Japanese Book Review: “ふしぎがわかるよ!” (A visual encyclopedia for children)

For learners of Japanese I often suggest children’s picture books because they are typically shorter, easier to understand, and have less kanji (if any) when compared to teen- or adult-oriented books. I’ve reviewed a few of them on this blog (this, this, and this). While you can learn much about Japanese language and culture from… Read More »

Interview with Ben Hourigan: author, editor, Japan aficionado

I’ve mentioned it before, but one of the great things about running this blog is the many interesting people I come across. In some cases, I may only exchange a few words in a post comment, but in others I may go on to have extended email conversations, or even work on a project together.… Read More »

Japanese slang word: あざす(azasu) [“Thanks”, without the politeness]

Japanese is well known for its complex layers of politeness that involve different verbs, verb endings, and nouns, among other things. Japanese classes often focus more on the polite side of Japanese since it’s generally safer to be more polite, especially with people you don’t know well. However, many Japanese learners are also interested in… Read More »

What’s the difference between a 翻訳者 (‘honyausha’) and 翻訳家 (‘honyakuka’)?

In recent years I’ve gradually transitioned from simply learning Japanese to becoming deeply interested in Japanese to English translation. Besides actually doing a lot of translations myself, I have been trying to understand how to talk about translation in Japanese, in particular understanding the nuances of various terms related to translation. As you may already… Read More »

Using the Japanese particles “to” (と) and “tte” (って) to quote [plus abbreviated uses and particle combinations]

The Japanese particle と (to) has a fairly large number of usages. In one of my dictionaries there are ten independent meanings listed. While I’d like to cover them all eventually, in this post I’m going to focus on one of the most common usages, that is when “to” is used to quote something. By “quote”,… Read More »

The *other* uses of polite language in Japanese

I think it’s fair to say that polite language (敬語, keigo) is one of the most difficult things to master in the Japanese language. Polite language includes the basic desu/masu forms that students generally learn early on, but there are also more advanced forms of polite language with varying nuances (ex: 召し上がる、お目にかかる). For the purposes… Read More »

Japanese quiz 2: Basic verb conjugation

This is the second quiz in a new series that will test your Japanese skills in various areas. While these quizzes will not specifically be targeting the JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test), I think practicing these sorts of fundamentals will help those studying for the JLPT and similar tests of Japanese ability. This quiz is… Read More »