Nov 18, 2014

The hard stuff about making friends in Japan

Sorry ladies and gents. I have been busy out with my friends, traveling, busy editing so many videos that I have not made a blog in a long long time.

I would like to talk about making friends in Japan.

Starting off with how to make friends in Japan. It is almost like making friends in another country really, you go out, talk to people and get their social network contact info to keep in touch. Pretty straight forward.

The big thing you will have a problem with in Japan is 

A. keeping those friends
B. having to say goodbye to friends who leave the country.

The first one is surprisingly more tricky than at least Canada. In Japan, you will find a lot of people just stop contacting you due to busy with work, they get married and become busy, or they were never really that close to you from the start and slowly "stop knowing you".

This is a feeling I never noticed in Canada so much. Its not that it doesn't happen, its just that in Japan you will notice this much more than you would in your home land. This problem can only be avoided to an extent. No matter how much contact you keep with someone, the effort you make on your side, how available you are it will always be in the hands of the other person as well right.


Having friends leave the country is one of the most painful feelings. It has been described as other foreigners as having a funeral to your friends. Making friends with other foreigners is fun. I have no discrimination between the place you were born and the status of your residence here, so I will become friends with anyone who is a cool person. The sad thing is knowing that a lot of people don't stay in Japan... and I have made friends with a lot of people who are currently about to leave. It is the worst feeling I have ever felt.

The only way to avoid this is not become friends with people who are not staying forever. But then you are missing out on the wonderful relationships that you can develop with them. I don't see it as a waste of time that I got to know so many people who will split off and part from here. Heck, gives me a chance to travel and an excuse. 

Just prepare yourself when making friends in Japan that these are two problems that you might come across. Make sure you have a little extra money saved to visit your extended families across the globe. 


Jun 16, 2014

PURIKURA

I wanted to make a blog about purikura.

Purikura is very popular in Japan. These are not even 10% of all the pictures I have ever taken but I would like to share these purikura with you. If you don't know what purikura is then take a look at the pictures and then at the very bottom I will explain more :)

Please note. I have photo-shopped my friends faces out to protect their identities.









Purikura is a activity. It is where you take a picture in a special huge photo machine. It is like a big walk in photobooth where you can fully stand up in and jump around if you wanted to. Purikura picture machines are very high tech and have many different features. They don't just take pictures but they edit them for you.

They usually change your skin automatically to make it more smooth and beautiful. Is it even possible to look bad in a purikura picture?

After you are done taking pictures you can change the backgrounds of the pictures, brightness and the size of your eyes.


The best part is drawing on the pictures and putting stickers on them. 

The only thing that sucks about purikura is you have to give your cell phone email address to these companies, and every once in a while they send you spam mail.

If you don't give out your address, you will only get the printed out version of the sticker pictures it makes. If you do give them your address you can have two pictures sent to your cell phone for free ^^

May 26, 2014

10 tips on learning Japanese



1. Make notes - Notes will help you not only remember words but get used to writing them down. If you don't work your hand, you wont learn to remember how to write the words and it is easy to forget. Notes can always be re-written over and over again if you feel the notes are too messy, or for re-practicing. You should be writing down important points that you want to look back on later.

2. Use what skills you have - A lot of people worry about looking up stuff in the dictionary right away when they don't know how to say something, or they spend too much time trying to explain something they just can't. Use what vocabulary you already know so that you can get your point across, and worry about learning the more harder words at a later time.

3. Be patient - Japanese takes years to be fluent in, and it isn't something you can just master in only 10 mins. There will be times where you just don't understand anything, and that is ok. You will get there.

4. Talk to yourself - Nothing is wrong with talking to yourself when you have nooone to practice with. It is better than no chance at all to use your mouth mussels, Without practice you wont get any better. 

5. Studying is not work  - If you think of studying as a chore or something not fun, you wont ever learn. Think of studying as something fun and something you love. Find a way to incorporate studying into your hobbies. 

6. Look up unknown words - When you see a word you don't know, do your best to find out what it means. Especially if it is the only word you don't understand.

7. Skip unknown words - Sometimes there are too many words you don't know, that you will be spending too much time looking them up. In this case, skip over them and try to understand the sentence without them.

8. Don't be shy - Being afraid to use your skills will only give you less chances to practice and get better.

9. Use multiple resources - One website or book wont teach you it all, you need to use as much resources as you can. More resources will give you different ways to study.

10. Don't be discouraged - Making mistakes is a good thing. It helps you learn so you don't do it again. Don't be upset that people are better than you, you can be just as good as anyone, it just takes time. Don't feel upset if people laugh at your errors, they are just a-holes. ;)

May 20, 2014

Random shopping in Japan

Since a lot of you guys like my shopping blogs I decided to take pictures of what I bought yesterday.

The store LUSH is a natural, vegan friendly beauty products store. It is in a lot of countries and if you are used to it, then you will be happy to know it exists in Japan.

Till last year, the names on the packages were written in Japanese but for some reason they changed it all to English. This made it confusing for me because I forgot what the names of the products I liked in English were, and had to go re-smelling around to find it.

I will let you know right away, since the lush products are made here in Japan their smells vary slightly.



For example, in Canada I used to LOVE leaf lettuce, but the one in Japan doesn't smell anything like it so I can't buy it :(. However I found OATIFIX which is SOOO GOOD I just want to eat it.  In the picture there is a sticker that says "you can't eat this" in Japanese.

I don't know if you have the products above in your country, some of the products are actually only available in Japan at the Japanese lush.

Another one of my addictions is buying organic products. I don't like lots of sugar or all these fake flavored stuff so I prefer to buy organic.

These kabocha waffle cookies are so good. I also bought coconut water which tastes really good, but it has 20g of sugar....thats a lot. I didn't realize that it had so much sugar on it when I look at it.

I am the kinda person who doesn't need to add sugar to anything at all.


The fruit that is seen in this picture is BIWA, figs and plums. Biwa is a type of Japanese fruit that is hard to explain the taste for those who never had it sorry.

I mentioned this before but I hate when people say fruit is expensive in Japan. Sure sometimes it can be, especially when it is off season or high quality brand name. But other times it is really cheap.


Japan also isn't a country that focuses on mass production and low cost production of things. Japan is about quality. Fruit also isn't a major staple for the people of Japan, except for me the girl who eats a whole watermelon per day.


This is something new I came across "Ice plant". I tried searching how to eat it in English but hardly anything came up, which leads me to believe that its not available in English speaking countries. In Japanese there was plenty of articles on it, though this is not a common thing to eat at all.

It looks like a alien, like there are small dew like drops on it but they are hard like rubbery.

If anyone had a starfruit, it tastes like that but without the sweet taste. It was kinda good.

May 13, 2014

Getting ass massage in Japan

So yesterday 2 of my friends invited me to get a massage with them. They wanted to have a nice relaxing week so our choices were either massage or onsen.  I am too shy to be naked around people so I though massage would be much better.

I have never went to a professional massage shop before. I have heard many terrible stories of people going to a massage place and it hurting so much. Some people believe that pushing extra hard will hurt at first, but after feel good.  I am not one to believe such a thing.

I searched online for nice massage shop to go to and came across one in Shinjuku. So we all went there.

It wasn't a fancy store, it didn't have sensational music or coconut tree decorations or anything interesting. Just massage beds and curtians to cover the room.

This place you could rent shorts and a T-shirt if you were to shy to show your body, so I thought that meant it was ok to go naked if you wanted to.  I put the shorts on, but at first I didn't put my shirt on and just laid down on the table. I figured I was only going to be laying on my back so nobody would see anything. 

The guy walked in to give me a massage and shyly and embarrassingly said "maybe you should put your shirt on because you will be turned over and I will see you". So we both laughed and said oh ok, and then I put the shirt on they provided me.

This store also doesn't massage directly on the body, but over a towel.... Which is kinda strange since usually I see massage store adds with people rubbing oil all over someone. 

Anyways the massage started, felt good till he got to the lower back which hurt like a bitch and I thought my back was gonna rip in half. I was too shy to say anything and just grinned and bared it. He kept getting lower and lower and I was thinking the whole time "is he gonna touch my ass?".

After all it was a "full body" massage, I didn't know what to expect. I have seen all the strange videos and heard all the stories of the "happy endings" and started to wonder if something was going to happen.

Well little did I know, next was the ass massage.

Yup, thats right. The ass massage.

Not gonna lie, it actually was the best part of the massage. Go on, get your bf or gf to give it a try on you.  Its hard to explain but basically press the hands hard on your ass cheeks, move around ass massage....well in simple non technical and slightly ghetto erotic terms. 

Then he turned me over to do the front of my body, and this is where I started to worry a bit.  Was he going to go and touch my......there?   I started to wonder if my friends were having the same experience. I started to wonder so many strange things.

Thankfully, the front massage was just a face massage and shoulder and neck.  Then it was over. Fewf.


Well, turns out my friends all got the ass massage too. 1 of them even got a boob massage. I am kinda glad the boob massage didn't happen to me. I would have thought "is this going to lead to sex?" "is this what is supposed to happen?" "what did I pay for?".  

Well, I guess massages are just not the place for me.




May 12, 2014

Cheap kaitenzushi in JAPAN

The other day I went to like 5 used clothing stores in search for Louis Vuitton glasses. I didn't have any luck finding any so saddened I popped into a kaitenzushi (or sushi go around as some might call it).  This is where the sushi goes around a conveyor belt and you just pick whatever you want off it and eat it.


You can also order from a computer screen for most modern stores.  Even for those people who are tourists and can't read, there are other languages on the menu sometimes.

I usually order my food from the menu because the food that has been going around and around touched the air for a while and I would prefer fresher sushi.


This store was pretty cheap and pretty fun, the sushi came out on a big ass DOCTOR YELLOW!!  For those who don't live here, probably don't know what this is but it is actually the name of a shinkansen that usually you can't ride on, it is only for testing (however if you are mad lucky, sometimes you actually can ride it)

I want to ride it....




Anyways. Actually if you already saw my video on Japanese sushi vs Canadian sushi, I made it clear that I liked Canadian sushi better.  I often am reminded every time I go out for sushi that it isn't so fun. I always buy the same 3-4 things depending on what the store has.  Maguro (akami), anago, unagi and tobiko.  Sometimes I will get tako, ikura or katsuo but thats if its a good store.

This time I took the dive and got some tamago yaki.




Sushi joints in Japan can be pretty complex. Offering a wide rang of interesting items from french fries, burgers, cake, juice and honey dew melon!  This sounded so tempting but I had suspected that it wasn't going to be super good tasting. Usually when I have fruit at a sushi place, it tastes kinda old. I have a really good fruit store near my house and can buy the whole melon for 3$, so I don't need to pay the same for a slice.


I got bored to eating the same things so this time I took a pass on the melon and decided to go for a type of small fish often served at izakaya.

I love these and I know where to go to get the best tasting ones.

However, this sushi restaurant was not the best at all. They were really missing the best part, either yuzu, lemon, sudachi to squeeze on them.


I only was left with mayonnaise...how typical of Japan. People love mayo here, but not me. I actually hate the stuff. So I had to eat my fish plain. opps.

Apr 30, 2014

IKEA in Japan



Welcome to ee-kei-yah.   That is how IKEA is pronounced in Japanese. For those who can read イケア.  A furniture store I have only been in Canada few times. I remember it to be completely different than how it is in Japan. For one it is HUGE!, from the outside it looks 7 or 8 stories high (however it is only really 2). Doing a quick google maps comparison, it for sure is bigger in Japan than Toronto.

I remember ikea's image to Torontonian people is a fancy store for fancy people. I have also heard other people say it is "expensive and crap". Which really confuses me because in Japan, the stuff in the store looks more crappy than walmart....sorry ikea fans.

You will find multiple boxes of the same item for a cheap price. Usually the stuff is kinda bland and yeah, it really does look cheap.

I don't remember stuff looking this cheap in Canada though so I don't know if the stores are actually different.


Anyways moving on from the random ikea bashing. One thing I would like to point out is it is an easy store to get lost in. You enter and go upstairs to the furniture area where there are loads and loads of furniture spread out in a maze of left and right turns, sometimes you get confused and think you are going in circles.

The prices are around 200-500$ for a cheap couch. I was going to buy my couch here but they actually didn't have the one I wanted in stock.




The couch I wanted was pretty comfy. It was ultra soft and had a washable cover that you could easily rip of and stick back on. It is good to be able to wash your couch, that way it will last longer and will always be clean :).

Well since they didn't have the couch I wanted I have to take my business else ware. I really need a couch though.

Anyways moving out of the furniture area upstairs if you even get out of the maze. You will come downstairs to the small household section, which just looks like cheap stuff pumped out of a sweat factory. Low quality, cheap, plenty of it. Large boxes just full of pillows, cups etc. all the same design.





As cheap as it does look, when you put it all together it does come out looking pretty nice I guess.

I think the kids section is interesting. Check out these....stuff animal vegetable magnets?? is that what they are supposed to be? I actually have no clue.

You certainly can have a lot of fun in this store if you are into getting lots of household stuff that is cheap.



And if you are into creepy random acid bird cushions or mushroom trip sofa patterns there are plenty of that stuff here.

After you exit the store theres the food court where they sell the very cheap and probably poisonous $1 hot dog and drink. Even the picture makes me want to puke. I am sorry for hot dog fans, but I look at the picture and it is just so plain, as plain as the items they sell.

Well you caught me, I just don't have much good to say about ikea. I rather shop at Tokkyu hands or somewhere with less of the exact same thing in a big box sold at a cheap price.  Ikea reminds me of yunikuro, which is a Japanese clothing store which sells cheap clothes all of the same plain pattern.

But if you are into that stuff, it is good to know that there are plenty of that in Japan. Ikea delivers large items to your home in case you can't carry it home yourself. There are multiple locations across Japan, and it is cheap.

Apr 29, 2014

Shopping at LALAPORT Tokyo Japan

Ok ok ok. I lied. LALAPORT is at Funabashi which is actually in Chiba, not Tokyo....whatever.

Lalaport is one of the few MALLS in Japan. It is just like any mall in Canada. Usually malls here are stores that go up (like 109) or like a mall except everything is outside inside out mall (the doors to each store is outside).


So when I got there I found this, it was meet FUNASHI!!..or at least I think you could meet him, I didn't stick around to meet him. Funashi is the name of a mascot for Funabashi area. In Japan different areas have a character that represents that city. You might know the famous Kumamon of kumamoto ken, well funashi is like that.




Anyways, I proceed to look for a bathing suit or clothes and I came across this apple....thing on the way and decided to take this picture.

I kinda like coming to lalaport, theres many many different stores, most of them geared towards those 25 or older and those with kids. There are not a lot of very very young stores like 109. There are also tons of kids stores, including a Pokemon center.





Well how about I just wear this T-shirt instead of buying a bathing suit?  lol.  Anyways bathing suits in Japan are something that is NOT CHEAP. I bought a cheap ass bathing suit that was 60$ 3 years ago, it was the cheapest I could find. I didn't buy it at any fashionable store but I bought it at a cheap department store. That gives you an idea on how much you should fork out to get one.

At 109 or related stores the average price of a bathing suit is 120-200$. It is something people are just willing to pay for. Quality is not necessary the word I want to use, because even though these bathing suits are extremely expensive, they are not necessarily made to last.

They are made to look sexy.  With that being said, I really need to work out before summer comes along if I even want to look sexy on the beach.


I tried on a bathing suit I liked, only to find a tight shoved in ass and gut hanging over the sides as well as those legs bulging out. I did take a picture of me wearing it, but I have decided not to show. 

I don't drink any pop, but its mostly those late night JAGARIKO chip sticks that I always eat 2-3 boxes. Well starting today, those are a no no  till summer is over.

I am happy that I got this new bathing suit. I just need to buy a thong for it....say whaaaaaaaaa?!.  In case you didn't know, fake thongs are a VERY popular accessory for bathing suits in Tokyo, and it is so "cool/sexy/cute" to have it hanging out. Its often sold with bathing suits or separate (for 50$ :o ).  I gotta get me one.

After getting my bathing suit I went on to eat some burgers and walked around some more. I went inside a store called MURUA (which up until today for some strange reason I thought it was called miura). I was interested in buying some shirt that was on the manikin that was on display. I tried it on but the blue shirt to go over top was toooooooo big so I just bought the skirt/shorts and top. It is good for summer.

I had some fun chatting with the worker there about the clothes.


As I was leaving I found this tiny as purse. It is no bigger than half my hand. 

They were not selling it but giving it away for some campaign if you buy more than 50$ worth of stuff or something. I just wanted to get this small purse.

Wouldn't it be funny if I started using it and carrying it around like it was my purse hahaha. I kinda really want it :/


Apr 15, 2014

I am a Japanese gr. 1 student

I am a Japanese Gr.1 student....but I am 24...ouch.

Well it may seem very strange, I mean usually the idea for a lot of kids is "I hate school, I just want to play". And as an adult the idea is usually "kids, get your ass to school so I don't have to hear you blabber all day so you can learn".

My feeling is a little bit different from the Average person. I actually loved school growing up (at times). It depended on the teacher and subject. Math and anything math related (that includes the part of science where you start adding molecules together and crap that is so useless to me).  Thought I loved gr.11 math class cause my teacher got me, he let me do my Art and English work all through the class because he understood that I wasn't meant to go into any field for math. He understood that I just wasn't interested and if you are not interested, you wont learn.

I loved Art, English, Dance and Gym classes. I was an arts and English major in school. I always used to write essays and books that were 10 pages above the teachers expectations.  In art class, I would finish my work faster than everyone else and I would feel very fustrated that my teacher wouldn't let me skip ahead... I couldn't understand why she would give us 3 days to finish something that took me just under 2 hours. I was a very "get to the point" "hurry up and get it done" "no need to think or plan just do and its finished" type of person. I have never wrote a rough draft of something in my life. I always thought it was a waste of time, why need it? I already would have the whole idea for what I was going to make instantly. 

I don't know, I guess I am just different from everyone else. I don't know if this is good or bad, but it must be a good thing, which is why I was able to become a manager at a major company, you need to be fast thinking and able to come up with what you need to say or what needs to be done on the spot. Time is money and time spent is lost customers.

Oh look at me. I have blabbed on about my school life and have yet to talk about my new school life.

So I am a person who thinks learning is fun (if I like what I am learning of course).  So I thought it would be fun to go though Japanese school, just as a kid would (without the teacher) and teach myself using Japanese kids text books, drill books and fake tests (which all can be bought in Japan, omg the book store is a paradise!).

I have not bought any math books, instead I am focusing on Japanese, Kanji, Science, Geography and Society & Life (I don't know how to describe these subjects, we don't have it in Canadian grade schools).

Lots of people might think that it is such a pain to start at Gr.1 as a 24 year old, even gr.3 stuff might sound to easy. Well it may be easy, but it will get more challenging as I go along. I want to learn from this level so I don't miss anything.  I have never went to Gr. school in Japan, so I need to start from the very beginning. Well actually the very beginning is kindergarten, but I can already read katakana and hiragana so that would be too too easy to the point where I wouldn't be learning anything.

Right now I am sucking up the words I don't know and with the words I don't know, I write them down a few times, search wikipedia what they are, then write down what they are and a few sentences about them.  Then what I do is check twitter. What did people tweet about? Its really fun to use twitter to study.

Reading peoples tweets gets you to understand native situations where one would talk about the word. You would also be surprised how many people tweet the exact same thing lol.

Anyways, I just wanted to write this since I haven't made a blog post in a long long time.



Mar 11, 2014

Why is ROMAJI bad..or good

Romaji is Roman letters (English letters) used to spell out Japanese words into English so that people who can't read Japanese can read them. Contrary to popular belief, it is used in Japan for plenty of things. It isn't something you have to learn much to, rather just the sounds of Japanese language (which are supposed to be the first thing you learn when learning a language).

Since romaji is not used to write in Japanese, many people will say that it is not good to use romaji, that it will only ruin your ability to learn Japanese after, that its a handy cap and all other nasty stuff about it.

However, those who can read Japanese don't understand how important romaji is for those who can't read yet.

I am one of those people who used romaji. I started learning the sounds of Japanese then I would write words like  "pan" "keeki" "mausu" "konpyuutaa" on paper and stick that all over the items in my house to remember. It is the very first stage of learning Japanese that romaji serves as a good tool to help you.

A lot of people say this slows you down, however I disagree. I think if you were to start off learning hiragana you would be slown down. Hiragana is a pain to read by itself if there is no kanji. Those who think otherwise are people who haven't learned to read kanji yet, and don't understand how important it is.


So if you start off learning hiragana, chances are you don't know a lot of Japanese words (because you just started). It means you really can't tell where a word starts, where a word ends. You can't tell anything, as all you can see is  a bunch of characters you just learned smashed together.

You also will be prone to making mistakes in words from the very start. You haven't even got used to making sentences or remembering your first words, you are prone to make mistakes in which letters are in which word. Not to mention when writing all the mistakes you could make.

So for the very start of your learning Japanese it isn't such a bad thing to start learning in romaji as you learn a few vocabulary, maybe a sentence or two before you learn hiragana and katakana and start your journey down the kanji road.

It is also not true that Japanese never used romaji. It is used on signs, food labels and it is mostly used when typing on a keyboard. Most Japanese use romaji input to type in Japanese. Keyboards do have buttons that you can type once and it will give you a hiragana letter, but most Japanese don't use this.


However, there are things you should NOT use romaji for. That is reading full books or wanting to have full on chats in romaji.  Romaji is a tool to let you know how to say something out lout. It is not reading practice and shouldn't be used as such. You can already read English letters. If you are at the level where you could read a book translated into romaji, then you are at the level where you should have started hiragana and katakana and kanji.

Romaji does have some problems in it, and that is that sometimes words on romaji websites are not spelled correctly.  For example, Tokyo is not Tokyo but  toukyou when written in Hiragana. It is important to write the correct amount of letters for each word, or it is spelt wrong and sometimes the meaning can change all together.

Another thing that is completely not true is a lot of romaji books will tell you "when Japanese have a double O sound "oo" the o is always turned into  "ou"."

This is 100% false. There is no o's turned into u's, it is simply always that way for that word. Other words may be different, there are plenty of words where there are actually two o's, such as tooi とおい.




The biggest problem with romaji is that you can't tell if words are connected or not. This is especially a problem with words that have a N sound in them.

konya.  is this written  ko n ya  or ko nya?

Not to mention if you stick on only romaji for too long, you will soon learn that you can't continue studying Japanese as most Japanese learning text, is not in romaji. Only the very basics will be in romaji. After a certain level you need to switch.  Even further, you will find a point in your studies that you wont even be able to use English websites to learn Japanese. You will have to branch out (like me) on you own and find Japanese websites in Japanese and teach yourself new words.

Mar 2, 2014

Why do gaijin think KANJI is hard to learn

Kanji - A Japanese character system often described as "Chinese characters"


People who haven't started learning Japanese yet FEAR this to the point where a lot of them don't even try to learn the language because they somehow think it is impossible (yet all the Japanese people can do it).

Then you have the people who do actually start learning, but don't understand that it takes time to learn how to read, assume it should be done within a short time frame and underestimate how much time you have to put into it, THEN they go tell other people "kanji is so hard".

Well I am here to tell you that Kanji is not hard. 
It just takes time. Lots of time.

Japanese people & Kanji - Japanese learn kanji in school starting from grade 1. Japanese elementary school consists of 6 years. During this time they will learn to write 1006 kanji, which means each grade they learn 150-200 kanji on average. These kanji make up a large chunk of the everyday kanji they will use in their life.

They learn They continue to learn new kanji as they go into middle school and high school, even into university are constantly learning how to read new words as they enter their lives as adults.

Since the kanji they learn at a young age is most used and important I am only going to talk about that for now. It takes them a whole 6 years to learn these kanji.




This will give you a general idea as to how long it could take kanji and that it is OK to take this long to learn it (it is the same same it took for Japanese people learned it).

KANJI and YOU -   However. It shouldn't take you 6 years to learn all these kanji. As a foreigner studying Japanese, you are only studying Japanese. Japanese students in school are not sitting there all day studying kanji. So your time studying the kanji is compressed to a speed where you can learn kanji faster.



How Kanji are made -

Kanji are characters that often have characters within them. Called radicals in English, but you can forget this word and start calling them 部首 bushu as this is the Japanese word. In the picture to the right you will see the bushu are purple. There are only about 200 different bushu that are used to make up over 2000 different kanji. So not all kanji are completely different shapes all together, but different combinations of different shapes.



This makes learning kanji extremely easy, as you start to understand different patterns. Each bushu has a different name in Japanese. Japanese people use these names to learn how to write, how to tell someone else how to write it. It may sound strange to you, but even Japanese people have times where they don't know how to write a word. In this case they will ask someone else how to write it and they will then say out loud the names of the bushu within that kanji. 


YOMIKATA - This is the Japanese words for readings (how kanji are pronounced). Each kanji can have multiple yomikata (sometimes more than 10 different ways to pronounce it). This is one mistake a lot of people make when learning kanji is they don't know where to start. They end up starting with learning how to write kanji (good), and memorizing each and every yomikata (bad). 

Memorizing all the yomikata is a waste of time and it wont help with you on reading Japanese words.  Japanese read full words, they don't read individual characters and try to think up how to read the word. There is no rule on yomikata. Some books like to give you a little hint as to "maybe" which yomikata will be said depending on where the kanji appears in the word, however there is no solid rule or pattern as to how the kanji is read. So in the end you will have wasted your time learning all the yomikata when you should have been learning FULL WORDS.

As you learn words in Japanese you will generally catch on to the common ways to read a character and you will eventually memorize unconsciously
different ways to read each character.

Another reason you shouldn't waste your time memorizing all the yomikata to each individual kanji is some yomikata are not even written in the dictionary. There are plenty of kanji that follow unique readings or readings that change slightly depending on the word. So in the end this wont help you at all.

So how should you learn kanji? -  Kanji is something you will never learn how to write unless you are actually practicing writing it. It is something Japanese people are forgetting because they are using more computers and less paper. If you want to master it, you need to get off your bottom and write. Just like you did in school learning to write your ABCs.

Start with 小学校一年生 (shougakkou ichi nen sei) kanji and work your way up the same way Japanese kids did. Learn the proper Japanese names of the different bushu. Learn  how to read and write full words in Japanese. For example the kanji   take 竹 which means bamboo

竹とんぼ taketonbo (a bamboo dragon fly toy)
竹林 chikurin (a bamboo forest/park where you go to look at bamboo)

You learn the words associated with that kanji and it will build your vocabulary. Learning to read Japanese is easier than writing. Writing involves using your hands more often. Reading just involves looking at it and usually people can remember the words after a few times seeing it.

LEARN JAPANESE in JAPANESE - If you are learning Japanese you should be learning it in Japanese. I see lots of websites that show the radical lists online however, all the meanings are only in English. That is pointless. You are learning Japanese, not English. So as much as you can learn the way things are said in Japanese.  Don't be afraid to start googling questions in Japanese. For example, what is the YOMIKATA of a certain word or what does this word mean. If you don't use your skills they wont grow.


Good luck!


Feb 7, 2014

Apartment hunting in Japan

So I have started hunting for an apartment the last few weeks. The end of language hell school I will be moving. I currently live where I live because it is close to school, I don't have to pay much for the train.

So I am moving to a nicer place, bigger place, more green and less full of business men in suits place. FINALLY a place with a friggen grocery store.

Note to you:  Living in the center of a business district = you will be eating at either a restaurant or a convince store the whole time. Good luck on your search for a super market.

Anyways. When you look for an apartment in Japan there are two ways. If you don't speak Japanese, I can't help you on that one. I have no idea about searching as a non speaker, I just know usually you will find sites linked to share houses, dorms, crappy, or home stay type often over priced stuff.

If you can speak Japanese you have two options, internet or go to the store. If you chose option internet, you still have to end up going into the store.

What store? You might be asking if you come from a country like Canada.

In Japan, landlords DON'T rent to you directly. They hire agents, called FUDOUSAN (不動産). It is like a real estate agent, but not just for houses, for both renting, buying a house or apartment.

Now I like to search for things on the internet because you can click options. Like the price range, size, if you want more than one toilet, if you don't want a place that is 100 years old etc. You limit your searches and then you can see pictures, a map layout and information all nearly written about this room. So good!


The thing you search for these things on is a KENSAKU SAITO 検索サイト (sometimes, the companies are NOT a fudousan but just a search site)

AT HOME, apamanshoppu, suumo, are common search sites.

So after you found the place you want to look at, you call the number (which leads to a company, not the landlord). They take you to see the house, then usually they take you back to their office and try to show you other houses.


Because you are a gaijin there is 1 big thing you have to be careful of. A fudousan that takes you to SHIT places.

It is a big stereotype that gaijin love to live in share houses or room share or with 1000 people in the same room. Thus sometimes, you might go to look for an apartment, and the company will say        "well maybe the landlord doesn't let gaijin so let me show you gaijin friendly places" 

BAM they whip out the worst places you can imagine,

"here how is this? it is above a Chinese restaurant, 40 years old, cockroaches, it is the size of a closet, you share a bathroom with 10 other people they are all gaijin how is it sound?".........

Note to you:  NEVER live above or near a building that is attached to a restaurant. IT HAS cockroaches.

Anyways, if you run into the problem of the place you went to trying to give you other crappy houses, just leave and go somewhere else. There are plenty of FUDOUSAN in Japan, don't waste your time.

I recently went to look at some nice places, here are some pictures.



This is the first kitchen I looked at. IH cooking heater (induction heat) and a big sink. It was awesome kitchen. I liked it. It was on the 1st floor though. I don't really want to live on the first floor because I don't want people to steal my underwear (not that I care about pervs having my underwear, it is that
I just don't have that many pairs :/)

 This next picture is actually a different place. I only rent IH cooking heaters because I wont use gas. This one was newer. I like how it also had the little oven to cook fish. BTW Japan has no ovens. Oven = easy bake oven, don't expect a normal stove like they have in Canada. Japanese kitchens are for cooking Japanese food. Thus the different items used to cook.
This is me in the background yay! and the OFURO (bath area). This one was the new model. I liked this because the bath was extra big and this type of new model is really easy to clean since it doesn't get moldy fast.

Anyways some things you need to know about Japanese apartments before going. They don't have fridge, lights or blinds. Those you have to buy yourself. Some places don't have stoves, so you also have to buy that yourself. 

They also don't have laundry rooms or laundry machines in them. Laundry in Japan is a very personal issue. People do it in their house, even if they live in apartment. In Canada apartments have laundry rooms, in Japan they don't. There are laundry mats, but those are usually in the long run more expensive than buying your own laundry machine...I don't even know WHO uses them because having a laundry machine is one of the most normal things you need in Japan. I never had one in Canada and I am used to washing clothes by hand, so when I first rented a place I told my friends I will do that and they said WTF! laundry machine is most common, everyone needs this, NEED. Kinda pressured me into buying it lol. They are right I guess.

Anyways. Japanese apartments rental start day is unlike Canada. Anytime is ok. When you look for apartment it is emptied out because the person who lived there before already moved. Unlike Canada where you usually have to track into someones house while they are still there :O You also get the apartment right away when you find it, after you pay usually max 3 days (unless some other real good reason). Which is interesting because in Canada usually people start looking 2 months or at least 1 month before they move, because you have to give 2 months notice that you are moving to landlord.

EDIT : MORE INFO!


I missed a few points. When you go to visit a house to take a peek inside to see if you actually like the place, the worker will give you slippers when you enter the house. They carry around slippers for the customers to use when they reach the house.

When you rent an apartment in Japan you don't get the place so easily. You have to have a guarantor who can't just be some friend of yours. It is usually your family. Sometimes a company can sign for you, but sometimes companies are denied because they want your family. Why? Well Japan has a really big shame culture, so if you skipped paying rent or destroyed the place and had to pay, they want to make sure your family takes care of it and so you don't escape so easily (you can run from your boss, but not daddy)

So if your family is retired or passed on, or if there is no one else to help sign for you. There are companies that their soul business is signing as a guarantor for people.

Another thing I missed, when you go to a FUDOUSAN, they will offer you tea in their office. This is Japanese custom. In Japan when you enter someones house and sometimes business as a guest, they treat you with hospitality. So when you are in these types of businesses where you usually have to sit down and fill out papers and spend some time there, you often get tea. (you also may get tea at the hair salon too ^^)

There is something in Japan called 礼金 REIKIN  which is like bribe money (which is illegal to ask for and give in Canada btw)  however perfectly legal in Japan. It is common, especially in the past but slowly there are less and less places that have this. When you use the search website you can see which places have it and which are completely free. This is not a deposit, this is money you don't get back. It is a present for the landlord for letting you in and a thank you for them preparing this house for you. Some people mistake this for a fee for them "cleaning" the place for you before you enter, but this isn't true, and sometimes you have to pay extra for cleaning on top of this.  The average price for this starts between half a months rent up to 2 months rent. More than that is less common but it isn't too strange if they ask for 4 months rent.

Also a warning. Not only do you have to pay to rent the place, last months rent, sometimes reikin but you have to pay the FUDOUSAN! Thats right...wtf right!  I mean, in Canada you directly contact the landlord so you don't pay some kinda company for showing you the place. However in Japan you also have to pay them most of the time (sometimes the landlord pays). The price is often the same as your months worth rent...depends on situation though.

I made a video to help you search in Japanese long ago. The video is a little old, but check it out!