Japanese Magazine Review: Lighthouse Seattle & Portland

By | December 8, 2016

Several months ago in a post I talked about how one of the main reasons I moved to Oregon was because of the prominent Japanese culture and people there (at least more so than South Florida). It’s been about half a year and I’m planning on writing on article about Portland and Japanese culture again to talk about what I’ve learned so far. But before that, I wanted to introduce a related magazine.

The magazine is called “Lighthouse: Seattle & Portland”. Let’s see what the magazine says about itself on the front cover:

シアトル / ポートランドの生活情報誌
アメリカで暮らす人、アメリカを目指す人の道しるべでありたい。そんな思いから「ライトハウス(灯台)と名付けました。

(with my rough, non-literal translation)

Lifestyle Information Magazine for Seattle and Portland
Our goal is to be a guiding light for those who are living in America or considering doing so. That’s why we chose to call our magazine “Lighthouse”.

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Lighthouse has all sorts of useful information about America for Japanese people. For example, there is information about restaurants, schools, insurance, doctors, flights, pretty much anything a Japanese person might be interested in. In nearly all these cases, the business or establishment is managed/owned by Japanese people, or at least has Japanese speaking staff. For example if you live in Seattle or Portland and want to find  a Japanese accountant, realtor, or doctor, this is the perfect place to look.

There are articles which are about Japanese famous people, such as a famous actor or golfer. But rather than those I tend to enjoy the more information-rich articles about living in America. Two examples in the issue I have in front of me (Dec 2016) are “貯め方:老後に向けて準備、お金の貯め方” (about saving money for retirement) and “バイリンガル子育ての秘訣” (secrets to raising a bilingual child).

One of the things that makes learning a foreign language extra difficult is you are learning the grammar and words along with the culture of that country (this is also the fun part, though!). However, this magazine gives you the experience of seeing Japanese used to describe many of the things you experience every day (assuming you live in America), such as restaurants or hotels, or even politics and laws.

If you are like me, and serious about trying to use Japanese in your daily life in America, this is a great resource. While understanding this magazine completely requires a pretty high level of Japanese (including good knowledge of Kanji since there isn’t much Furigana), even if you just know Katakana and Hiragana you can pick out some words and have fun doing it.

You can also learn some pretty cool things about culture, for example in another article from the same issue they compare living costs of America vs. Japan (for the purpose of deciding where is a better place to retire to), and come to this conclusion:

アメリカと日本の月々の差額は$1,900!    (Difference in monthly expenses in Japan vs America: $1,900!)

Now, I know I’m quoting this out of context and I’m not guaranteeing it’s accurate, but the words used to describe these things are very useful and nice to add to your personal lexicon.

You can pick up Lighthouse in many locations in Seattle or Portland (I’ve got mine at Uwajimaya or Koji Osaka), and you can see the detailed list of distribution sites here.

The magazine is free, and of course in order to pay for printing and distribution costs, a huge percent of it is advertisements (you know the type). However, of all the add-ridden magazines and newspapers, this is one of my favorite because it’s so packed with Japanese words and expressions to learn in a context you are familiar with.

So next time you are looking for a dentist, maybe you can use this to find one who speaks Japanese. Just don’t forget to learn the word “Itai!” (Ouch!) as it might come in handy (:

As I was just about to finish writing this article, I discovered they actually have an online version (電子版)! You can see the Dec 2016 version here, where you can browse the entire magazine in your browser. I had some problems loading it in Safari, so try it in Chrome or another browser if you have issues. If you live nearby one of these cities, I still recommend getting the physical version, since working at a computer makes it very easy to get distracted and loose focus.

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