Mary Sisk Noguchi

For Mary Sisk Noguchi's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:

| May 28, 2012

Get your motor running for the JLPT

During its nearly 30-year history, the number of examinees tackling the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) (日本語能力試験) has exploded worldwide from 7,000 in 1984 to 750,000 in 2009. Japan Educational Exchanges and Services (JEES, www.jlpt.jp) now administers the test in 39 prefectures in Japan ...

| Mar 26, 2012

Some kanji characters are enough to make you feel sick

Overworked and stressed to the limit in this relentless recession, many Japanese are seeking ways to soothe their bodies and spirits, even if for just one blissful moment. The buzzword iyashi (癒し, soothing) is currently being used to promote an endless stream of relaxation ...

| Nov 28, 2011

Some kanji can take a lifetime to fully appreciate

I made my first kanji connection with the graphically unassuming character 生 in the early days of a beginners Japanese class, when I stumbled through a self-introduction using the standard 私は学生です (Watashi wa gakusei desu. I am a student.). My instructor explained that one ...

| Sep 26, 2011

Some four-kanji idioms are even officially child's play

Now that summer fireworks have ended and beach toys have been stored away, it’s time for jukensei (受験生 entrance examination-takers) throughout the land to burn the midnight oil in earnest. High school seniors and third-year junior high students moving on to higher education — ...

| Jul 25, 2011

Majestic bamboo is firmly rooted in ancient kanji

My first exposure to bamboo in Japan, as a newcomer from the United States in the early 1980s, was the jaw-dropping sight of tabi-clad construction workers deftly scampering about on bamboo scaffolding ten stories high. Although this versatile natural resource — utilized in Japan ...

| May 23, 2011

Opposites attract in these kanji compound words

Some Japanese words are written with a single kanji, but countless others are compounds comprised of two (the majority), three, or more kanji. These compound words (jukugo) are not composed randomly; a limited number of patterns govern their construction, and today we will explore ...

| Mar 30, 2011

This little kanji is, like, totally worth knowing

As a Japanese compound word-builder, the kanji suffix 的 (teki, -like) is a remarkably productive workhorse. In addition to serving in hundreds of compounds listed in Japanese-English kanji dictionaries, 的 is also heavily featured — for better or worse — in the patois of ...

| Jan 12, 2011

2010 was a sizzling-hot year for kanji

From June through August of last year, Japan experienced its highest average temperatures on record. So the overwhelming choice of 暑 (atsu-i, sho, hot weather) as Kanji of the Year for 2010 came as no surprise. Day after sweltering day, the nation collectively moaned, ...