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Category: Japanese

Book!

Book!

I have two very important things to share with you. First, some of my writing appears in the above anthology, which is available now on Amazon and published by the very nice people at Camphor Press. Second — and of far greater importance — after years of writing/typing under the pen/keyboard name of Muzuhashi, I can reveal for the first time on these pages that my real name is Tom Gibb. Just to set the record straight, I am not,…

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The Japlish-to-Engrish dictionary

The Japlish-to-Engrish dictionary

It is a truth universally acknowledged that every J-blogger must one day post a series of photographs depicting hapless, hopeless, surreal and / or otherwise amusing uses of the English language by the Japanese. And after two years as Muzuhashi, so this day has come to pass. Some of the photos here were taken several years ago, some are of subjects that must surely have been spotted by other J-bloggers, some depict bizarre uses of the Japanese language by the…

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My Encounters With Alaska by Michio Hoshino

My Encounters With Alaska by Michio Hoshino

Back in 2004 when I was working for a conversation school in Tokyo, a student of mine had an important business meeting coming up with some foreign clients, and signed up for extra lessons so that he might better understand what was going on without having to be completely reliant on an interpreter. The meeting went well, and by way of thanks, he presented myself and another teacher at the school with gifts. Mine was a book called My Encounters…

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Arigato ありがとう

Arigato ありがとう

Most schools in Japan have a small radio studio, the main purpose of which is to facilitate the lunchtime broadcast. For this, two or three students talk about the day’s menu – for example, at one point last week we were treated to an explanation of both the history and nutritional value of the cocoa bean – and pass on information about school activities. At my elementary school, the results of a daily competition are announced, based on the number…

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Do-Re-Mi ドレミの歌

Do-Re-Mi ドレミの歌

The other day Do-Re-Mi from The Sound Of Music was playing in the background during a TV programme about Switzerland, and Mrs M started singing along. ‘Do is the do of doughnut,’ she sang. ‘Re is the re of…’‘Hang on, hang on,’ I interrupted. ‘Did you just say “doughnut”?’‘Yes. “Do is the do of doughnut”. Why?’‘Do isn’t the do of doughnut! Do is a deer, a female deer!’‘What, you mean the English lyrics are different?’ Over the years, several people…

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Karoh-shi 過労死

Karoh-shi 過労死

Many of us have had reason to complain about our job at some point or another, but the next time you feel like handing in your resignation and storming out of the office in a huff, spare a thought for the subject of this recent news story:Death by overwork: only three days off in thirteen months – charges filed against presidents of confectionery company The supervisory office for labour standards in Mito City and the Mito City public prosecutor’s office…

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Hay fever 花粉症

Hay fever 花粉症

It may seem a little strange given the fact that it was snowing the other day, but a lot of people are already suffering from hay fever, a condition that until a few decades ago was practically unheard of in Japan. Rather than summer grass pollen – which turns my nose into the physical equivalent of a bath tap with a broken washer when I’m in the UK – the problem here is spring tree pollen, specifically sugi (杉 /…

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JLPT 日本語能力試験

JLPT 日本語能力試験

I hereby wish to announce my retirement from studying Japanese. Or perhaps ‘semi-retirement’ would be a better way of putting it: what I want to semi-retire from is the student-y part of studying, so from now on there will be no more weekday evenings at the Adult Learning Centre, no more Saturday mornings at the Centre For International Communication, and no more poring over endless photocopies of convoluted explanations of the incredibly subtle difference between equally obscure grammatical constructions. My…

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Japanese 日本語

Japanese 日本語

Even though I have been learning it for eight years, my Japanese is still rubbish. This is quite a painful thing to have to admit to, but it’s true. Sure, I can sit down and translate a newspaper article with the help of one or two online and offline dictionaries. I can watch a film or a TV programme and know roughly what’s going on. I can ask for directions to the nearest post office and quite possibly find the…

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From the archives III

From the archives III

For the past couple of years, a good deal of my Japanese practice has consisted of reading those free newspapers that are published by the Japanese expat community in London, namely News Digest, the thrillingly titled Japan Update Weekly (formerly known as Bay Spo) and Weekly Journey. Weekly Journey is my favourite of the three, and its most interesting feature is a page of bizarre stories  trawled from the week’s news, stories that usually involve bungled crimes or deviant behaviour…

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