language

Four areas in which Japan needs to improve if it wants to attract more overseas travelers

Japan’s National Tourist Organization recently released its statistics on the number of overseas travelers who visited in the country in 2014, and we’re proud to say that 13,413,467 of you came to visit (though we’re also a little hurt that so few of you called us up to get ramen while you were here). That number represents almost a 30-percent increase from the number of foreign tourists Japan received in 2013, and a whopping 60-percent jump compared to 2012.

Still, Japan only ranks 27th globally in its ability to draw travelers from abroad, making it eighth in Asia, behind world-number 22 Korea and number four China.

So what’s holding Japan back from becoming an even more popular international travel destination? RocketNews24’s non-Japanese staff put our heads together, and after getting over the initial pain from our foreheads violently colliding, came up with the following list of areas Japan could do better in that foreign travelers would definitely appreciate.

Read More

Comedian suggests using Japanese with American accent to stealthily broach uncomfortable topics

Have you ever run into someone, on the subway, perhaps, or in line at a Starbucks, and noticed they’d forgotten to close up the zipper on their jeans or had their skirt tucked into their underwear? Inner conflict follows as you weigh the pros and cons of telling them about it. On the one hand, that person is almost certainly going to think you’re a jerk for pointing out their social faux pax, but on the other hand, you’d be saving them the untold awkwardness of interacting with everyone all day with their underwear half sticking out of their open fly.

There may be a good middle-ground solution though, according to one Japanese comedian: Just tell them what you want to say with such a thick accent that it sounds like a totally foreign language. Sure, the person on the receiving end will think you’re a huge weirdo, but at least they won’t think you’re an A-hole, and being confronted with a bunch of unintelligable jibber jabber from some random will probably cause the person to take a quick inventory of their surroundings, hopefully prompting them to realize their zipper is down or underwear on display.

Read More

Confessions of a gaijin: 12 things we do that we’d never admit to Japanese people

In Japan almost everyone hangs out their laundry to dry rather than using costly, energy-guzzling clothes dryers. Foreigners have no problems complying, but one quickly learns that underwear is special–you don’t hang it out with the rest of your clothes where others might see it (or try to see it). The “smallies” are to be hung up inside. When you think about it, it does make sense. But other things are harder for foreigners to get used to and yet others just don’t make sense at all to us so are harder to incorporate into our lifestyles here.

Pooling responses from expats living here in Japan and the RocketNews24 staff, today we’re sharing the most common things that we just can’t quite embrace like the Japanese do, no matter how hard we try. Join us after the jump as we reveal the secret life of gaijin…but shhhh, don’t tell anyone!

Read More

We find out if one trending phrase can make people from Osaka flip out

Recently a certain greeting has become popular over Twitter in Japan. According to internet legend these two sentences will cause someone from Osaka to “punch you in the face.”

It sounded like an outrageous claim and yet people seem to be latching onto it. The story goes that by approaching someone from Osaka with “Heee, Kimitte Osaka Hito nanda. Yoroshikudenganamangana” will cause them to lose their minds with rage.

Has this Twitter user stumbled upon an exposed nerve in the fabric of Japanese society, or is this just another drop in the bucket of specious internet claims? We conducted a small experiment to find out.

Read More

Language fail: 22 funny and embarrassing tales of Japanese language missteps

They say that one of the main reasons so few Japanese people master the English language is because they’re worried about making mistakes or embarrassing themselves. While we do wish more Japanese would break out their English a little more often (get a couple of drinks into your coworkers and you’ll be amazed at how much English they actually know), at the same time we can’t really blame them for being reluctant to speak, because learning a second language as an adult can be tough.

After all, when our words fail us, it can not only result in confusion, but very often shock, laughter, and even anger. Just ask the kind folks who were good enough to share with us their most awkward and memorable mistakes made when speaking – or rather trying to speak – Japanese.

Join us after the jump for 22 tales of language mishaps. Oh, and maybe make some notes while you do so that none of these ever happen to you!

Read More

“Don’t touch my moustache!” Japanese that sounds like English but isn’t, and vice versa!

When you start learning another language, like, say, Japanese, it’s common to come across certain words that sound like English words, but aren’t. For example, the Japanese word “hai” which means yes, sounds a lot like the greeting “hi” in English. Another example might be that “ohayou” meaning good morning sounds a lot like the US state of Ohio.

But, naturally, this goes both ways. There are also plenty of examples of Japanese speakers finding “Japanese” meaning in English words that a native English speaker would never think of…

Read More

Washington Post writer catches heat for “dirty Korean beer” joke

There’s a reason I don’t write for the Washington Post. Actually, there are about a thousand reasons, almost all of which pertain to my own ineptness. Another one these reasons is that I occasionally write some embarrassing joke that gets completely misunderstood and blows up in my face.

So, I can relate on some level to the Washington Post’s writer and Tokyo bureau chief Anna Fifield. Her tweet, which jokingly translated a customer request sign as “Don’t bring your dirty Korean beer in here,” has led to some considerably harsh feedback from Japanese Twitter users.

Read More

Sayonara, sushi: 21 little things that people miss after leaving Japan

As a reader of RocketNews24, chances are you already have a pretty big soft spot for Japan. You may even already be living in the Land of the Rising Sun or have plans to fly out just as soon as circumstances allow.

But sometimes, even when we love a place with every fibre of our being, we just can’t stay forever. Family anxiously awaiting our return; work commitments; financial constraints and more mean that, at some point or other, many of us have to wave goodbye to Japan and return to our respective homelands.

Some of the things people miss about Japan will be immediately obvious, but others tend to sink in only a few weeks or months after returning home. Today, we’re taking a look at 21 of the little things, in no particular order, that Japan does so uniquely or so incredibly well that foreigners really start to pine for them once they finally say sayonara and head home.

Read More

Japanese language test-takers flip out over Engrish bathroom sign, get correction-happy

The JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test) is a test of Japanese as a second language knowledge and is held twice a year in Japan and many other countries around the world. Since the test is entirely in Japanese, it can be taken by anyone regardless of English ability.

Even so, the organization decided to put up English translations on bathroom signs at a test location in Japan, and some irritated English-speaking members of the Grammar Police decided to do a little editing work whilst sitting on the potty.

Read More

What do you call this sitting pose? Japanese netizens polled to find differences in dialect

Even when speaking with fellow English speakers, sometimes you realize that the same thing can be called a variety of names. (Try calling soda “pop” in most of the US and enjoy the funny looks you get.) The same is true in Japan, where, thanks to regional dialects, some people have a hard time being understood when they leave their hometowns.

One Twitter user recently brought regional dialect differences to the forefront of the Internet when he surveyed over a thousand people about the word they would use to describe a certain way of sitting. Collecting and plotting the data on a map of Japan, the results have been surprising people from all regions!

Read More

Our Japanese reporter shares three interesting revelations he had after studying Korean

Hello, everyone! I’m a Japanese man who’s been studying Korean for three years now. I’ve been doing a language exchange with a South Korean study abroad student in Tokyo’s Shin-Okubo “Koreatown” district, learning about both the Korean language and culture.

During the past few years, I’ve discovered several points of interest regarding Japan and Korea. Today, I’d like to share with you three things that surprised me as a Japanese person studying Korean.

Read More

North Korean officials, Gaddafi and more get the heavy metal treatment from talented guitarist

A while back, Japanese politician Ryutaro Nonomura captured the world’s attention after a surreal outburst at a press conference regarding his alleged misuse of taxpayers’ money. No doubt seeing fertile ground for comedy, one creative musician then made Nonomura the stuff of Internet legend by setting the man’s sobs to a guitar track.

Guitarist Felix Martin and his talented collaborators operate under a similar concept, setting guitar, drums, and bass to speeches from North Korean officials, Hugo Chavez, and others. This project isn’t for laughs, though. With an ear for the rhythm and pitch of the spoken word, not to mention masterful heavy metal stylings, Martin and company elevate the aptly named Human Transcription project to the realm of art. Politics and propaganda have never sounded so good.

Read More

Expats give their opinions on Chinglish, China’s garbled English translations 【Photos】

We’ve talked before about Engrish, the often humorously garbled form of English that peppers products and signage in Japan. The phenomenon isn’t unique to Japan, though, as the expat community in China also often comes across similar blunders, which the local community sometimes refers to as Chinglish.

But are these botched translations a sign of callous disrespect, or the end result of earnest effort coupled with sub-par linguistic skills? That was the question put to users of China Daily’s Internet forum, and here’s what a few had to say.

Read More

Russian beauty talks about troubles foreigners face when first moving to Japan 【Video】

Japan attracts foreigners of all kinds and people decide to come here for all sorts of different reasons. But, as with any culture different from one’s own, there can be some aspects of Japanese culture that are hard for foreigners to wrap their heads around or get used to, such as deciding if you should help a crying girl.

Ashiya, a beautiful Russian expat, recently shared some of her difficulties upon coming to Japan on her YouTube channel*. We have a feeling that these will strike a chord with many other expats and internationalists interested in Japan as well, Russian or not.

Read More

Struggling with Japanese? Let Tako lend you a hand…or five

Yes, I know octopi have eight tentacles not six, but Tako of Takos Japanese has five. It’s the same cartoon logic that makes the Simpson family all have eight fingers. And yes, I know the name should probably read “Tako’s Japanese.” Really though, let’s not get bogged down in talk of appendages and apostrophes right now.

Today we’re here to look at a new Japanese study app released by Spain-based Giant Soul Interactive. A lot of Japanese study apps found online are either fun but limited in content or deep but boring and stodgy. Learn Japanese with Tako (recently changed from “Takos Japanese”) aims to strike a happy balance of a fun way to learn the language that’s also rich in content. Let’s find out if they succeed.

Read More

A brief history of shorthand in Japan

The video pictured above was posted on YouTube about five years ago and resulted in several comments wondering what the woman was scribbling onto papers at a furious rate. Some suspected it might have been Arabic or really sloppy Japanese when actually it was a demonstration of Waseda shorthand.

Even with English’s relatively simple letters, shorthand was in big demand before the digital era in order to take down information quickly. It shouldn’t be a big leap to assume Japanese with multiple character sets and kanji would welcome a faster writing system. Thus several styles of Japanese shorthand were developed over the 20th century. Let’s take a look at a few.

Read More

Nihon-no: Is an entirely English-speaking village coming to Tokyo?

What is the best way to learn a language? Many foreign people in Japan will tell you living here and being immersed in Japanese is a pretty good way to pick up the lingo. When you realize you have to be able to speak and understand the language in order to live your daily life, it certainly becomes a huge motivation to make the Japanese language your own.

Do you know what isn’t a particularly good method of learning a language? Four classes a week of language learning taught in your native language with little to no chances to utilize what you’ve learned.

As the whole world knows, the Olympic Games will be held in Tokyo in 2020, and Tokyo wants to be as prepared as possible. The city is trying to do everything it can to improve its citizens’ grasp of English, and there is now talk of plans to create an “English Village” where everything will be conducted in the language so many Japanese wish they were fluent in.

Read More

Test your Japanese onomatopoeia skills against YouTuber Sharla in Japan

Have you ever wondered why Pikachu says, “Pika-pika”? It’s just a random noise that sounds like his name, right? Wrong! Pika-pika is actually an onomatopoeia for something sparkling, like lightning– how fitting for a Pokemon whose ability is static electricity! But wait a minute, flashing light doesn’t make a sound! How can it be an onomatopoeia?

Japanese can be, more times than not, a tricky language. Onomatopoeia not only have three distinct categories that far surpass the narrow range of those in English, but can also be used mid-sentence and as various parts of speech. Even seasoned veterans of Japanese can’t always figure out the meanings.

Read More

Flipping the kanji for “husband” upside-down reveals slightly worrying double meaning

The common stereotype about women among sexually frustrated, mostly parents’ basement-dwelling, men is that girls only go for attractive, rich guys, and never the nice, tender guys with warm hearts and chic fedoras.

Well, when it comes to one of those observations, anyway, there appears to be at least one cultural precedent of a diabolical hidden message that seemingly proves the stereotype right in one of the very words that defines men and women’s relationship in Japan…

Read More

Smartphone game turns mushrooms into cute anime girls, still gives foreigners wacky accents

There aren’t many foods I hate more than mushrooms. I’ve got issues with both their taste and texture, and, to my eyes, they just look kind of gross, no matter which variety we’re talking about.

But while I don’t think I’ll ever completely come around on the idea of eating fungi, it’s nice to at least have a different visual image for them, thanks to a new smartphone game that’s turned a half-dozen types of mushrooms into cute anime girls.

Read More

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 20,167 other followers