kanji

Do you know some Japanese? Test out your skills with this Japanese “math” puzzle

Can you bend your brain to turn “three” into a “ball?”

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The packing-tape calligraphy master visits us and shows us how to make our own sticky signs【Pics】

What better way to have a calligraphy master show off their skills than by writing “RocketNews24?”

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The one and only master of train station packing-tape calligraphy shares his story and inspiration

Say hello to Shuetsu Sato, the man whose handcrafted packing-tape masterpieces guide millions every day.

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W.T.F. Japan: Top 5 myths about learning Japanese【Weird Top Five】

Japanese is a crazy language, but not for the reasons you might expect. Read More

W.T.F. Japan: Top 5 most difficult kanji ever【Weird Top Five】

The kanji with the most strokes – you may run out of ink before you finish writing some of these.

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Why does Japanese writing need three different sets of characters? (Part 2)

We’re back and ready to take on the third, and most puzzling, type of Japanese text: katakana.

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Why does Japanese writing need three different sets of characters? (Part 1)

No, it’s not because the Japanese language hates you.

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“Safety” voted Japan’s official kanji of 2015

After a year of taxes and a previous year of rings, “safety” is the word that resonates true in the hearts of Japanese in 2015.

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Japanese teacher’s explanation about “individuality” to kids has a deep, beautiful meaning

Individuality is more than just writing kanji slightly differently from each other.

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Hey, “cool guy!” Here’s why you should double-check the meaning of your Japanese kanji T-shirt

With its brushstroke-style Japanese text, this T-shirt might look cool, but it’s literally ridiculous.

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Transforming kanji watches not so great for telling time, perfect for being awesome

With the advent of cellphones, wristwatches have become less and less common, meaning makers have had to get more and more creative capture the attention of customers. One perfect example is this Japanese watch company that has started selling watches that use transforming metal kanji characters to tell the time!

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10 badass four-character phrases to add to your Japanese language toolkit

With enough hard work, anyone can learn to speak and read Japanese. But you know you’ve truly made it as a Nihongo master only when you can effortlessly break out a few yojijukugo, or four-kanji idioms. Join us after the jump for 10 of our favourites!

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Japan’s top baby names for 2015: Will Naruto-influenced monikers still reign supreme?

Choosing a name for your newborn son or daughter can be tough. Not only are you responsible for bestowing a name upon another human being—a collection of vowels and consonants that that will stick with them for life and likely have a profound effect on how people initially perceive their owner—but if you live in a country like Japan, then you not only have to choose the baby’s name, but how it will be written in kanji characters as well. Talk about pressure.

But that’s the reason we have baby name lists! For the past two years we’ve been keeping track of the most popular names for baby boys and girls in Japan, and this year we’re keeping up the tradition. Take a peek at what trends are spreading through Japan by seeing which names are in this year and which are out.

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Sweet high-school anime shows how learning kanji can be the key to getting a girlfriend【Videos】

Kanji characters are one of the most fascinating, but also the most troublesome, aspects of the Japanese language—and that goes not just for foreign learners but also for Japanese natives. The Kanji Kentei is a standardized test that you can take to prove your kanji knowledge, but after being drilled on the kanji throughout their school lives Japanese people might not be taken by the idea of sitting for even more exams on the subject.

That’s why the Kanji Kentei administrators, in an effort to encourage people to give up their free time to study kanji and take their exams, has fallen back on the failsafe go-to of Japanese advertising: cute, nostalgic anime.

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Kanji quiz time! Can you identify the characters behind Japan’s creative municipal flags?

Japan’s national flag may be well-known for its simplicity—after all it’s just a big red circle in the middle of a field of white—but did you know that’s not Japan’s only flag? Every single prefecture, city, town and village has its own special flag to represent its history or what it’s famous for.

Even more commonly, many of the municipalities’ flags have stylized versions of the kanji found in their names. And when we say stylized, we mean highly stylized. We have here a selection of some of Japan’s kanji-flags, so you can see the creativity that went into each of them.

If you think you’re a kanji master, then get ready to test your skills and see how many you can guess correctly!

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“Welcome argument?” Mr Sato really, really wants to know where Lily-Rose Depp got her kanji shirt

Clothing with incorrect and funny English (so-called Engrish) is everywhere in Japan, and has given many foreign visitors a chuckle over the years.  So it’s always nice to see the tables turned, and Japan having the opportunity to marvel at clothing with odd Japanese writing on it.

That’s what happened this week when our reporter Mr. Sato got wind that actress and model Lily-Rose Depp had been spotted in New York wearing a particularly nonsensical T-shirt with Japanese kanji characters on it. He had only one question: “Where did she get it?”

…only one question, Mr. Sato? We’ve got a few more questions than that! So let’s take a look at the shirt in question, and crack the code behind its oddball message.

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Students of Japanese despair – you’ve probably been writing some of the simplest kanji wrong

Remember when you decided to study Japanese because kanji characters are just so much fun to learn? No, me neither. While it’s true that kanji can be fascinating, and they do get easier to learn and make more sense as you progress, sometimes you’ll come across something that makes you feel like you’ve been sent all the way back to the beginning again.

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We test our Japanese staff’s knowledge of kanji by making them take a kanji aptitude test

Anyone who’s serious about studying the Japanese language will soon encounter that seemingly insurmountable wall known as kanji. Many of those people will inevitably think, “Just how many of them do I have to learn to be able to read Japanese?” Well, to put it simply, it depends on to what degree you want to be able to read like a native speaker.

Of course, the meaning of “to read like a native speaker” is also up for debate. In search of this answer, we had four adult members of our Japanese staff take three different levels of a kanji aptitude test. How do you think they fared?

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Name Game: Finding the origin and prevalence of Japanese surnames just got easier

I love business cards, because I’ll admit it, I am not good with names. First names, last names, if you tell me, I will probably forget it. (Kirakira names are usually easier to remember though!) The good thing about living in Japan, however, is that despite there being over 100,000 different surnames, a really high percentage of people use only a few really common names.

To make it even easier for me, different areas of Japan often have higher densities of certain names. For instance, there are about 4,700 people in Japan with surname Maru (丸), but more than 50 percent of them live in southern Chiba. So, if you forget someone’s name in southern Chiba, Maru might be a safe guess.

A website and smartphone application called Myoji-Yurai Net allows you to find out the prevalence, origin and other fun information about the top 3,000 surnames in Japan. It’s actually quite fun!

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“Why, Japanese people!?” American dude has us rolling on the floor laughing with his comedic sketch

He’s lived in Japan for four years but has only been an entertainer for two months. Even so, this guy already has Japanese celebrities roaring with laughter.

Meet Atsugiri Jason (厚切りジェイソン), whose stage name translates to something like “Thickly-sliced Jason.” This up-and-coming comedic genius was recently featured on a Japanese TV New Year’s special, where he performed a short sketch entirely in Japanese which proved to be so popular that the internet is already buzzing about him making his big break this year.

Anyone who has ever struggled with learning kanji is sure to appreciate this video. Check out his comedy sketch after the jump!

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