Category Archives: Japanese Study: Intermediate

Japanese novel review: “The Woman in the Purple Skirt” (“むらさきのスカートの女”) by Natsuko Imamura (今村夏子)

The other day I stopped by the Kinokuniya bookstore in Beaverton, Oregon, and stood before the bookshelf of hardcover Japanese fiction as I tried to figure out what to read next. I ended up choosing “The Woman in the Purple Skirt” (むらさきのスカートの女) by “Natsuko Imamura” for two reasons: it had won the prestigious Akutagawa prize… Read More »

Interesting Japanese loanword “マウンティング” (mauntingu, a.k.a. “mounting”)

Anyone who studies Japanese for even a short time knows there is a huge number of loanwords, and there seems to be more being coined every day. While they come from a bunch of world languages, yappari many are from English. This is both a blessing and a curse. If the word sounds like its… Read More »

Classical Japanese poetry translation: “The Forgotten Garden” (廃園) by Yoshinobu Morikawa (森川義信)

Despite the many prose translations I’ve done, I’ve never attempted to translate an entire poem from Japanese to English before. That’s partially because I generally don’t read poetry that often (in either Japanese or English), and hence am even less comfortable trying to translate it. Another reason is that generally I’m pretty picky about what… Read More »

Japanese grammar spotlight: だって (datte) vs だから (dakara)

In this post I want to focus on two common Japanese words that sound similar but have very different meanings––in fact opposite meanings. These words can have a few different usages, but I will be focusing on the following usage, where だって or だから begins a new sentence. 「sentence A」。だって「sentence B」 「sentence A」。だから「sentence B」 Besides… Read More »

まえ (mae) vs まで (made): what’s the difference?

Words that sound similar can cause trouble for those learning a foreign language, especially if the words have similar meanings. In this post I want to go over the difference between the Japanese words ”mae” (written either as まえ or 前) and “made” (usually written as まで, but in rare cases as 迄), which are… Read More »

Japanese term: What is “Ateji”? (当て字・あてじ)

Kanji (漢字), characters adopted from Chinese, are easily one of the most challenging aspects of the Japanese language. I think it’s fiar to say the love or hate relationship a learner has with kanji can determine whether they continue learning the language or give up. Personally, while I acknowledge kanji take a lot of time… Read More »