On drinking, May and battling the blues

| May 11, 2014

On drinking, May and battling the blues

by Kaori Shoji

According to T.S. Eliot, April is the cruelest month. But in Japan May ushers in some pretty heavy blues, too. The dual combination of haru no megumi (春の恵み, spring blessings) and haru no utsu (春の鬱, spring depression) makes for a challenging 31 days. That ...

The <I>sakura</I> front sweeps across Japan

| Apr 6, 2014

The sakura front sweeps across Japan

by Hiroko Kimura

Spring — the season of sakura (桜, cherry blossoms) — has finally arrived and the entire country has been transformed into a fairyland tinted pale pink. In a heartening season of renewal after winter’s chill, a wave of sakura washes over these islands. Usually ...

The sounds of everyday Japanese life

| Mar 30, 2014

The sounds of everyday Japanese life

by Peter Backhaus

Living in Japan can be quite a noisy experience. Even in my quiet little neighborhood, rarely a day passes without a great variety of sounds being heard. Four days a week the garbage truck fills the air with its most peculiar orugōru (オルゴール, music ...

| Mar 23, 2014

Being laughed at can help your Japanese evolve

by Daniel Morales

Students of Japanese are often Japanese-as-a-second-language (JSL) cavemen. JSL cavemen live a mostly pleasant existence of blissful ignorance, using a devolved form of the language as best they can. However, JSL cavemen are not total ignoramuses — their thick hide can be penetrated by ...

Good and bad, for better or worse

| Mar 16, 2014

Good and bad, for better or worse

by Mark Schreiber

One approach to acquiring new vocabulary that I’ve always found effective is to seek out the 反対語 (hantai-go, antonyms) of words. To prove my point, how about looking at words that relate to “good” and “bad,” which are about as opposite as you can ...

I hereby take myself as my lawfully wedded <I>yome</I>

| Mar 9, 2014

I hereby take myself as my lawfully wedded yome

by Kaori Shoji

I was trudging home the other night with a dōryō (同僚, colleague) after another in a series of sābisu zangyō (サービス残業, unpaid overtime) sessions, debating whether to skip dinner or stop off at the nearest 24-hour sūpā (スーパー, supermarket). Out of the blue, my ...

Playing the Japanese name game

| Feb 16, 2014

Playing the Japanese name game

by Mark Schreiber

Once, when telephoning the international PR office of a major electronics manufacturer, I got lucky. Without my even asking, the young woman who picked up the phone volunteered her name, saying 私は青木と申します (Watashi wa Aoki to mōshimasu, My name is Aoki). Actually it sounded ...