5 Japanese Podcasts to Test your Listening Skills

5japanesepodcasts

I’ve written before about how I use podcasts to study Japanese. Since then I have been trying about a few different podcasts and thought I would share a few that I have enjoyed listening to. I find these podcasts interesting and they happen to be in Japanese, which is a win-win situation. If you are looking for more Japanese study related podcasts, I would check out the podcast recommendation series of posts.

I’ve linked to each podcast in the titles below: alternatively, you should be able to find the podcast by searching for the title if you have a specific podcasting app (or iTunes).

 

SBSの日本語放送

This is a podcast aimed at the Japanese community in Australia and sometimes focuses on community events taking place around the country. Don’t let this put you off because each episode covers a different topic and includes interviews and discussions in Japanese. There is often a quick summary in English of what each episode is about at the very beginning.

I really like the range of interviews they have on this podcast, which normally last 10-15 minutes. Not only that, I find the speaking really clear which makes it a great podcast to listen to when you are out and about.

 

Hotcast

In my previous post on podcasts, I mentioned a podcast called ひいきびいき. This podcast follows a similar format in that it is usually two people (one male, one female), who discuss specific topics in each episode. This podcast has been going for some time and there are hundreds of episodes to listen to, generally covering everyday topics such as food and drink, technology and TV.

Like ひいきびいき, I just enjoy hearing the presenters views on different things, and the discussions are usually interesting. At 30-40 minutes long, the average episode length is probably the longest of the podcasts covered in this post.

 

ピートのふしぎなガレージ

This is probably my favourite on the list. Each episode focuses on a different topic, which is often the origin of things from Japan and beyond: previous episodes have covered topics such as such as yakitori, saunas, ukiyoe, and darts to name a few. The episodes start out with a short drama skit in which the main character goes back in time to learn how and why the topic of the episode came to be as it is in the present. This is then followed up with an interview with someone who is a specialist in said topic to discuss it in more detail.

I really like the way of presenting the history of each topic in the form of a skit which makes the podcast both engaging and easy to digest, especially for Japanese learners. I do feel like I have learnt a lot from listening to only a couple of episodes!

 

明るいニュースのふたり

Sometimes watching the news can be very depressing – this podcast is all about sharing various news stories that are uplifting and interesting. Each podcast episode is about 20 minutes long and covers 2-3 good news stories. The two presenters read out the story and will have a brief discussion around each one.

This is a nice episode to relax to either in the morning or evening.There are not too many episodes and podcast hasn’t been updated for a few months, but I still think it is worth listening to when you get tired of the normal news channels.

 

きくドラ

This podcast is a series of dramatised versions of various stories, with each episode focusing on a different story. These stories are a mix of Japanese and non-Japanese authors, including the likes of Shakespeare and Chekhov. A lot of the stories covered are well-known traditional stories that you can find in Japanese on Aozora Bunko.

I find that the podcasts are an interesting way to listen to stories that you may already be familiar with. You can easily find one of the stories (for beginners I recommend the stories by Kyusaku Yumeno, Mimei Ogawa or Nankichi Niimi) on Aozora Bunko and try giving them a read before you listen to the corresponding episode.

What podcasts do you like listening to and why? Please let me know in the comments!

Top 8 Japanese TV shows to watch on Netflix

As I’ve covered in a previous post, Netflix can be a really great place for Japanese listening practice, with new shows and films being added all the time. Unfortunately, sorting through the Netflix site to find Japanese shows can be a bit tricky.

I have a list of all of the Japanese content on the UK Netflix in another post.

There’s quite a variety of Japanese dramas, anime and films on the platform. To give you an idea of what to watch next, here’s my list of some of the best shows to watch in terms of Japanese study, in no particular order:

netflixtop8blog

 

僕だけがいない街 / Erased (Live Action Drama)

No. of Episodes: 12

Subtitles: Japanese and English available

NB: Anime is also available on Netflix

Satoru Fujinuma is a worker at a pizza shop who is also pursuing a career as a manga artist. Satoru also happens to have the strange ability to go back in time, known as ‘revival’. After finding his mother dead in their apartment, he ends up travelling 18 years in the past, just before the time of an attempted kidnap case which involved some of his classmates. Can he use this ability to change the past for the better, saving his mother and his classmates in the process?

screenshot from Erased Netflix live action jdrama

This adaptation of a manga immediately draws you in and there are plenty of suspenseful moments to keep you hooked. Together with some cool special effects and strong acting performances particularly from the child actors, there is plenty to enjoy here. Having lived in Hokkaido, part of me loves this drama for partially being set there and portraying a part of Japan that isn’t often shown on screen.

Language difficulty: This is probably the easiest drama to understand on this list. The sentences tend to be short and mostly everyday language. The main characters are from Hokkaido, and some of the dialogue reflects this: examples include the ~べ(さ) ending, and the use of 「なした?」instead of 「どうした?」but aside from this is not too difficult to follow.

 

ファイナルファンタジーXIV: 光のお父さん / Final Fantasy XIV: Dad of Light (Drama)

No. of Episodes: 8

Subtitles: Japanese and English available

Just seeing the title of this drama on Netflix may not instantly appeal to some, but I wouldn’t let the strong gaming theme put you off.

The main character Akio Inaba has always struggled to communicate with his father, who has always put his career first. When his father suddenly resigns from his job, Akio takes the opportunity to buy his dad a Playstation 4 and a copy of the online game Final Fantasy 14. Akio hopes that he can use his character in the game called ‘Maidy’ to not only help his father with the game, but also to get to know his father better.

Final Fantasy Dad of Light Netflix jdrama screenshot

Even though Akio and his father are rarely in the same scene together (as most of their interactions are via the game), you really get the sense that they do care about each other despite never properly putting it into words.

There are strong performances between the main characters, particularly the late Osugi Ren as Akio’s dad Mr. Inaba. Whilst a bit dysfunctional, their familial relationship comes across as very realistic and natural. As a result, the use of Final Fantasy 14 as a key part of the story doesn’t feel too forced and means you don’t have to be a fan of the game to enjoy this drama. The supporting characters are also entertaining and help to lighten the mood.

Language difficulty: Most of the language used is every day with the exception of some gaming/ fantasy terms. Some of the scenes in the drama take place in an office, so there is also an opportunity to hear polite language which contrasts with the more casual language used in the game. Having Japanese subtitles helps to make the drama more accessible to Japanese learners which is always a plus!

 

南くんの恋人 / My Little Lover (Drama, 2015 version)

No. of Episodes: 10

Subtitles: Japanese and English available

Note: This drama is also available to watch on Viki for free!

This drama is based on a manga by Shungicu Uchida. Chiyomi Horikiri is a high school student living in a small town in rural Japan. After going out in a storm one night, Chiyomi ends up being shrunk to only a few inches tall. She is discovered by her neighbour and childhood friend, Shunichi Minami, who has been unusually distant with her recently. Can she get their friendship back on track, and find a way to grow back to her normal size before her family and friends find out?

My Little Lover Netflix jdrama screenshot

I wasn’t expecting to like this drama, but I was pleasantly surprised by how the relationship between the two main characters develops. The premise of the show is linked to the story of 一寸法師 (Issunboushi, the inch high samurai), a traditional Japanese children’s story.

Part fantasy, part school drama, the show manages to have a strange sense of realism despite its unusual premise. Whilst the performances by the two leads is strong, I really like the cast of supporting characters. In my opinion, they really help to balance the dramatic parts of the show with well-timed humour.

Language difficulty: Being a drama with mostly young people, this is another good drama to hear how young people talk to each other. Despite the rural setting, there aren’t any unusual dialects to deal with here. The drama mostly uses everyday language, so this is very accessible for students of Japanese.

 

深夜食堂 / Midnight Diner (Drama)

No. of Episodes: 10

Subtitles: Japanese and English available

This is another show adapted from the best selling manga. The main character, the runs a small diner in the back streets of Tokyo. This place is unusual in that it only operates between midnight and 7am, hence the title. Each episode is named after a dish available at the diner, and focuses on different patrons to the diner and their stories, with a special focus on the relationships around them.

There can be a lot of drama but the stories always end on a positive note, with tips on how to make the recipe from the title of the episode.

Midnight Diner Netflix Jdrama Screenshot

There is a really interesting mix of stories and characters in this series. Some examples include a man who is suddenly left to his son, a university professor who falls in love with a Korean woman, a girl who always knits a jumper for the person she has a crush on, and many more. The proprietor is mostly quiet but always lends a sympathetic ear and often offers quiet encouragement. You get the feeling that the diner provides a much-needed respite from the pressures of their lives in Tokyo.

Language difficulty: You will hear everyday language in the drama, which is made a bit easier by the availability of Japanese subtitles. Due to the nature of the show there is a variety of characters from different walks of life and so speak in various ways, so it is a useful series to watch for that reason.

 

名探偵コナン / Case Closed (Anime)

No. of Episodes: 52 (episodes 748-799)

Subtitles: English available

Note: These episodes are available to watch on Crunchyroll for free!

Shinichi Kudo is a high school student who often works with the police to solve cases. After ingesting a poison which transforms him into a child, he begins working under the name Conan Edogawa and moves to live with his childhood friend, Ran Mouri. Ran’s father is a detective and so Conan often accompanies him on investigations, sometimes using tranquilizers and a voice changer to solve the case in Mr. Mouri’s place.

The Netflix selection of episodes come from much later in the anime adaptation of the long-running manga.

Case Closed Detective Conan Anime Screenshot

Although each episode follows a similar format, there is quite a variety in the types of cases. Conan will sometimes be with Ran, or his school friends when he gets caught up in a mystery – the supporting cast help to balance Conan’s serious attitude in getting the cases solved.

Some cases are resolved within one episode, although there are some which take two or three episodes, which helps keep the format fresh. There are often a few red herrings during the course of the case, but it all wraps up nicely by the end and is explained well.

Language difficulty: Despite being a mystery drama, the majority of the vocabulary is common everyday language. The background of each case is always explained in some detail, but in an easy to understand way.

 

和風総本化 / Japanese Style Originator (TV show)

No. of Episodes: 54

Subtitles: Japanese and English available

This TV show is all about Japanese culture, with a special emphasis on the cultures and traditions unique to Japan. Each episode is based on a certain theme, with a series of videos focusing on topics related to that theme. There is a panel of guests who watch and comment on the videos (if you’ve seen a Japanese panel-style show then you’ll know the drill here). Every so often there will be questions on the topics covered which the guests will have a go at answering.

Japanese Style Originator Netflix TV show screenshot

Whether it be new vocabulary or the history of things you see in Japan every day, you are bound to learn something new from every episode. With 54 episodes which are usually at least an hour long, there is plenty to keep you watching. This is highly recommended for Japanese learners!

Language difficulty: Due to the nature of the show, there is a fair bit of uncommon vocabulary relating to Japanese culture but are explained by the narrator in a way that is easy to understand. In typical style for a Japanese TV show, there is often text on screen which will help you follow what is going on if you are only using Japanese subtitles/ no subtitles at all. The discussions between the guests on the show are fairly straightforward to follow too.

 

テラスハウス / Terrace House (TV show)

No. of Episodes: 54 

Subtitles: Japanese and English available

Note: There are actually three seasons of this on Netflix: ‘Terrace House: Boys & Girls in the City’, ‘Terrace House: Aloha State’, which is set in Hawaii and ‘Terrace House: Opening New Doors’

Terrace House is a reality TV shows where a group of young strangers live together in a share house in Tokyo. The show observes their interactions and how relationships develop when put in such a situation. Each character has a different background and over the course of the show, we get to see where they work and play outside of the share house, which gives a better insight into their personality.

Terrace House Japanese TV Show Netflix screenshot

Clips from developments within the shared house are watched by a group of guests (a mixture of presenters and comedians). They share their opinions on the clips at various points through each episode, which normally sparks a lively discussion.

This is definitely a guilty pleasure for me: as with any reality TV show, the longer you watch the more you become invested in what happens to them. I find it fascinating to observe how the dynamics change when new people join the show. I also find it interesting to see how the guests who comment on the show differ in their opinions on the developments in each episode.

Language difficulty: If you are looking for a show where young people speak Japanese as you would hear it on an everyday basis, this is the show for you. Everyone speaks in a casual way and mostly use everyday language. The availability of Japanese subtitles makes a bit easier to adjust to the casual language if you have trouble catching what is said.

 

おくりびと / Departures (Film)

Film length: 125 mins

Subtitles: English available

The main character Daigo finds himself having to move back to his hometown in Yamagata Prefecture when he loses his job as a cellist in Tokyo. He manages to find a highly paid role, which happens to be preparing the deceased for funerals. He keeps this new job a secret from those around him, including his wife Mika, due to the stigma surrounding his new line of work. Whilst he struggles at first, he soon finds himself getting used to the intricate processes of the 納棺 (のうかん/ encoffining ritual).

We very much learn about the 納棺 process as Daigo does, having taken the job without knowing anything about it. You can tell that there was a lot of effort spent on portraying this ritual in a respectful way and it does not surprise me that the film led to a revival of this increasingly rare ritual. One thing I didn’t expect before watching おくりびと is that despite the theme of the film, there are some funny moments too. I think the main actor does a great job of conveying the mix of emotions he experiences having moved back to his hometown.

Language difficulty: With the exception of some funeral related terms and the Yamagata dialect, it is generally everyday language used in the film. The funeral related terms are explained as these terms are mostly new to the main character.

 

**Update – I believe that Departures may not be on Netflix anymore (at least in the UK). Therefore I am adding one more show that I have really enjoyed since first writing this post.

アグレッシブ列子 / Aggretsuko (Anime)

No. of episodes: 10

Subtitles: Japanese and English available

 

Retsuko, a red panda, is a typical twenty-something who works in an accounting department of a Japanese firm. She doesn’t like her job and finds her coworkers and boss particularly annoying, and longs for something different. She lets out her true emotions by singing death metal songs at karaoke in the evenings.

I didn’t really know what to expect before watching this. All I knew is that Aggretsuko was a Sanrio character, and all of the Sanrio characters I knew (ie. Hello Kitty) were super cute – “How was this going to translate into a show aimed at adults?” I thought. Having finished the series (and now on my second viewing), I am happy to report that Aggretsuko is incredibly entertaining to watch.

Aggretsuko has a great mix of humour and commentary on working life. Retsuko isn’t really sure what she truly wants in life, but through the situations she finds herself in during the series, she begins to form a better idea of what that might be.

The supporting characters are varied and you will no doubt have encountered some of the personalities at some point in your life. At the same time, by the end of the series each of these characters are shown to be much more nuanced compared to when they are first introduced.

I think that every adult watching this who has worked in an office will find this particularly relatable. At the same time, it provides an insight into Japanese working culture and societal expectations especially towards women. I believe that there is a second series in production and I cannot wait to see it!

Language difficulty: As a Netflix original show, you have access to Japanese and English subtitles. The Netflix trailer gives you a pretty good idea of the language you will encounter in this series. The way in which some characters speak may be hard to catch, but the actual dialogue is not too complicated (although casual in tone). I think that even beginners will be able to follow some of the dialogue, so I definitely encourage Japanese readers to watch!

 

This ended up being a much longer post than I was expecting, but I hope you find something interesting to watch if you are a Japanese learner with a Netflix subscription. Are there any shows that you would include on your own list? Please let me know in the comments!

PS. If your budget cannot stretch to a Netflix subscription, I suggest you check out my post on places to watch Japanese TV shows for free!

My favourite free/cheap Online Japanese Resources

The cost of learning with textbooks can be a barrier to those who are just starting to learn Japanese. However, there are plenty of online Japanese resources which are great no matter what your budget is.

Most people are told that in order to study Japanese they should make their way through Genki textbooks 1 and 2. There is of course nothing wrong with this method (it is tried and tested after all).

Unfortunately Genki books are not cheap at around £40 (over $50) for the textbook. This doesn’t include the costs of additional materials such as the workbooks either! So if your funds are limited, buying a Genki is not an affordable option for people studying on their own.

Online Japanese Resources to the rescue!

On the other hand, the internet is packed with online Japanese resources that are actually pretty good! So I thought it would be a good idea to introduce some websites to help those looking to study Japanese without a textbook. When I think back to the Japanese language classes I have attended, textbooks were never used so I definitely think it is possible to self-study without using a textbook.

Having said that, I believe textbooks are useful because they provide a methodical framework in which to work your way through learning the basics of a language. Online resources do not always provide this same framework to follow, which can make it difficult to know what to study next. Fortunately, most of the ones I mention in the below list do not have this issue.

I recommend looking at grammar lists for the beginner level of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT for short). Even if you aren’t planning on sitting the exam, you can get a feel for essential grammar and vocabulary. If you are new to Japanese your focus should be on essential words and phrases, sentence structure and how particles work. Check out my How to start learning Japanese page to get some further ideas and resources.

Here is a list of various online Japanese resources that I think learners can work through like a regular textbook. You could also use this as supplementary material to a textbook or class that you are already studying with.

Websites

Tae Kim – Probably the most well known on the list and for a good reason. Tae Kim’s website offers a comprehensive introduction to Japanese. It also tries to take a different approach to a lot of textbooks. It is being updated all the time too.

Imabi – This is a great place to start if Tae Kim isn’t for you. This online grammar guide starts from the beginning of learning Japanese right up to advanced level. The website is split into beginner, intermediate and advanced conten. Each level is split into a number of lessons, enabling you to work your way through the website just like a textbook. Best of all this is entirely free – needless to say, this is a must visit resource!

Erin’s Challenge – if you’re a visual learner you may find supplementing your study with this website useful. Erin’s Challenge is a website put together by the Japan Foundation. The website has a series of videos featuring Erin, who becomes a school exchange student in Japan. Each short video covers a different topic as she gets used to her new life in Japan. These also have explanations of key grammar points and phrases used which you can then test yourself on.

Marugoto – The Japan Foundation website has a number of free online courses aimed at those self-studying Japanese called Marugoto. Different courses with suit different learners depending on your goal. If you aim is to build practical communication skills in Japanese then I recommend the ‘Katsudoo’ course. However if you want to study Japanese in more depth then choose the ‘Katsudoo & Rikai’ course.

apps-japanese-resources

Apps

Human Japanese – Whilst not free in its entirety, the ‘lite’ version of this app is free. Fortunately the free content gives a pretty good indication of the app’s approach to learning Japanese. I’ve written a separate post reviewing this app as I think it is worth the cost of entry for complete beginners to Japanese.

Lingodeer – this (free!) app is more like Duolingo in style. You follow a series of lessons covering different aspects of vocabulary and grammar. Having said that, it covers topics in a way that makes it very accessible for Japanese learners. You can then follow up the lessons with some of the sites below to reinforce your understanding of the content. It also does a pretty good job of testing you on the content of the lessons in different ways, which is really important when self-studying.

If apps are your thing, you might like my post on the The Best 7 Android Apps for studying Japanese!

Japanese Grammar Reference sites

It’s always good to have somewhere else to check out grammar explanations if they are not making sense straight away. Here’s a list of online Japanese resources you might find useful:

Jgram – I think of Jgram as a database of Japanese grammar points which the community contributes to. You can search for grammar points by the (old) JLPT levels or use the search function to look up something specific. Each entry has notes and example sentences which is helpful for getting a new perspective on a grammar point.

Maggie Sensei – Everything on the website is presented in a really fun and easy to digest way. As well as explanations of grammar points, you will also find posts on aspects of Japanese culture. I also like that vocabulary is listed by theme rather than difficulty.

Wasabi – Wasabi’s online grammar reference is similar to Tae Kim in layout and style. I think Wasabi’s guide is particularly good for learning to distinguish between grammar points which have similar English meanings.

Japanistry – The Japanistry grammar guide works quite similarly to the Tae Kim guide but is a great reference site for the foundations of Japanese grammar.

日本語の森 (Nihongo no Mori) – This YouTube channel has lots of videos on grammar points aimed at all levels of Japanese learners. The playlist that I’ve linked to called ‘Ekubo Basic Japanese Lessons’ starts from the very beginning, but there are a number of playlists focused on different levels of the JLPT.

online-japanese-resources-quiz

Worksheets and Quizzes

MLC Japanese – full of handy printable worksheets and quizzes. There is a lot of content for JLPT N5 & N4 in particular, but you can find study plans and JLPT material for the upper levels (old levels level 2 and level 1).

Memrise – has a number of electronic flashcard decks, including decks on the main textbooks including Genki, Tae Kim’s guide and the JLPT.

Japanesetest4you – This is an all round useful website for learners, with grammar and vocabulary lists for each level of the JLPT. You can practice a bunch of mock questions online.

JPDrills – JPDrills is pretty new to the game, but from what I’ve seen is pretty good. Access to the full website requires a subscription, but you can sign up to practice a bunch of Japanese questions for free. This is a helpful resource if you are working towards the JLPT.

The above are all websites that I have tried and thought could be useful for other learners. If you are looking for even more online Japanese resources, check out my Japanese Resource Masterpost!

Kotobites November Writing Challenge: Week 5: 27th – 30th Nov

Welcome to the 5th and final week of the Kotobites November Japanese Writing Challenge. In case you missed it, please take a look my intro post on what this is and why I’m doing it – you can do as little or as much as you can!

writingchallenge_1_original

Here are the writing prompts for Week 5 (up to 30th November):

27th Nov (Monday) 27日(月曜日)

将来の夢はなんですか。

しょうらいのゆめはなんですか。

What is your dream for the future?

 

28th Nov (Tues) 28日(火曜日)

どこにでも行けるなら、どこを旅行したいですか。

どこにでもいけるなら、どこをりょこうしたいですか。

If you could go anywhere, where would you like to travel to?

eiffel-tower-2906526_1920

 

29th Nov (Wed) 29日(水曜日)

今はまっていることはなんですか。

いまはまっていることはなんですか。

What are you obsessed with right now?

 

30th Nov (Thur) 30日(木曜日)

口癖ありますか。

くちぐせありますか。

Is there a phrase/saying you use often? (note: could also be a verbal tic – think Homer Simpson and “D’oh!”)

homer-2006750_1920

 

Hints for beginners

  • Looking to get your writing checked? I recommend Lang-8 (if already a member – unfortunately, they are no longer taking new registrations), HiNative or ask a friend/language partner.
  • Following the sentence structure of the question is the easiest way of constructing the answer. Feel free to expand on the questions as much as possible or adapting the question – whatever suits your stage of learning.

This marks the end of the Writing Challenge – well done if you’ve made it this far!

If you’ve missed week 1, week 2, week 3, or week 4 click to catch up on the writing prompts. If you’ve managed to get to the end of the writing challenge, please let me know how you’ve found it in the comments 🙂

Kotobites November Writing Challenge: Week 4: 20th – 26th Nov

Welcome to the Kotobites November Japanese Writing Challenge. In case you missed it, please take a look my intro post on what this is and why I’m doing it – you can do as little or as much as you can!

writingchallenge_1_original

Here are the writing prompts for Week 4 (up to 26th November):

20th Nov (Monday) 20日(月曜日)

今一番欲しいものはなんですか。

いまいちばんほしいものはなんですか。

What item do you want the most at the moment?

 

21st Nov (Tues) 21日(火曜日)

楽器が弾けますか。(弾けない人は、弾けるようになりたい楽器ありますか。)

がっきがひけますか。(ひけいないひとは、ひけるようになりたいがっきありますか。)

Can you play a musical instrument? (If you can’t: is there a musical instrument you would like to learn to play?)

instrument-2010525_1920

 

22nd Nov (Wed) 22日(水曜日)

宝くじを当たったら、何をしますか。

たからくじをあたったら、なにをしますか。

If you won the lottery, what would you do?

 

23rd Nov (Thur) 23日(木曜日)

好きな祝日は何ですか。

すきなしゅくじつはなんですか。

What is your favourite national holiday?

calendar-273857_1920

24th Nov (Fri) 24日(金曜日)

明日世界が滅亡したら、最後の食事は何を食べたいですか。

あしたせかいはめつぼうしたら、さいごのしょくじはなにをたべたいですか。

If the world was going to end tomorrow, what would you eat as your last meal?

 

25th Nov (Sat) 25日 (土曜日)

一番好きなことわざは何ですか。

いちばんすきなことわざはなんですか。

What is your favourite saying?

 

26th Nov (Sun) 26日 (日曜日)

虫は好きですか。

むしはすきですか。

Do you like insects?

strip-bug-812767_1920

 

Hints for beginners

  • Looking to get your writing checked? I recommend Lang-8 (if already a member – unfortunately they are no longer taking new registrations), HiNative or ask a friend/language partner.
  • Following the sentence structure of the question is the easiest way of constructing the answer. Feel free to expand on the questions as much as possible or adapting the question – whatever suits your stage of learning.

If you’ve missed week 1, week 2 or week 3, click to catch up on the writing prompts. If you have already started on this challenge, feel free to check in and let me know how you are getting on 🙂

Kotobites November Writing Challenge: Week 3: 13th – 19th Nov

writingchallenge_1_original

Welcome to the Kotobites November Japanese Writing Challenge. In case you missed it, please take a look my intro post on what this is and why I’m doing it – you can do as little or as much as you can!

If you’ve missed week 1 and week 2, click to catch up on the writing prompts.

Here are the writing prompts for Week 3 (up to 19th November):

 

13th Nov (Monday) 13日(月曜日)

あだ名はありますか。ある人は、何と呼ばれていますか。

あだなはありますか。あるひとは、なんとよばれていますか。

Do you have a nickname? If so, what is it?

 

14th Nov (Tues) 14日(火曜日)

学生のとき、好きだった科目は何ですか。

がくせいのとき、すきだったかもくはなんですか。

Which school subject was your favourite at school?

calligraphy-2658504_1920

 

15th Nov (Wed) 15日(水曜日)

一番感謝していることは何ですか。

いちばんかんしゃしていることはなんですか。

What is the thing you are most thankful for?

 

16th Nov (Thur) 16日(木曜日)

特技は何ですか。

とくぎはなんですか。

What is your special skill?

 

tvsharp-1844964_1920

17th Nov (Fri) 17日(金曜日)

テレビに出てみたいですか。

 

テレビにでてみたいですか。

Would you like to be on TV?

 

18th Nov (Sat)    18日 (土曜日)

尊敬する人は誰ですか。

そんけいするひとはだれですか。

Who do you admire?

 

19th Nov (Sun) 19日 (日曜日)

どこに住んでいますか。どんなところですか。

どこにすんでいますか。どんなところですか。

Where do you live? What kind of place is it?

 

Hints for beginners

  • Looking to get your writing checked? I recommend Lang-8 (if already a member, unfortunately they are no longer taking new registrations), HiNative or ask a friend/language partner.
  • Following the sentence structure of the question is the easiest way of constructing the answer. Feel free to expand on the questions as much as possible or adapting the question – whatever suits your stage of learning.

 

If you have already started on this challenge, feel free to check in and let me know how you are getting on 🙂

Kotobites November Writing Challenge: Week 2: 6th – 12th Nov

writingchallenge_1_original

Welcome to Week 2 of the Kotobites November Japanese Writing Challenge. In case you missed it, please take a look my intro post on what this is and why I’m doing it – you can do as little or as much as you can!

Here are the writing prompts for Week 2 (up to 12th November):

6th Nov (Monday) 6日(月曜日)

ペットを飼っていますか。

ペットをかっていますか

Do you have any pets?

cats-eyes-2671903_1920

7th Nov (Tues) 7日(火曜日)

思い出の場所はありますか。

おもいでのばしょはありますか。

Is there a place which has (special) memories for you?

 

8th Nov (Wed) 8日(水曜日)

運動するのは好きですか。

うんどうするのはすきですか。

Do you like to exercise?

dumbbells-2465478_1920

9th Nov (Thur) 9日(木曜日)

ー番大切な子供の頃の記憶は?

いちばんたいせつなこどものころのきおくは?

What is your most treasured childhood memory?

 

10th Nov (Fri) 10日(金曜日)

ファーストフードはよく食べますか。

ファーストフードはよくたべますか。

Do you often eat fast food?

 

11th Nov (Sat) 11日 (土曜日)

お勧めの映画はありますか。

おすすめのえいがはありますか。

What film would you recommend to others?

film-2233692_1920

12th Nov (Sun) 12日 (日曜日)

好きな色は何ですか。

すきないろはなんですか。

What is your favourite colour?

 

Hints for beginners

  • Looking to get your writing checked? I recommend Lang-8 (if already a member; unfortunately they are no longer taking new registrations), HiNative or ask a friend/language partner.
  • Following the sentence structure of the question is the easiest way of constructing the answer. Feel free to expand on the questions as much as possible or adapting the question – whatever suits your stage of learning.

If you missed week 1, find the writing prompts here. If you have already started on this challenge, feel free to check in and let me know how you are getting on 🙂

Kotobites November Writing Challenge: Week 1: 1st – 5th Nov

writingchallenge_1_original

Welcome to the Kotobites November Japanese Writing Challenge. In case you missed it, please take a look my intro post on what this is and why I’m doing it – you can do as little or as much as you can!

Here are the writing prompts for Week 1 (up to 5th November):

1st Nov (Wed) 1日(水曜日)

お化けを見たことがありますか。

ghost-1297982_1280

おばけをみたことがありますか。

Have you ever seen a ghost?

2nd Nov (Thur) 2日(木曜日)

得意な料理は何ですか。

とくいなりょうりはなんですか。

What food are you good at making?

3rd Nov (Fri) 3日(金曜日)

職業・専門はなんですか。

なんでその職業・専門を選びましたか。

しょくぎょう・せんもんはなんですか。

なんでそのしょくぎょう・せんもんをえらびましたか。

What is your occupation/major? Why did you choose that occupation/major?

4th Nov (Sat) 4日(土曜日)

「都会」と「田舎」、どっちに住みたいですか。

「とかい」と「いなか」、どっちにすみたいですか。

Where would you rather live, in the city or in the countryside?

stress red pencil

5th Nov (Sun) 5日(日曜日)

ストレス解消法は何ですか。

ストレスかいしょうほうはなんですか。

How do you relieve stress?

 

Hints for beginners

  • Looking to get your writing checked? I recommend Lang-8 (if you already have an account – unfortunately, they are no longer taking new registrations), HiNative or ask a friend/language partner.
  • Following the sentence structure of the question is the easiest way of constructing the answer. Feel free to expand on the questions as much as possible or adapting the question – whatever suits your stage of learning.

1st Nov:

〜ことがあります is a useful phrase for expressing something you have done before (as in ‘Have you ever been scuba diving?’).

2nd Nov:

得意 is similar in meaning to 上手(じょうず) meaning ‘to be good at (doing something)’.

You may prefer to use a different sentence structure such as ‘Xを作るのが得意です’.

3rd Nov:

Choose occupation or major depending on if you are working or studying.

When giving reasons for your answer you can use conjunctions such as 〜からです (verb before から is in plain form)

4th Nov:

You might want to use to show contrast between the city and the countryside by using a construction such as ‘XよりYのほうがZです’.

5th Nov:

In order to answer the question, you could change the sentence structure using the て form, such as 〜て、ストレスを解消します (I relieve stress by doing…).

Please let me know how you get on or if you have any suggestions for the 30 day challenge, otherwise I hope you enjoy 🙂

Get Writing in Japanese with the Kotobites November Writing Challenge

writingchallenge_1_original

As you may know, November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). It is aimed at anyone who has ever wanted to write a novel who set about writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59pm on 30th November. I think that whether you reach your target or not, the sense of community that surrounds the event each year is a great way to get motivated in November and beyond – read more about it here.

I was reminded about NaNoWriMo recently and this got me thinking about writing in Japanese. I don’t think I am up to the task of writing a full-length novel in Japanese, let alone English yet, but I wanted to think of ways to write about a bigger variety of things in Japanese. I currently write in my language journal several times a week (I try to write every day, but there are days when I don’t get round to it). I do want to write something every day, but I often find I end up writing about the same sorts of things such as going to work or what I ate for dinner, which gets boring quickly.

So I want to use November to get myself (and anyone else who is interested) writing every day with the November Writing Challenges!

On this blog I intend to provide writing prompts for each day of November. Depending on your level, some days will be trickier than others, but I hope you can give at least a couple a try. At the end of the month, I’m hoping I’ve managed to write something a bit more interesting, and continue to write creatively going forward.

If you’d like to get involved let me know in the comments – we can do this!

Author Spotlight: 夢野久作 Yumeno Kyusaku

Author Spotlight Yumeno

The second author in my Author Spotlight series is another writer from the early 20th century, Kyusaku Yumeno.

Kyusaku Yumeno was the pen name of Taido Sugiyama. Born in Fukuoka in 1889, he was a student at Keio University and also spent time working on a farm and training to become a Buddhist priest before finding a job as a newspaper reporter. It was whilst holding his reporting job that he wrote many of his stories.

Yumeno’s first work to gain popularity was a novella called あやかしの鼓 (あやかしのつづみ /Apparitional Hand Drum), but his most famous piece was ドグラ・マグラ (Dogura Magura). Published in 1935, Dogura Magura tells the story of protagonist Ichiro Kure on his quest for the truth behind how he ended up in a mental ward in Kyushu University Hospital.

Aside from these, he wrote a great number of short stories which are readily available on Aozora Bunko. I’ve read a few of his short stories and think that a number of these make great reading practice for Japanese learners. In terms of grammar and vocabulary the grammar is fairly straightforward, although at times there can be more formal language (eg. おります and いらっしゃいます; using -ぬ verb suffix to indicate a negative form) that might throw beginners. Overall I think upper beginners/lower intermediate learners and up will be able to read these without too much difficulty.

Here are a handful of stories I recommend to get you started:

二つの鞄 /ふたつのかばん

A very short story about two bags who do not get on with each other. Being as short as it is I can’t really say anything else but it is a story that reminds me of an Aesop’s tale. Learners at JLPT N3 will find this an easy read.

虻のおれい/ あぶのおれい

Another short story about a little girl called Chieko saves a horsefly. The horsefly returns the favour when Chieko finds herself in a difficult situation. A story that emphasizes the importance of helping others, which I think is also around JLPT N3 level.

犬と人形/いぬとにんぎょう

A brother and sister think they have lost their beloved dog and doll in a fire, however, their dreams suggest that they might just be able to get them back.