Yamato Kotoba- The Original Japanese Language

Starting to learn Japanese is a daunting prospect. There are two 46 character syllabaries, hiragana and katakana, and then the Chinese characters, kanji. When I began learning, I had a basic concept that the early Japanese language had no written form and the characters were borrowed from China. Most kanji characters have an on'yomi, or … Continue reading Yamato Kotoba- The Original Japanese Language

Yoki-san ヨキさん

Blossomkitty sitting on the couch with her black and white Moodle, Yoki-san. Yoki-san is curled up and snuggled in. There is a large window in the background with a telescope.

Yoki-san is my dog. His real name is Loki, but everyone calls him Yoki-san. He is a 7 year old Moodle, black and white, and super cute. He likes to be carried like a baby. He is tucked into bed each night. If we pay attention to anyone else, like the magpies who live in … Continue reading Yoki-san ヨキさん

The Blue Apple

A bright blue Granny Smith apple.

Or...why are apples blue in Japan? When I was younger, my mum enjoyed asking us philosophical and unanswerable questions. If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? This was a favourite. Her other favourite, which always stumped me was, how do we know … Continue reading The Blue Apple

Uniquely Japanese- Omoiyari 思いやり

Japanese fans clean stadium of rubbish after a World Cup match in Colombia. The Japanese people are seen picking up rubbish and filling rubbish bags in amongst the blue seats of the stadium.

You may have heard the story about the Japanese fans at the World Cup match who remained after the game to clean the stadium. It made the news around the world. This kind of behaviour is not rare in Japan. A tiny country, with LOTS of mountains and a huge population that has little crime … Continue reading Uniquely Japanese- Omoiyari 思いやり

Uniquely Japanese- Omou 思う

The kanji character for omou meaning to do in Japanese

Omou means, literally, to think, the verb. This is not uniquely Japanese, although maybe thinking is different in different languages and different cultures? It is however the root of many other Japanese words and several of them are unique to the Japanese language. I decided to write about omou first, so as to completely understand … Continue reading Uniquely Japanese- Omou 思う

Uniquely Japanese- Kuchisabishii 口寂しい

This unique Japanese word may be more relevant at the moment, as we are all spending a lot of time at home and some of us are struggling with lack of social contact and boredom. I was tagged in a kuchisabishii meme by a lovely friend of mine, who is in an apartment in Manhattan, … Continue reading Uniquely Japanese- Kuchisabishii 口寂しい

Uniquely Japanese- Yugen 幽玄

Japanese kanji characters for the word yugen.

Like many Japanese words for which there is no direct translation, yugen is dificult to translate. I just finished reading a very funny thread on reddit asking advice on kanji for a tattoo. The person wanted to tattoo yugen onto his shoulder. A respondent to the thread suggested that unless the person fully understood the … Continue reading Uniquely Japanese- Yugen 幽玄

Uniquely Japanese- Inemuri 居眠り

Inemuri translates roughly to "snooze" or "doze". There is no dirrect translation, however "sleeping while being present" or having some awareness about you while you sleep is potentially more accurate. It very common, in fact, an every day experience, to see Japanese people sleeping in public places. Most regularly, on trains. It is quite alarming … Continue reading Uniquely Japanese- Inemuri 居眠り

Climbing Mt. Fuji… Metaphorically

snow covered mount fuji with suburban image in foreground

If I had have seen the info graphic on how long different languages take to master before embarking on my language journey, would I have chosen the language which takes longer than any other, by far? Maybe... I like a challenge. I could have become fluent in French, German, Spanish and Italian in the time … Continue reading Climbing Mt. Fuji… Metaphorically


Have you ever wondered at why every Japanese person has exquisite handwriting, when writing in English? I believe it is because they have finely honed fine motor skills, due to the fact that they practice calligraphy throughout their schooling life. Last time we were in Kyoto we were fortunate enough to experience a calligraphy homework … Continue reading Calligraphy