How To Pronounce The Japanese “R” Sound

I hope everyone had a fabulous Christmas (if that’s what you celebrate), full of Christmas Cake and KFC. Yum! Fa ra ra ra ra, ra ra ra raaaa!

One of the things that almost every Japanese learner has trouble with (if they’re a native English speaker), is the Japanese “R” sound. More specifically: Ra, ri, ru, re, & ro. Often times, it just ends up being a straight-up “R” sound, which is wrong, or some weird hybrid version of the sound that “L” makes when it’s on the toilet. It’s kind of sad, but very few people have “cracked” the Japanese “R” sound. A good 90% of people have trouble with this, and I’m going to flip that statistic on it’s head. After going through this lesson, 90% of you will be able to pronounce the Japanese R sound perfectly. [Read more…]


Japanese Fluorescent Light Fights Light Up My Gag Reflex

When you think of Japan, you think of serene temples… succulent sushi… and horribly fluorescent light wrestling matches? Apparently now you can.

I think that we can all agree that doing battle with fluorescent lighting is a bad idea, but that certainly didn’t stop the Japanese. I think Neatorama says it best: “It’s like WWF meets WTF” … with extra emphasis on the WTF part.

I don’t even know what to say about this, so instead of saying anything at all, I’m just going to post pictures. It’s up to you to tell the world what you think, because I don’t think I can think anymore. [Read more…]


Alternatives to Rosetta Stone Japanese (i.e. Should I buy Rosetta Stone?)

One of the most common e-mail questions I get is “Should I buy Rosetta Stone Japanese?” It’s time to put an end to this e-mail silliness. From now on, I get to link to this post and video. Hopefully you, whoever “you” are (tell me in the comments), can get something out of this post as well. [Read more…]


Literal Murakami 1: A Wild Sheep Chase

wild-sheep-chaseOne thing that I don’t do much of is “read.” Some may even suspect me to be illiterate, which could very well be true (maybe I write all these posts with virtual Indian secretaries or Speech to Text technology). Either way, there is one particular Japanese author who I’ve never talked about, but is quite famous in American and Europe. That cool frood is Haruki Murakami. He’s written all kinds of things, and I have read none of them. To be completely honest, I have no idea what any of his books are about, yet today I explained to someone what “A Wild Sheep Chase” is all about, and made up 100% of it. Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean I’m wrong, though I’m pretty sure I am (what are the chances right). But instead of going back and reading about it on Wikipedia, I decided instead to write my own version of A Wild Sheep Chase… Thus, “Literal Murakami” is born. My plan is to take five or six Murakami books and write short stories based solely, and literally, off their titles, mostly with the hope of encouraging you to read the real books, because I hear they’re good and such. After reading my version, you’ll need a Unicorn chaser of some sort, and I’m hoping you use a nice real bit of literature to meet that requirement.

So, without further ado, here’s Tofugu’s version of “A Wild Sheep Chase,” which includes a Sheep running from the law, as well as Batman’s secret life you never knew. [Read more…]


Happy Pocky Day! (11-11)


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Phonetikana: For the Lazy Typography Snob in All of Us

Johnson Banks recently put up a post about “phonetikana” which has to either be the most genius discovery of all time, or the laziest. Either way, there’s no denying that it’s beautiful, regardless, but you know me, I hate romaji with a passion (and you should too).

Here’s the concept behind phonetikana: 1. Katakana is irritating to learn / you don’t have the time to learn it / you’re lazy. 2. Katakana often spells out words that English speakers can kind-of-sort-of understand. 3. If you add the English phonetic pronunciation to the katakana, you’ll be able to read it and possibly decipher it. 4. Integrate it into the actual katakana to get that “aww, that’s boootiful effect.” [Read more…]


Go Premium with Lang-8 to Better Your Japanese


The moment Lang-8 created the option to upgrade to a Premium Account I did it. At first, it was because I wanted to support Lang-8 (hey, they’re cool Froods!) and make sure their servers kept on running. But, the more I looked at the features the more I realized that there’s a lot of awesome potential here, especially when it comes to power users of the site (and if you’re not one, you should become one). Definitely a few new features that could really accelerate your Japanese studies, which makes it worth a deeper look. [Read more…]

comparing languages

Is Learning Japanese Not Popular Anymore?


This is an example of something really cool (i.e. not Japanese learning)

Of course, one of Tofugu’s goals is to make Japanese learning cool again. “Again?” you ask. “But I’m so cool.” Sorry friend, but the All-Mighty Google doesn’t lie. It looks like learning Japanese is trending down, despite the popularity of anime, manga, and the like (though, actually, if you look it up those keywords are also trending down as well… Cause/correlation? Hard to tell). So how dorky and niche has Japanese learning gotten? [Read more…]


Wash Your Hands Japan, or This Guy Will Dance Again

Unicef just scared every little child into not washing their hands by coming out with this dance video with “renowned Japanese dancer Kaiji Moriyama” who “choreographed a dance for a public service announcement designed to teach children the principles of good hand washing.”


This video was made because of the swine flu, and because children don’t wash their hands. Also, apparently this video thought hand washing just wasn’t fun enough either, which is why they’ve turned it into a dance. GREAT. [Read more…]


Ultraman, Godzilla Wedding


While I get my act together and write a few more interesting blog posts, I thought I’d share with you some pictures from a wedding I went to a few weeks back. Beautiful wedding, but unfortunately it looks like my camera came from the Meiji Era. Wait, what’s that in the shot? Do you see it? Is that who I think it is? Is his best man…Ultraman!? [Read more…]


100 Ways to Entertain Guests Visiting From Japan


  1. Show them a trailer park: You want culture shock? This is how you do it.
  2. Use Yelp: Will help you find all the really interesting stuff, hopefully
  3. Go hiking: You can never go wrong with hiking
  4. Take them to your school: Probably totally different from their own – take them to math so they can laugh at your country’s tiny brain.
  5. Take them to a baseball game: They have baseball in Japan, but from a cheering standpoint, a completely different experience.
  6. Take them to a football game: This is something you don’t see much in Japan.
  7. Get them signed up for Facebook: Too many Japanese are still on Mixi. Turn your friend into a convert / traitor.
  8. Go to Costco: and enjoy the wholesale goodness!
  9. Take them to a mall: You can spend even more hours looking at all the stuff in all the stores.
  10. Show them your room: Make sure you hide the… yah know. [Read more…]