A Step-By-Step Guide On How To Learn Hiragana

If you’re thinking of learning Japanese, or if you’re just starting to learn Japanese, learning hiragana is probably one of the first steps you’re going to want to make. The problem, though, is that there are a ton of different ways to do it and not enough guidance along the way. So many resources makes learning hiragana overwhelming for beginners, and since it’s one of the first things that they’re supposed to do, it’s a bad experience and people end up quitting. [Read more…]


Why Do Japanese People Live So Long? (And What You Can Do To Live A Long Time Too)

Japan has the oldest life expectancy in the world. That means people in Japan live a really really long time. Men live to 79 years old. Women live a little over 86 years old. What in the world causes Japanese people to live so long?

After WWII, Japan had one of the lowest life expectancies in the world, which suggests it’s not genetics that keeps them alive for so long (the guy in the picture above just turned 113). It’s not even that Japanese people visit doctors 12+ times a year. The answer is something else, and it’s something you can do as well to increase your own life expectancy (and get healthier, too) [Read more…]


The 100 Most Important Japanese Words You Should Know

Say you booked a last minute trip to Japan. Soon after that, you quickly realize that you don’t know any Japanese words (let alone a hundred words). For all of you people out there (or, for all of you beginners of Japanese out there), this list is for you. These 100 words will get you through an untold number of situations, problems, and feelings, just by knowing these all-important words. I’m not saying that there aren’t any other important words out there (and I hope you add to the list by commenting below), but I do think this list of 100 Japanese words will get you really, really far if you are, for some reason, only limited to learning 100 words. Enjoy!

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Teaching English In Japan Is Total BS

…Well, it is if you work at this fictional English Language School, “Be Yes.”

[yframe url=’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2O0E0emU85w’]


I know a lot of you out there are thinking of becoming an English teach in Japan, so I thought this might be interesting for you. The show is about Tom Kellerman (actually the guy who plays Jon Sherr from “My Darling Is A Foreigner”), a foreigner teaching English in Japan. The show is in short segments, has good production quality, and is pretty entertaining all around. The part I liked, though, was how it satarizes teaching English in Japan. I’m pretty curious to see how far they go with this, since, to be completely honest, the English system in Japan kind of is one big satire in itself (no offense to anyone teaching, I’m talking about the education system here). [Read more…]


When Learning Japanese, It’s All About The Little Victories

When I started making the “Little Victories” lessons switch on TextFugu, I realized that even though I’m just changing things over on TextFugu, the entire concept of “little victories” can be used by anyone learning Japanese no matter how they’re doing it. Because, when it comes to learning anything, especially Japanese, it’s all about the little victories. Find out why. [Read more…]


Q&A for Hitchhiking in Japan [Off the Beaten Track]

It is pretty hard to get further off the beaten track in Japan than by hitchhiking.  I’ve never done it and the thought had never really occurred to me since I’ve associated hitchhiking with grizzly murders from horror flicks or sitting outside in crappy weather for hours on end.  Our guest expert on the subject David Martindale, from Hitchhiking Without A Hitch a blog detailing his 59 hitchhiking rides around Hokkaido, begs to differ with this negative stereotype and gives us at Tofugu the breakdown on how to have a fun, culturally enriching, and Japanese language improving jaunt around the back roads of Japan!  In this special edition of Japan [Off the Beaten Track] David fields 15 tough questions designed to get our readers the confidence to get off the comfy Japanese train chairs and on to the road with thumbs flying proudly! [Read more…]


Japanese Words That Make It Into English Dictionaries

Recently three new Japanese words made their way into the Oxford English Dictionary, officially blessing the English speaking world with concepts such as hikikomori, karoshi, and otaku. But, these aren’t the only words that have done this, just the most recent ones. There are actually a lot of Japanese words that we use as English words now – it’s not only the Japanese who get to turn someone else’s language into their own. [Read more…]


5 Step JLPT Study Method Using Japanese Newspapers for Kids

Passing the JLPT at any level requires being able to read some Japanese and of course the best way to learn to read is well….reading stuff.  The problem with reading is that it’s really hard.  For most of us below the JLPT Level 1, pulling out a newspaper, book, or magazine in Japanese and just reading and understanding it is next to impossible to do in a reasonable amount of time.  To be fair, those newspapers, books, and magazines are written for adults and the JLPT only tests up to a middle school level of language comprehension.  If our Japanese reading level is the same as kids, why not read like one?  Most people solve this problem using manga, but the JLPT makes you to read paragraphs not text bubbles with pictures.  Thanks to my JLPT prep class teacher, I found a great way to study for the JLPT: Japanese Newspapers for Kids! [Read more…]


Kanji Amnesia And Why It’s Okay To Forget Kanji

In a couple hours at 1:40pm Pacific Time, I’ll be live on BBC Radio (sorry, no idea which one… people tell me it’s probably #4, though) talking about “Character Amnesia” (or for us Tofugu-folk, “Kanji Amnesia”), so I thought a good way to get my ducks in a line would be to write a post about it… That way, hopefully, I won’t forget what I want to talk about it. [Read more…]


Four Japanese Words For Summer (And Gifts From The Venerable Gakuranman)

Greetings fellow fugu-ers! Gakuranman here. (That’s right, ‘schoolboy coat man’.) You may remember me from such indie B-posts as ‘Katakana Words Ate My Soul‘ and Invasion of the Kanji.

But not to fear! I’ve returned today to shower you with gifts. Gifts of knowledge and prosperity. Your Japanese skills will soar and…ahh, what the heck. Let’s just get on with it. Here’s some words related to the Japanese summer with a few colourful anecdotes. Because, you know, language and culture are inseparable. Kinda like this twisted daikon above. Also a mini giveaway for you hungry learners at the end of this post! [Read more…]


How To Trick Yourself Into Good (Japanese) Studying Habits

You know how it’s hard to quit bad habits? Biting your nails, drinking, eating too many cookies, yadda yadda (sure, you could take it to be the Seinfeld reference if you want)… But I bet you didn’t realize you have a ton of good habits as well. Brushing your teeth (well, not all of you have this), putting away the dishes, going running, etc.

Now, I’m not saying that creating a habit to study Japanese on a daily basis is easy (it’s not!), and that’s why I’ve compiled a few sneaky things that will “trick” you into studying Japanese and getting yourself into a good habit. It all comes down to analyzing what makes habits into habits, and taking advantage of those things so that you can create a habit without actually having a… habit. [Read more…]