Saturday, 22 November 2014

Anime Japanese - This, There, Where?

There are a lot of Japanese words that pop up regularly in anime and we are going to practice some of these using anime themselves starting with "this/there/where".

In Japanese how you say "this" or "that" depends on where you are in relation to the listener.


KO- is used to indicate that you are talking about something close to the speaker. The following 3 are very common uses of this found in anime and everyday life.

KORE - means "this" when you are not mentioning the subject. Such as in the picture on the right indicated to the bag, but without saying "bag" it's just KORE.

KONO - also means "this" but is used when you talk about the subject such as KONO PEN "this pen". Or as you can see in the picture KONO KABAN "this bag"

KOKO - means "here"

The following you will hear more in anime than in everyday life simply because it is very informal Japanese.

KOU IU - used to say "this kind of", such as KOU IU HANASHI which means "this kind of talk (conversation)"

KONNA - an informal form of KONO, such as KONNA KOTO is used a lot which means "this thing" or KONNA OOKI "this big". KONNA can also be used in a similar way to KOU IU and can mean "this kind of" and is sometime interchangeable.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Studying Anime Japanese - Basic Techniques

I mentioned last week that I was doing an Anime Japanese workshop at the University of Kent, UK. It turned out well and now I'll be following this up with a number of posts on the materials I covered in the workshop and more!

Basic techniques you can use when watching anime to learn Japanese

No Game No Life Anime Subs

Watch lots of anime!
This is a bit of a no-brainer. Watching lots of anime will expose you more and more to hearing the language used naturally, as well as to Japanese culture and customs. My listening has always been my strongest part of Japanese simply because I watch so much anime, and when I went to Japan for the first time instead of getting culture shock I got "oh my goodness it's just like anime!!!"

Useful customs and phrases anime can teach you include: entering someone's home and saying OJYAMASHIMASU which means "I'm sorry for intruding". Or saying ITADAKIMASU before eating and GOCHISOUSAMA DESHITA after you've finished eating.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Anime Japanese Workshop

There's no post today as I've been preparing for an Anime Japanese Workshop at a university this weekend.

But I will post all the information, and possibly more, along with videos after the workshop.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

A Lesson In English Grammar - The Basics

"Why do I need to know English grammar to learn Japanese?"

English grammar is a topic I could not get my head around easily when I was younger. I even tried doing an A level in English language so I could learn it! Still didn't work. But we speak English as native, we don't need to know grammar! Yuk! Weeeellll I would totally agree with you, but after learning Japanese I've realised how wrong I was. I really dislike Japanese for the same reason I dislike English grammar. I read things like "possessive noun" and "auxiliary verb" and "volitional form" and my brain wants to shut down. 

My approach to Japanese has mostly been from a vocabulary/kanji side but this has really impacted my Japanese ability. Although I have a higher vocabulary than some of my friends they have a better understanding of Japanese because they can understand grammar and can guess the vocabulary based on the context. One friend of mine who's N3 level Japanese is amazing at reading comprehension because of her grammar skills.

English grammar

So this post is as much for my own benefit as yours. We're going to look at English grammar terms and use Japanese examples to get a better understanding of Japanese grammar. 

NOTE: Japanese and English grammar do not overlap 100% and the Japanese will have different ways of saying one thing compared to English (i.e Japanese use particles where we use determiners like "a" and "the")

Because this is a pretty big topic I'm going to be splitting it up into different sections. So if you're a wiz at basic English and Japanese grammar you can skip this section to the next (when it's posted).

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Going to Conventions in Japan

I went to London ComicCon recently (aka MCM Expo to anyone that's been going for over 4 years) and it reminded me of the big differences between conventions in Japan compared to the UK and America.

You'd think that Japan being the "origin" of cosplay, and amazing technology and games, that they'd have a fantastic convention environment with a wide variety of cool stuff. But this debatably not the case. Or at least it's very different to how we experience conventions in the UK.

So below I'll discuss the differences between West and Japan, what to do and not do at cons, a list of conventions, how to find events and phrases you can use at events.

The difference between Western and Japanese conventions.

First of all conventions in Japan are called "events" エベント, when you say convention たいかい (大会) it literally means "big meeting" and makes people think of a official meeting with lots of people having formal seminars run by professionals about a topic, often business.

London ComicCon Basara Cosplay
Able to run up to strangers and take pics! Yay!
When I say "convention" in the West most people in the geek world think of anime/gaming/sci-fi themed conventions. These will be held in a large building with lots of stands selling official and unofficial merchandise (ranging from character themed tea to plushies, games, dvds etc), pannels run by fans who are passionate about a topic, or talks with famous people, and lots and lots of cosplay and people running around taking each others photos.

The big difference I've found with Japanese cons is they are normally dedicated to a single thing. Unlike in the UK and US where is a combination of anime, games, sci-fi, events in Japan are normally only game, only anime, only sci-fi etc. Sometimes there's a little bit of cosplay too but this is only at doujinshi events (see below).

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Beginners Japanese Grammar 2

Hello everyone! A little announcement as I've just made my Japanese Grammar 2 course on Memrise public! 

This is the second of a series of grammar courses for beginners, covering all the grammar points (except particles) for JLPT N4 level of Japanese. Even if you're not taking any of the Japanese language proficiency tests you can still use this course to learn Japanese grammar. The lessons are grouped together based on how the grammar is formed and assumes that you already know how to read kana and how to make stem, plain, て form, た form, ない form etc. If you don't or are a bit rusty it might be good to go over part 1: Beginners Japanese Grammar 1 (JLPT N5). Any new grammar forms that pop up will have explanations before them.
This course also tests you with kanji to English meaning. It uses kanji you should know for JLPT N4 but if you need to brush up here is the JLPT N4 Kanji course: JLPT N4 Kanji

JLPT N4 Grammar

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Japan Hacks - History Nerds in Japan

If you are a bit of a Japanese history fan there are a LOT of places in Japan you should go visit. Some of these might be obvious ones, and others probably not so much.

The following list is based on the most popular tourist destinations: Tokyo and Kyoto. I wish I could list all the amazing places in Japan based on historic events and people but I don't know them all. These are just the locations myself and friends visited on our last trip. If you know of any others please leave a comment so that other people might learn from your wisdom.


Sengakuji (Temple) - This is a small temple right next to Sengakuji Station. This is where the 47 Ronin were buried.

Zojoji (Temple) - Just down the road from Sengakuji and near Tokyo Tower, Zojoji is where 6 out of the 15 Tokugawa shoguns were buried. It's also famous for its large amount of Jizo statues, which people go to to pray for the souls of dead children.

Yasakuni Shrine - Famous for being controversial, this shrine is a really interesting to see because of it's history enshrining the souls of people who have died in battle. Some of these souls may have been convicted of war crimes (hence the controversy), but most people go to pray for their own ancestors who died in battle. It also has a war museum.

Meiji Jingu - This is a really interesting shrine, not only because of it's giant tori, interesting architecture, and giant sacred trees, but because it's the shrine of Emporer Meiji and Empress Shoken. They were enshrined here before WWII when, in Japan, the emperors of were still considered to be descendants of the goddess Amaterasu. After WWII the royal family denounced their god-hood and no more shrines were erected to worship them.

Edo Tokyo Museum - Great for a general history of Japan and Japanese life in the Edo period (1603-1868) and after into the Meiji and Showa (modern day) times.


Honno-ji - Honnō-ji is most famous for the Honno-ji IncidentOda Nobunaga lodged there before his invasion of the west, but on the morning of June 21, 1582, Akechi Mitsuhide betrayed him, surrounded the temple and set it on fire. Knowing there was no way out for him, Nobunaga committed seppuku along with his attendant Mori Ranmaru

Nijo Castle - A 20min walk from Honno-ji, Nijo Castle is the palace the Tokugawa shoguns lived in during their rule when Kyoto was the capital. It's the most beautiful castle I've seen in Japan with wonderful wall art and a nightingale floor that dates back to 1601 when Tokugawa Ieyasu ordered it be built.

Mibu-dera - Just south of Nijo Castle (another 20-30min walk) is Mibudera where some of the Shinsengumi are buried.