How to Talk About Hobbies in Japanese

Talking about hobbies is a great way to get to know someone when you first meet them! It’s also a good way to use and learn a lot of new verbs and interests in Japanese. Talking about Hobbies in Japanese   “What’s your hobby?” / “What are your hobbies?” 趣味(しゅみ)は何(なに)?                 [Casual] 趣味(しゅみ)は何(なん)ですか?     [Polite] (しゅみは) [noun] だ。              [Casual] (しゅみは) [noun] です。          [Polite] Note: You see lots of articles online saying 「わたしのしゅみは___です」, but this is a very “textbook” answer and sounds very wooden … Read More…

Learn Kansai-ben With Cats ①

Ever wanted to learn more about the infamous Kansai dialect of Japan? From a Japanese person? Through the medium of cats? Well now you can learn Kansai-ben with cats!!! 関西弁にゃんこ (Kansai-ben Nyanko) is a fantastic book by Maki, a Japanese illustrator and writer from Kyoto. 絵がすごくかわいいですよ!!! Her art is so cute!!! And following her on twitter is great Japanese practice! If you have LINE you can buy her Kansai-ben Kitten stickers here! This book is currently unavailable in English but I got special permission to translate parts of it for Japanese Talk Online readers! This isn’t a very long book … Read More…

Top 10 Japanese Language Android Apps

Top 10 Japanese Language Apps

I’ve talked about some great apps for learning Japanese but that was years ago and technology has changed! I’ve been playing with a lot of apps recently and come across some goodies as well as re-discovered some classics. The following list isn’t in any particular order, but each of them is very different from one another. When I’ve found similar apps I’ve selected the best one out of them (i.e the best dictionary app). I’ve tried all of these apps myself and tried to give a fair pros and cons list. The following top 10 Japanese language android apps are … Read More…

Best Japanese Study Resources

There are a lot of lists like this on the internet yet quite often I find they only list the most popular resources, not the best Japanese study resources. The following list are some of the best Japanese study resources that I have personally used in the last 10 years of studying Japanese that I highly recommend to anyone (not including dictionaries). I find that as you study what resources you find useful will constantly change, so it’s always good to research what will suit you best for that time. If you have any suggestions feel free to post them … Read More…

Review of NILS Language School Fukuoka

In 2013 I spent 6 months in Fukuoka studying at a private school called NILS. They provide lessons from 1 month to 2 years for a variety of levels at a reasonable price. I’ve had a few people ask me about them and they want me to write a recommendation for their site so I figured why not kill two birds with one stone? Overview of the school NILS is based in Fukuoka. It has 2 campuses, one outside of Fukuoka (but not far away) for long term students who are there on the 1-2 year courses. Shorter term classes are … Read More…

The Importance of Using Japanese

Do you find that no matter how much you study, no matter how many days in a row, how many hours you spend a day or points you rack up with apps like Memrise, that you don’t feel like you’re progressing? Maybe it’s because you’re studying Japanese but not using it? This blog covers the importance of using Japanese, now just studying it. In a previous post called Why Repetition is Important I talked about the importance of studying little and often, which focused on the practice of studying Japanese. In fact, most of J-Talk focuses on studying Japanese whether … Read More…

Studying Japanese In Japan

One of the best experiences anyone can do is studying Japanese in Japan. It doesn’t matter if it’s for a week or two, a month, a year, or more. If you’re interested in learning Japanese and Japan then going to the country is the best way to do it. The following are tips and some suggestions for going to Japan for different periods of time. These are for all ages, whether you’re in your teens in school or in your 40s and working, it’s never too late to go out to Japan for any length of time. How to Choose … Read More…

Anime & Manga Japanese Greetings

“Tadaima~ I’m Home~” You may have noticed how certain phrases crop up a lot in anime, but do you know what they’re saying and do you know exactly what they mean? This post looks at these common phrases used in anime and explains their etymology, hopefully shedding some light on where they came from and their cultural relevance. These are some some the core phrases used in everyday Japanese language and therefore in anime. Understanding the meaning of the words being used can help you remember the words and spread light on aspects of Japanese culture that you might not … 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…

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…

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…

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 “masu” … Read More…

Japanese Counters

To practice your numbers and counters and to find even more (yes more!) counters, check out the JTalk Online Memrise course “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 … 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…

Restaurant Japanese – Essential Japanese for Visiting Japan

When you go visit Japan you are most likely to eat out in a restaurant at least once at some point during your visit. So here are some tips on ordering, understanding the server and some general restaurant vocabulary that you might find useful. All the vocabulary and phrases are being added to a new Memrise course on the JTalkOnline Memrise page! There’s also a general course that has the basics on restaurants along with a variety of other topics: Essential Japanese for Visiting Japan Last week’s post: Different types of Japanese restaurants and what to expect  — Getting a Table The … Read More…

Being Sick in Japan

There was no post this week on Wednesday because I was ill. Which although meant I spent the week getting over some kind of cold bug, it also reminded me of the importance of being able to talk to people in Japan about when you’re sick, and what Japan expects from sick people. So this post is about the culture of being sick in Japan and some useful phrases to use if you find yourself sick in Japan. The Differences Between Being Sick in Japan and the West Believe it or not Japanese people expect sick people to act in … Read More…

Business Japanese – Keigo I – Sonkeigo

“I find it really difficult to remember 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 to combine all of these together into one … Read More…

NEW ~ JLPT N5 Memrise Course

J-Talk Online Memrise JLPT N5 It’s done! I am thrilled to announce the J-Talk Online JLPT N5 course for beginners is finished! (I spent the last 2 days putting together so very happy I have it in working order.) In the last few weeks I made some posts about JLPT N5 I mentioned how memrise has courses for JLPT N5 and N4, but the courses has a lot of advanced kanji and were pretty random. Which is GREAT if you’re a higher level wanting to take JLPT N3 or if you want to over learn not necessarily for the exams), … Read More…

J-Talk Online Memrise Courses

So in the last few weeks I came across the flashcard program Memrise. I’d heard about it before but never really checked it out. It had been so long since I’d used AnkiDroid that I decided to try it out, and it is amazing! I entered in some vocabulary I was studying and managed to go over about 220 of them in a single weekend! When I hadn’t been doing much before hand this was a big confidence booster! So why is Memrise so great? Well for one thing putting vocabulary into a flashcard deck and getting other people’s is SO much … Read More…

Japanese Signs – Essential Japanese for Visiting Japan

In a previous post Essential Japanese for Visiting Japan I explained about phrases that would be essential for visiting Japan. Especially if you were staying with a Japanese family. So this post is about signs you’ll see around Japan, especially the common ones that are important to know. To make it easier to learn them I have images that show examples of the signs you’ll see in Japan along with explanations for the kanji. The kanji explanations show where the words come from and how they’re read on their own in comparison to a kanji compound (when 2 or more … Read More…

Family in Japanese 家族

  As I suggested in Grouping Topics for Easy Learning, one for the easiest things to learn is family. What’s great with vocabulary for family is that you can combine it with other topics to create sentences to make it easier to remember the words and grammar. You can now learn and practice family vocabulary using the J-Talk Online Family Memrise Course!   Family かぞく The interesting thing about the word “family” かぞく is that it uses the kanji for “house” 家 (いえ on it’s own and か when combined with other kanji) and “tribe” 族 (ぞく), so your family is your “house … Read More…

Cooking Japanese II – Practice With Recipes

“I want to be able to read Japanese cook books and online recipes!” Ever wanted to be able to cook Japanese food? Ever wanted to be able to read Japanese cook books? I certainly have. I love cooking Japanese food. You can find so many recipes online but some of the best are from native chefs. It’s difficult when you’re not in Japan with access to the ingredients, but there are ways to replace the ingredients and places in stores and online you can get hold of them. Cooking Japanese Part I – Customs and Vocabulary Japanese Recipes The following … Read More…

Cooking Japanese I – Customs and Vocabulary

“I want to be able to read Japanese cook books and online recipes!” Ever wanted to be able to cook Japanese food? Ever wanted to be able to read Japanese cook books? I certainly have. I love cooking Japanese food. You can find so many recipes online but some of the best are from native chefs. It’s difficult when you’re not in Japan with access to the ingredients, but there are ways to replace the ingredients and places in stores and online you can get hold of them. This is a two-part post with Cooking Japanese II focusing on practising … Read More…

Christmas and New Year in Japan

Only a week left until Christmas and two weeks until 2014! This means the next 2 weeks won’t have any updates, but today’s will be a special one covering Christmas and the New Year in Japan. Customs mixed with some phrases and words to add to your vocabulary. Christmas クリスマス As you may or may have not guessed, Christmas is not celebrated in Japan the same way it is celebrated in the west. Although missionaries first took the idea of Christmas to Japan in the 1550s it never caught on, partially because Christianity was illegal from 1612 (although secret masses were … Read More…

Emails and Letters in Japanese

Have a penpal, Japanese friend, old host family or co-worker you want to e-mail in Japanese? This guide should be a great reference to impress your Japanese friends. That is, at first at least, but you can also use it to build up your studying to help towards fluency (at least when it comes to messaging). I find that having a reference to is invaluable, especially because most e-mails, letters and messages you receive from Japanese people are written with lots of complicated kanji. So this guide is written with all that kanji. Don’t panic! Even if you’re not an … Read More…

Essential Japanese for Visiting Japan

“I’m going to Japan but I don’t know much Japanese”   This is great Japanese for if you’re studying in Japan and/or doing homestay. Well first thing’s first, try and learn the hiragana and katakana. I try to have all my posts in hiragana and katakana (not kanji for beginners posts) so that you can practice reading it. There are so many sites that just use romaji (western characters) and it hurts my head. Learning the alphabets are useful if you’re going to visit anyway (for things like menus and to help with pronunciation of words so people can understand … Read More…

Anime Talk – Vocabulary Found in Anime

I mentioned in a previous post how you can use anime and manga to practice Japanese. This is a vocabulary list of some of the most common words and phrases found in certain animes. If you learn these before you start watching a certain show you’ll probably notice them cropping up. This is a great technique as you’re understanding of Japanese will begin to increase in a more natural way as you incorporate learning with practising in a natural environment. Japanese used in anime and manga is often very informal Japanese. This makes it incredibly different from the style you’d … Read More…

The Basics of Grammar

“I just don’t get grammar” This is something I say a lot. I admit grammar is a tricky subject for me, and I have personally struggled with it since I started learning Japanese. But it doesn’t mean you have to! If you’ve just started studying Japanese you might notice that sentences are structured a bit differently compared to English. You might be learning vocabulary and the kanas and focusing on how to listen to Japanese, but not so much creating your own sentences which are based heavily in Japanese grammar. Memorising vocabulary is fantastic but when it comes to speaking … Read More…