Category Archives: culture

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 »

Hitori Saito (斎藤一人): entrepreneur, best-selling author, motivational speaker

In this post I’d like to discuss Hitori Saito(斎藤一人), a man who is somewhat famous in Japan these days. Hitori Saito is the entrepreneur behind Ginza Marukan (銀座まるかん), a successful cosmetics and health food business. He also has a large number of books (many available on Amazon Japan, what you could call 啓蒙書 or “enlightenment… Read More »

Book release: “Tales of the Disturbed” (classic Japanese fiction by Yoshio Toyoshima)

I’m very pleased to announce my latest book, “Tales of the Disturbed,” has just been released on Amazon. This book contains my translations of several short stories by the classic Japanese author Yoshio Toyoshima (1890-1955), all which are appearing the first time in English. Whereas my other books have all been about science fiction or… Read More »

Shinichi Tohei (藤平信一), current head of Ai Aikido (心身統一合氣道), appears on a Japanese educational program

Last year I posted about my training in the Japanese martial art of Aikido (合気道, or sometimes written as 合氣道). There are many styles of Aikido which have many things in common and yet diverge in areas that can be both critical and subtle; for this same reason it can be counterproductive to try and learn… Read More »

Japanese expressions “nimaime” (二枚目) and “sanmaime” (三枚目): the good, and the funny

While interactions with native Japanese speakers I have occasionally come across the expressions “nimaime” (二枚目) and “sanmaime” (三枚目). It turns out they have somewhat opposite meanings and are easy to confuse, so I thought I would go over their meanings and origins here. As you may know, “mai” (枚) is used as a counting suffix… Read More »

Some thoughts on “aisatsu” (挨拶): greetings that make relationships smoother

If you pick up a Japanese textbook, for example the popular Genki series, you’ll find a chart of “aisatsu” (挨拶). This is a list of formalized expressions that are used in daily life and include things like: こんにちは   (konnichi wa) おはようございます (ohayou gozaimasu) こんばんは (konban wa) はじめまして (hajimemashite) いらっしゃいませ  (irasshaimase) よろしくお願いします (yoroshiku onegaishimasu) Fortunately… Read More »

A confusing Japanese loanword in English: “Hibachi” (it may not mean what you think it does!)

Sometime a while ago I wrote an article about confusing Japanese loanwords which originally came from English words, and then a week or so ago I wrote another article about the reverse: a confusing English loanword that came from Japanese. Very recently I learned of another word that falls in this second category, so I… Read More »

Konbucha: a popular tea with health benefits…or not?

Konbucha tea seems to be increasingly popular these days. For example, at one Whole Foods Market grocery store in Portland there is a konbucha bar with a lineup of teas on tap, and there are many types of konbucha drinks for sale in the refrigerated drink section. Coincidentally, when recently reading a magazine I came across an article which… Read More »