Japanese study

Learn Japanese kanji with captivating stop-motion videos created by Tokyo animator

These adorable clips and characters will help you memorise kanji symbols and make you smile at the same time.

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You need to follow this Instagram account if you are learning Japanese

Studying a language on the go has never been easier.

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Learning Japanese? Beware these 19 loan words—they’re not what they sound like!

Speakers of certain languages sometimes get a leg-up when learning Japanese. For example, Japanese includes Chinese characters, which means Chinese speakers can often get the gist of a text even if they don’t understand the grammar. Similarly, Korean speakers might find that Japanese grammar is kinda similar to theirs. And we native English speakers get a huge helping hand from the hundreds of English loan words that have been adopted into modern Japanese.

But sometimes, these loan words aren’t really our friends at all. Instead, they’re what’s known as false friends – words that sound similar in two languages yet have a completely different meaning. In co-opting English words into Japanese, sometimes our crafty Nihonjin pals have assigned our words to things that actually mean something totally different. It’s almost like they’re trying to trick us!

Join us for a quick primer on some Japanese loanwords you might have heard before, and what they really mean!

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Ariana Grande is learning hiragana and Japan can’t stop talking about it

Ariana Grande is a rising star that many are calling a “mini-Mariah Carey.” Launching onto the world stage after an incredibly successful run on the Nickelodeon show, Victorious, she is quickly gaining fans around the world with her solo music career. She has quite the following in Japan too, with her most recent album, My Everything, peaking at #3 on the weekly Oricon Music charts. And while Japan can’t get enough of her songs and her extremely long hair (extensions), there is something else that her Japanese fans are talking about these days: Ariana Grande is learning hiragana.

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Foreigners in Japan vote for the best-looking katakana character

When it comes to Japan’s three writing systems, kanji, hiragana and katakana, it’s the most complex of the lot that usually gets the most attention. The numerous lines and strokes involved in kanji pictographs are so revered that people nominate one at the end of every year to represent the mood of the nation. Even foreigners across the world are taken by their meaning and beauty, with many committing a patch of skin to their favourite (sometimes completely wrong) kanji in tattoo form.

But what about the least utilised member of the group, the katakana characters used for foreign words? Well it looks like they’re finally getting a bit of love, with a recent survey being conducted among foreign residents in Japan to determine the coolest looking symbol in the katakana syllabary. Place your bets now for which one comes out on top!

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Who is David Ury? And who the heck is Ken Tanaka? – An interview with the “twin brothers”

We first came across David Ury and his alleged twin brother, Ken Tanaka, after seeing their video titled “Ken Tanaka and David Ury Japanese accent training.” The video features two men of similar physical characteristics having a conversation in Japanese with very different accents. Intrigued, I found myself combing the internet for any information regarding the pair and learned that David Ury is an American actor and Ken Tanaka is his long-lost twin brother who was adopted by a family in Japan. Various videos on Ken’s helpmefindparents YouTube channel seemed to verify this information, showing Ken and David speaking to each other in the same room.

But whispers of controversy surround the brothers despite the online existence of two completely distinct people. Is Ken Tanaka actually just David Ury showing off his acting skills? We set up an interview with David hoping to find out more about the talented actor behind the perfect Japanese accent.

What we landed up with was some of the best Japanese study advice we’ve ever heard, some anecdotes about crazy adventures in Japan and an introduction to a comedic book about death.

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