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Learning Japanese with Manga Author Umino Nagiko

Umino Nagiko’s bestselling manga Nihonjin no shiranai Nihongo (The Japanese the Japanese Don’t Know) was based on her experience teaching Japanese to international students. In an interview with Nippon.com, she gives learning tips and shares unusual words from the fringes of the Japanese language.

Japan Glances Index

Discover Japan by picking a theme from the list below and exploring the related topics. Each short overview is illustrated with colorful photographs.

How Japanese Children Learn KanjiRichard Medhurst

During their six years in elementary school, Japanese children learn over 1,000 kanji. In this time, they greatly increase their reading sophistication, moving from picture books to short novels and simple biographies. Characters are all around them and often graded to their level, whether they are taking lessons in social studies or other subjects, practicing calligraphy, or even reading manga …

Changing Career Goals for Female Students in JapanUehara Yoshiko

To follow up on my previous article about shūkatsu, Japanese students’ hunt for post-graduation jobs, in which I discussed this annual ritual in the context of the changes in Japanese society, here I would like to offer an overview of the job hunt for women students. The current generation of older people may still harbor an image of the students at women’s universities as taking jobs with top-…

“Shūkatsu”: How Japanese Students Hunt for JobsUehara Yoshiko

Foreign tourists are now an everyday sight on the streets of Tokyo. One wonders what they make of the young Japanese men and women they see wearing uniform black suits, showing less individuality than even the typical “salaryman.” They are evidently not businesspeople, but what are they? The answer: These are Japanese university students suited up to hunt for post-graduation jobs. A distinctive…

Child Poverty, the Grim Legacy of DenialAbe Aya

Foreign tourists visiting Japan see clean, safe city streets filled with neat, well-dressed people. They encounter almost none of the familiar signs of urban poverty, such as slums decorated with gang-related graffiti or homeless people begging in the streets. These outward appearances have helped maintain Japan’s international reputation for economic fairness and equality. It is an image the Japa…

The Japanese School System

Compulsory education lasts for nine years in Japan, between the ages of 6 and 15. Most students continue to get a high school education at least, while there are various higher education options beyond that.

Student Voices: On Life and Learning in JapanRichard Medhurst

Naganuma School in Shibuya, Tokyo, has been teaching foreign students to speak Japanese since 1945. Its annual speech contest gives learners at the school the chance to step on stage and put their study into practice, whether they are at elementary, intermediate, or advanced level. At this year’s event on August 28, contestants were backed by an enthusiastic crowd of their peers bearing flags and …

Making It Memorable: Japanese Mnemonics for Dates and KanjiRichard Medhurst

Sometimes memory needs a helping hand. While English speakers use “Thirty Days Has September” to remember which are the shorter months, the equivalent for young Japanese children is the phrase nishi muku samurai (the samurai looking west). First of all, ni, shi, mu, and ku sound like the numbers two, four, six, and nine, representing nigatsu (February), shigatsu (April), rokugatsu (June), and ku…

Japan’s School Uniforms

In Japan, most schools have uniforms for their students. The distinctive, traditional outfits were originally inspired by military designs, but since the 1980s, new styles have emerged.

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