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8 Days in Tokyo/Nagano/Nagoya


I got back from my trip to Tokyo, Nagano, and Nagoya (just an afternoon in Nagoya) a few days ago. I wasn’t used to the cold and dry weather, so it’s quite nice to be back in Okinawa again.

Tokyo was fun, but it has been a while since I lived there and getting used to all the people wasn’t that easy. I did get to see the new Skytree tower and took a ton of video and pictures.

Of course it will take me a little bit to get the editing done and figure out how I want to layout the series of videos, but I think I will have some interesting video for you.

Also, thanks for everyone who submitted the survey. It was very helpful in choosing what to shoot.

Three days in Tokyo

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I arrived in Tokyo just a few days ago and after tomorrow I will be heading for Nagano.

As I mentioned in the previous post, I am taking video and a ton of pictures.

Most of the time I have spent has been with friends and going to restaurants, but I did get to go see the new Sky Tree building. I’ll put up pics when I get back.

Today I went to a wedding in Roppongi hills and am now sitting in my hotel’s lobby writing this post on my iPhone. It’s the only place I can get wifi.

I have four more days left before going back to Okinawa, so lots more video and pictures to take. I also have a few gifts I will be giving away when I get back.

Japanese Video Lesson Survey

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In a few days I will be travelling to Tokyo and Nagano for a friend’s wedding. While I am there, I thought I would shoot some video and Japanese conversation so everyone can learn some real world phrases and words. If there are enough people who are interested in the videos, I will also continue to make them when I get back to Okinawa.

To find out what kinds of videos and situations you might be interested in I have have created a short survey.

It will be very helpful if you can fill it out and give your opinion. You can find it at the link below.


I look forward to getting your feedback.


How to Speak Japanese Like a Native

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For those of you who came here to learn a few tips to speak more like a native Japanese speaker and then be on your way, make sure you read to the end. There is a bit of a surprise.

Okay, first a few tips to speak like a native Japanese speaker.

Make a ton of mistakes

You can’t expect to get everything perfect on your first try. To learn to speak well you are first going to have to suck at it. Let your pride go and just try to speak. Make mistakes, sound stupid, be goofy, have fun. You will make much more progress if you are trying again and again rather that not speaking because you don’t know if you can do it perfectly.

Be a copy-cat

Did you ever mimic someone as a kid or try to sound just like an actor. I did. I used to do Jim Carrey impersonations as a child. When I started learning Japanese, I put those skills to work. When I would hear a native Japanese speaker say something, I would repeat it to myself in the same tones, speed, inflections as the person who said it. Pretty soon, rather than stringing together Japanese words, I was stringing together Japanese phrases.

Make big mouth movements

Your mouth is used to making certain movements. When you are learning Japanese you will use different muscles. Exaggerate your movements when you practice. When you actually speak they will get smaller, so don’t worry. But if you practice regular they will be too small when you actually speak and you won’t speak as clearly.

A very important tip to Speak Japanese like a native

Don’t! What I mean is that this shouldn’t be your main goal. Yes, you should always try to improve your pronunciation as much as possible, but don’t loose sight of the goal.

Someone who can count to 10 perfectly in Japanese isn’t going to do nearly as well as someone who doesn’t have great pronunciation, but can converse with a Japanese speaker.

Just remember that the goal is communicating with a native Japanese speaker, not sounding like one.

For those who would like a little more information on this idea, check out this article on the Times website here.


Learn Japanese and Free Japanese Program Trial

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This post is for anyone who has an interest in learning Japanese. For both the people who are just starting and for those who have already started, and especially for those people who may have given up.

I am going to say something that you probably won’t hear very often….wait for it….Learning Japanese takes a lot of hard work and perseverance.

Does that mean that it’s not worth it? Definitely not! My Japanese ability allowed me to study in Japan and and eventually live and work in Tokyo. I now live in the more tropical Okinawa. I speak Japanese on a daily basis and still enjoy doing so. But it wasn’t always this way. There was a time when I could barely count to 10 and would get flustered if someone asked me 元気ですか?(how are you?). So how did I get from there to here? Hard work and perseverance.

I have written a ton of articles about how to learn Japanese faster, easier, and have more fun. I still believe that all of those things are true and that the advice I have given is solid. I have used these tips myself. However, while they may be more fun and efficient, you will still need to put in the time and work.

Why am I going on like this? Two reasons. The first is that if you think that learning Japanese will be too easy, then you will probably give up after a short time. The other is that I want to let anyone who is getting frustrated with their learning speed know that it does eventually get easier. Though it may not seem that way for you yet, if you keep going there is a time that things will just start to click. Things will start making sense without you having to think about them so hard.

It’s also important to realize that it’s never too late to start learning. This is true for age and also for those who may have given up.

I myself am back actively studying Japanese. Though I am for all intensive purposes fluent, I decided that I would like to expand my vocabulary and grammar.

It’s never too late to start learning! Start doing something today. Go watch a movie in Japanese or fire up Anki to review your Kanji.

I have also attached a sign up sheet to a free trial of Rocket Japanese. Give it a try and at least go through the free lessons. For those who are just getting started it will teach you the basics. For those who are already studying it will be a great review. If you do decide to purchase then a portion of that sale goes to keeping this website up.

(update 5/3: I have taken down the form, but if you are interested in the Rocket Japanese product, you can find it here.

Ukulele For Beginners: Hobbies in Japanese

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How can I make Japanese friends? This is something that people ask me constantly and is something that can be difficult when learning Japanese. Even living here in Japan, it can be difficult to make Japanese friends. And having friends will help you learnt he language even faster.

So what does ukulele for beginners have to do with learning Japanese. Everything! It’s how you make Japanese friends. You find people with common interests.

The biggest problem I see with those that are having difficult making Japanese friends is that they look for anyone who they can speak Japanese with. Rather than a friend, they tend to view people as Japanese speakers. By joining a club or participating in something you are interested in, you will find people who have the same interest and friendship becomes much more natural.

Recently, I have been learning to play the ukulele and joined an ukulele for beginners group. Some of the people I already knew, but I ended up making a couple new friends as well. I didn’t have to work at it. We just started talking about ukuleles and Hawaiian music, and pretty soon we were friends. I don’t think of my friends as ways to practice Japanese, but as interesting people who I can talk about things that I enjoy.

So go buy yourself an ukulele and join your local ukulele group (that is a metaphor for joining your local club to meet knew Japanese friends)!

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