column

Men Who Use Trains on Dates: Please Just Abandon the Idea of Marriage and Stay Single Forever

A little while ago, we posted a column on our Japanese site by a writer claiming to be a total “it girl“, the epitome of female sex appeal. The article received quite a bit of attention, prompting some internet viewers to respond with indignation, both feigned and genuine. Yes, it’s a bit naughty, and taken at face value, I guess the article could upset some readers, since it reads like … well, a column written by Carrie Bradshaw‘s evil Japanese twin.

The viewers’ response notwithstanding, we thought the article was funny, and we’ve translated it below for your amusement.  Read More

“You’re Very Good at Using Chopsticks” and Other Obscenities

Earlier this week, website Netallica posted an interesting little article entitled “The Things That Foreigners in Japan Hate to Hear” for its predominantly Japanese readership. Naturally, classics like “wow, you’re so good at Japanese”, and “you’re very good with chopsticks” were flagged as the main offenders, which I’m sure many gaijin (a term I use intentionally and will come back to later) will no doubt empathise with and would be happy to hear a little less frequently, but overall there were few phrases that could not be reasonably perceived as stemming from either the speaker’s genuine desire to compliment the listener or simple naivety.

It’s difficult to broach this topic- especially as a cynical Brit who loves a good grumble- without it quickly turning into a cliché-ridden compendium of gripes about life in Japan as a foreigner or an ill-advised rant about how comments of this nature are, in fact, some kind of backhanded attempt to draw a line between foreigners and Japanese; and goodness knows there are plenty of those out there.

There are, nevertheless, a number of phrases that foreigners living in Japan have heard a thousand times and would definitely prefer Japanese people knew aren’t always received in the way that they are probably intended…

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Why the Japanese Are Bad at Foreign Languages (Part 2)

Many Japanese people lament their inability to carry out a proper conversation in English despite studying it for 10 years in junior high, high school and university.

Some people blame the education system, some people blame the lack of transparency between Japanese and other languages; but there just seems to be something about Japanese people that makes them terrible with foreign languages.

Continuing from yesterday’s post, we’d like to share the last part of Japanese columnist Ryuuji Haneishi’s discussion of why he believes they are.

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Why the Japanese Are Bad at Foreign Languages (Part 1)

Many Japanese people lament their inability to carry out a proper conversation in English despite 10 years of study during junior high, high school and university.

While anyone who has taught English at a public school in Japan would probably be quick to point their finger at a curriculum still largely grounded in rote memorization and strange textbook phrases, it’s also important to realize that Japanese has absolutely nothing in common with any of the European languages and most other languages in the world.

But aside this inherent disadvantage, there just seems to be something about Japanese people that makes them terrible with foreign languages.

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