Today’s YT Live lesson topic was “All About Particles ~Live lesson version~”.
In this lesson, I introduced several Japanese particles for the beginners.
First of all, what are the particles?
は： Topic Marker
– pronounces “wa” but written “ha: は”
を： Object Marker
– pronounces “o” but written “wo: を”
が (1)： “but”
が(2)： Subject marker
– For certain phrases, ”ga” is used.
Last weekend, about 550,000 aspiring students took the standardized university entrance exam (大学入学共通（だいがくにゅうがくきょうつう）テスト) in the middle of the pandemic. Despite COVID-19, hopeful students had to show-up or miss their one chance to move on to higher education.
For many students, the test is the culmination of years of studying in cram schools or and preparatory schools, or 塾（じゅく and 予備校（よびこう） in Japanese.
Failing can mean an additional year of cramming as a 過年度生（かねんどせい）, also familiarly known as ronin (浪人（ろうにん）).
After exams, newspapers and TV programs share test questions with the public and go over all the tricky parts. The Japanese language QCM portion of the exam is where trick questions hurt the most. For Japanese language learners, it’s also an excellent opportunity to better understand how important knowing kanji is to read and write Japanese.
Tricky kanji QCM
“I became Professor Hayashi* for the first question of the Japanese language portion of the standardized test. I noticed (the right answer) in during remaining three minutes.”
Professor Hayashi, a well-known preparatory school teacher and public figure on national television, should feel proud!
The exercise shared in the picture measures test-takers’ knowledge of vocabulary and Japanese kanji reading. As you may know, the Japanese language has many homonyms and kanji, which are logograms (often inaccurately called ideograms) that come in to help distinguish words.
The first question gives ぞく, from the word みんぞく, as a reference point with no context to understand its meaning. Test-takers must first guess what could be the correct kanji for ぞく.
Learn the trick
Each of the four sentences below the reference point also has a word written in hiragana with “ぞく” in it.
The sentence helps find the meaning of each word and consequently, with which kanji they are …continue reading
As a non-native English speaker, my biggest foe is the article (冠詞 kanshi). Yes, those “a” and “the” devils. When you ask native English speakers, they always say – if you refer to an item the first time, use “a” and after that “the”. Well, life is not that simple especially in English that is full of exceptions (例外reigai). I did learn about the articles in middle school (中学 chugaku)– there were many uses, but real life is more complicated (ややっこしい、複雑な yayakkoshii, fukuzauna).
And I learned that we, the Japanese, have the equivalent to (〜に相当する〜ni sotosuru) these pesky (厄介な yakkaina) articles. Allow me to introduce PARTICLES (助詞 joshi)! We, the native speakers, have no trouble but we have trouble explaining them. That is because we learn them in everyday life as we grow up and not by rules and formulas. Yes, we do learn them at school, but we perfect them outside the school without trying.
So what are the particles?They are short words that indicate relations of words within a sentence. Thanks to particles, Japanese sentence structures can be very flexible (自由に変えられる、フレキシブル、jiyu ni kaerareru). Look at the sentences below for an example. Particles are shown in RED.
Sunny and Paige watched a movie together in Shibuya on Sunday.
(Sunny-san to Paige-san wa nichiyoubini Shibuyade eigawo mimashita)
日曜日に サニーさんとペイジさんは 映画を 渋谷で 見ました。
渋谷で 日曜日に 映画を サニーさんとペイジさんは 見ました。
映画を 日曜日に 渋谷で サニーさんとペイジさんは 見ました。
サニーさんとペイジさんは 渋谷で 映画を 日曜日に 見ました。
日曜日に サニーさんとペイジさんは 映画を 渋谷で 見ました。
As you can see, an order of the words does not matter in Japanese as long as appropriate particles are used (of course, some word orders are more natural than others.) Thus, learning the particles is extremely important.
In any culture or country, comedians use stereotypes (ステレオタイプ). Non-Japanese comedians often use our inability to distinguish R and L sounds, and the nervous mysterious laughs to mimic …continue reading
After autumn, some Japanese regions turn into a winter wonderland. From the northern Hokkaido to the mountains in Nagano, folks brace themselves for the possibility of heavy snowfalls that attract skiers and snowboarders.
Snowy views of Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka show up in manga and anime, but the reality is it rarely snows in Japan’s major cities. In the countryside, they’re used to tightly-packed piles of snow every morning. But mother nature can still be a jerk.
Cold never bothered me anyway
What’s it like to be living in a snowy region? Well, sometimes you’re rewarded with absolutely incredible landscapes.
“Growing up in a snowy country seems hard.
But somehow this looks cute. lol”
FamilyMart in heavy snowfall.
Well now you know
But sometimes, snowy weather is just simply a test of willpower to go out at all.
“Here’s the view of a person missing their bus in a snowy region countryside.”
“Do you know the reason why homes in snowy regions have windbreak rooms attached to their entrance?
Now, you know.”
There’s going to be a delay
“JR’s Tadami line.
The snowplow derailed.”
“The snow level was so high that we considered making a snow sculpture.
I couldn’t stop laughing because of how amazing (this looks).”
Japanese vocabulary to talk about snow
Let’s gently start 2021 and skip the grammar lesson for a keyword list to talk about snow in Japanese. …continue reading
明けましておめでとうございます。（A happy new year. Akemashite omedetogozaimasu)
Let us start the 2021 blog with the Japanese declining tradition (伝統 dento)- New Year’s Cards called 年賀状(nengajo). It is a postcard with New Year’s greetings. You can purchase 年賀状 from your post office with a lottery number printed on them. In the New Year, numbers are drawn on TV and winners get awards.
年賀状can be purchased blank (but with a lucky number) or pre-printed with a particular eto (干支) animal on it.
Eto is represented by zodiacal animals that form a 12-year cycle. 2021 will be a year of the ox. In Eto, the kanji for “ox” is expressed differently as in丑年(ushi doshi) instead of 牛年(ushi doshi).
年賀状used to be a big deal – the most anticipated event on New Year’s Day as much as New Year’s Day money gift called お年玉(otoshidama). A small envelope that contains お年玉 is called お年玉袋 (otoshidama bukuro) or ポチ袋 (pochi bukuro). The Japan Post hires part-time workers (アルバイト arubaito) to sort and deliver those 年賀状 on the first day of New Year. We used to get so many cards on New Year’s Day. Most cards were for my father, but I used to get a good number of cards from friends. Sometimes, you received a card from unexpected friends, and you needed to write cards back and post them immediately. We continued to get the card until around January 7thor so. Even for a child, it was an important social obligation (義務gimu)! It was also a good chance to show off your artistic talent on the card. However, because of the internet and SNS, well you guessed it, the 年賀状 has been declining …continue reading
Last time (https://blogs.transparent.com/japanese/a-month-even-a-priest-must-run-part-1/) we talked about celebrating Japanese New Year in the past. But times have changed. Many services are open, such as conbini (convenience stores コンビニ) and fami-res (ファミレスfamily restaurants) like Thanksgiving Day in the US now. I am sure that the magic of a quiet New Year’s Day must have been lost. And the younger generations (世代 sedai) do not understand the fear of being starved to death of the manga character during the New Year’s holidays.
In 2019, there was a big discussion on a franchise owner of a conbini who had decided not to open his combini store 24/7 without the headquarters‘ (本社/本部honsha/honbu) prior approval (許可 kyoka). The headquarters charged the franchisee (フランチャイズ加盟者furanchaizu kameisha) with the breach of contract (契約違反keiyaku ihan), and told him that it would terminate (終了するshuryousuru) the contract. This has started the huge social discussion – are there any reasons why conbini must open 24/7? For the New Year’s Day 2020, there were some conbini stores that took a day off with the approval of their headquarters as an experiment.
So what will happen on the New Year’s Day in 2021? Many major supermarket chains are planning to close for the first 3 days in 2021. Large conbini chains will be open but they will respect (尊重するsonchosuru) each franchisee’ decision whether to open or not. For many younger generations, to not be able to shop or get bento during the New Year’s Holidays is something new. But it was like that 30 years ago.
A couple of years ago, a social movement not to shop on Thanksgiving day in the US has started and some retailers started to close on Thanksgiving Day. The Japanese supermarket chains and conbini chains report that …continue reading
It’s not always easy finding time to spend with the whole family. In Japan, parents can find it especially difficult, thanks to the nation’s demanding work culture keeping mom and dad from home. Even the kids get too busy once caught up in school tests, clubs and sports.
If you’re an international family living in Japan, you also can’t ignore finding the time to learn or at least study Japanese. One of the biggest struggles for foreign parents who have kids enrolled in school in Japan is balancing their native-tongue and Japanese language abilities while assimilating into the culture here.
With these challenges in mind, the Akita Inaka School has developed a new course designed specifically for whole families to escape from their busy lives and study Japanese together while immersed in a rural Japanese community in the beautiful Akita prefectural countryside.
Akita Inaka School
Akita Inaka School is a Japanese language school in Kosaka, a lovely town in the heart of the rugged Tohoku region. With a population of just under 5,000, Kosaka has the kind of friendly, small-town charm you can only find in rural Japan.
Home to natural scenic wonders such as the majestic Lake Towada and Nanataki Falls, Kosaka was awarded the title of “Most Beautiful Village in Japan” in 2016 (Japanese) by the Association of The Most Beautiful Villages in Japan, an influential non-profit preserving Japanese rural heritage. It makes for quite the classroom setting.
Students at Akita Inaka School learn conversational Japanese and interact with local residents, which is a bit like having the entire town teach you Japanese. You even learn in a former Japanese public school that has been renovated by the town council.
Learning …continue reading
The top ten kanji characters reveal a lot about what life was like in Japan this year.
As the year draws to a close, it’s time to take a look back at the year that was, and in Japan, that means all eyes were on Kyoto’s Kiyomizudera temple this afternoon.
Every year on 12 December, Kiyomizudera reveals the Kanji of the Year, as voted by people around the country, and today, Seihan Mori, the head abbot of the temple, took his usual place in front of a blank board on the site’s famous balcony, raised a large calligraphy brush smothered in ink, and began the brushstrokes that would reveal the top character for 2020.
▼ A moment so important it was broadcast on Japan’s national broadcaster, NHK.
▼ As the video above reveals, the Kanji of the Year for 2020 is “密” (“mitsu”).
For people in Japan, “密” was always the clear frontrunner for top spot in the contest, as it’s a buzzword that’s been used by the government since the pandemic first took a hold of the country earlier this year.
The character for “mitsu” literally translates as “density“, and at a time when the rest of the world was getting used to the phrase “social distancing“, here in Japan, we were told to avoid the “Three Mitsus” (“Three Densities”) or “Three Cs” as it was translated in English.
▼ Avoid the three densities: Closed Spaces, Crowded places, Close-contact settings