Category Archives: EDUCATION

All About Particles ~Live lesson version~

Premium Japanese Online Course


Today’s YT Live lesson topic was “All About Particles ~Live lesson version~”.
Particle is one of the most concerned topics amongst Japanese learners.

In this lesson, I introduced several Japanese particles for the beginners.
Let’s check out the particles with the example sentences!

First of all, what are the particles?

  • Japanese particles, joshi or “tenioha”(てにをは)in Japanese
  • Suffixes or short words in Japanese grammar that immediately follow the modified noun, verb, adjective, or sentence.
  • Their grammatical range can indicate various meanings and functions, such as speaker affect and assertiveness.

は: Topic Marker

– pronounces “wa” but written “ha: は”
– interpret “〜は”= “as for~”

  • わたし かずえです。 
    Watashi wa Kazue desu.
    I’m Kazue (As for I, Kazue)

  • さとうさん がくせいです。
    Sato-san wa gakusee desu.
    Sato-san is a student. (As for Sato-san, student.)

  • きょう はれです。
    Kyoo wa hare desu.
    Today is sunny. (As for today, it’s sunny.)

を: Object Marker

– pronounces “o” but written “wo: を”
– this particle を appears just after the objet

  • ステーキ たべます。
    Suteeki o tabemasu.
    I eat stake
  • 日本語 べんきょうします。
    Nihongo o benkyooshimasu.
    I study Japanese.

が (1): “but”

  • ビールは すきです、ワインは きらいです。
    biiru wa suki desu ga, wain wa kirai desu.
    I like beer but I don’t like wine.

が(2): Subject marker

– For certain phrases, ”ga” is used.
– below are the phrases where”ga” is used.

  • 〜が あります
    ~ ga arimasu.
    e.g. hon ga arimasu. (There is a book.) – for inanimate object
  • 〜が います
    ~ ga imasu.
    e.g. otokonoko ga imasu. (There is a boy.) – for animate object.
  • 〜が すきです
    ~ ga suki desu
    e.g. keeki ga suki desu. (I like cake.)
  • 〜がじょうずです
    ~ ga jyoozu desu. 【good at about someone’s (not oneself)】
    e.g. kanojo wa tenisu ga joozu desu. (She is good at tennis.)
  • 〜がとくいです
    ~ ga tokui desu. 【good at about oneself /someone】
    e.g. ryoori ga tokui desu. (I’m good at cooking.)
  • 〜が わかります
    ~ ga wakarimasu.
    e.g. Nihongo ga wakarimasu. (I understand Japanese.)
  • せが たかいです
    Se ga takai desu.
    e.g. Maria-san wa se ga takai desu. (Maria-san is tall. *literal translation: “height is tall”)
    【for physical …continue reading


A Restaurant that is Gentle to Women search for 女性に優しいレストラン

Gender inequality (男女不平等) still seems to be alive and strong in Japan. But now it has become discreet without also being ill-intentioned. What I mean is that nobody seems to have any idea that s/he is discriminating (差別する) or is being discriminated against. Perhaps discrimination may be too strong of a word. Stereotyped, or over-generalized may be more appropriate (適切な). But thoseare the sources (源) of discrimination.

On the surface, it looks like the media, and particularly the restaurant industry, cares about women so much that they created special menus, special façades, and special interiors especially for women. I mean – really (本当に)?

It’s even difficult to know what term I should use to translate 女性 (female/woman). There are several words for women in English. There are two in Japanese; 女 and 女性. 女 is used to choose a gender in a form, and it is also used to refer to a criminal who is a female, for example. If a female is a victim, 女 is never used. When a restaurant promotes a new menu specially made for woman, 女性 is used. I wondered; should I use “a woman” or “a female” or even “a lady” in this blog?

I researched to see if there were restaurants in Tokyo promoting special menus made for a woman in English. Women, female, and even ladies are used. But the hits in English are much less than those in Japanese. Let me use 女性as currently employed by the media and the restaurant industry.

Here are some examples actually used in Japan or on Japanese TV.

Kind to 女性 (女性に優しい)

Makes 女性 happy (女性が喜ぶ)

Specialized for 女性 (女性のための)

So what do these above sentences mean?

  • Specialized in (専門にする) seafood that 女性 loves
  • Chef is kind to 女性
  • Specialized in vegetables that 女性 loves
  • Specialized in healthy (ヘルシーな) …continue reading

Life isn’t like anime — Japanese school to close, students must transfer 200 kilometers away

Coronavirus is straw that breaks the back of boarding school with shrinking enrollment numbers. Located in the town of Himeji, Hyogo Prefecture, Jiyugaoka High School was founded in 1983. All students at the private all-boys school live in the on-campus dormitory, and while that’s a very different lifestyle from that of most Japanese teens, advocates […]

…continue reading


No school trip? No problem! Japanese students to go on a virtual school trip in Minecraft instead

Junior high school students at one school are learning Japanese culture by recreating historical sites in the popular game. Autumn is a popular season for school trips, when whole grades of students travel together to popular tourist sites throughout Japan to do some hands-on learning. But with coronavirus still a major threat, and travel limited […]

…continue reading


Emotional Expression ~mimetic words~


Today’s YT Live lesson topic was “Emotional Expressions ~mimetic words”.
There are many catchy Japanese mimetic words, and most of them are short repeating words, “doki-doki”, “run-run”, “waku-waku”, etc.

In this lesson, I introduced these mimetic words by emotional expressions.
Let’s check out the commonly used Japanese emotional mimetic words!

4 emotional expressions in Japanese: “喜怒哀楽 kidoairaku “

There is an idiom that showing four emotional expressions in Japanese:

喜: 嬉しい(うれしい ureshii)- happy
怒: 怒っている(おこっている okotteiru) – angry
哀: 哀しい/ 悲しい (かなしい kanashii) – sad
楽: 楽しい(たのしい tanoshii)- enjoyable

“Ureshii” – happy mimetic expressions

  • にこにこ niko-niko
    e.g. やまださんは 誕生日ケーキを もらって ニコニコ顔だ。

    Yamad-san wa tanjoobi keeki o moratte, niko-niko gao da.
    Yamada-san received a birthday cake and has smily face.
  • うきうき uki-uki
    e.g. 明日は遠足だから、うきうきしている。
      ashita wa ensoku dakara, ukiuki shiteiru.
      Tomorrow we have an excursion and I’m excited.
  • わくわく waku-waku
    e.g. プレゼントを開ける前は、わくわくする。
      purezento o akeru mae wa, waku-waku suru.
      I feel excited before opening a present.
  • ルンルン run-run
    e.g. 彼女はうれしくて、ルンルンだ。
    kanojo wa ureshikute run-run da.
    She is so happy and in good mood.
  • きゃっきゃ kya-kya
    e.g. 若い女の子二人が、きゃっきゃ言ってはしゃいでいる。
      wakai onnanoko futari ga, kyakkya itte hashaideiru.
    Two merry young girls are laughing and smiling.

“Okotteiru” -angry mimetic expressions

  • プンプン pun-pun
    e.g. 妻は朝から機嫌が悪く、プンプンしている。
      tsuma wa asa kara kigen ga waruku, pun-pun shiteiru.
    My wife is in bad mood this morning and still in furious.
  • カンカン kan-kan
    e.g. 部長に何を言ったの?カンカンに怒っているよ。
    bucho ni nani o itta no? Kan-kan ni okotte iru yo.
    What did you say to your boss (dept. head)? He is in furious.
  • ムカムカ muka-muka
    e.g. なんであいつはあんなことを言ったんだ?ムカムカする!
      nande aitsu wa anna kotoo itta n da? muka-muka-suru!
    Why did he said such thing? I’m so furious!
  • ムシャクシャ musha-kusha
    e.g. なんて日だ!何もかもが上手く行かない。ムシャクシャする!
       nante hi da! nani mo kamo ga umaku ikanai. Musha-kusha suru!
      What a day! Nothing goes well. I’m irritated!
  • イライラ …continue reading

Kanji Cheat Sheet: Using a Japanese Rice Cooker

Source: Gaijin Pot
GaijinPot Daily Study

Coming from another Asian country, I can confidently say that Japanese rice is completely different from the rice I grew up eating in the Philippines. From its shape to its texture, Japanese rice feels much more dense and sticky.

As delicious and filling as Japanese rice may be, if you aren’t familiar with how to use the buttons on a Japanese rice cooker, you can miss out on making some Japanese dishes like おかゆ, or rice porridge.

Japanese rice cooker controls

To start off, let’s get acquainted with some of the controls on the メニュー (menu). While the positioning may be different on your particular model of rice cooker, generally these are the buttons you should watch out for.

If you’re in a rush and can’t wait, the (炊(すい)飯(はん)), or “fast cook,” button comes in handy. This will have your rice ready in around 30 minutes or less.

Would you like to schedule your rice to cook automatically? You can do so by clicking on the 予(よ)約(やく) (reservation) button then selecting the number of hours until the rice cooker will do its job. For example, if you leave home in the morning and want your rice piping hot when you get home, simply calculate the amount of hours you’ll be gone and time it to start an hour from when you’re about to arrive. Rest assured, if you do this properly you can expect to come home to a freshly cooked bowl of rice after a long day of work.

Read the full article on GaijinPot Study!

…continue reading


How Difficult is the JLPT N1 for Japanese People?

Source: Gaijin Pot
How Difficult is the JLPT N1 for Japanese People?

When I first came to Japan, I heard the rumors about how infamously difficult the N1 exam was. A common story going around the foreign community at the time was that the N1 of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT), the highest level, was so difficult that even Japanese speakers would struggle with the questions and perhaps fail to get the 50 percent score needed to pass.

Would Japanese speakers struggle with the questions?

Surely that couldn’t be right, could it?

I didn’t really believe it until one day, trying to explain a grammar point to one of my younger students, I used the infamous (に)だに (even) grammar point from my N1 grammar cheat sheet to explain. At first, I got that look that Japanese people give when they are convinced that the speaker has made some fundamental error.

“Are you sure that’s Japanese?” she ventured.

I showed her example questions and she laughed. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen this,” she explained. “We’d use something like にも instead.” She’s actually right, I would later discover, as (に)だに is only really used in certain types of literature and にも is far more commonly used. However, it got me interested in seeing how Japanese people would actually do on the N1.

The test

The guinea pigs for my experiment were a range of Japanese people. On separate days, using questions from the official materials for taking the exam, I interviewed businesswomen from a reputable firm who have a 短(たん)大(だい)or 4-year degree, students at a 専(せん)門(もん)学(がっ)校(こう) (specialist school), and some junior high school kids to keep things interesting.

Initially, the hypothesis that the test would be difficult for native speakers was blown out of the water as the first questions, which test kanji …continue reading


Who am I?

This week, my students are trying to write their names in Katakana. As I was helping one student write his name, I asked him “have you thought about your name – how it sounds before?” He laughed as he had never thought about it. What Japanese native speakers hear is very different from what non-native speakers hear.

Take my name for example (例えば). My name is Eriko. Simple to pronounce (発音する). BUT… unintentionally, I was given a new name by friendly strangers. When I meet a stranger, I introduce myself, “my name is Eriko.” The stranger usually says “Oh, Erika.” I said “It’s Eriko. E-R-I-K-O. With O.” “Oh, OK. Erika.” After about 2nd try, I usually give up (あきらめる).

This happens all the time in Japan, too. I was stunned to hear a Japanese news anchor say, “Kurt Coburn of Nirvana.” What? She meant “Kurt Cobain?” The anchor was not the only one. Everyone on TV, except for those who host music programs, says Kurt Coburn. Where did the R sound come from? koʊbərn vs kəʊˈbeɪn.

Image by Eriko Yatabe Waldock

I had a theory on this. There was a popular actor named James Coburn in the 70s. So maybe somebody who remembered the actor unintentionally (無意識に) called Kurt Cobain as Coburn as the names looked like each other and the name Coburn was more familiar.

There is also the opposite of the Kurt Cobain case. Uma Thurman, an American actress, is called Yuma in Japan. Her name, Uma, came from dbu ma chen po, a Tibetian Buddhism idea according to Wiki, and her name is pronounced as /umə/. Why is she called Yuma only in Japan?

Again, I have a theory on …continue reading


Intercultural Presence of a Refrigerator 冷蔵庫の異文化間存在

I have been in charge of homestay programs for Japanese university partners in the ESL section of a U.S. university. Japanese universities want their students to immerse themselves in English and learn the local culture by staying with local families. The most important thing that I tell students at an online pre-departure orientation is “please open the refrigerator (冷蔵庫 れいぞうこ) if your host family tells you to help yourself (遠慮しないで), and take out what you want to drink (飲む) or eat (食べる).” In general ( 一般に), it is very difficult for the Japanese to open a refrigerator or a kitchen pantry at someone else’s home.

I tell homestay students “I understand that you feel awkward ( 気まずい) opening someone else’s fridge. But if you wait for the host family to bring something for you, they may think that they have to take care of (世話をする) you.” And I tell host families “the reason why your student may not want to open the fridge to get something to drink is that the student is simply feeling awkward to do so. It is not that the student wants you to cater him/her.” Host families usually laugh to find out what an intercultural problem t a fridge can pose!

Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay

It is not a joke ( 冗談), really. A few years ago, a homestay student talked to me while I was speaking to the group. “Meals(食事)are terrible. Because I am Japanese, she serves rice all the time. But that is it. I am starving (お腹がペコペコだ、餓死する).” To make a long story short, her host mom bought so many special foods for the student as she had allergies and stored them in the fridge and in the pantry, telling her to help herself. …continue reading