Daniel Morales
Japan Times
LIFE / Language
Sep 21, 2015
When translation gets tough, bow to the 'Green Goddess'
For me personally, the most frustrating part of translating Japanese into English is looking up the definitions of words I don't know.
Japan Times
Aug 3, 2015
Jiko PR gives job seekers a rare chance to brag in Japanese
One of the most interesting aspects of job-hunting here is jiko-PR ('self-public relations'), one of the few times when Japanese are forced to show off about their abilities and accomplishments.
Japan Times
Jun 15, 2015
Keep pounding away and eventually Japanese will reveal its secrets
If some patterns in Japanese don't make sense yet, just keep pounding the rock. With enough time and repetition, they'll click.
Japan Times
May 11, 2015
In Japanese, mastery of the space-time continuum is just a few words away
Words in Japanese that describe timing and conditions make it easy for speakers to be incredibly precise using very few words.
Mar 30, 2015
Submitting yourself to the 50 shades of arigatō gozaimasu
Do you remember the first day of Japanese class or the first day you resolved to finally learn the language on your own? What about the very first Japanese words you ever learned? There's a good chance arigatō gozaimasu (ありがとうございます) were those first words and/or you learned them...
Mar 9, 2015
Avoiding the subject isn't such a bad idea in Japanese
Japanese is so efficient as a language that it can sometimes leave new students feeling as though they are floating in space. Without the familiar gravity of shugo (主語, subjects), students are sometimes at a loss to create sentences that involve multiple actors and both direct and indirect actions....
Japan Times
Feb 2, 2015
'Ka' can help you sound less like Mr. Roboto
Knowing how you sound in Japanese is very difficult. For the first few months of study, perhaps even the first few years, the best you can hope for is to imitate sensei (先生, teachers) and tomodachi (友達, friends), geinōjin (芸能人, celebrities) and kishō yohōshi (気象予報士,...
Japan Times
Jan 5, 2015
The myths and misery of translating Japanese video games
Given ever-expanding access to the culture of Japan, people worldwide have many different reasons for studying the Japanese language these days. But I don't know if job opportunities for non-Japanese have expanded as rapidly. Many folks probably fall back on the same set of options as always: eigo kyōshi...
Dec 22, 2014
The annual pain and pleasure of punished comedians
Japan is a country of traditions. You take off your shoes when you go indoors. You rinse your body before entering the bath. And you sit around the house with family on Ōmisoka (大晦日, New Year's Eve) and do nothing but watch television and eat food before going to the jinja (神社, shrine)...
Dec 8, 2014
Going backward to get ahead with studying Japanese
In his book "Making Sense of Japanese: What the Textbooks Don't Tell You," translator and Japanese literature scholar Jay Rubin notes that the Japanese language "works backward."
Oct 6, 2014
Discovering verb stems: A gokan oasis in the desert of gobi
The luckiest Japanese language students begin their studies at birth, possibly even earlier. The rest of us start somewhere else along the way, either on the streets or in a classroom. The streets are a rough teacher, but they can be rewarding as well. Classroom instruction may seem like a better option,...
Aug 18, 2014
Complicated characters: Let us now praise difficult kanji
For beginner and intermediate students of Japanese, encountering a kanji such as 鬱 (utsu, depression) in the wild can be a somewhat traumatic event that, appropriately, induces a deep, introspective depression regarding their language ability. Let's pull out our electron microscopes and examine that...
Japan Times
Aug 9, 2014
Haruki Murakami's new book peels back the layers of friendship
Haruki Murakami has made his name in the West with the translations of his tome-like novels, but it was 1987's relatively slim Norwegian Wood that made him famous in Japan. And his latest big hit here is similarly slender.
LIFE / Language
Jun 29, 2014
Particles create the chemistry of adjectives and adverbs
I first started studying Japanese the summer after my first year of college. I was still promising my parents that I would take the med school prerequisites and eventually become a doctor, but I knew going in to college that all I really wanted to do was learn Japanese. I must have had science on my...
May 4, 2014
Drinking in Japan: Sober words to help you socialize
Drinking in the United States is so relaxed and so much fun that sometimes I forget how important it is as a social ritual in Japan. And like any good Japanese ritual, drinking has a bevy of lovely words that float around it, providing a lesson in language as well as culture.
Mar 23, 2014
Being laughed at can help your Japanese evolve
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 awkward social...
Japan Times
Feb 23, 2014
Keep calm before carrying on when speaking Japanese
In Haruki Murakami's 1985 novel "Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World," one of the two protagonists is a coolheaded data agent working for the monolithic "System" that protects the world from "Semiotec" data thieves. He takes on a job that's a little too dangerous and finds himself confronted...
Japan Times
JAPAN / Media
Apr 21, 2013
In 'Tsukuru Tazaki,' Murakami once again shifts his point of view
Two thousand and nine was a good year to be a Haruki Murakami fan. Seven years after writing his last epic novel, "Kafka on the Shore," with only the bite-sized 2004 "afterdark" to tide over his readership, the author published the massive two-volume "1Q84." Looking back now, it's also clear that Murakami...
Jun 25, 2012
Ii ne! Facebook is a perfect place for Japanese immersion
Facebook has grown at a tremendous rate in Japan over the past four years, jumping from just over 200,000 users in 2008 to more than 6 million by the end of 2011. In the process, Japan has generated one of the social network's highest annual growth rates of 254 percent, second only to Brazil.
LIFE / Language
Aug 29, 2011
Japanese humor: more universally funny than you think
Japanese comedy gets a bad rap. Foreigners either knock it for being too silly and too focused on slapstick or too pun-based and difficult to understand.


Traditional folk rituals like Mizudome-no-mai (dance to stop the rain) provide a sense of agency to a population that feels largely powerless in the face of the climate crisis.
As climate extremes intensify, Japan embraces ancient weather rituals