Japan

The Difficulties Of Learning The Japanese Language

2020/12/8

It has been said that Japanese is difficult to learn, but perhaps not as difficult as you would think. Whilst it may take a while to come to terms with the huge differences between Japanese and English, the spoken language is actually pretty simple, and the written language can be learned very successfully with a little hard work and logical planning. Obviously more difficult than most European languages, but probably easier than other "exotic languages", the lack of tones is a blessing for westerners.   The Japanese Language Is Not Difficult...? If looked at from a linguistic point of view, Japanese is considered one of the easier languages for a beginner to learn. It has a simple pronunciation scheme and with few exceptions a straightforward set of grammatical rules. Limitations on sentence structure are also quite minimal. The most difficult aspect of learning Japanese is the mastery of the reading and writing of kanji.   Features An interesting characteristic of Japanese is that it is spoken differently if the speaker is a man, woman, or child. There are, for example, many different words for "I", and which version you use depends on which category you fall. An even more confusing aspect is that the speaker must choose the appropriate words depending on the relationship between oneself and the conversant. Another aspect of Japanese that may be hard for foreigners is that there are quite a few Japanese words that are pronounced the same but have different meanings.   Let's talk to Japanese Traditionally the Japanese ...

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culture

The Japanese Work Culture – Over Time Working

2020/12/5

The Japanese government has announced measures to limit the number of overtime employees can do – in an attempt to stop people literally working themselves to death. The Japanese may finally get to spend less time at work, but that doesn't mean they'll use it for shopping. The government is taking aim at the workforce's reputation for long hours, proposing fresh legislation limiting over time, potentially to 45 to 60 hours a month. While working to the point of collapse is associated with Japan, the phrase death from overwork has burrowed into the languages of other Asian countries where employee rights are seemingly weak. There was one such death every 12 days on average in Japan between 2010-2014, official statistics show.   Karoshi Death by overwork is common in Japan where it is known as 'karoshi' The country has the first-longest working hours in the OECD: employees clocked an average of 2,113 hours in 2015, 43 days more per year than the OECD average. The government, businesses, and unions want to reduce this to 1,800 hours by 2020. A recent health ministry report found Japanese slept even less in 2015 than they did in the pressurized 1980s. Corporate Japan’s long-term shift to employing more part-time workers has served to increase the workloads on full-time staff.   Japanese work culture is, however, infused with an idea that exhaustion is more virtuous than excellence — a position that has suited larger companies just fine. Reform attempts are underway. There is an existing policy to name and shame ...

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Drink

Energy Drinks: Drinks that support busy people who have to work hard

2020/11/24

Energy drinks are drinks that contain large doses of caffeine and other legal stimulants. It seems that we have now entered a generation where energy drinks have become so popular among Japanese teenagers and young adults. Japan has become a really busy and active society. Working hours tend to be long and Japanese people depend on coffee or energy drinks that both contain caffeine to start their day. Caffeine stimulates your nervous system, giving you energy and causes you to feel more alert of your everyday surroundings, and gives you that extra energy if you have had a lack of sleep. While some of these drinks contain Chinese herbs and medicines, the nutritional contents generally don't stray too far from popular energy drinks like Red Bull mainly containing water-soluble caffeine, vitamins (primarily B-series), taurine, and niacin. Popular brands of energy drinks in Japan. Lipovitan D Pro S-Cup E Tough Man Oronamin C Tiovita Here is a mini-review on some of the popular energy drink brand market leaders.   Tiovita 2000 Tiovita 2000 is an energy drink sold by the Taiho Pharmaceutical Company. It is part of the lineup of the company's Tiovita energy drinks. It comes in a 100ml bottle. Some of the more popular and engaging drinks include the sports drink range. Tiovita's ingredients are - 2000mg of taurine, 20mg of nicotinamide, 5mg of vitamin B1, 5mg of vitamin B2, 5mg of vitamin B6, 100mg of carnitine, and 50mg of caffeine. Overall the taste is syrupy and has a slight medicine-like taste.   Lipovitan ...

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culture

Fuji mountain climbing: Not easy but worth the experience

2020/12/8

Mount Fuji at 3776 meters, is Japan's highest and most prominent mountain. The mountain itself may look more attractive from afar than from close up, but the views on clear days and the experience of climbing through the early morning hours among hundreds of equally minded hikers from across the world are very rewarding and definitely worth trying once.   Mountaineering season Early July to mid-September is the official climbing season when the trails and mountain facilities are open. During this period the mountain is usually free of snow, the weather is relatively mild, access by public transportation is easy, and the mountain huts are operating. Anyone without much hiking experience is advised to tackle the mountain during the official climbing season. Climbing Mount Fuji is very popular not only among Japanese but also foreign tourists, who seem to make up more than a third of all hikers. busy season The high season for climbing Mount Fuji is during the school vacations which last from around July 20 to the end of August. The top end of the high season is reached during the Obon Week in mid-August when climbers literally have to stand in queues at some passages. While you may want to avoid the Obon Week, we believe that by avoiding the crowds in general, you would miss out on one of the most interesting aspects of climbing Mount Fuji, which is the camaraderie and unique experience of ascending the mountain among hundreds of equally minded people from across the world.   In ...

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culture

Daruma Doll: Write a pupil on one eye of Daruma to make your wish come true

2020/11/27

The Daruma doll, also known as a Dharma doll, is a hollow, round, Japanese traditional doll modeled after Bodhidharma, the founder of the Zen sect of Buddhism. These dolls, though typically red and depicting a bearded man (Dharma), vary greatly in color and design depending on region and artist. Though considered an Omocha, meaning toy, by some, Daruma has a design that is rich in symbolism and is regarded more as a talisman of good luck to the Japanese. Daruma is one of the most popular talismans of good luck in modern Japan.   A brief history of the Daruma - Bodhidharma Bodhidharma was a Buddhist monk who lived during the 5th/6th century AD. He is traditionally credited as the transmitter of Ch'an (Zen) to China. Little contemporary biographical information on Bodhidharma is extant, and subsequent accounts became layered with legend. According to one tradition, Bodhidharma gained a reputation for, among other things, his practice of wall-gazing. Legend claims that he sat facing a wall in meditation for a period of nine years without moving, which caused his legs and arms to fall off from atrophy. Another popular legend is that after falling asleep during his nine-year meditation he became angry with himself and cut off his eyelids to avoid ever falling asleep again. The current popular symbolism associated with Daruma as a good luck charm in part originated with the Daruma-Dera (Temple of Daruma) in the city of Takasaki (Gunma Prefecture, north of Tokyo). The parishioners would keep these charms to "bring happiness and ...

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Food

You might say that you hate bread in Japan: Japanese bread

2020/12/15

While you might think of Japan as a nation of rice, you'd be surprised by the utter ubiquity of bakeries in the country. Bread has taken a long time to rise here, but the results are remarkably appetizing! So let’s begin by looking briefly at the history of bread in Japan.   Bread In Japan A Brief History Bread first came to Japan through Portuguese traders and missionaries in the mid-16th century. However, Christianity was banned in the early 17th century, and any toehold bread had made went with it. But the name stuck, the Japanese word for bread in a pan, which is the local adaptation of the Portuguese Pão.   Reverberatory furnace While a bread recipe can be found in a Japanese sweets book from 1718, there's no actual evidence that it was ever made locally. The first bread known to be made by a Japanese person for Japanese people was prepared by Egawa Hidetatsu in 1842. In charge of the Tokugawa Shogunate's coastal defenses around Tokyo Bay, he baked hard bread as provisions for soldiers-and also constructed an early reverberatory furnace in Izunokuni, Shizuoka Prefecture, which is now a World Heritage Site.   Baguette and Japanese For most of modern history, the Japanese failed to understand the point of the baguette — known locally as furansu pan (French bread) — and shunned the globally coveted Gallic specialty, thinking it was hard and tasteless. Carried by almost every bakery in Tokyo, it was often isolated from the main cast of popular offerings such ...

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Food

What is Shojin-Ryori? Is it Perfect for Vegetarians?

2020/11/27

Shojin-ryori is the traditional dining style of Buddhist monks in Japan and grew widespread in popularity with the spread of Zen Buddhism in the 13th century. As the cuisine is made without meat, fish, or other animal products, it can be enjoyed by vegans, vegetarians, and meat-eaters alike. A typical Shojin-ryori meal is centered around soybean-based foods like tofu along with seasonal vegetables and wild mountain plants, which are believed to bring balance and alignment to the body, mind, and spirit. This simple meal contributed to Japan’s elegant haute cuisine called "Kaiseki", and today can be eaten at the dining halls located in Buddhist temples across Japan. In days bygone, "Shojin" originally meant zeal in progressing amongst the path of enlightenment or pursuing a state of mind free of worldly thoughts and attachment. In this way, the act of preparing Shojin-ryori is an essential practice of Buddhism that expresses one’s devotion to religious discipline.   The Basic Principles of Shojin-Ryori Shojin-ryori was introduced to Japan from China by the monk Dogen, the founder of Zen Buddhism, whose practice emphasizes seated meditation. Buddhist tradition forbade killing animals for human consumption, which was believed to cloud the spirit and interfere with meditation. As a result, the meals they ate were made without meat or fish and also abstained from the use of pungent flavors like garlic and onion. These principles became the foundation of Shojin-ryori.   5 Colors and 5 Flavors Despite the lack of meat, fish, or strong flavors, Japanese Buddhist cuisine is far from bland. ...

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Food

Wasabi : More Than Just a Hot Sushi Condiment

2020/11/27

Wasabi—the innocent-looking green paste that accompanies sushi and sashimi, a too-big bite of which can make your eyes water and sinuses explode! Real wasabi (Wasabia japonica, or Japanese horseradish) is native to Japan, where it has been cultivated for at least a thousand years. Mentions of the plant have been found in botanical books and dictionaries in Japan that trace back to 794 CE.   Wasabi Wasabi is green and has a refreshing aroma and spiciness. Grated rhizomes are mainly used as condiments for sushi, sashimi, and buckwheat noodles. Wasabi is an indispensable part of Japanese food culture. Wasabi, which is characterized by its unique flavor and spiciness that goes through your nose, is indispensable for nigiri sushi. The spicy ingredient of wasabi has a strong bactericidal action It works to suppress the growth of many food poisoning bacteria such as Escherichia coli, Salmonella, Vibrio parahaemolyticus, and Staphylococcus aureus. It also has the effect of suppressing the growth of mold and yeast.   Deodorant effect & appetite promotion effect This is because allyl isothiocyanate, which is the pungent component of wasabi, has the effect of decomposing the fishy odor of fish, and the uniquely pungent taste has the effect of increasing appetite. In the Edo period, when there was no refrigerator, wasabi was added to prevent sushi from spoiling. The wasabi also has the advantage of eliminating the fishy odor of seafood.     Preparation Wasabi has ingredients that cause spiciness and flavor around the skin, so wash the skin with a brush to remove the ...

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Seasons

How to survive the heat of summer in Japan, which is too hot

2020/11/27

I’ve long dreaded summer, it’s my least favorite season, at least in Japan. Back in Europe, I didn’t mind the summers because they were dry heat. It’s early July, the rainy season is more or less over now in Japan for this year, and temperatures are already mirroring those of last year on some days. It seems that during the summertime in Japan no matter where I go, it’s almost like the heat keeps constantly bugging me. To Survive The Summer In Japan Here are some tips for surviving the Japanese summer heat –many of these tips will help you beat the heat and humidity of a Japanese summer.   DRINK WATER I’m not kidding. I don’t know how to emphasize this enough. Your body needs water, and lots of it. That amount of water your sweating needs to be re-hydrated.   DO NOT underestimate the heat It will bring you down and you may suffer a heat stroke. Heat strokes happen every single day in Japan because people don’t stay hydrated. Don’t take this lightly as it’s really dangerous. I used to drink a 500mL bottle of water a day back in Europe, but after coming here, I started drinking 2-4L of water per day. If you notice that your head suddenly starts to hurt, it’s because you’re dehydrated. You need to re-hydrate a.s.a.p. The most important thing is to stay hydrated– A cold drink of water with lots of ice can do wonders in the efforts to cool your body. In addition, it’s ...

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Japan

Japanese Driver’s License Test Tips and Tricks【For foreigners】

2020/11/10

Those who have to pass the practical driving test in order to convert their foreign licenses should be prepared for a long and sometimes frustrating process. First-time pass rates are low even for native Japanese, who routinely spend 200,000 to 300,000 yen for lessons to teach them how to pass this test. There are many seemingly minor details that must be considered. A positive attitude and patience will go far towards minimizing cost, time spent at the driver's license center, and test failures. The following information is based on the experience of a former Saga JET. This advice does not reflect the views of and is not officially endorsed by the Saga JET Programme, National AJET, or CLAIR.   Paperwork The first challenge is to get your paperwork in order. If you have to return to the licensing center multiple times to correct paperwork errors, it will reflect poorly on you and may reduce your chances of passing the test. License translation: visit your local branch of the Japan Automobile Federation for an official translation of your driver’s license and related documents. This will cost around 3,000 yen. You can either visit the office and have it done the same day or mail your documents and receive them back in about a week. Any paperwork out of the ordinary also needs to be translated, but not professionally; consider asking a friend or JTE to do the job for you and write their contact information down in case there’s a problem. More information can be found ...

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NEW ENTRY

2020/12/8

The Difficulties Of Learning The Japanese Language

It has been said that Japanese is difficult to learn, but perhaps not as difficult as you would think. Whilst it may take a while to come to terms with the huge differences between Japanese and English, the spoken language is actually pretty simple, and the written language can be learned very successfully with a little hard work and logical planning. Obviously more difficult than most European languages, but probably easier than other "exotic languages", the lack of tones is a blessing for westerners.   The Japanese Language Is Not Difficult...? If looked at from a linguistic point of view, Japanese is considered one of the easier languages for a beginner to learn. It has a simple pronunciation scheme and with few exceptions a straightforward set of grammatical rules. Limitations on sentence structure are also quite minimal. The most difficult aspect of learning Japanese is the mastery of the reading and writing of kanji.   Features An interesting characteristic of Japanese is that it is spoken differently if the speaker is a man, woman, or child. There are, for example, many different words for "I", and which version you use depends on which category you fall. An even more confusing aspect is that the speaker must choose the appropriate words depending on the relationship between oneself and the conversant. Another aspect of Japanese that may be hard for foreigners is that there are quite a few Japanese words that are pronounced the same but have different meanings.   Let's talk to Japanese Traditionally the Japanese ...

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2020/12/5

The Japanese Work Culture – Over Time Working

The Japanese government has announced measures to limit the number of overtime employees can do – in an attempt to stop people literally working themselves to death. The Japanese may finally get to spend less time at work, but that doesn't mean they'll use it for shopping. The government is taking aim at the workforce's reputation for long hours, proposing fresh legislation limiting over time, potentially to 45 to 60 hours a month. While working to the point of collapse is associated with Japan, the phrase death from overwork has burrowed into the languages of other Asian countries where employee rights are seemingly weak. There was one such death every 12 days on average in Japan between 2010-2014, official statistics show.   Karoshi Death by overwork is common in Japan where it is known as 'karoshi' The country has the first-longest working hours in the OECD: employees clocked an average of 2,113 hours in 2015, 43 days more per year than the OECD average. The government, businesses, and unions want to reduce this to 1,800 hours by 2020. A recent health ministry report found Japanese slept even less in 2015 than they did in the pressurized 1980s. Corporate Japan’s long-term shift to employing more part-time workers has served to increase the workloads on full-time staff.   Japanese work culture is, however, infused with an idea that exhaustion is more virtuous than excellence — a position that has suited larger companies just fine. Reform attempts are underway. There is an existing policy to name and shame ...

ReadMore

2020/11/24

Energy Drinks: Drinks that support busy people who have to work hard

Energy drinks are drinks that contain large doses of caffeine and other legal stimulants. It seems that we have now entered a generation where energy drinks have become so popular among Japanese teenagers and young adults. Japan has become a really busy and active society. Working hours tend to be long and Japanese people depend on coffee or energy drinks that both contain caffeine to start their day. Caffeine stimulates your nervous system, giving you energy and causes you to feel more alert of your everyday surroundings, and gives you that extra energy if you have had a lack of sleep. While some of these drinks contain Chinese herbs and medicines, the nutritional contents generally don't stray too far from popular energy drinks like Red Bull mainly containing water-soluble caffeine, vitamins (primarily B-series), taurine, and niacin. Popular brands of energy drinks in Japan. Lipovitan D Pro S-Cup E Tough Man Oronamin C Tiovita Here is a mini-review on some of the popular energy drink brand market leaders.   Tiovita 2000 Tiovita 2000 is an energy drink sold by the Taiho Pharmaceutical Company. It is part of the lineup of the company's Tiovita energy drinks. It comes in a 100ml bottle. Some of the more popular and engaging drinks include the sports drink range. Tiovita's ingredients are - 2000mg of taurine, 20mg of nicotinamide, 5mg of vitamin B1, 5mg of vitamin B2, 5mg of vitamin B6, 100mg of carnitine, and 50mg of caffeine. Overall the taste is syrupy and has a slight medicine-like taste.   Lipovitan ...

ReadMore

2020/12/8

Fuji mountain climbing: Not easy but worth the experience

Mount Fuji at 3776 meters, is Japan's highest and most prominent mountain. The mountain itself may look more attractive from afar than from close up, but the views on clear days and the experience of climbing through the early morning hours among hundreds of equally minded hikers from across the world are very rewarding and definitely worth trying once.   Mountaineering season Early July to mid-September is the official climbing season when the trails and mountain facilities are open. During this period the mountain is usually free of snow, the weather is relatively mild, access by public transportation is easy, and the mountain huts are operating. Anyone without much hiking experience is advised to tackle the mountain during the official climbing season. Climbing Mount Fuji is very popular not only among Japanese but also foreign tourists, who seem to make up more than a third of all hikers. busy season The high season for climbing Mount Fuji is during the school vacations which last from around July 20 to the end of August. The top end of the high season is reached during the Obon Week in mid-August when climbers literally have to stand in queues at some passages. While you may want to avoid the Obon Week, we believe that by avoiding the crowds in general, you would miss out on one of the most interesting aspects of climbing Mount Fuji, which is the camaraderie and unique experience of ascending the mountain among hundreds of equally minded people from across the world.   In ...

ReadMore

2020/11/27

Daruma Doll: Write a pupil on one eye of Daruma to make your wish come true

The Daruma doll, also known as a Dharma doll, is a hollow, round, Japanese traditional doll modeled after Bodhidharma, the founder of the Zen sect of Buddhism. These dolls, though typically red and depicting a bearded man (Dharma), vary greatly in color and design depending on region and artist. Though considered an Omocha, meaning toy, by some, Daruma has a design that is rich in symbolism and is regarded more as a talisman of good luck to the Japanese. Daruma is one of the most popular talismans of good luck in modern Japan.   A brief history of the Daruma - Bodhidharma Bodhidharma was a Buddhist monk who lived during the 5th/6th century AD. He is traditionally credited as the transmitter of Ch'an (Zen) to China. Little contemporary biographical information on Bodhidharma is extant, and subsequent accounts became layered with legend. According to one tradition, Bodhidharma gained a reputation for, among other things, his practice of wall-gazing. Legend claims that he sat facing a wall in meditation for a period of nine years without moving, which caused his legs and arms to fall off from atrophy. Another popular legend is that after falling asleep during his nine-year meditation he became angry with himself and cut off his eyelids to avoid ever falling asleep again. The current popular symbolism associated with Daruma as a good luck charm in part originated with the Daruma-Dera (Temple of Daruma) in the city of Takasaki (Gunma Prefecture, north of Tokyo). The parishioners would keep these charms to "bring happiness and ...

ReadMore

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