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Japanese City Offers Hospitality to Foreign Visitors with “Easy Japanese” (News)

Fukuoka, Feb. 16 (Jiji Press)—Yanagawa, a tourist city in southwestern Japan, is working to offer omotenashi hospitality to visitors from abroad with yasashii, or easy, Japanese that is simple for them to understand. The efforts of the city in Fukuoka Prefecture have been drawing attention as an effective way to communicate with foreigners, with the number of visitors to Japan seen continuing t…

Storming the Dictionary: The Top New Japanese Words for 2017

Two of Japan’s leading dictionary publishers announce their top new words of 2017. An overview of the some of the most popular vocabulary to enter Japanese in recent times.

The Fascinating World of Japanese OnomatopoeiaEhab Ahmed Ebeid

A well-cleaned floor shines pika pika, while a light, fluffy futon is fuwa fuwa. Japanese onomatopoeia is one of the language’s most intriguing features, with many linguistic discoveries to be made.

Kanji of the Year: “Kita” the Northern Winner for 2017

In a year of political action at home and uncertainty on the international front, the Japanese public decided that 北 (kita or hoku), meaning “north,” was the kanji best expressing what 2017 meant to them. Read on to learn why and to see the top 10 finishers in this year’s Kanji of the Year competition.

2017: The Winning Words

This year’s “Words of the Year” have been announced. Winning top honors for 2017 were insuta-bae, meaning everything that makes a photo worthy of posting to Instagram, and sontaku, the “surmising of wishes” that figured largely in the year’s political news. Below we list the 10 finalists and look at the judges’ reasons for choosing the two winners.

Character Assassination: Successes and Failures of Kanji ReformRichard Medhurst

In 1866, as the Edo period drew to a close, the statesman Maejima Hisoka submitted a proposal suggesting that Japan abolish kanji to the last shōgun, Tokugawa Yoshinobu. Maejima, who had both learned and taught English, bemoaned the amount of time students spent memorizing Chinese characters, which could have been used for other study. He was just one of many would-be reformers and abolitionists…

Harmony and Hygiene: An Environment for ImprovementMokutan Angelo

The essential nature of the tea ceremony can be applied to everyday life. The third of a series introducing the language of Zen through easy-to-understand manga strips examines the phrase和敬清寂 (wakei seijaku).

Puns, Poetry, and Superstition: Japanese HomophonesRichard Medhurst

Wordplay is not always welcomed openly in Japan. Make a weak, but harmless pun—observing that there is “no ginger” (shōga nai) at the sushi restaurant and saying “it cannot be helped” (shō ga nai), for example—and listeners will greet it with shivers, as if a chill wind has just passed through. The standard retort to a “dad joke” or another attempt at humor that falls flat is samui, “ooh, that’s…

Books for Studying Japanese

These courses, reference works, and workbooks offer assistance on the journey to Japanese proficiency.

A Path to Peace: Knowing Enough Is EnoughMokutan Angelo

Accepting life as it is, rather than chasing constantly multiplying desires, is a route to tranquility. The second of a series introducing the language of Zen through easy-to-understand manga strips examines the phrase 知足安分 (chisoku anbun).

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