Thursday, September 24, 2009

Should Gaijins Speak Keigo (Polite Japanese)?

Polite language is a funny concept for us gaijin. If I am a polite person I would, of course, naturally choose polite language over, well, impolite. But in terms of Japanese, polite language refers to the type of Japanese you speak to someone senior to you. We gaijin, however, aren't accustomed to these kinds of customs. So are we exempted from the duty of speaking differently to people who are older than us?

If our Japanese is too elementary, surely no one will expect us to use keigo. "Namae wa nan'tte iuno?" will obviously be fine instead of "O-namae wa nan'tte iun desuka?" when asking for someone's name. But if our conversational skills are adequate enough to carry out even semi-intelligent dialogues, should we immediately switch to polite form if the other person is senior to you?
Tuesday, September 15, 2009

What is a Hard-to-Remember Kanji?

We've already noticed how complex the Chinese writing system is, but what about individual characters? Surely some kanji are harder to remember than others. I would argue that 三 is easier than 極, and they're both commonly used characters.

When I first started learning kanji, everything in my book appeared so intricate and impossible to remember. But now, something as basic as 日, 女, or 水 seems impossible to forget. I don't know... If I happen to stay away from Chinese characters for twenty years, who knows, I might forget them. The sad thing is, there are much more complex things than those radical characters.
Thursday, September 03, 2009

Kanji Test DS Kanken for People Learning Kanji

Kanji Test DS (250万人の漢検) is a handy tool for any learner of kanji who also owns a Nintendo DS. The game not only teaches you how to read and write Japanese characters but also tests you if you're able to use them correctly.

The game is based on the Japanese Kanji Aptitude Test (日本漢字能力検定試験), and was probably originally meant to train people to score higher on the test. For us gaijin, however, it serves as a practical tool to learn the complex system of kanji.
Tuesday, September 01, 2009

5 Things You Should Know Before Renting an Apartment in Japan

Having your own apartment in Japan may sound very appealing, but finding one doesn't always work the way you want it to. There's a lot of paperwork involved, and doing it in your non-native language can be overwhelming.

In today's post, I will talk about the five things that I had most trouble with when renting apartments in Japan. During my two-year stay in Japan, I have lived in three different apartments so I want to share with you five pointers that will hopefully be helpful to you.
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