Keeping with tradition, each Tofugu staff member has chosen one article to claim as their "favorite"
Well, it's the end of 2017 already somehow. That means it's time to look back at the articles we've posted this past year and pick our favorites. Keeping with tradition, each Tofugu staff member has chosen one article to claim as their "favorite" or "number one" or "tippy-top-favey-babber" from 2017.
Below are the eight choices, along with the reasons why that person chose that particular post. Read through and discover the best from the past year as you strap in for the live-action thrill ride that will be 2018.
Kotani Makoto: The Homeless Man in Japan You Can Rent for ¥50 per Day
Koichi: I'm a big, poopy butthole for choosing one of my own articles. But really I was just a small cog in the bigger machine that was the whole Homeless Kotani experience. Mami put it all together, Viet took the photos, and me? I just got to hang out and have a good time.
But spending those two days with Homeless Kotani was more than just "hanging out" for me. He made me rethink how one can live their life. He reminded me that just because "mainstream thinking" is mainstream, it doesn't mean it's the only way. I think if you read this article, you'll feel that way too.
Also, it was funny to see how angry some people got about his lifestyle.
Kichijoji Yūrei: Tokyo's Haunted Underground Izakaya
Viet: I was sentenced to death, but rose again from the grave! See the gif in the article. The end.
But seriously, Kichijoji Yūrei is a fun little ghost-themed bar in Tokyo that we wrote a travel article about. It was amusing to see Mami creeped out by everything. And the spooky food wasn't bad for what it was: bar food. If you visit this place, see if you can get them to pour you some of the Tofugu shochu, if it is still there!
There were some challenges photography-wise, one of which was the poor lighting. Not a fault of the establishment (it is a spooky ghost restaurant), just running-and-gunning photography was a bit of a pain.
Nevertheless, it was a good time.
Japanese Particle MONONO: The Definitive Guide
Kristen: This article is one of the first in a bigger push to teach grammar usage on Tofugu and it is the one I thought was the most interesting, for me personally, anyway.
I was one of those people who only used が and けれども, instead of ものの. I had seen it before while reading and knew the meaning was "similar" to けれども, but I had never actually looked up the nuances in usage.
Another awesome thing about this article is the example sentences with Kanae's audio. The sentences are fun and getting to listen to them all is even better. Oh, and all of Aya's art is animated, with one of the best color schemes we've ever had for an article.
I worry that less-advanced learners skip over posts like this, so if that's you, please give it a read! The example sentences themselves may be a bit high level, but the explanations are really simplified and clear, so I think anyone will be able to understand ものの with Dan's help!
"What I Use To Study Japanese" — Matthew Chozick
Mami: Although Japanese TV star Matthew Chozick introduced how he became fluent in Japanese in this article, his methods are applicable for learning other languages too. So this article was very helpful for me and gave me a new perspective on how I should study English.
As Matthew says at the beginning, his method is not an "easy-peasy way," but he is proof of the old adages "practice makes perfect" and "persistence pays off." I like his method of having imaginary Japanese conversations in all sorts of different situations. I should definitely try doing that in English.
"Hey! Did you just try to swipe my bacon? Back off!"
What impressed me even more was the second step in his method: scheduling daily language exchanges with various partners. I thought this was quite brave and a decisive step toward making drastic improvements in language ability. To be honest, I sometimes still have trouble understanding what people are talking about in English, except for my husband or other close friends whose speech patterns I'm familiar with. Each person has a different way of speaking, so if you get used to as many varieties as possible, you'll definitely build your listening skill.
Matthew's article helped me rethink the ways I'm learning English. But that's not the only reason it became my favorite. Later, I found out he was the instructor on my favorite NHK radio show 英語で読む村上春樹 (Reading Haruki Murakami in English).
The 20 Best Anime Movies Not Made by Studio Ghibli
Jamal: Studio Ghibli movies are amazing, but sometimes it's nice to watch an anime film that's not about a female teen navigating her way through a string of pollution allegories. That's why I like this article a lot. It's got a wide range of genres and artistic styles to appreciate. It also takes into account the historical relevance and social impact non-Ghibli films have had in Japan.
Despite Akira obviously needing to be number one, I think the list strikes a great balance between various genres. It also manages to find movies that employ mise-en-scène just as well as any Ghibli film (Wolf Children and A Letter to Momo, to name two).
You can find more examples highlighted in our video of the article.
Lastly, this article introduced me to a bunch of awesome films that I would have otherwise missed (or ignored) if not for this post. Check it out to find a handful of new anime to add to your watch list.
Why Japan Will Lose 20 Million People by 2050
Darin: I had a professor in college that declared "Population decline—and the resulting labor shortages—will be the major problem your generation faces."
He said it with such certainty that it stuck with me and I've paid attention to how populations have been shifting and changing throughout the world ever since.
Michael's article hit all the right notes, highlighting the challenges that Japan is facing with a shrinking birth rate and a declining overall population. Most of the world is seeing the composition of their population change and it's fascinating to see how Japan is handling it. There are some good lessons there and I, for one, can't wait to see those elder-care bots
take over the world become more popular.
A Pilgrimage to the Real Life Locations of Your Name
Aya: Kanae's pilgrimage to the Tokyo locations from the smash hit anime film Your Name would have to be my favorite. Reading through her journey to the real life places where the events of the film took place, I felt like I was going on the trip too.
I really love the art in Shinkai Makoto's films, so seeing the locales that inspired Your Name's background illustrations was encouraging to me. It made me want to improve the way I make backgrounds in my art.
I've also never done an anime pilgrimage before, so maybe when I find myself in Japan, I might just do this one. 😉
Boston Career Forum: The Ultimate Guide
Michael: As editor, I have some hand in getting every article on the site, so each one is my favorite for different reasons. They're all my little bebbies! Take that as my endorsement to go back and read all 65+ articles we published in 2017 before the end of the year.
That said, if I had to pick one article from the past year to highlight, it would be Boston Career Forum: The Ultimate Guide.
One of our main goals at Tofugu is to help people get to Japan. But, honestly, getting there, as in having a life there, is not easy. Besides teaching English, getting a job in Japan (and thus a life in Japan) is tough.
But this article makes that very tough task slightly easier by guiding you through the world's biggest career convention for people interested in working for Japanese companies. It was written by a woman who went to the forum and got a job in Japan, so her experience and hindsight are invaluable if you're thinking of attending the BCF yourself.
If you're not at a place in your career (or Japanese language ability) where you can interview for a top-level Japanese company in Japanese, we wrote a nice roadmap to job searching in Japan (based on a Tofugu Podcast interview) that you can follow, until you're ready for the Career Forum.
These articles are the best of the best, according to us anyway. But maybe we're wrong. Maybe there are some Tofugu articles from 2017 you thought were better than our picks. If so, let us know on Facebook, Twitter (@tofugu), or old-timey email.
And before we shut down 2017 for good, we want to say a big thanks to you (yes, you, specifically reading this). There wouldn't be a Tofugu without people like you reading our stuff and sharing it around the big, wide Internet. So thank you. We hope you learn good things from us and grow up big and strong, like some kind of metaphorical plant person.
Let's make 2018 a great one, ね! See you on the other side.