How to Study Japanese Over the Summer

Well, it’s that time of year, isn’t it? Some of you are getting out of school for summer break and some of you haven’t had to go to school for decades. Some of you took Japanese classes at school, and some of you are self-taught. Either way, summer makes it really easy not to continue studying your Japanese (or anything, for that matter). I’ve thought through some tips to keep the study-love going during the lazy season. [Read more…]


Godzilla Desktops for Your Computer

Ack, it’s been a while since last post. I’m working on a really good article (I think), but in the meantime, I thought I’d show you a sample of something you might see in our “free store,” which will come out along side our “normal store” hopefully in the next couple of weeks. We’ll see though, I might go on vacation first and wait to start it afterwards (otherwise, who will send stuff out?)

First things I’m going to share is four Godzilla desktop wallpapers I designed for your computers. I don’t have every resolution size down there, but hopefully I will increase the available sizes when it comes out officially. Still, most standard resolutions should be supported, I think.

Godzilla Versus King Kong Desktop

Godzilla vs. King Kong: 1024×768 pixels
Godzilla vs. King Kong: 1280×800 pixels
Godzilla vs. King Kong: 1600×1200 pixels
Godzilla vs. King Kong: 1680×1050 pixels

[Read more…]


Mini Post: Odd Personal Grooming Choices

Japan is the home of quite a few Guinness World Records (the world’s longest concert being the most recent one I can remember), but now it’s got another under it’s belt: world’s longest eyebrow. Toshie Kawakami, the 57 year old president of a Tokyo food company, has an eyebrow hair which measured 17.2cm as of June 9th. She says that she normally keeps the hair tucked behind her ear, but let’s it down for special occasions*. She discovered the hair when it was a mere 7cm long (the world record at that time was 11.5cm) and decided to grow it out. Aside from an accident involving an overzealous hairdresser (who set her back 3cm), her path to the top was pretty clear, as the hair grew nearly a centimeter each month until she got Guinness authorization in January. Apparently, she’s trying for 20cm, next.

Source: Asahi
* I’m joking, of course


Got Your Tofugu Thank You Card Yet? Win a Set of Your Own!

So as many of you know, I sent out the thank you cards in response to all of you helping me out with my thesis. Once again, Thank you very much for your help, it turned out pretty awesome! Still, I have a bunch of postcards left over, and I want to give some of them away. There were four different designs, so this is your chance to get a set of 12 (four of each design) that you can use however you want (probably for thanking people). Let’s go over the contest rules:

What is the Contest? All you have to do is take a picture with your postcard. The more creative it is, the better. I’m not going to define creative, so whether that means with a funny face, a strange location, or whatever else, I’ll leave that up to you folks.

Who Can Enter? Anyone who got a thank you postcard from me.

When is the Contest over? Two weeks from today. That would be June 25th, 2008.

How do I submit my picture? Send it to me (Koichi). Gotta do it by email: tofugu@gmail.com

Prizes? The three most creative pictures will get a set of 12 awesome Godzilla postcards. One winner will be chosen by each of Tofugu’s writers, which makes a total of three. If more than one of us wants to choose the same one, we’ll make sure there’s no overlap, and a total of three people win. Winners will be posted on this site, so if you’re too embarassed about being seen on Tofugu I can’t enter you in the drawing (though I suppose you could send me one anyways).


Tofugu’s in a book!

So, the other day, I got a book in the mail. It was for an interview I had done several months back about my two v/blogs, Koichiben and Tofugu. Turns out, this interview takes up two pages of Frederick Levy’s new book: 15 Minutes of Fame, Becoming a Star in the YouTube Revolution.

The book has several purposes. It’s not just a bunch of interviews with YouTubers, though that is a big chunk of it. It also includes the history of YouTube, strategies that people use to become big on YouTube, suggestions on equipment to use, etc. Basically, this book is all about doing well on Youtube, and then adds icing to that cake by interviewing people with varying amounts of success (I think I’m on the lower end of that scale).

So, if you’re interested in Youtube, it’s a pretty good book, not to mention you can read about Tofugu and Koichiben, learning all of my deepest and darkest secrets…well, not that deep, just dark, and by dark I mean not dark.

I know it’s available on Amazon, so let me throw a link at yah, if you’re interested. Here’s a video, just saying the same stuff I just said in writing [Read more…]

Some of the Women of Miterudake

Stare-apy for the Socially Inept (+ Edits)

As much as I want to be outrageously snarky in this post, I don’t think I can bring myself to do it. After all, social anxiety disorder is pretty serious stuff, especially in Japan, the birthplace of the hikikomori (引き籠もり or “pulling away”) phenomenon. In an attempt to help out those who are uncomfortable in social situations, Avex has introduced a DVD titled Miterudake (ミテルだけ) or “Just Looking”. The DVD is labeled as “interactive”, but there are really only two activities that users are expected to perform: [Read more…]


Another Reason Not to Use Online Translators

Responses to my online translator post were mixed. Some people agreed, while others got defensive*. Past differences of thought aside, I found something today that argues unequivocally in favor of my point. It seems that Kosuke Fukudome, a right fielder for the Chicago Cubs, has some well-meaning but very Japanese-illiterate fans. At a Cubs game earlier this year (April–I’m kind of late), fans brandished signs that they thought bore the Japanese equivalent to the Cub’s slogan: It’s Gonna Happen. Unfortunately (but oh-so-predictably), they didn’t.

[Read more…]


Nara Actually gets a new Mascot, kinda-sorta

Remember back in the day when Nara’s new mascot was supposed to be the creepy baby deer man (sounds similar to manbearpig, yeah?) shown crossed out above? Well, it seems as though the public outcry was strong enough, and Nara will be getting a much more attractive mascot called “Manto-Kun.” Definitely an improvement, though, you could put poop on a stick and it would still be better.

Apparently there was a contest that decided this (our contest was first, though!), and although the creepy baby mascot will still be the “official” mascot, the one chosen on this site will be used by everyone anyways. Here’s all the ex-potentials. Obviously the one above was the one that was chosen. [Read more…]


6 Reasons Why Kanji is Necessary

I’ve been really surprised lately. I’ve gotten a few emails from people that ask me why kanji is necessary. “Kanji is sooo hard” they say. “Why do Japanese bother learning kanji when they could just use a phonetic alphabet? I mean, they have hiragana already, why would you need kanji when hiragana does the same thing? It seems old fashioned!”

If you’ve studied Japanese for a while, you probably know the answer. Sure, hiragana is pretty convenient when you are first starting out. Why write 寿司 (sushi) when you could write it much more simply, すし? Gosh, look at all those strokes, look at all that extra time! Both versions are two characters long, but it’s obvious that the second is easier.

Alright, I’ll admit, writing everything in hiragana would be faster…but would it be easier? Here is why you need to learn kanji, and have to use it. Learn to love kanji, folks. [Read more…]

One Tiny Ramen

World’s Smallest Bowl of Ramen

Having taken (and nearly failed) more chemistry courses than I would like to remember, I’m usually not particularly enthusiastic about molecular engineering. However, a recent news story caught my eye this morning. Apparently, Masayuki Nakao, a professor at Todai, has just debuted the smallest bowl of ramen known to man.

[Read more…]


My Japanese Video Final from Highschool. Let the Embarrassment Begin.

The other day I came across a copy of the video I made (with a few other folks) for my Japanese final at the end of high school. I’m probably wrong, but I feel like video finals in Japanese high school classes are very common. It’s something that links us all together somehow.

Our video was originally going to be a two minute Japanese Mentos commercial…which then turned into a candy commercial…which then turned into a twenty minute ridiculous film that barely references candy or Mentos at all. I’ve abridged the video down so you can see just the interesting parts (including my commentary). You can see the abridged version (as well as the full, twenty minute version), after the break. Keep in mind, this was my first video ever, so it’s ever crappier than more recent work. [Read more…]