Trip to Japan, Japanese Videos, Prizes, and Website Update

Website Updates

Ohayou! First of all, thank you to everyone who read my last post “New Learning Japanese Project and Traveling in Japan” and tried to comment. Their is an issue with posting comments I am trying to resolve. I am hoping to have it fixed within the week, but am still trying to narrow down the issue. In the meantime, please contact me directly at via twitter at @japanese_words with your ideas and comments. I really appreciate them and I am sorry I haven’t gotten the comments working yet. I will be working on a complete website redesign soon. Comments are fixed!

Japan Trip

My last trip to Japan spanned five weeks and was fantastic. We spent a few days in Tokyo before being forced to leave early to Nagano due to the impending Typhoon. As it turns out, we left just in time because the train we used to get to Nagano was shut down for several weeks after the typhoon due to flooding. Unfortunately, parts of Nagano were hit very hard.

The weather in Nagano wasn’t great after the typhoon and we had to spend a lot of time indoors. We rented some movies from Tsutaya (Japan still has a strong video rental shop business) and spent the rest of the time shopping and visiting with family. I picked up some items I will be giving away once I start the YouTube channel.

We also went to take some pictures for my daughters shichi-go-san (7-5-3), which is the way to say the important birthdays for young girls and boys. Girls being seven and three and boys when they are five. It is an important occasion for young children and their families in Japan. So important, that some people are willing to spend thousands of dollars and an entire day taking pictures (we didn’t).

After a couple weeks in Nagano we flew to Kobe where are friends from Kochi picked us up. If you fly from Nagano (Matsumoto airport) to Kobe, try to get a window seat as the view is amazing. Depending on the time of year, you will get to see snow covered mountains, and on a good day, you can even see Mount Fuji. It’s about an one hour flight.

The drive from Kobe to Koichi was also beautiful. You drive a long the ocean for much of it and cross some amazing bridges and tunnels. Our friends recently moved to a small mountain village within Koichi. It reminded me of the scene in “The Last Samurai” when Tom Cruise’s character is captured and taken to the small village. After several minutes on windy mountain roads a small village on a mountain side suddenly comes into view.

This was one of my favorite places. A small town, flush with trees and rivers, and a quit neighborhood. We stayed in Koichi for seven days. I went jogging through a different part of the village each night and was in love. I could actually see myself buying a house there.

We spent the next seven days visiting places in Koichi and had a wonderful time. I will write more about this once I am able to post pictures (images are also not working). One of my favorite place was Tsutaya Shoten (these are located throughout Japan), which is an upscale bookstore/cafe/market. I spent several hours there and was sad to leave. We also visited the ocean, the zoo, and the Koichi Sunday Farmers Market.

After returning to Nagano for a few days, we headed back to Tokyo and stayed in Yokohama for a couple nights before flying out. We all ended up getting sick, but did recuperated in time to manage a trip to Yokohama’s “China Town”. One of the recent “booms” in Japan is tapioca tea, one of my favorites drinks. There are a lot of tapioca shops in Yokohama’s China Town. It’s not as cheap as in Taiwan, but it tastes great.

We are already thinking about our trip to Japan next year with plans to stay even longer.

I will give further details on my trip when I am able to post pictures. If you have any questions or comments, please contact me directly at the email listed above.

Japanese Videos

I’m still getting over jet lag (its harder when you have two kids), but have started putting together a plan to create various Japanese learning, Japanese culture, and Japan traveling.

I started studying Japanese nearly twenty years ago and have spent the last fifteen years studying learning, productivity, and habits. I have also taught Japanese, English, and business and marketing. My goal is to put all this together to help you learn Japanese and experience Japan. As mentioned in the previous post, please contact me with any comments you have. I would love to know where you are having difficulty, what your interest in Japan comes from, and what kind of material you would like to see.

Prizes

As part of this new YouTube Channel, I stopped at some various anime/toy/figure shops in Japan and picked up some Japanese manga, pro-moderu (action figures), and some toys including Dragon Ball, One Piece, and others. I will using them as giveaways to subscribers. If this proves popular, I will work on getting more. Add me on twitter to stay up to date @japanese_words.

Manga Special

There is currently a special going on at Humble Bundle for the Monogatari series of Manga. I don’t receive any bonus or commission for this but it’s a great deal if you like Manga: Monogatari Manga

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Japanese Videos of Nagano

During my trip to Tokyo and Nagano I took a ton of video. My ideas was to use this video to show you some different places in Japan, teach some Japanese words, and show a bit of Japanese culture. What I didn’t think about so much, was that all the HD video I took would be almost un-editable to my 4 year old computer. The video editing program I used just couldn’t keep up and it would skip several frames at a time.

However, I still wanted to make the Japanese videos, so I ordered some memory and am now back in business. It is still slow going (rendering a 5 minute video takes about 4 hours), but it is doable.

At the moment I am rendering a really cool tunnel I found in Nagano. In the meantime, I have already put up a few videos of some very beautiful parks I visited.

You can find them here:

Japanese Video

Japanese Park

 

 

 

 

 

Great Video Series to Learn Japanese

I am always on the lookout for good Japanese learning tools. With all the available channels there are a lot of different types products, but to be honest, many fall very short of really teaching you the language. But every once and a while, I happen to stumble across one that really impresses me. What’s even better is that this particular video series is completely free.

Now I will admit that Let’s Learn Japanese is a little bit outdated, but the over all content is great (and I did mention free right?).

The videos do a great job, of putting the Japanese words and conversation in context so you can get an understanding even if you don’t understand the Japanese. They then break it down and explain the meaning and have you practice the various Japanese phrases and words .

The other thing I like is that the series is shot as a funny and interesting little story. While it isn’t a blockbuster, I thought the film crew did a good enough job that I wanted to keep watching. The story line follows Yan, a foreigner coming to work and live in Japan.

There was also a companion book for the video series called “Let’s Learn Japanese”, but it seems to be out of print now. I was able to find some PDF copies on Scribd.

You can find the rest of the Japanese videos below:

Japanese Basic I- I am Yan

Intial D’s AE86 (hachi roku)?

initial d

I’m a huge car enthusiast, so when my brother started telling about an anime he was really enjoying about cars it certainly caught my attention. Now to be honest, I don’t really watch a lot of anime. I have seen pretty much all of the Miyazaki films and most of dragon ball, but that’s about it. But once I started watching Initial D I couldn’t stop.

The cars and racing were interesting and it was good practice for listening in Japanese. When I studied abroad in Tokyo, I started reading the Manga as well. It was great because I knew most of the stories which made reading it was much easier.  I would also occasionally play the Initial D arcade game when I came across it.

When I lived in Tokyo it was actually pretty common to see ハチロクs (hachiroku). In fact, there was a tuned one that was parked in the same neighborhood I lived in. Since I saw rare cars all the time, I never really worried about taking pictures. However, now that I have moved to the smaller island of Miyakojima, seeing any kind of sports car is much rarer. Especially older models like the ハチロク.

So the other day when I came across a ハチロク, and just happened to have my camera, I took a few shots. It looks like they were going for the look of Takumi’s car after the modifications (for those of you who have seen the anime).

86 front

86 corner

86 back

For those who would like to see a real ハチロク in action, this is one of my favorite videos, putting two ハチロクs against a Nissan GTR. The video is all in Japanese, so it should give you a little bit of Japanese language practice (though there isn’t much talking).

National Geographic in Japanese

Japanese National Geographic

I am a huge National Geographic (ナショジオ) fan. Nature shows were some of my favorites to watch growing up as a kid. I was (and still am) fascinated by nature and can sit and watch nature programs for hours on end. If only the videos were available in Japanese then I would be able to watch interesting videos and practice Japanese. The only way it could be better is if they were free.

Today I stumbled across a blog called “Wired in Japan” that had a post pointing to the National Geographic YouTube site in Japanese. There are a ton of videos, and since it’s National Geographic, you can be sure they are using proper Japanese. Take a look and get some Japanese listening practice.


You can find the link here: National Geographic in Japanese

I recommend that you watch each video at least a couple times. This will allow you to get a better idea of the story, and then focus on learning the Japanese words and phrases.

You can find more information on watching Japanese videos below: