Category Archives: Japanese Study: Moderate

Using online searching to uncover natural expressions in a foreign language

Learning the basics of a foreign language, while a time-consuming activity, is generally relatively straightforward: memorize the alphabet(s), pronunciations, grammar rules, and of course loads and loads of vocabulary words. With these fundamentals under your belt, you’ll surely be able to express a great many things in that language. The challenge comes when you want to… Read More »

Japanese children’s book review: “It might be an apple” 「りんごかもしれない」by Shinsuke Yoshitake

Me and my wife stumbled on this book in a Kinokuniya bookstore (either New York or San Jose, I forget which), and decided to purchase it to read to our son who we are raising bilingual Japanese/English. This book is based on a simple premise – imaging up various possibilities for a apple which the narrator,… Read More »

Book review: Etiquette Guide to Japan (by Boye Lafayette De Mente )

When studying a foreign language on your own, it’s easy to get fixated on linguistic things like vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation, because those are your fast-track to being able to actually communicate in that language. But without the well-structured program of a formal class, you may be missing out on some areas like cultural practices… Read More »

Japanese word “koso” (こそ) explained in detail

The word “koso” in Japanese, usually written in Hiragana as こそ, isn’t exactly a frequent word in Japanese, nor is it necessary in order to express most things in the language. However, there are a few common usages which are good to learn, regardless of your level, and you may even be able to employ a… Read More »

A further note on the ~がる (~garu) suffix in Japanese

Last year I wrote about the ~garu suffix in Japanese, and have seen a few hits to that article since apparently it is a fairly common question for student of Japanese. Just the other day I had said to my wife the following phrase: 僕はそれ、ずっと懐かしがってた  (boku ha sore, zutto natsukashigatte ita) Upon which, she showed… Read More »

Getting drunk in Japanese: vocab list

This time I’m going to give a vocabulary list which you aren’t likely to see in any textbook – words related to drinking alcohol. Whether you are into drinking personally or not, it’s hard to deny it’s a major part of modern Japanese culture, so it’s probably a good idea to know these. お酒 (osake) –… Read More »

Japanese grammar focus: particle “sa” and related words (saa, sate, satetto) 「さ、さあ、さて、さてっと」

In this post I’m going to go over the Japanese particle “さ” (sa) and a few related words. さ is something that took me quite some time to understand, partially because it wasn’t emphasized in any of the textbooks I originally learned Japanese from. I understand authors deciding to avoid this word because it not used very… Read More »

Manga Review: Hyakumanjou labryinth (百万畳ラビリンス)

There is something adventurous about picking up a book in a bookstore which you know nothing about except the title and cover page. It feels like you were dropped in the middle of an unknown country without a map, with nothing to go on but your own sense of direction. This is much how I… Read More »

Expressing state in Japanese with “ni aru” and “ni natte iru”

In Japanese, the expressions “にある” (ni aru) and “になっている” (ni natte iru) are used to express the state of something. “にある” is often used with words like 状態 (joutai, “state”), 状況 (joukyou, “state”) or 傾向 (keikou, “trend). Take this example sentence: 体は睡眠状態にある。 The body is in a state of sleep. Here you can think of this… Read More »

Searching out opportunities to think in a foreign language

Sometime ago I wrote a post on thinking in a foreign language, which to me is one of the milestones of true fluency. Near the end of that article I briefly mentioned how I sometimes “pre-cache” Japanese phrases in my head before speaking, though I downplayed it at the time, and felt it was more… Read More »