Category Archives: EDUCATION

Gion Matsuri: Kyoto’s Famous Month-Long Festival

The Gion Festival (Gion Matsuri 祇園祭) is held every year for an entire month in Kyoto in July, and is one of the most famous festivals in all of Japan. Here is everything you need to know about this timeless, lively celebration!


Gion Matsuri is the biggest festival in Kyoto, and also one of the largest festivals in all of Japan. The festival was originally held to protect people from plague, but has grown into a grand celebration of all of Kyoto City. Today, Gion Matsuri is more of a month-long summer festival in which locals and visitors all gather to enjoy the festive atmosphere. That being said, Gion Matsuri continues to uphold rituals and traditions established when it first began almost 2000 years ago.

Photo: Keiichiro Fujimoto


Gion Matsuri first originated in 869 as a part of a purification ritual called goryo-e to appease the deities thought to cause fire, floods, earthquakes, and other disasters. At the time, the people were suffering from a plague which they attributed to the rampaging diety Gozu Tennō (牛頭天王). Japan’s ruler at the time, Emperor Seiwa, ordered prayers to be made to the god of the Yasaka Shrine, Susanoo-no-Mikoto. 66 massive “halberd” floats, one for each of the traditional provinces of Japan, were prepared and placed at the garden of Shinsen-en, along with portable shrines called mikoshi (神輿) from the Yasaka Shrine.

Additionally, a local boy was chosen to be a “sacred messenger” to the gods. The boy was seated on one of the floats, and he was not allowed to touch the ground from the 13th to the ending of the first parade on the 17th. This tradition was repeated over centuries during times of epidemic, and is still upheld to this day as a part of the annual Gion Matsuri .

Photo: Japan …continue reading


5 must know difficult Japanese words

“A comfort zone is a beautiful place but nothing ever grows there.” – Unknown

Photo from Pixabay

The other day, I came across this quote above, and thought I would share with you all. This applies to all sorts of things we deal with everyday. Your work, study, and social life, etc. and obviously, learning a foreign language has the same principle. Once you are comfortable with certain sets of vocabulary and expressions, do you catch yourself repeating the same all words and expression in certain situations? Feeling comfortable in any situation is great but if you want to improve, you definitely need to try to step out of your comfort zone. It is so easy to say, but so hard to do.

In today’s lesson, I would like to introduce you to the following set of vocabulary that might not sound too familiar but yet good to keep in your vocabulary list.:)

Shotaimen (しょたいめん,初対面) = Meeting someone for the first time

Kanojo towa shotaimen desu.

=>I just met her for the first time.

かのじょとは,しょたいめん です。(彼女とは 初対面 です。)

Uwanosora (うわのそら) = absent-minded

Karewa nani o ittemo uwano sora da.

=> It doesn’t matter what you tell him, his mind is somewhere else.

かれは なにをいっても うわのそらだ。 (彼は 何を言っても うわのそらだ。)

Gaiken (がいけん,外見)= Appearance

Gaiken dakede hito o handan shinaide.

=> Don’t judge anyone by appearance.

がいけんだけで,ひとを はんだんしないで。(外見だけで 人を 判断 しないで。)

Kokoro gakeru (こころがける,心掛ける)= keep in mind

Itsumo nihongo de hanasuyō ni kokoro gaketene.

=>Please keep in mind to speak in Japanese at all times.

いつも にほんごで はなすように こころがけてね。(いつも 日本語で 話すように 心掛けてね。)

Magirawashi (まぎらわしい,紛らわしい)=misleading, ambiguous, hard to tell the difference

The twin brothers look so much alike, and it’s hard to tell one from the other.

==> Ano futago no kyudai wa sugoku yoku niteite, docchi ga docchi ka magirawashi.

あの ふたごの きょうだいは すごく よくにていて,どっちが どっちか まぎらわしい。

(あの 双子の兄弟は すごく よく似ていて,どっちが どっちか 紛らわしい。)

So, I hope you challenge yourself today by learning one extra new word/expression!

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Japanese Words To Describe Food Textures

Source: Gaijin Pot
Words to Describe Japanese Food Textures

It’s sometimes said that in the context of Asian cuisine Japanese food is a little bland. While neighboring countries like Korea and Thailand are full of explosive flavors and food sprinkled with mind-blowing spices, Japanese people are more content with treats like ふぐ刺身(さしみ) (raw puffer fish) and 豆腐(とうふ) (tofu) with flavors so subtle that you have to train yourself to appreciate them.

One thing that critics of Japanese cuisine tend to overlook is that Japanese people often judge food using different criteria. The 辛(から)い (spicy) food that countries like India create are somewhat rare here, sure, but instead, they tend to focus more on texture than other cultures, even to the point of scientists spending years researching the consistency of many Japanese foods.

As a general rule, foods are divided into 煮物(にもの) (dishes that have been simmered, broiled, etc.), 焼き物(やきもの) (grilled foods), 和(あ)]え物(もの) (marinated chopped fish, shellfish or vegetables), 香(こう)の物(もの) (pickled items) and similarly 酢(す)の物(もの) (foods containing vinegar). Recently, 揚(あ)げ物(もの) (fried things) have been added. The combination of all these observed flavors and varied textures is what gives Japanese food its unique identity.

Favorite Japanese food onomatopoeias

The first category are the fried, crunchy 揚げ物. You will often hear these complimented as being “カリカリ!” (“So crispy!”). The term カリカリ should be easy for English speakers as it’s supposed to be an onomatopoeia and even sounds like the English word crispy. A similar word is パリパリ which describes the crunchy feeling of spring rolls and gyoza. In other words, things that are crispy, but not quite カリカリ levels of crispy!

When you bite into the fried food, you might hear that crunching sound. If you say さくさく quickly, you can soon see why this word represents crunchy, flaky food (as in pastry). The most obvious use is for the feeling of biting into that Japanese-by-way-of-Portugal …continue reading