I Wrote A Book!

Still here and still studying.  In the next day or two, I am going to write an essay in Japanese on my recent experience bear watching.  It was a lot of fun.

In the meantime, even though this has nothing at all to do with learning Japanese, I thought I’d mention that I wrote a novel.  If you’re interested, you can check it out here. Yes, that was a shameless plug.

So, soon I will tell you about the day when 私は4匹のクマを見た.





Words, Words and More Words

In my opinion, there should be some sort of life rule against being sick while you are on vacation.  Because I am such a complete language nerd (and because my wife had to work anyway) I figured that I would use this vacation to do some serious studying, but nature had other plans.

Still, it has been totally wasted, as I have gotten some studying done, some grammar, but mostly vocabulary, and it’s the vocabulary that I want to talk about.

Way back when I was learning the Kanji, I used the Heisig method.  In case you aren’t familiar with it, it basically involves making up a little story about each character to help you remember it.  The sillier/stranger/funnier/more striking the stories are, the better you remember them.  Eventually, the stories fall away and you simply remember the character.

When you first hear it presented that way, it might seem like a lot of work.  Isn’t it easier just to remember the character rather than remember some little story?

No.  Not for me, anyway.

And the reason I bring it up is that I am doing the same thing with vocabulary.  If I am trying to learn a lot of words in one day, some of them will stick on their own, others will stick because of associations with other words, but others will stick because I have a sentence or a story to go with them.

Examples?  Why, sure!

From today’s vocabulary:


薄める (うすめる) – to thin, to dilute

Think of うすい which means thin


浮く (うく) – to float   水に何が浮きますか。 A duck.

Why does that sentence help me?  Because I am a Monty Python fan, so it sticks in my head


疑う (うたがう) – to doubt

I doubt that song (うた) is about him having gout – not a very interesting thing to sing about

Is is silly?  Yes.  But it works. (Neither of those particular examples is original to me – people have entered them into Memrise for others to use, and I’m using them).  I have created my own for some words (and entered them into Memrise) because sometimes the connections or sentences or stories pop into my head and, if they work for me, they might work for someone else.

After all, we’re all in this together, so let’s help each other out.


The Summer Festival

This past weekend, I went to the 夏祭り (summer festival).  It was a roaring success, and, because it was so successful, it wasn’t very good.


The problem seems to have been that they got about 10 times as many people as they were actually expecting, so the space was overcrowded and they started running out of food just a couple of hours in to the seven hour event.

food crowd

At this point, there is still a line wrapped around the building of people waiting to get in!

First you stand in line for food coupons, and then you have to stand in a separate line for each food item that you want to try.  The short food lines still took 20-30 minutes, and some of the longer lines over an hour.  Sadly, I didn’t get to try any of the top items on my list.

We did get some edamame and some curry rice.


And we also managed to get some onigiri and miso soup.


And the food that we got was all homemade and delicious.

Unfortunately, you couldn’t see any of the cultural events because of the crowd, and you couldn’t actually hear anything because the sound of so many people talking was louder than the PA system!

So, the summer festival was definitely a mixed bag.  This was apparently their first time holding it indoor, and they badly miscalculated how many people would come, but, live and learn, right?



Counting Down

No, not to the JLPT.  I don’t want to think about how close that is!  Instead, I’m thinking about thecountdown

Here’s what will be happening:program

And here’s what we’ll be eating


A Japanese friend assures me that the food will be authentic, and I’m looking forward to it.  I have vowed to try the takoyaki and promised my wife she could take video of me doing it.  I don’t know how it will taste, but I’m ready to find out. In fact, my plan is to try as many different foods as possible, since several of them are new to me.

Also, I’m looking forward to actually meeting my Japanese friend face to face, since all of our conversations so far have been via skype.

So, to celebrate, here’s a song about summer!

And, what the heck, here’s the opening of my favorite movie about summer, which just happens to be Japanese:

And, yes, if you’re paying attention, you will see that, although the English translation calls the movie Kikujiro, the Japanese clearly says 菊次郎の夏 -Kikujiro’s Summer.

I was completely astonished to find out that this summer festival was taking place in the area where I live.  Where ever you live, take a look around.  You never know what you might find!


What A Week

Don’t you hate it when life gets in the way of learning Japanese?  I know I do.

And, right now, by life I really mean my job.  Hey, don’t get me wrong, I’m glad to have a job, but it has been so completely nuts this week that it was just about all I could do to keep my head above water.

I did learn a few new grammar structures, but I’ve mostly been keeping up with vocabulary reviews and not learning any new words.  Until yesterday, that is, when I finally found the time, the inclination and the brain energy all at the same time.


So, yet another tip:  when life gets too complicated and you simply don’t have the time or energy to learn something new, at least do your reviews.  The best thing to be able to say is, “I know more Japanese today than I did yesterday”, but, if you can’t do that, at least make sure that you don’t know less Japanese than yesterday!

Don’t forget:  if you skip one day, it gets easy to skip two and then three and then…

Don’t let yourself fall into that trap.


Introducing the Blogroll

I am trying to include as many learning resources as possible, so I have the website list and the app list, and now I have added a blogroll.  If you know of any good Japanese language (or culture) learning websites, apps or blogs, please let me know so I can add them to the list.  Remember, we’re all in this together, so let’s help each other out.



Signs of progress are always welcome.  I know that I’m making progress.  For example, I know more Japanese vocabulary today than I did yesterday, but it’s always nice to have that progress confirmed by an outside source.

My first ever language exchange partner, who I’ve been talking with for…I don’t know…eight months, perhaps, commented on the improvement that he has seen since we first began talking to each other.

Meanwhile, I have vocabulary to study and grammar to learn, if I can find the time to do that with things going nuts at work.

Always be ready to adapt your study strategy.  When I first started working on learning grammar for the N3 two weeks ago, I had a method, and it didn’t work.  The grammar was not sticking in my head.  Last week was about recalibrating and coming up with a new study plan that I’ll implement this week as time permits.  Hopefully this one will work better.

Adopt, adapt, improve, right?