- Japan Signs: No Crossing
October 17th, 2012
This is a sign that is quite common especially in the busier areas of big cities like Tokyo. There are certain places where you are not allowed to cross, and the arrow indicates the next part of the street where you are allowed to cross the road safely. This is a good example of where just knowing one basic kanji eg 止 (stop) can come in very handy. Don’t be bothered about not knowing the other three kanji just yet as they are N2 and N3 level so you’ll get those later if you’re just starting off.
- Book Review: Kanji Pictographix
May 25th, 2012
There are many different ways of learning Kanji and students of Japanese tend to naturally gravitate towards the way that makes sense to them and/or the one that gets the quickest results. It’s important to note that there is no perfect way – if you can learn and retain 2000 kanji, who cares how you did it!
- Sukiya: Beef Bowl Heaven
March 22nd, 2012
One of the most popular dishes in Japan is beef bowl or gyūdon (牛丼). While there are many places that serve the dish, the two largest chains are – Yoshinoya (吉野家) and Sukiya (すき家).
- Japan Signs: Watch Out For Bag Snatchers
March 13th, 2012
While Japan is known for its low level of crime, it is still common to see warning signs placed in high traffic areas such as train stations. I found this particular sign located at the top of the stairs leading up to Futako-tamagawa station (二子玉川駅) in Tokyo. Don’t you love those happy little “bag snatch warning” characters! ^^
- Similar Kanji: Compare and North
August 30th, 2011
Use the image of a spoon (ヒ) to create your stories. Here we see two spoons and if we “compare” the two, the one on the right looks like the normal kanji for spoon (ヒ) but the one on the left looks a little squashed.
- Similar Kanji: Special, Wait and Hold
August 15th, 2011
Use the images of “cow (牛)” and “Buddhist Temple (寺)” to create your stories. The most popular mnemonic for this kanji is the use of “Cow” as a sacred or “special” animal in countries like India where, in some places, a person can be jailed for killing or injuring a cow!
- Learning Kanji: My Lightbulb Moment
August 12th, 2011
Learning one hundred kanji is difficult enough but learning the stroke orders, readings and meanings of over 2000 Joyo kanji is an onerous task. It can seem insurmountable at times but with time and effort it’s eminently achievable – 125 million Japanese say so. What can be really disheartening is the realisation that after studying kanji for months or even years (depending on your daily kanji diet), you still cannot understand your favourite Japanese tweeter or read the subtitles on your favourite anime.
- Look-alike Kanji for Beginners
August 2nd, 2011
A big sticking point for beginners of the Japanese language is the progression from hiragana and katakana (or even possibly rōmaji for the ill-informed!) to kanji-based sentences. Not only are kanji difficult to read, write and remember in the first instance, when you gradually start to acquire more and more kanji, you’ll start to notice that there are many kanji which look similar to those that you have already learned!
- Remembering the Kanji: One Year Later
July 20th, 2011
Learning to read Japanese can sometimes be a great big hairy goal with no clear path to success. In this article I’ll discuss how I got started learning kanji using the Remembering the Kanji system by James Heisig, and my results after a year of study.
- Do you have a J-CLUE?
July 12th, 2011
The Hiragana Times and J-Clue has teamed up to launch a new test aimed at assessing Japanese language and cultural understanding. J-Clue doesn’t replace the JLPT, it is simply testing a different subset of your language skills. Do you know what konkatsu means? Could you name the traditional Japanese art in which a person sits on a stage and tells a funny story? What does the phrase, “Shiranu ga hotoke,” mean?