Reader question: “What’s the hardest part of learning Japanese?”

Statistics about the number of people reading this blog are a good confidence booster, but readers who interact directly with me are really the lifeblood of Self Taught Japanese. That’s why I do my best to answer all questions that I receive via comments or email, sometimes in the form of long articles. Earlier this… Read More »

A bittersweet afternoon at Powell’s bookstore

Powell’s Books is considered to be the largest independent bookstore in the world, with their “City of Books” location in Portland containing over one million books across over 1.5 acres of space––a venerable labyrinth of books that is a must-see place for any book lover. With all the Japanese culture in Oregon, it’s no surprise… Read More »

Japanese slang term: meccha “めっちゃ”

Words generally have an explicit meaning (what it says in the dictionary) in addition to an implicit meaning, also called the nuance or atmosphere of the word. When learning a foreign language it is good to understand both, and sometimes there is much more to the nuance than the explicit meaning. “Meccha” (generally written in… Read More »

Japanese astronomical terms: “chidousetsu” (地動説) and “tendousetsu” (天動説)

In this post I want to cover two Japanese scientific terms I have come across: “chidousetsu” and “tendousetsu”. These are generally written in kanji as 地動説 and 天動説, respectively. Chidosetsu is used to describe the astronomical model whereby the Sun is at the center of the solar system, with planets (including the Earth) revolving around… Read More »

Ramen restaurant review: FuddoYama Ramen (Beaverton)

One of great things about Portland, Oregon and the surrounding area is access to a nice amount of Japanese culture, and of course this includes delicious Japanese food. Ramen is one of my personal favorites. While you can find some mediocre places, there are two really great ramen restaurants I highly recommend: this and this.… Read More »

Japanese novel review: さざなみのよる (sazanami no yoru) by 木皿泉 (Izumi Kizara)

Despite the fact I can get Japanese books quite easily while living in the U.S.––ebooks, online order of paper books, or even buying them in person at Kinokuniya in Beaverton––whenever I go to Japan I feel a need to buy at least one or two novels. There is some logic to this: first, because Japanese… Read More »