Monday, October 26, 2009

8 Tips on Chopstick Etiquette

Photo by bennylin0724

Here are 8 tips on chopstick manners every gaijin should know.

1. Learn how to hold and use chopsticks properly.
2. If you have a hashioki (chopstick stand), use it whenever you want to lay down your chopsticks.
3. Don't stick your chopsticks into your rice bowl.
4. Don't pick up food by forking it with your chopsticks.
5. Don't suck or lick your chopsticks.
6. Don't pass food from your chopsticks to someone else's chopsticks.
7. Don't spend too much time choosing what to pick up. Choose without showing it physically.
8. When using waribashi (disposable chopsticks), make your own hashioki out of the paper cover.

Bonus Tip 1: Don't leave rice in your chawan (rice bowl). Not even one grain.
Bonus Tip 2: Finish your dishes at an equal pace. Don't just finish one dish and move on to the next one.
Thursday, October 22, 2009

Get Your Personal Japanese Hanko Stamp Before Going to Japan

A hanko is a Japanese stamp that people use to sign official documents. It's like using a black pen in western countries for signing our name on papers.

When we live in Japan, we have to use stamps on many occasions. I even had to get my own stamp before I could sign a cell phone contract at au. And some real estate agents require you to have a hanko registered officially at your local city hall. So having a stamp can be quite necessary in Japan.

If you're planning to live in Japan in the near future, it wouldn't hurt you to get a stamp for yourself in advance. Having a stamp prepared in your suitcase will make the start easier for you, as you can take care of alien registrations and cell phone contracts quickly without first thinking about where to get a "gaijin hanko" and which characters to choose for your name.

In fact, J-List is now offering to create custom-made Japanese hanko stamps for $29.50 (USD). You will also get a case for it that has red ink in it. They have a Japanese team working on them, so you won't be receiving a stamp with an incorrectly engraved name: "the Japanese staff of J-List will be happy to help you choose the best character for what you want to express."

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Cheaper Prices at Japanese Supermarkets

Everyone wants to buy things at lower prices—especially we foreigners because we are the ones who tend to buy ingredients, like meat and cheese, that are more expensive in general. Luckily, most supermarkets in Japan have a "happy hour" right before closing time, and that's when they start labeling items with 半額 (half-price) stickers.

So if your supermarket closes at 8 p.m., your best bet would be to be there around 7:30 p.m. That time will be convenient for you, because you should have enough time to go through your shopping list, and you should also have the best selection of half-priced goods. The downside is that the store could be packed with people, and that some items could be sold out already.
Monday, October 12, 2009

8 Things Exchange Students Should Do in Japan After Arriving

Photo by GavinZ

As exchange students, or as visitors on the working holiday visa, there are certain things and procedures that we have to take care of before we can comfortably settle down. Without alien registration, for example, we would get into trouble after our first 90 days.
Wednesday, October 07, 2009

A Moment of Peace on a Railway Platform

Photo by mikemellinger

Every one of us has spent countless hours on the platform waiting for the train. And I'm guessing that most of us get frustrated whenever we hear the delay announcement. It actually sucks a lot—especially if we have an urgent engagement like a private lesson. But when that happens, we can do little to influence the train to arrive on time. So, we can instead focus on something more positive.
Monday, October 05, 2009

Do English Teachers Need Japanese?

I've recently been talking to some friends of mine who are interested in teaching English in Japan, but many of them are still unsure if they have what it takes to teach English to Japanese students. They believe that their Japanese skills aren't good enough to explain things clearly. Well, the thing is, you probably won't be needing Japanese in most cases, as most students will understand what you're trying to explain in plain English.
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