Site Maintenance

I have upgraded WordPress, the blog software that this site runs on, as well as some plug-ins. Sometimes when doing such upgrades, things get broken. I am now going over the site, doing any maintenance required to get things back to normal. I noticed that all of the Japanese characters on the site have become garbled. I am replacing it with the original Japanese text. All entries should be corrected by the end of today or tomorrow. If you notice anything amiss, please let me know, thanks!

Happy Holidays

A brief announcement: we are taking a holiday break and will return in January 2009. In the meantime, keep practicing Japanese.

Episode 13: Greetings

Good manners and proper etiquette is a cultural value very important to Japanese society. Key components of this are greetings said throughout the day and in various situations, such as “good morning” or “good evening”. Knowing these greetings and when to say them will be quite useful when speaking with Japanese or visiting Japan. Not only will Japanese appreciate your knowledge of these greetings and will think that you have good manners, they might even be impressed or shocked that you know them. Either way, one thing is for certain, knowing some of these phrases and using them at the appropriate moment will impress the average Japanese person. The word for greetings in Japanese is “aisatsu”.

Episode Topics:
Phrases for: meeting people, greeting people at different times of day, greeting people whom you have not seen in a long time, parting or ending a conversation, leaving from and returning to your home, someone else’s home or room, leaving work, welcome, thanks, apology, offering guests refreshments, meal times.

Kaa-chan Corner:
Topic: Japanese government (a brief overview of the system).

Vocabulary List:
(Taro) Aso – current prime minister of Japan. (since September 2008)
麻生太郎 [あそうたろう]
baton tacchi – “baton touch”, pass the baton. バトンタッチ
bikkuri shita – was surprised. びっくり
daitouryou – president. 大統領 [だいとうりょう]
igai – besides (such and such), in addition to (such and such). 以外 [いがい]
iikagen na shigoto shinai – won’t be irresponsible at the job. いい加減な仕事しない [いいかげんなしごとしない]
jimintou – Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). 自民党 [じみんとう]
kazu – numbers. 数 [かず]
kokujin – black person. 黒人 [こくじん]
meiji jidai: Meiji period (1868-1912). 明治時代 [めいじじだい]
mezurashii – rare. 珍しい [めずらしい]
minshutou – Democratic Party of Japan. 民主党 [みんしゅとう]
motenai – can’t have/hold. 持てない [もてない]
mukashi – a long time ago. 昔 [むかし]
nigiru – grasp. 握る [にぎる]
ninzuu – number of people. 人数 [にんずう]
ooi – more of (something). 多い [おおい]
saikin – recently. 最近 [さいきん]
seifu – government. 政府 [せいふ]
seiken – political power, right to run government. 政権 [せいけん]
seitou – political party. 政党 [せいとう]
senkyo – election. 選挙 [せんきょ]
shushou – prime minister. 首相 [しゅしょう]
yameru – quit, resign. 辞める [やめる]

Further Reading:
Greetings at about.com
Greetings at learn-japanese.info
Greetings at ABC Brisbane
Gomenkudasai example
Japanese Bowing
Bowing etiquette in Japan
How to politely bow in Japan
Wikipedia entry on the Liberal Democratic Party
Wikipedia entry on the Democratic Party of Japan

Transcript:
Episode transcript PDF (Japanese portion includes furigana) (interview not transcribed)

Download Podcast:
Episode 13 – Greetings

Episode 12: Family Members

In the episodes prior, I have mentioned the words for family members such as aunt and uncle and comparing them to the words for grandmother and grandfather, which only differ in vowel length. I’ve also mentioned the names for other relatives in example sentences to build up your vocabulary but now it’s time to complete the picture by presenting the words for various family members and related words that you are likely to need and use.

Episode Topics:
Vocabulary list of family members and related words.

Kaa-chan Corner:
Topic: Japanese families (what does a typical family consist of).

Vocabulary List:
daitai – approximately. 大体 [だいたい]
futsuu – normally, usually. 普通 [ふつう]
fuufu tani – married couple. 夫婦単位 [ふうふたんい]
heisei no hajimari – the beginning of the Heisei era. 平成の始まり [へいせいのはじまり] (1989)
kaku kazoku – nuclear family. 核家族 [かくかぞく]
kono you ni – in this way. この様に [このように]
kuzureru – to crumble, collapse. 崩れる [くずれる]
mukashi – in the past. 昔 [むかし]
saikin – recently. 最近 [さいきん]
showa no owari – the end of the Showa era. 昭和の終わり [しょうわのおわり] (1989)
sukunai – not many, few. 少ない [すくない]
tabun – perhaps, maybe, probably, possibly. 多分 [たぶん]
yousu ni – the situation, the state of affairs. 様子に [ようすに]

Further Reading:
Wikipedia Japan entry on 続柄 (family relationship chart)

Transcript:
Episode transcript PDF (Japanese portion includes furigana) (interview not transcribed)

Download Podcast:
Episode 12 – Family Members

Episode 11: Countries and Places

In Episode 6, I listed 10 basic sentences and questions as a means to start practicing conversations in Japanese. These sentences involved fill in the blanks so you could tailor them for your needs. Some of the questions required the names of countries and places, therefore today’s episode is all about countries, places, and related words so that you can complete the sentences.

Episode Topics:
directions, hemispheres, continents, oceans, countries, states/provinces, territories, cities

Nikkei Discussion:
An Okinawan-descent Issei, Nisei, Sansei discussion about identity with Yuko, Mariko, and Lesley.

Vocabulary List:
hougen – dialect. 方言 [ほうげん]
hyoujungo – standard Japanese. 標準語 [ひょうじゅんご]
uchinaanchu – Okinawan person (in Okinawan dialect). ウチナーンチュ

Further Reading:
Wikipedia Japan entry on
大陸
(continent)
World Navigator (map in English and Japanese)
世界の地図から国を検索 (Japanese clickable map)
世界地図 (Japanese maps and basic facts of countries)
世界地図 – 世界の国々 (world map Japanese quiz)

Transcript:
Episode transcript PDF (Japanese portion includes furigana) (interview not transcribed)

Download Podcast:
Episode 11 – Countries and Places

Episode 10: Review of Episodes 1-9

This is Episode 10 and it’s time to review what we’ve learned in Episodes 1-9.

Episode Topics Reviewed:
alphabet, pronunciation (heavy focus on this subject), honorifics, pronouns, 10 basic sentences/questions, particles, counting, counters, dates, time, Naruhodo Japan episodes 1-9 lexicon chart

Transcript:
Episode transcript PDF (Japanese portion includes furigana)

Download Podcast:
Episode 10 – Review of Episodes 1-9

Episode 9: Time and Dates

In the previous episode we covered how to count in general as well as how to count specific objects. Building upon those counting skills, we will now go over dates and time. It may be said that dates and time use counters as well but dates and time do not use nearly as many counters as were featured in the previous episode. That is why I think that once you learn how to count up to 59, learning how to say dates and time in Japanese is fairly easy, however there are a few sticky points. For saying the year, one must be able to count up to the number that the current year is but we’ll get to that in moment. Once we go over these counters, you should have the basics down to use simple sentences related to dates and time, such as asking what time it is and stating your age or birthday.

Episode Topics:
Time: ji (hour), fun (minutes), byou (seconds)
Dates: gatsu (month), nichi (day), days of the week, Western years, Japanese Imperial eras
Counting dates and times: kagetsu (months), shuu (weeks), nichi (day)
bonus: previous/current/next (yesterday/today/tomorrow), seasons

Kaa-chan Corner:
The return of Kaa-chan Corner! Since my mom just returned from Japan for a funeral, today’s topic on Kaa-chan Corner is: Japanese funerals. I just wanted to remind everyone that my mom is from Okinawa so the culture is a bit different from mainland Japan.

Vocabulary List:
butsudan – Buddhist altar. 仏壇 [ぶつだん]
chikai shinseki – close relatives. 近い親戚 [ちかいしんせき]
junjyo – order. 順序 [じゅんじょ]
kotsu tsubo – urn. 骨壺 [こつつぼ]
mago – grandchildren. 孫 [まご]
moshu – the family member in charge of organizing the funeral. 喪主 [もしゅ]
nachizu – Nazis. ナチズ
obousan – monk. お坊さん [おぼうさん]
ohaka – tomb. お墓 [おはか]
okama – chamber for cremations. お罐 [おかま]
okan – coffin, casket. お管 [おかん]
senkou – incense sticks. 線香 [せんこう]
shibaraku – for a little while. 暫く [しばらく]
shonanuka – the first seven days after someone’s death. 初七日 [しょなぬか]
soushiki – funeral. 葬式 [そうしき]
toi shinseki – distant relatives. 問い親戚 [といしんせき]
umeru – bury. 埋める [うめる]
yoisho, yoisho – what Japanese say when they are exerting physical
effort, kind of like “heave-ho”. よいしょ よいしょ

Further Reading:
Japanese calendar entry at Wikipedia
The Japanese Calendar
Japanese era name entry at Wikipedia
Japanese Year Converter
NengoCalc (Japanese year converter application)
Basic Japanese words and numbers
Japanese funeral entry at Wikipedia
Japanese Buddhist Funeral Customs
Sushilog blog entry on the Chronicles of a Japanese Funeral
Wikipedia Japan entry on 火葬場 (crematory, has a few pictures)

Transcript:
Episode transcript PDF (Japanese portion includes furigana) (interview not transcribed)

Download Podcast:
Episode 9 – Time and Dates

Episode 8: Counting and Counters

In this episode we are going to cover how to count in Japanese. There are two things you need to know about counting in Japanese. The first thing is to learn the basic numbers such as 1, 2, 3 and the second thing you need to know is for when you are counting people or objects. Just as you would count items as slices, sheets, or pieces in English, you would do the same in Japanese but what word you associate with counting the objects is much more strict in Japanese. Counters is the term for words such as slices, sheets, and pieces.

*Please note: a few days after this episode was published, I realized that when talking about the sai counter (how many years old someone is), that there is one age where the conjugation is not obvious. In fact, if you’re not Japanese you would probably not know that 20 years old is not 20-sai but hatachi. Since I realized this after the fact, it’s not in the audio podcast but is noted in the transcript.

Episode Topics:
Counting: 0, 1-10, 100, 1000, and how to construct numbers up to 100,000,000
Counters: tsu, ko, hon, satsu, mai, hai, hiki, tou, wa, kai (times), kai (floors), dai, ten, sai, man vs. nin

Kaa-chan Corner:
Cancelled for a few episodes as there has been a death in the family and my mother has gone back to Japan for a few weeks.

Vocabulary List:
The vocabulary lists are generated from Kaa-chan Corner so there is not a vocabulary list for this episode.

Further Reading:
Japanese numerals entry Wikipedia
American Japanese higher numbers
Japanese Numbers at learnjapanesefree.com
List of Japanese Numbers
Japanese Numbers matching games and flashcards
Japanese counter word entry at Wikipedia
Japanese Numeral Counters
The Counting Dictionary
Counters at about.com
Counters at thejapanesepage.com
ものの数え方 [助数詞] (Japanese)
数のかぞえ方 (Japanese)

Transcript:
Episode transcript PDF (Japanese portion includes furigana)

Download Podcast:
Episode 8 – Counting and Counters

Naruhodo Japan is now listed in the iTunes store

I’m very pleased to announce that Naruhodo Japan’s audio podcast is now listed in the iTunes store. You may subscribe to the audio podcast via iTunes directly by clicking on the button link below (it’s also available on the side menu) but what’s more exciting is that if you search the iTunes store for Japanese podcasts, we are listed there. This podcast may not be the first the first on the list but I hope that in time word will spread and our audience will grow. What’s more important though is that you learn Japanese. Whatever issues you encounter, whatever stumbles you along the way, I hope that somehow I can be of assistance. So please, post your comments/questions to the site or send me an email and I’ll see what I can do.

Yoroshiku onegaishimasu!

subscribe to Naruhodo Japan audio podcasts in iTunes

Episode 7: Particles

Particles, known as joshi, are probably one of the trickiest aspects of Japanese language for a beginner to master. I see countless questions on Yahoo Answers regarding particles. Sometimes I see similarities between English and Japanese but this is one of the cases where this is a Japanese issue that cannot be explained simply. Some say they are like English prepositions but since they occur after the word or subject, they are post-positions. As I’ve mentioned, I’m not a technical person when it comes to language so “preposition” means nothing to me. If you’re not big into grammar like that then you’ve come to the right place. At least I hope so.

Episode Topics:
Particles: to, no, na (mitai na, no you na), de, ya vs. shi vs. mo, wa vs. ga, e vs. ni (no you ni), wo, question particles (ka, wa, no), to ka

Kaa-chan Corner:
Cancelled for a few episodes as there has been a death in the family and my mother has gone back to Japan for a few weeks.

Vocabulary List:
The vocabulary lists are generated from Kaa-chan Corner so there is not a vocabulary list for this episode.

Further Reading:
Wikipedia entry on particles
Japanese Particles
A Guide to the Functions of
Structural Particles in Japanese

Forming Sentences in Japanese: Introducing Particles (for Dummies

Transcript:
Episode transcript PDF (Japanese portion includes furigana) (interviews not transcribed)

Download Podcast:
Episode 7 – Particles