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Learn kanji with the magical power of poop!

These new textbooks are the shit, you guys.

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Top 10 most irritating Japanese borrowed words – Part 2 (The people’s top 10)

My entries for the “Top 10 most irritating Japanese borrowed words” weren’t irritating enough for some people – so I’ve formulated a part two (“tsuu”) with your help!

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Tohoku University’s study cites a scary new reason for an increased chance of being a hikkikomori

If you want to keep yourself from becoming a shut-in, you better brush your teeth!

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Top 10 most irritating Japanese borrowed words

Here are some Japanese words that can drive English-speakers crazy when learning Japanese!

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Noisy neighbors? Need silence to study? These tiny dogs can help!

Get the peace and quiet you need by shoving a tiny dog in your ears!

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Japanese interior micro-houses and study spaces: Great for work-at-home professionals, kids too

Who needs a home away from home when you can have a second house inside your living space?

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How Japanese universities are trying to help worried parents by babying their students

University means a lot of things to people, but most of us have the same initial thought when we receive that glorious acceptance letter: FREEDOM! You are rid of your parents, can ignore those pesky siblings and finally carve out your own space in the world. You get to experience all sorts of the highs and lows, like living on your own for the first time, cooking for yourself and being the only one who cares if you make it to class.

All the responsibility lies with the student; university is the time for coming of age and shaping the adult that you will be. Recently though, Japanese parents have become increasingly vocal about their concerns for their children and the fact that there are not many support systems in place to give the parents some peace of mind. Well, as it turns out, the universities are listening and bowing to parents’ wishes.

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Japanese mental clinic’s hiragana alphabet chart is as humorous as it is educational

If you’ve ever entertained the notion of studying Japanese, at some point you’ll find yourself faced with the task of learning the language’s intricate writing system. The good news is that as long as you can write the strictly phonetic script sets, hiragana and katakana, and don’t mind everything you write looking like it was written by a first grader, you don’t necessarily have to know kanji.

But whether you go on to become a kanji master or not, most beginners usually start out learning hiragana first. In the past we introduced a number of handy Japanese study resources, but unfortunately we didn’t include anything for basic hiragana writing skills. So today we’d like to make-up for that by introducing this humorous hiragana study chart that has Japanese users on Twitter chuckling and doing some serious self-reflection.

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Natto allergy is caused by jellyfish stings, says surprising Japanese study

Surfers could be at greater risk of developing an allergy to natto, a Japanese study has found. And the unlikely culprit is thought to be jellyfish stings.

Natto, the sticky fermented soy beans that are as as polarising as Marmite, is a traditional and common Japanese food. Allergy to natto is rare, but research from Yokohama City University Hospital suggests it could be more prevalent in people who spend a lot of time in the water and have been repeatedly stung by jellyfish.

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Want to be a professional gamer? Time to go to school!

Children growing up around the world these days are asking the same question, “How do I become a pro gamer?” In the past, all you could do was find a game you were good at, become really good at it, and then hope someone would pay you for it.

These days, the professional gamer has many avenues to explore. There are plenty of games out there that have a thriving professional circuit. If you like first-person shooters (FPS), you could get into Call of Duty. If you’re more of a real-time strategy game fan perhaps Starcraft II will be your thing. The versus fighting game scene has always been extremely competitive, and multiplayer online battle arenas (MOBA) like Dota 2 and League of Legends are breaking player and viewership records. But can you really say that those professional gamers are actually “qualified”? Well, if you’re looking for a school in Japan, you could become a qualified pro gamer with a pro gamer degree!

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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.

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Sneak attack English! Expat in Japan gets a nice surprise at the McDonald’s drive-thru

Despite every student in Japan being required to take English language courses, it may be difficult to find everyday people who enjoy and feel comfortable speaking the language. Sure, there are some former compulsory school students who are completely fluent in English, but overall, finding a native-level speaker or even someone confident enough to speak with can be difficult. That’s why we were surprised and pleased to watch this video of an Australian expat and his English language encounter at the McDonald’s drive-thru in Japan.

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Cuss like a pro with this handy guide for Japanese speakers

Everyone knows that there are certain nuances in every language that you just can’t learn from school. Humor, for instance, but also cursing. Sure, you might know the definitions of a few key words, but stringing them together is a task unlikely to be perfected except by those who have spent some time with folks who are native speakers.

A recent book written by MADSAKI and published by Transworld Japan is giving Japanese speakers the fine opportunity to learn how to creatively curse in American-English. Titled, How to use F*** Correctly: 99 Phrases Using F***, S***, D***, and H*** that Schools Won’t Teach You, Handle with Care, it promises 176 pages of illustrated cursing, with examples.

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Learning Japanese? All you really need is this one word…

Japanese is not an easy language to learn. Though, we have to say, we’re not sure that any language is easy to learn when you’re a beginner! But for English speakers, Japanese is certainly one of the most difficult languages to pick up. Anyone who’s taken a class will surely remember the first time they opened their textbook and saw two massive charts full of squiggly lines and realized that they now had to learn two more alphabets! And then start on kanji…

However, it looks like one Japanese-speaking UK native has found the key to Japanese using just one word!

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Six (and a half) essential resources for learning Japanese

As we’ve said before, Japanese isn’t actually as hard to learn as it’s often made out to be. Unlike English, for example, Japanese follows its own grammatical rules far more rigidly, pronunciation is easy because there is only one variant of each vowel sound to choose from (none of this tomayto/tomahto business), and it’s possible to create entire, perfectly meaningful and valid sentences without uttering a single pronoun or bothering to conjugate a verb.

Nevertheless, the language will not magically seep into you through a desire to speak it alone — you still need to encounter and study it as often as possible. With that in mind, we’d like to present to you the six and a half resources that no dedicated student of the Japanese language should ever be without. Oh, and the good news is some of them are completely free.

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Get lost all the time? Can’t read maps? Study says you should play more Super Mario 64

I personally never really understood where the stereotype that women are bad at map-reading comes from. When most of the women in my life are more composed, logical, and organised than I or any of the guys I know, it seems odd that girls should be known as poor navigators.

If you do happen to be female and utterly hopeless with maps, though, a recent study suggests that you might benefit from playing video games more often, with findings suggesting that those who regularly pick up a controller have a better sense of direction and get lost less often.

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Japanese Star Wars notebooks: Because Jedi have homework to do too

April is the start of the academic year in Japan, and for kids, parents and stationery manufacturers that means one thing: it’s back to school shopping season. And across Japan, as elementary school students carefully write their names in their notebooks for the new year, there’s a good chance that notebook will be Showa Noto brand. The company’s gakushucho (study notebooks) are a hugely popular series of school notebooks, used by school students all over the country. Showa Noto also makes character-branded goods, and we’re desperate to get our hands on one of these new Star Wars school notebooks!

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Japanese government study on robot anime now available in English

Thanks to the patient translation efforts of AltJapan Co., Ltd. co-founder Matt Alt, readers can now read, in English,most of the 90-page study on robot anime made available by the Japanese government. Titled “Nihon Animation Guide: Robot Anime-hen,” the original document was written by anime critic Ryusuke HikawaSunrise head of cultural promotion Koichi Inoue, and writer Daisuke Sawaki, and compiled by Mori Building Co., which has previously also compiled reports on Japanese live-action special effects shows, movies, and other pop culture topics. In addition to these reports, the company also promotes media arts information, hosts symposiums, conducts surveys, and works on archive projects.

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English grammar app makes us laugh, helps us learn with blindfolds, bondage and aliens

For Japanese people, studying English is almost a given. Even folks who may have no interest in actually leaving their home country may feel compelled to study the language for business or simply because they’re supposed to. But it’s hard to enjoy learning a language that you don’t have any interest in–and having fun is one of the best ways to facilitate learning.

This has opened up something of a cottage industry for people trying to make the learning part fun. There are nonsensical textbooks and sexy teachers, but then there are the college textbooks that seem like their authors weren’t even trying.

Well, for any Japanese English-learners who are on the verge of giving up – and perhaps for those of you struggling with learning Japanese – there may be one ray of hope still shining: Majime na Eibunpou, a surprisingly funny English grammar smartphone app!

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How good is your Japanese accent? Maybe this video can help you improve

It doesn’t matter how long you’ve studied Japanese or how many kanji you can successfully identify, if you still sound like you’re speaking English when you are in fact speaking Japanese, you’re going to look like a dumb gaijin.

But it’s hard to identify your level of fluency when it comes to pronunciation and we’re hoping the following video can help. This is hands down the best side-by-side comparison of an excellent and…shall we say “authentic American” Japanese accent executed by “twin brothers” David Ury and Ken Tanaka.

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