Learn Japanese Grammar Using English Grammar

“Why do I need to know English grammar to learn Japanese grammar?”  English grammar is a topic I could not get my head around easily when I was younger. I even tried doing an A level in English language so I could learn it! Still didn’t work. But we speak English as native, we don’t need to know grammar! Yuk! Weeeellll I would totally agree with you, but after learning Japanese grammar I’ve realised how wrong I was. I really dislike Japanese grammar for the same reason I dislike English grammar. I read things like “possessive noun” and “auxiliary verb”… Read More…

Going to Conventions in Japan

I went to London ComicCon recently (aka MCM Expo to anyone that’s been going for over 4 years) and it reminded me of the big differences between conventions in Japan compared to the UK and America. You’d think that Japan being the “origin” of cosplay, and amazing technology and games, that they’d have a fantastic convention environment with a wide variety of cool stuff. But this debatably not the case. Or at least it’s very different to how we experience conventions in the UK. So below I’ll discuss the differences between West and Japan, what to do and not do… Read More…

Beginners Japanese Grammar 2

Hello everyone! A little announcement as I’ve just made my Japanese Grammar 2 course on Memrise public! This is the second of a series of grammar courses for beginners, covering all the grammar points (except particles) for JLPT N4 level of Japanese. Even if you’re not taking any of the Japanese language proficiency tests you can still use this course to learn Japanese grammar. The lessons are grouped together based on how the grammar is formed and assumes that you already know how to read kana and how to make stem, plain, て form, た form, ない form etc. If… Read More…

Japan Hacks – History Nerds in Japan

If you are a bit of a Japanese history fan there are a LOT of places in Japan you should go visit. Some of these might be obvious ones, and others probably not so much. The following list is based on the most popular tourist destinations: Tokyo and Kyoto. I wish I could list all the amazing places in Japan based on historic events and people but I don’t know them all. These are just the locations myself and friends visited on our last trip. If you know of any others please leave a comment so that other people might… Read More…

Japan Hacks – What to do if you’re sick in Japan

I previously did a post on being sick in Japan but that covered the differences between being sick in the West vs Japan, and phrases to use to get help if you know Japanese. This post is about when you’re in Japan on HOLIDAY and you get sick, you don’t know the language or what to do! This happened to me on my most recent trip. A combination of jet-lag, only a few hours sleep in 48hours and unhealthy food almost took me out with a cold. Luckily I was able to get amazing Japanese cold medicine and it fixed it… Read More…

Japan Hacks – Snacking in Japan

When sight-seeing in Japan you might find yourself walking A LOT and so it’s very important to keep yourself hydrated and sufficiently fuelled for the day. You might think that you can just go to any restaurant or shop when you’re hungry. But what I found was that often there aren’t always restaurants or cafes where you’re going. And if the place you’re going to is particularly touristy you might not be able to get a seat right away (especially if you’re with lots of people). This post is about rationing food and the best things to eat from convenience stores when out… Read More…

Japan Hacks – Asking For Directions in Japanese

You might get lost in Japan (actually you probably will get lost) and not all Japanese people know English (in fact hardly any do), so it’s always helpful to be able to ask for and understand directions. Who should I ask? If you try to ask just anyone on the street they will probably not understand you or brush you off and run away. Some of the best people to ask for directions are people in convenience stores, post office staff, policemen, and train station staff.  These people are unlikely to be able to speak English though, so you might… Read More…

Japan Hacks – Dealing with Long Flights and Jet-lag

If you are flying to Japan from Europe or the Americas you’re going to have to travel a long way. We’ve managed to position ourselves so that Europe, North America and Japan are almost 1/3 of the world away from each other (depending of where you are in North America because that is a fat continent).   What is Jet-lag? For those that don’t know jet-lag occurs when you travel through over 2 or more time-zones and throws your natural body-clock out of whack. You feel tired and hungry at weird times of the day, and it can really impact… Read More…

Japan Hacks – Preparing For Japan

This is the first instalment of specials called “Japan Hacks” which is about how to prepare and visit Japan if you are a first timer only going for a few weeks. These will be posted as I’m in Japan on my own short holiday and experiencing it as a tourist. Because of this they will be short and to the point.   Plan Your Trip First you need to ask yourself some pretty important questions: Why do you want to go to Japan? What do you most want to see? Is it Japan’s history, or art, or popular culture that… Read More…

Announcement – Introduction of Japan Hacks

A quick announcement from Japanese Talk Online! I am currently in the process of moving to London to do an MA in translation studies! I will be continuing the blog but I’ve accidentally timed my move at the most awkward time as I also have a reunion in Japan right before term starts. So I’m moving to London Tuesday 9th, flying to Japan on Thursday 11th, flying back Saturday 27th and starting Univeristy Monday 29th. Japan Hacks! I did think of putting J-Talk on hold during this time, however I’ve decided to instead to a series of specials called Japan… Read More…

A Cheap Way to Visit Japan – WWOOF

“I have no money, but I really want to go to Japan!” – The first time I ever visited Japan was in 2008 when I was on my gap year. I had worked at a shop for several months beforehand to save up enough money for the flights and a few weeks in a school, but I wanted to spend longer in Japan and WWOOF was the perfect option. WWOOF stands for “World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms” and is basically what it says on the tin. It’s an organisation present in about 99 countries where organic farms can sign… Read More…

Keigo IV – Word Beautification

“I find it really hard to remember Keigo”  I have previously gone over sonkeigo (respectful keigo), kenjogo (humble keigo) and even covered some general rules for using keigo. But there is one large aspect of keigo that I missed out which is “bikeigo” 美敬語 or “word beautification”. Bikeigo is something even beginner Japanese learners have probably come across with words like おかね, おちゃ, おなまえ, おさけ, ごはん, all of these basic words can be said without the お or ご at the front of the word, such as かね or ちゃ but then the word becomes harsh, crude and if said taken as… Read More…

JLPT N4 Memrise Course

I am pleased to announce that I have completed the JLPT N4 Vocabulary and Kanji courses on Memrise. JLPT N4 Vocabulary Course   JLPT N5 Kanji Course Unlike the JLPT N5 course the N4 courses are separated between vocabulary and kanji. This was because of the large number of kanji and kanji based vocabulary in comparison to the N5 one. It’s a lot easier to learn kanji through vocabulary which have been grouped together so you can see the different uses and readings, which is what I’ve tried to do. Not only that but the kanji course focuses more on… Read More…

Reading Practice for Beginners

When you start learning Japanese you learn the hiragana and katakana along with vocabulary and grammar, but if you’re teaching yourself you won’t often get much reading practice to combine all those skills together in a useful way. So how do you practice? It’s good to start reading soon! It not only allows you to practice your vocabulary and grammar but also your understanding of Japanese sentences. This is particularly important at the higher levels where 80% of what you’re exposed to will depend on your comprehension of the language. The following are suggestions for beginner JLPT N5/N4 level learners.… Read More…

Understanding ばいと敬語 Shop Japanese

Essential Japanese for Visiting Japan – A guide to understanding shop Japanese バイトけいご When you go to a shop or restaurant in Japan, even if you’ve learnt you basics of Japanese, it can be hard to understand what the shop assistance are saying. Not only are they saying sentences they’ve been saying all day everyday which makes them more like automated lines, but they also use a mutated form of Japanese they you would not have learnt in lessons. Even if you’re learning up to JLPT N1 level “shop speak” isn’t a topic that’s normally covered in conventional lessons.  … Read More…

Using YouTube to Learn Japanese

Learning Japanese from textbooks and articles on the internet are great but sometimes your brain isn’t taking in the words and you need a change of pace. Watching and anime or dramas is good to give your brain something different but it’s not exactly pushing you unless you’re watching it without subtitles and really concentrating on learning the words. You might be an auditory learner rather than a visual learner and would prefer videos and audio tracks to books. So why not use YouTube to learn Japanese? If that’s the case there are a number of lessons on Youtube that are… Read More…

Verb Groups – Beginners Japanese Grammar

Plain form is also called dictionary form and it is just like “masu” form but is used in casual, informal situations. Plain form is the present/future tense and is pretty important because you use this as a basis to create other verb forms (like past and negative). – You can practice all of these using the J-Talk Online Memrise course Beginners Japanese Grammar 1 (JLPT N5 Grammar). See last week’s post on Studying Japanese Grammar for tips on ways to learn grammar. But the first thing you need to know about plain form are the 3 groups. Group 1 or “u… Read More…

Studying Japanese Grammar

“I find it hard to learn Japanese Grammar” In the past I’ve tried to explain basic Japanese sentence structure and introduced “masu” form, but I’ve not gone into much detail on how to learn these. That’s difficult thing about Japanese grammar, you can’t just read about it and expect to know it. There are hundreds of websites that explain grammar to you and tell you what you need to know for the various JLPT levels, but not much on how you learn that. I guess to sum it up you just have to keep using it in different situations. But what’s the… Read More…

Japanese Sign Language – 手話

If you’d like to try something different but keep learning Japanese I strongly recommend shuwa (しゅわ・手話), Japanese sign language. I’ve found learning Japanese sign language to be a really enjoyable experience, not only because it’s fun to learn something new but learning it from Japanese people who use Japanese Sign Language (JSL) is also a fantastic experience. I find them to be incredibly friendly and outgoing people and you will often find some people wanting to learn foreign languages or about foreign culture. So if you’re living in Japan and want to make some new friends I learn JSL. It’s… Read More…

Telephone Calls in Japanese

I find that in the day and age where we use email and texting all the time, using the phone can be a daunting experience. Even worse if it’s in another language! The first time I talked on the phone was to a possible WWOOF (volunteering on farms in exchange for food and lodging) host family. I had the possible phrases I would need written in front of me with my Japanese teacher on stand-by. I was so nervous I probably sounded awful and rude! But I’m sure they understood my Japanese wasn’t that great as a foreigner. Even so,… Read More…

Japanese Textbooks for Teaching Yourself Japanese

“What text books should I use for teaching myself Japanese?”   Using text books to learn Japanese can be tricky business because they are often made for class studying rather than self study, but it doesn’t mean they’re not useful if you can’t afford the time or money for classes. First of all when studying Japanese it’s good to know the answers to these questions: Why are you studying Japanese? What’s your goal? It could be to read manga, watch anime without subtitles, to be able to read/speak it while on holiday or for a possible career. Your answer will… Read More…

Manga Japanese for Beginners

“I want to be able to read manga in Japanese”    Want to learn manga Japanese? Manga Japanese is great fun to read but can be pretty tricky for beginners who are studying Japanese. This is because a lot of the Japanese people at the beginning is polite. But the Japanese used in manga is colloquial. Manga Japanese is also written with accents, making it hard to understand and hard to look up certain words. Not only that but Japanese manga used a LOT of sound words which don’t always translate to English. This post is a guide for beginners… Read More…

Keigo III – Rules for Using Keigo

“I find it really hard to remember keigo.” There are many websites that cover the basics of keigo and special vocabulary, but I find not many that give a clear rule on when to use which keigo in different situations, and very many people with questions and confusions. I myself have these same confusions and in my research came up with the following rules and situational examples. If you need a recap on kenjougo (humble Japanese) and sonkeigo (respectful Japanese) you can do so here: Keigo I – Sonkeigo Keigo II – Kenjougo When Should You Use Keigo? Politeness Levels… Read More…

Getting Translating Experience II

“I want a job in translating but have no experience, and I can’t get any experience without a job…”   The catch 22 of the job world. This problem is even more prominent in translation as almost every position I have ever come across for Japanese/English translation demands at least 3-5 years experience. Many young graduates of Japanese related fields run into this problem. I find that many might not have the necessary Japanese skills to go into translating right after graduation and so often turn to teaching positions in Japan. Myself, and others, are stubborn and resist this approach until it’s… Read More…

Getting Translating Experience I

“I want a job in translating but have no experience, and I can’t get any experience without a job…”   The catch 22 of the job world. This problem is even more prominent in translation as almost every position I have ever come across for Japanese/English translation demands at least 3-5 years experience. Many young graduates of Japanese related fields run into this problem. I find that many might not have the necessary Japanese skills to go into translating right after graduation and so often turn to teaching positions in Japan. Myself, and others, are stubborn and resist this approach until it’s… Read More…

Business Japanese – Keigo II – Kenjougo

“I find it really difficult to remember keigo.” (To recap from the previous post on Keigo) Keigo 敬語 literally means “respectful language” and is used in formal situations (but mostly business). If you are studying Japanese at university you will go over this. So this entry is to help with people who will go to work in Japan (teaching English or other business) and for university students.  There are several different types of keigo which are used in different ways depending on the situation and who you’re speaking to, and who you’re talking about. When I learnt keigo the teacher decided… Read More…

An Introduction to Japanese Verbs – “masu” Form

A lot of Japanese grammar is based in it’s verbs which when conjugated (changed into a different form) can give a very different meaning to the sentence.   The Basics of Japanese Verbs – “masu”* Form *Pronounced “mass” rather than “ma-su”, but in Japanese characters is spelt ま”ma” す “su” A few examples: かきます – “kakimasu” = to write いきます – “ikimasu” = to go たべます – “tabemasu” = to eat ねます – “nemasu” = to sleep します – “shimasu” = to do きます – “kimasu” = to come   Most people when they begin to learn Japanese learn the… Read More…

Things I Learnt Studying Japanese

Tips for Studying Japanese Here are a few lessons I’ve learnt over the years studying Japanese. I hope these come in handy with your own study. Just because you feel like you should know something doesn’t mean you do.  There have been many times when I’ve been studying and gone “I already know this I don’t have to do it again.” But just because you’ve studied it doesn’t mean you actually know it. This caused me to waste more time going back over something I felt I should know but when I came across it outside of studying. I knew… Read More…

Japanese Counters

“How do you know when to use what counter?” You may or may not have noticed that in Japanese there are no ‘masculine’ or ‘feminine’ words like some European languages have. You may or may not have noticed that it’s a very phonetic language which means it’s easy to pronounce words fluently once you know. But to add a spanner to the works, you may or may not have noticed how in Japanese numbers, and more specifically when you are counting different things, are a bit of a pain. For those who didn’t realise Japanese has the normal counting system… Read More…

Giving and Receiving in Japanese

-Guest Post from Wana10- Hello! Niffer asked if I’d write a post for J-talk and I decided why the heck not. But what to talk about? Let’s focus today on a very important bit of Japanese grammar that seems to give some people problems; Giving and Receiving. (As for importance an entire subsection of the listening portion of my JLPT N2 test was based on this so…learn it!) まずは First we need a brief refresher on the important concept in Japanese of ‘Us vs. Them’. Once you get beyond basic phrases like “I like sushi” and “that cat is cute” you… Read More…