Studying Japanese With Subtitles

Like this? You should see Tofugu’s “Studying Japanese With Drama Guide” – it’s like this post, but bigger (and better!).

Okay, so I’ve been known to say that people should get off the couch and stop claiming they were learning Japanese from watching anime with subtitles. I think 99% of the time this is still true, because most people aren’t actively studying with the subtitles (and instead just watching as much TV as possible catching a few things here or there, then using “learning” as an excuse for consuming so much media). Today I’m going to sort of take the opposite stance from where I usually am and tell you how I think you can use Japanese TV/movies/anime to learn Japanese, and subtitles actually play a big part in this, surprisingly! [Read more…]


The Greatest Inventor of All Time: Dr. NakaMats

From left to right: Dr. NakaMats, Dr. NakaMats.

Who would you say is the greatest inventor of all time? It’s kind of a tricky question. When you say “inventor,” most people think of Thomas Edison, or those late night infomercials that supposedly help aspiring inventors patent their creations. I just found out the other day that the greatest inventor of all time is not only alive, but still working hard in Japan. His name? Yoshiro Nakamatsu: [Read more…]


How Japan Compares With The World In English Proficiency

When it came to Japanese Cartography, we found out that Japan lagged behind a bit. So what about other things, like English Language Proficiency? Education First recently released their report on worldwide English language proficiency, showing some interesting results. Instead of talking about the Japanese language today, I thought it would be interesting to talk about the English language in Japan (and the rest of the world). How does Japan compare? Let’s find out. [Read more…]


Japan’s 100 Year War That Ended in 2006

Japan has its share of rivals in the world, but how many of you know about Japan’s greatest enemy – the tiny country of Montenegro? Did you know that Japan and Montenegro were at war for 100 years, from 1905-2006? It’s true. Despite losing its army after World War 2 and getting occupied by the US, somehow this 100 year war slipped under the radar of most of the world. How did this happen? Read on to find out.

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The First Time Japan Saw The World [Japanese Cartography]

I think it’s easy to forget that world exploration didn’t really start until fairly recently. The 1400’s was only 600 years ago, and in that short time we’ve mapped just about everything (that’s not underwater, at least). Even then, I’d say it took until the 1600’s for maps to start looking kind of like what the world looks like, and then another hundred or two hundred years after that for maps to look good. Heck, we just got Mapquest like ten years ago (though everyone knows Google Maps is the best, true that double true).

All that being said, that’s only “Western” people we’re talking about. Japan was pretty xenophobic until the 1800’s, and they didn’t “get out” much. You could say that about all the Asian countries hanging about back then. It wasn’t until the 1600’s that Japan “saw the world for the first time” (in map form)… and boy did it look beautiful. [Read more…]


The Ultimate Kanji Test: Kanji Kentei

So you’ve passed JLPT 1. You’re a master of Japanese. People point and stare due to your Japanese abilities. You start feeling worthless. There’s an emptiness in your heart. What is there left to do? Is this it? Is this as good as it gets? Hellzno. Enter stage right: Kanji Kentei … the nearly impossible to pass kanji test. [Read more…]


Hirohito: The Fearsome Japanese Emperor Marine Biologist

Ever hear of a hydrozoa? Unless you’re a marine biology major or the Emperor of Japan between the years 1926 and 1989, then you probably haven’t. So what on earth is a hydro-whatsit, and what does it have to do with Japan? Turns out Emperor Hirohito was really into them. [Read more…]


TofuguTV Episode 1: Cat Island, Japan Part 1

[yframe url=’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qVxpPggJMAY’]

Cat Island Japan. It’s an island covered in hundreds, maybe thousands of cats. People population? Under 100. This island has become a little tourist attraction for people who happen to like cats. You can take pictures of them, pet (some of) them, stay in cat-shaped lodging, and even visit a cat shrine. It’s a little Cat Mecca of sorts, and it’s also the very first episode of TofuguTV.

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Ways To Help Japan (That Are Better Than Donating Money)

There hasn’t been a lot of good news coming out of Japan lately (though I’d say a big part of that is news agencies trying to shock audiences as much as possible so they can make more $$$). At this point, sure, the nuclear reactors are kind of a problem (though time will only tell), but the real issue is the hundreds of thousands of people that are displaced, homeless, cold, cut off, or without food (i.e. people are going to start starving soon). While you probably can’t do much to help with the nuclear reactor thing, you can do something to help the people… After all, it’s the people who need the most help anyways. If something like this happened to you, you’d surely want to be helped as well. [Read more…]


The Biggest Earthquake Ever Recorded In Japan [2011 Sendai Earthquake]

If you’ve been living under a rock (or hiding under a table, which would be quite appropriate in this case), an 8.9 9.0 magnitude earthquake hit off the coast of Sendai, Japan, causing massive damage and potentially up to 1,000 casualties or more (at least, that’s what recent reports have been estimating we’ll end up seeing). [Read more…]


Using “Jerry Seinfeld’s Secret To Productivity” To Learn Kanji

I read about this strategy on Lifehacker (you can read the whole thing here) about a week ago, and thought it would be particularly useful for kanji (and vocab) learning. Learning a new language isn’t so much about the language itself. It’s more about staying motivated and making progress. Sure, some people can grind through things and never get off track. For the rest of us, “learning hacks” like these are extremely helpful. [Read more…]


Updates: TofuguTV, Tofugu Stickers, New People, & A Deleted Post

A lot of folks have been asking about TofuguTV, kindly mentioning that I was planning to put out the first episode in January. Although I have poor sense of time, I realize that it’s at least the beginning of February now, if not 1-35ish days later than that.

This is just a “hey, it exists” followed up by a “dang, editing video is hard!” Most of my time (sadly) has been spent working on parts of many different episodes, trying to figure out what to start with. I’m not 100% sure that Episode 1 will be about “Cat Island” (though it’s not the first place I went during the TofuguTV trip). Sex Robot Museum was going to be the first one, but that one requires so many black boxes moving around to cover various robot parts… so, I figured I’d save that one for later. It’s not as cute as an island full of cats, either. [Read more…]