| Nov 20, 2003

What's the point in learning how to write kanji?

Joe Lauer, a long-term American resident of Hiroshima, sent the following feedback on a workshop I conducted to promote the Kanji Proficiency Examination (Kanken), a standardized test that measures both kanji reading and writing ability: “For most Westerners living in Japan, the Kanken is ...

| Oct 9, 2003

Kanji tattoos are primarily for Western eyes

Tattoo culture in Japan, especially among Japan’s gangster element, has a rich history. While some young Japanese are breaking the traditional taboo and obtaining discreet tattoos, they almost never opt to have Chinese characters etched permanently on their bodies. Kanji tattoos are a Western ...

| Sep 18, 2003

A trove of kanji-learning treasure in cyberspace

Vacation is over and kanji learners at schools around the planet are once again cracking the books. Increasingly, they and their teachers — as well as self-directed English-speaking kanji learners of all ages — are supplementing paper-based publications with online learning resources. Today, Kanji ...

| Mar 20, 2003

Katakana-happy Japan must again look to China

During times of friendly relations with Western nations, the Japanese have laid out a linguistic welcome mat to foreign vocabulary items, particularly English. They generally import a word and then pummel it into a shape that fits Japanese pronunciation patterns. (English also takes this ...

| Mar 29, 2002

Seize the reins and blaze your own kanji-learning trail

Dear Dario Simunovic, Arigato for your e-mail from Antunovac, Croatia. Your high level of English ability at age 14 demonstrates a knack for languages, and you are also tackling Spanish. Congratulations! You have learned hiragana and katakana on your own and are now interested ...

Jul 27, 2001

Tips on how to make your kanji garden grow

TO: Diane Grace Shimizu RE: Your Kanji Dream It was a pleasure to meet you recently at my kanji-learning workshop. You told me you’ve been living in Japan for three years, ever since landing a job at a major international electronics company in Tokyo. ...