup App

The Meetup app is one of the best ways to find Japanese language-focused gatherings. The layout of this app is so easy to maneuver. There are so many “ebento” (エベント) going on at one point that your calendar is going to be packed in no time. You can filter the events based on what you’re looking for under specific categories like sports or arts. If you don’t have anything in mind, browse by the date to see all that’s going on that day or in the week.
 
If you’re interested in a group that hosts events and gatherings catered to your interests, you can even follow that specific group. You’ll get notifications when they post a new upcoming event. There are some recommended groups that are perfect for Japanese language-focused gatherings. Tokyo International Friends is a group that consistently hosts great gatherings focused on spreading the knowledge of Japanese culture and language

2. Facebook Events

You would never have guessed to use Facebook to find Japanese language-focused gatherings. This platform is, in fact, one of the best ways to search for them. Facebook is packed with groups and pages that are always hosting events to bring people together. Both local Japanese people and foreigners in Japan are part of these Facebook groups! 
 
Just like the Meetup App, there are groups that host specific events like study sessions or casual cafe chills. What makes the Facebook groups stand out is that there’s a group chat where you’re welcome to converse in Japanese in it any time

3. Classes

While the first two are free options, this is one that may require a bit of extra cash put in. Regardless, it’s still an ideal way to find some Japanese language-focused gatherings. Take a class in something you are interested in. It can be an art class, a cooking class or a martial arts class. These classes can be in full English, but some can be in basic Japanese all the way to fully fluent Japanese. Isn’t that a great way to practice your listening skills?
 
What’s more, you’ll be leaving with a few extra friends of the same hobbies! These classes are rather easy to find. It’s literally a Google search away! As there are various classes offered out there, filter them by area and price to suit your preference.

4. Accommodation Company-Organised Events

Depending on where you’re staying, the company that hosts you may or may not have events organised. A foreigner-friendly company that hosts various share houses and apartments would definitely have them. There’s bound to be a gathering or two each week that gets people mingling. Even hostels have some sort of event organised! 
 
Usually, these sorts of gatherings are more of a casual chit chat over drinks. You’ll be able to make friends and you’ll definitely be able to use your language skills. Some companies do offer more specialised events that introduce you to Japanese culture like a karaoke gathering.

5. “Gaijin” publications

Look at local publications aimed at foreigners, or “gaijin” (外人), travelling to Japan. Some Japan-based magazines and websites have a section that lists out all the events going on that week or month. Everything from concerts and parties to art exhibits, these publications cover them all! Some recommended publications are Time Out Tokyo and Tokyo Weekender for happenings in the capital city.
 
While it is not exactly a Japanese language-focused gathering, it is a great way to put yourself out there and meet like-minded people. It’s also a chance for you to put all your theoretical Japanese skills to use, especially if you’re going to an event that is fully local. It’s not a bad idea to brush up on your friend-making skills, either

Conclusion

Are you sold on the idea of Japanese language-focused gatherings yet? Books and exercises can nail your grammar and vocabulary down, but this is the easiest way to ace your communicating skills in Japanese! While at it, you’re building yourself a wonderful circle of friends in the country! What are you waiting for, then? Get going and sign up for some!

2018 Holiday Gift Ideas for Japanese Learners

It’s that time of year again. The weather is getting colder and everyone is frantically racing around trying to figure out what to get as gifts for the special people in their lives. If you happen to have a Japanese learner in your life, your job is even harder thanks to the multitude of products aimed at those who love Japanese or even just Japan itself.

For the last month, I have been pouring through the internet to come up with a sure-fire list of gift ideas to please even the hardest to satisfy gift recipients. From books and study aids all the way to stuff that is just for fun, you should definitely bookmark this list and refer back to it if you find yourself stuck on what to get for your special someone.

Books/Magazines/Study Aids

Hiragana Times Cover

Hiragana Times – Since 1986, the Hiragana Times has been publishing a bi-lingual monthly magazine which caters to those learning Japanese. With interesting articles that are printed in both English and Japanese (complete with furigana for the difficult kanji), this is a great magazine to learn not only more about Japan but brush up on reading comprehension. You can subscribe to either a physical or digital edition via their official website.

Studio Ghibli picture books – If magazine-style articles aren’t your thing, how about some simple picture books to practice basic reading skills? With so many children’s books to choose from though, getting the right one can be a challenge which is why I recommend this series of picture books which are based on famous Studio Ghibli movies. There are a number of them available including Howl’s Moving Castle, Spirited Away, Ponyo, My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Princess Kagura, and more!

Lonely Planet Phrasebook – One of the most trusted series of travel guides out there, this handy book will fill a student’s brain with tons of handy phrases and words that they need in order to navigate Japan. Available from Amazon.

Amy’s Guide to Best Behavior in Japan: Do It Right and Be Polite! Book – DO NOT visit Japan without doing diligent research on proper manners and etiquette! This book is a great way to start that! Available from Amazon.

Manga magazines – Unfortunately, there are literally dozens of different manga magazines in Japan which cater to different audiences. Some are shoujo based, some are shounen, and don’t even get me started on the myriad of cosplay magazines that are available! Luckily for you, there is a website which offers subscriptions to various magazines from Japan but I warn you that you should do your research to make sure that the manga magazine you’re ordering is actually something that your intended will actually enjoy. For more information about a regular monthly subscription, contact Kinokuniya or you can purchase magazines one month at a time via J-Box.

Kanji Flashcards – When I decided that I wanted to include physical flashcards on this list, I quickly found out that flashcards are slowly disappearing from the world and are being replaced by mobile apps. Luckily there is still one place to get high-quality flashcards to study kanji with: White Rabbit! While they are not cheap, these sets still set a gold standard for what information a kanji flashcard should contain so don’t let the price tag scare you away!

Electronics

Casio Japanese to English Electronic Dictionary – This item might not be for everyone but if you have a serious student of Japanese in your life, this will eventually become an essential purchase so make someone’s entire holiday with this big-ticket purchase. Available via Amazon.

Nihongo Master Subscription – I would be seriously remiss if I didn’t at least mention that now is the perfect time to get a subscription to this fine site that you’re reading right now! Simply head over to the subscription page and choose the plan that fits your needs and budget!

Food/Drink

Japanese Whiskey – I know that when you read the word ‘whisky’, Japan is not the first country to come to mind but Japan has been brewing quality whiskey for over a decade now and has become of the world leaders in the alcoholic beverage. I’m not saying that this bottle of 12-year-old Yamazaki is the best whiskey you’ll ever have (because tastes vary) but it was the best selling whiskey in Japan in 2017. Hard to argue with that. Head over to Dekanta to get your own.

Kit-Kat – Every year, the Japanese branch of Nestle puts out special flavors of Kit-Kats which are considered a treat for fans of both the candy and the country. If you want to put a smile on the chocolate-loving face of the Japanese learner in your life, head over to World of Snacks and order yourself some of these sweet treats!

Clothing

Yukata or Kimono – These beautiful works of art have been worn in Japan since at least the Heian era. This style has withstood the test of time and would make a wonderful addition to anyone’s wardrobe. Check out the multitude of styles available here.

Just for Fun

Japan Subscription Box – So you’ve gone through this list and still don’t see anything that you think would be a good fit? How about letting someone else pick for you by getting a Japanese subscription box? Just like other items on this list, you’ll want to do good research into each box company to make sure that you’ll be getting exactly what you paid for. CrateJoy has a huge selection of Japan-themed boxes to sort through including some aimed at anime lovers or even just general fans of Japanese culture.

Omamori – This is a gift that I know for a fact that your loved one won’t see coming; an authentic Japanese shrine charm! Coming straight from Japan, wish your intended good luck on any number of different situations such as good grades, car safety, health and more! Head over to Omamori.com to find out more info.

That’s our list of awesome gift ideas for this year! Be sure to check back next year around this time for another list of awesome gifts.

Toho to Offer 1st Annual Godzilla Certification Exams Next Year

Godzilla Certification ExamGodzilla has been making plenty of headlines lately (and no, not because he’s risen from the depths to destroy Tokyo again). First off, it was announced recently by NASA that our favorite giant lizard has been given his own constellation in the night sky made up of gamma rays. Secondly, though, it’s been announced that kaiju fans are finally getting their chance to prove that all that useless knowledge in their head about giant monsters is actually worth something!

As reported by Crunchyroll News recently, Toho Studios is offering two levels of the 1st annual Godzilla certification exams in Tokyo and Osaka on March 10, 2019. The exam will have a beginner version which will feature questions from the Godzilla Official Textbook (because, of course, Japan has an official Godzilla textbook) as well as questions about the original 1954 movie along with questions about the 2016 movie Shin Godzilla. The intermediate version will feature questions from the textbook as well as questions about ALL 29 MOVIES!

In order to pass the beginner test, examinees must score at least 65% while intermediate test takers will have to get a score of at least 70%. In order to take the test, applicants must sign up on a special website and pay a fee of 5000 yen for the beginner test, 6000 yen for the intermediate, or 9500 to take both exams and be known as a true Gojira master!

I know what you’re thinking, why would I possibly want to study for a Godzilla certification exam when I could be studying for the JLPT instead? Well, you never know when something is going to come crawling up out of the ocean which is going to require a true master in the field to step forward and save all of Japan (or maybe even the world)!

Best of Japanese Commercials – Nov 2018 Edition

Japan has a reputation for having some of the most entertaining television commercials in the world. Remember that this country did give us those Alien Jones Boss Coffee commercials starring American actor Tommy Lee Jones a few years ago. This is why I’ve decided that as a monthly treat, we’re going to take a look at some of the best TV ads to come to us from Japan.

In this month’s feature, we’ll be taking a look at a series of ads which promoted Nissin instant kitsune udon which ran last year culminating in a touching Christmas ad. The joke here is that kitsune can mean fox but it also refers to a type of noodle dish which features fried tofu on top (yummy!). The series of ads star actor, idol, and voice actor Gen Hoshino and film and television actor Riho Yoshioka as the fox girl. Let’s take a look!

Got any favorite Japanese commercials of your own? Share them in the comments and let the rest of us see what makes you smile!

Japanese Onomatopoeia Guide

If you aren’t familiar with Japanese onomatopoeia (or any onomatopoeia for that matter) here is a quick introduction. Onomatopoeia is the word for when we take a sound and make a word out of it. In English, this is words like BOOM! SLAP! or HAHAHA! The spelling of these words is based on the sound that the action makes. Every language has onomatopoeia, but in every language they are slightly different. For instance, in many languages, the onomatopoeia for laughing isn’t “hahaha” but is often “kkkk” in Asian languages or in Spanish, “jjjj.” This may seem strange to English speakers, but of course it makes perfect sense to the native speaker!

The Japanese seem to like onomatopoeia even more than other languages (they have over 1,000!) so we are devoting a whole post to teaching you the most common Japanese onomatopoeia you might find. Japanese onomatopoeia aren’t just written, but they are also crucial to speaking and sounding fluent. There are 3 types of onomatopoeia you will learn in Japanese. 擬声語
(giseigo, animal and human sounds) like MOO! or YAAAWWWWN and 擬音語 (giongo, inanimate objects and nature sounds) both exist in English. The harder part about Japanese is that they have onomatopoeia that describe mental states, movements, and even feelings. Since we don’t have words for these in English they can be a bit harder to learn.

擬声語 (giseigo) Animal and human sounds
These are mostly what you will think of in English like MOOO! or ACHOO! or Sluurrrrrp.
擬音語 (giongo) Sounds made by inanimate objects and nature
What sound does the wind make? WOOOOSH! A beating heart? Thump, thump, thump.
擬態語 (gitaigo) Describe conditions and states (things that do not make sounds)
Gitaigo are onomatopoeia that we do not have in English. They describe feelings or states of being that make no sound at all!
 
To break down the names of the various onomatopoeia we can see the kanji 擬 means mimic + (insert type of sound) + 語 (kanji for word or speech).

You will see all the onomatopoeia written below in both hiragana and katakana. While there isn’t a hard and fast rule, usually actual sounds (like animal noises or doors slamming) are written in katakana and soft sounds (like ones that describe emotional states) are written in hiragana. Of course this isn’t a real rule, and you can see any of these sounds written either way depending on the context!

Japanese Onomatopoeia Forms:

Double Form: にこにこ (niko niko) -> For the double form, it is usually used as an adjective. For instance, “彼はいつもにこにこしている” meaning “He is always smiling” BUT it can also be used as an adverb to verbs that follow them.

TO Form: にこっと (nikotto) -> For TO form, it is mostly used an an adverb to verbs that come after. For example, “彼はにこっと笑った” (For this one there isn’t a literal translation because にこにこ is a representation of sounds/state of being) but this can be translated as “He pleasantly smiled” as “にこにこ” always has positive meanings.

RI Form: にこり (nikori) or にっこり -> Nikori can also be used as an adverb just like nikotto. So what is the difference between nikotto and nikori? Not much really, they are interchangeable and mean pretty much the same thing! “彼はにっこり笑った” meaning “He pleasantly smiled”
 


OK! Now we’re ready to learn some onomatopoeia and watch some fun anime gifs while we’re at it!


擬音語 – Sounds made by inanimate objects and nature


どきどき/ドキドキ – dokidoki sound of throbbing
dokidoki

ごぼごぼ/ゴボゴボ Gobogobo
Gurgling sound

japanese onomatopoeia

ぺらぺら/ペラペラ – perapera – sound of flapping in the wind
pekopeko onomatopoeia

ざあざあ/ザアザア – zaazaa – sound of rain falling
ザアザア rain falling

パリパリ — Paripari – crunchy; crisp

パリパリ paripari onomatopoeia

ずどん/ズドン – zudon – THUD! BANG!
ズドン zudon

へろへろ/ヘロヘロ – herohero – flimsy plastic flapping around – im tired, im beat

くしゃくしゃ – Kushakusha – Crumpling sound of paper

ギシギシ/ぎしぎし – Gishi gishi – Squeaking noise of beds or old floors

ぱちぱち/パチパチ – pachipachi – snapping closed, sharp pop or ping like pachinko!

 


擬態語 – Describe conditions and states


ラブラブ— Raburabu – Lovey dovey; head-over-heels in love

Often used to poke fun at classmates!
ラブラブ

にこにこ/ニコニコ – nikoniko – the sound a smile makes!

nikoniko smile onomatopoeia

きらきら/キラキラ – kirakira – twinkle twinkle (water, gemstones, or stars)

キラキラ twinkle twinkle japanese

オタオタ/おたおた — Otaota – shocked speechless

オタオタ shocked speechless

じー/ジー jii – staring and motionless

ジ staring manga jii

そわそわ — Sowasowa – fidgety; restless; have butterflies from excitement or nerves

うとうと – Utouto – To doze off

うとうと – Uto uto – To doze off

ちくちく – Chikuchiku — prickly pain; needle-like pain

ちくちく chikuchiku

ぎゅうぎゅう – Gyu gyu – Jam-packed like a train during rush hour

Image Credit Yeow Kwang Yeo

おろおろ – Orōro — too flustered to think or move

Orōro flustered

ワクワク/わくわく – wakuwaku — Excited; thrilled; to get nervous/anxious from excitement

ワクワク wakuwaku thrilled

うずうず — Uzūzu – to itch with desire; squirm, struggling to resist an urge

japanese onomatopoeia

イライラ/いらいら — irairai – edgy; testy; ticked off (especially when being made to wait)

ごろごろ — gorogoro – stay idle; laying around; loaf around

gorogoro lazy

つんつん — Tsuntsun – to be cross; cranky; aloof

つんつん — Tsuntsun to be cross; cranky; aloof

クラクラ/くらくら — kurakura – feel dizzy; light-headed

クラクラ kurakura

ねばねば — Nebaneba – sticky; gooey

ねばねば nebaneba sticky

ぞくぞく – Zokuzoku Excited; to have an adrenaline rush

ぞくぞく zokuzoku onomatopoeia

うとうと — Utōto – drowsy; nodding off

うとうとUtōto nodding off

のろのろ — noronoro – Sluggishly, lazily, draggingly

lazily dragging sluggish

きびきび – Kibikibi – Energetically

きびきび – Kibikibi – Energetically

ぬるぬる – Nurunuru – Slimy like a fish out of the water

ぬるぬる Nuru nuru

びっくり — Bikkuri thrilled; surprised; frightened; shocked

びっくり bikkuri thrilled surprised

ズキズキ/ずきずき – zukizuki — throbbing pain

ズキズキ/ずきずき zukizuki throbbing pain

ぐっすり — Gussuri – soundly sleeping

ぐっすり— soundly sleeping

すやすや — suyasuya – sleeping peacefully

Suyasuya すやすや

くたくた — kutakuta – weak with exhaustion; worn out; beat tired

くたくた exhausted

ぐしゃぐしゃ – Gushagusha – Messy hair or clothes

ぐしゃぐしゃ gusha gusha onomatopoeia japan manga


擬声語 Human & Animal Sounds


ガブガブ — Gabugabu – gulp vigorously; swig

ガブガブ swig

ごくごく — Gokugoku – gulp down a drink; drink in long gulps

ズルズル — Zuruzuru – slurp
ズルズル — Zuruzuru slurp

がつがつ/ガツガツ — gatsugatsu – eating ravenously; devour

がつがつ/ガツガツ — gatsugatsu eating ravenously; devour

ぺこぺこ — Pekopeko – Be hungry; starving; famished

ぱくぱく/パクパク— Pakupaku – heartily eating; quivering lips. This is also the origin of where Pac-Man came from!

ぱくぱく quivering lip

むしゃむしゃ — mushamusha – to munch or to chomp on something

ちびちび — Chibichibi – to nibble on food; to sip a drinkちびちび to nibble

がみがみ/ガミガミ — gamigami – nagging (loudly); scolding

ぺらぺら/ペラペラ — perapera – Speaking fluently

ぶつぶつ — Butsubutsu – grumble; muttered complaint

もぐもぐ meaning mumbling

はきはき/ハキハキ — Hakihaki – unhesitating; talk clearly and briskly

もぐもぐ/モグモグ – mogumogu – chewing food, also mumbling
もぐもぐ/モグモグ mogumogu

Animal Sounds

ワンワン — wan-wan

Woof (dog)
japanese onomatopoeia

ウォーッ – U~ō~tsu

Howl (dog)
japanese onomatopoeia

ニャーニャー – Nyānyā

meow (cat)
japanese onomatopoeia

ゴロゴロ – Gorogoro

Purr (cat), but in hiragana ごろごろ “to be lazy”
japanese onomatopoeia

モーモー – momo

Moo (cow)
japanese onomatopoeia

ヒヒーン – Hihīn

Neigh (horse)
japanese onomatopoeia

ケロケロ — Kerokero

Ribbit (frog)

ホーホー – Hōhō

hoot (owl)

チチチ – Chichichi

tweet (birds)
japanese animal sounds

チュンチュン – Chunchun

Chirp (bird)
japanese animal sounds

リンリン – Rinrin

Chirping (cricket)
animal sounds in japanese

チュウチュウ – Chūchū

squeak (mouse)
animal sounds in japanese

ブーン/ぶーん – Būn

Buzz (bee), also used for cars
animal sounds in japanese

ブーブー – Būbū

Oink (pig)
japanese animal sounds

Here are a few more as well…can you find some anime or manga that shows these 擬態語? Share it in the comments!


しーん/シーン – shiin – the sound of silence
In manga this is most often used when someone tries to say something funny and it isn’t funny, to describe the sound of no one laughing!

こそこそ – Kosokoso – Sneakingly; secretly

ねばねば – Nebaneba – Sticky like okra or raw egg

ぱさぱさ – Pasapasa Dry; lacks moisture

ぐずぐず – Guzuguzu – To procrastinate; act slowly

しくしく — Shikushiku – dull pain; gripping pain
This is also used when someone is crying

ぐちゃぐちゃ — Guchagucha – pulpy; soppy; soggy

ぼそぼそ — Bosoboso tasteless, bland, and dry; muttering under your breath

21 Hilarious Japanese Proverbs

These Japanese proverbs may sound funny, but in every language there are certain sayings that just don’t translate quite right! Here we have collected 22 of the funniest Japanese proverbs, but they each have very real lessons to teach! At the bottom of this post we have collected some familiar English sayings…can you match up the English to the Japanese? Remember, not every Japanese saying has an English equivalent!

Ready….GO!

japanese proverbs farts

1. 屁を放って尻つぼめ

(more…)

The Best Anime Cosplay (Just in time for Halloween!)

With Halloween just around the corner, you may be into finding the best anime cosplay for your costuming needs. Well look no further! We’ve put together a collection of all the best anime cosplay we could find on the web. If one of these are you and you are missing attribution, let us know and we will add it right away!

Halloween is a fun holiday to get dressed up, but a lot of anime cosplayers do this for a living! That’s right! Becoming a professional cosplayer means learning costume design and tricks for make up to help you totally transform into character. While Halloween you may wear the clothes of your character, with cosplay you become the character. What do you think? Do you have what it takes to do anime cosplay?

Princess Mononoke Cosplay

Courtesy of Lovely Orange
best anime cosplay
best anime cosplay
 

Nia Teppelin – Gurren Lagann Cosplay

Courtesy of Cra-zy-Frog
nia teppelin cosplay
nia-anime
 

Maka and Soul – Soul Eater Cosplay

Courtesy of Nami-Ayashi

maka-and-soul-eater-cosplay maka and soul cosplay

 

Edward Elric -Fullmetal Alchemist Cosplay

Courtesy of Kicka Cosplay

fulllmetal alchemist cosplay fullmetal alchemist cosplay

 

Suzuya Juuzou – Tokyo Ghoul Cosplay

Courtesy of Misaki-Sai
tokyo ghoul cosplay
tokyo ghoul cosplay
http://misaki-sai.deviantart.com/art/TG-Suzuya-Juuzou-490085289
 

Nonon Jakuzure – Kill la Kill Cosplay

Courtesy of Maysakaali
kill la kill cosplay
nonon-jazakure-anime-kill-la-kill
 

Armin – Attack on Titan Cosplay

Courtesy of MmoSite
attack on titan cosplay

attack on titan anime

 

and of course, no anime cosplay list would be complete without…

Sailor Moon Cosplay

Courtesy of Team Blase Cosplay
best anime cosplay
sailor moon anime

Which one is the best anime cosplay do you think? Will you be dressing up as an anime character for Halloween?

Why Japanese Emoticons are Better! 絵文字!

If you’re alive today and have a cell phone, you’ve probably sent an emoji (絵文字). The word “emoji” actually comes from Japan e (絵, “picture”) + moji (文字, “character”), 絵文字! They are, after all, the ones who invented them. The word literally means picture letter, and it’s similarity to “emotions” or “emoticons” is coincidental. But most built-in messaging apps for Android or iPhone have a pretty boring selection of tiny picture letters to help you express yourself. Japanese emoticons, however, take emojis to a WHOLE NEW LEVEL. It’s not just Japan either — Korea, China — all the Asian emojis are better than ours! What do I mean exactly? Let’s take a look at some standard Android emojis:

japanese emoticons

There are some cute faces, some cute animals, and pizza, of course! They are all 12×12 pixels as a standard size. But rather than use standard text messaging, the Koreans developed an app similar to WhatsApp called Kakao (its competitor is Line in Japan) that uses “stickers” instead of emojis. You’ve probably seen these hilariously adorable images on Facebook messenger too. They’re like emoticons, but WAY BETTER. Line and Kakao are used even more than Facebook in Japan and Korea, so making Japanese emoticons better was an obvious way to go. Apps like Line and Kakao are the standard in Japan and Korea, as opposed to regular built-in messaging in most countries. Of course, Facebook stickers are just copying what Japan and Korea had already done. The best part about Japanese emoticons is they NEVER END! Since they charge about $2 per “package” people are creating new ones all the time to be sold in the Line Emoji Store. Yes, there is a whole store! They even have Japanese emoticons from your favorite manga and anime too!!! Can you recognize any below?

Now for the fun part! Here are some packages of emojis that you can buy and add to your phone! Even better, most of these are ANIMATED EMOJIS! If you want to see the animation for most of them, you’ll have to download the Kakao or Line app…and tell your friends!

line app logo japanese emoticons kakao app logo

Animated Korean & Japanese Emojis

winky-hampster

throw-your-phone-emoji

that-cute-thing

japanese-emoji

crying-japanese-emoticon

angry-table-flip-kakao

that-cute-thing-friend

Korean & Japanese Emoticons to Download

screenshot_2016-10-13-13-51-46

weird japanese guy

screenshot_2016-10-13-14-39-13

japanese emoticons

up and down chipmunk emoji

cool japanese guy emoji

korean food emoji

cute korean emojis

muzi and friends

kakao friends emojis

kakao friends animated emojis

funny baby emoji

mulang emojis

mulang emoji friend

screenshot_2016-10-13-13-52-18

screenshot_2016-10-13-13-52-00

byebye emoji