Uniquely Japanese- Yugen 幽玄

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…

Uniquely Japanese- Hikikomori 引きこもり

Feature image credit: http://www.ejcrim.com The Japanese word Hikikomori, which literally means “pulling inwards” is used as a noun, as well as a verb, to describe adolescents or adults who choose to withdraw from society and lead reclusive and isolated lives. This is quite a big social problem in Japan, where it is estimated that as…

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…

Calligraphy

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…

Uniquely Japanese- Tsundoku

Some Japanese words have no English equivalent. This is the case for many languages, where there is no literal translation, or if there was, it would not make sense. Many of the Japanese words, that are not in the English language are beautiful, some tragically so. Today, I am going to talk about my favourite…

Japanese Etiquette 101- Honorifics

Before I went to Japan I had seen old movies where the foreigners called the restaurant owners Mama-San, and had a vague understanding that san was something like Mrs. I had no idea that honorifics are part of everyday life in Japan, and that I would one day answer to カイリさん (kairi-san-my name- Kylie-san) カイリ先生(kairi sensei-Kylie…

Adam Liaw, ambassador of Japanese Cuisine

Last Friday night, the 31st of March, I went to Melbourne University to see Adam Liaw speak. Adam was the second winner of Masterchef Australia, in 2010. He was born in Malaysia, his mum is Singaporean-English and his dad is Hainese Chinese. Formerly a lawyer for Disney in Tokyo, Adam started learning Japanese in order…

Kanji, how does it make sense?

When I first started learning Japanese, I was very intimidated by the concept of learning so many Kanji. A basic knowledge is about 2000 characters, but there are loads more!!! I am reading a book about learning Japanese, which is written by a man whose father was a newspaper editor. He believes his father’s repertoire…

日本語ーok? On learning Japanese

My first time in Japan, I totally fell in love. With the country, with the culture, with the food, with the people. The language barrier was not a major issue, we never went hungry or got lost, however I felt that I was unable to understand many subtle, and many not so subtle, aspects of…