Category: Just for Fun

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!


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!


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!


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 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

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!

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!


japanese proverbs farts

1. 屁を放って尻つぼめ


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

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

Nonon Jakuzure – Kill la Kill Cosplay

Courtesy of Maysakaali
kill la kill cosplay

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








Korean & Japanese Emoticons to Download


weird japanese guy


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



byebye emoji

Top 10 Best 80s and 90s Anime

We all love anime, and there are so many to choose from, but 80s anime and 90s anime were truly a golden generation. Many of us older folk grew up on these 90s anime and many of them paved the way for the newer anime we enjoy today. 90s anime made anime an international phenomenon and brought so many amazing shows to televisions around the world. So we thought we would compile a list of the 10 BEST 80s anime and 90s anime for your enjoyment. This list is in no particular order, but let us know what you think!


Special Nihongo Master Interview with Christine

We have a special feature this week as we talk with one of our very own users who recently passed the JLPT N5 studying only with Nihongo Master! Christine tells us a little bit about herself and gives us a Nihongo Master review too!