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Firework Season in Japan!

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Summer is the season of full of festivals and events in Japan. One of the most popular events is 花火大会 (fireworks display).  Each prefecture and city has their own local fireworks displays. Local people absolutely love the excitement of it!

I used to live in a city called Adachi-ku(足立区), a prefecture in Tokyo with one of the largest fireworks shows in the Kantou area! When I lived in Tokyo I attended this event every year with my family. My family would go by bike since there was no place to park due to the number of people, and brought お弁当 (food stuffed in boxes).  This year (sadly I wasn’t able to go because I live in Okinawa now) they shot off 12,000 fireworks in the sky of Adachi-ku within a single hour. The other great thing is that this is done at the river called Arakawa(荒川), so there is nothing to block your site. The fireworks also reflect off of the water to light up the area even more. Here is the video from this year’s Adachi-ku Fireworks Display.

If you are in Japan this month, it will be a great experience to go see a fireworks display. You can search for upcoming fireworks by region or city here (It is a Japanese site ) Literally tens of thousands of people gather to see one big fireworks display, so I’d recommend that you go there early to find good spot ;-). You can bring your own food or you can enjoy different food from 出店 (でみせ、 food stands). Have fun!

Also, wearing 浴衣(Yukata) for Summer festivals like this is very common. Yukata is a summer cotton kimono for men, women, and children, and it is much easier to put on and less expensive than regular Kimono.

Japanese Words List

花火 (はなび, Hanabi) – fireworks

花火大会 (はなびたいかい, Hanabi taikai) – fireworks display

夏 (なつ, Natsu) – Summer

浴衣 (ゆかた, Yukata) – Summer cotton Kimono (Kimono=Japanese traditional clothing)

出店 (でみせ, Demise) – Food stands, street stalls

お弁当 (おべんとう, Obentou) – Lunch or food stuffed in a box

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New Blogger to Japanese Words

When I started Japanese Words I wanted to create a one-stop site to find all the best information, materials, and methods to study Japanese. I have been busy writing various articles on how to maximize your Japanese study, but haven’t had a lot of time to improve the website as a whole. In order to spend more time improving and developing the Japanese Words website I am bringing on another blogger, my wife,  Eri Kobayashi.

Eri is originally from Tokyo, but completed her college degree in California. After graduating, Eri worked in the US for a short period and then returned to work in the International environment of Tokyo. Here in Miyakojima, Eri teaches English part time at Juku (cram school) and enjoys snorkeling and hula.

Being a native Japanese speaker, as well as fluent in English,  Eri brings a unique point of view for studying Japanese. Having been a study abroad student herself she understands the challenges in learning a new language and in living in a foreign country. She will be writing about Japanese culture, the Japanese language, teaching new Japanese words, as well as blogging about some of various events here in Japan and Miyakojima.

Yoroshiku onegaishimasu!

P.S. Eri and I will be attending a Orion Beer Festival today so pictures and article coming soon!

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Using the Japanese Post To Learn Japanese Family Words

japan-post

The postal system in Japan is nothing short of amazing. You can ship items at a low cost, and they arrive very quickly. Well, I have found one more cool thing about the Japanese post, one helpful for those learning Japanese. The other day I came across their website which is not only well designed, but can also be used as a great study tool to help you learn Japanese words for family members and friends. The webpage contains an animation that shows the connection of people throughout the country, each introducing their friend or relative. Once the narrative is over you can also click each character again to repeat the phrase. You can find the website here.

The words used are very common and great ones to learn. If you haven’t had much listening practice it may be difficult to hear the individual words at first, but it gets easier after a little bit of practice and time.

I have created a word key below so you can study and remember the words before you start. Notice that some of the words are abbreviated. The same way that mother becomes mom in English, Japanese contains very similar abbreviations. I have listed the English word, and then the Japanese words going from more formal to less, and finally the formal word in hiragana.

Lastly, once you give it a try, please leave a comment and let me know if you find it useful.

  • Mother- okaasan, kaachan (おかあさん)
  • Father- otousan, touchann (おとうさん)
  • Daughter- musume (むすめ)
  • Son- musuko (むすこ)
  • Older Brother- oniisan, aniki,nichan (おにいさん)
  • Older Sister- oneesan, neechan (おねえさん)
  • Younger Brother- otouto (おとうと)
  • Younger Sister- imouto (いもうと)
  • Aunt- obasan, bachan (おばさん)
  • Uncle- ojisan, jichan (おじさん)
  • Grandfather- ojiisan, jiichan (おじいさん)
  • Grandmother- obaasan, baachan (おばあさん)
  • Cousin- itoko (いとこ)
  • Relative- shinseki (しんせき)
  • Friend- tomodachi (ともだち)
  • Best close friend- Yuujin (ゆうじん)
  • School- gakkou (がっこう)
  • College- daigaku (だいがく)
  • Student- gakusei (がくせい)
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To Learn or Not to Learn Kanji?

kanji

Without a doubt the most difficult part of learning Japanese is learning kanji. There are over 2000 kanji in the Japanese language and many of them are complex and look very similar to one another. Adding to the difficulty is the fact that each kanji can be read differently depending on the way it is used in a sentence. Because of this, learning to read and write kanji will take much more time to master than the rest of the language. So the question is should you spend the time to learn it or not?

I think this the answer really depends on your reasons for learning Japanese and how much time you plan to devote to it. If you are learning Japanese to live or work  there for a short time or plan to travel there for vacation, then you probably don’t need to learn more than a few very basic kanji. It’s not that learning the kanji won’t help you, but the time you will need to spend learning them won’t be worth the value you will get if you are only visiting Japan for a short time.

For those who who plan to master the Japanese language, live in Japan for more than a year, and especially for those who plan to seek work in Japan, then learning kanji is very important. It is also pretty much required for the majority of jobs in Japan. Since most writing is now done in electronic form (computers) you don’t necessarily need to be able to write them, but you do need to be able to read them. Most documents and government forms are written using kanji. If you can’t read them then you will have to depend on someone else to translate it for you. Not too mention if you can’t read kanji you will have to sign contracts for things like apartments and cell phones without knowing what they really say.

Once we learn to read and write we take these abilities as granted, but they are very important to live and function in society. Having lived in Japan now for a while I see just how important reading is. I also wish I would have spent more time studying kanji when I was I college. So if you are planning to learn kanji I recommend that you start as soon as possible and continue to study at a steady pace. It will take some time, but the benefits are well worth it. The positive side of learning kanji is that it is easier to remember Japanese words once you learn the corresponding kanji.

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