Category Archives: JAPANESE

How To Speak Casual Japanese

When you speak casual English to friends, you don’t use perfect grammar and full sentences like you would when writing a paper, correct? Japanese is the same way. When speaking conversational Japanese, people rarely use the exact words and long phrases that you’d find in a textbook. Here is a 5-minute mini lesson to help you speak Casual Japanese.

Common Phrases

When speaking casual Japanese, normal phrases are made much shorter! When friends talk to each other, they won’t use the long polite phrases, but rather, the shorter chattier versions:

Konnichiwa –> Konchiwa
こんにちは –> こんちは
Hello/Good afternoon –> Hi

O genki desu ka? –> Genki?
おげんきですか –> げんき
How are you?

Ohayou gozaimasu –> Ohayou
おはようございます ーー> おはよう
Good morning –> Morning!

Gomennasai –> Gomen
ごめんなさい ーー> ごめん
I’m so sorry. –> Sorry.

Douitashimashite –> I i yo
どういたしまして ーー> いいよ
You’re welcome. –> It’s all good!

Sayounara –> Jyaa ne!
さようなら ーー> じゃあね
Goodbye. –> See ya!

If you master these casual phrases, you will sound like a true native speaker when you’re chatting with your friends!

Casual Verbs

An easy way to turn formal Japanese into more natural conversational Japanese is to just use the short forms of verbs. Take, for instance, the phrase “What are you doing?” The Japanese verb for “to do” is suru (する). Formal Japanese uses the long conjugating “masu” form of verbs, so suru (する) becomes shimasu (します). But casual Japanese just sticks to the basic short forms of verbs! No conjugation needed. Here’s an example:

Nani o shitteimasuka?
What are you doing?

Nani suru no?
What’cha doin’?

As you can see, the casual version is much shorter and simpler than the properly conjugated textbook version!

Here’s some more examples:

Nani taberu no?
What’cha eating?

Nani miru no?
What’cha lookin’ at?

Sore kau no?
You gonna buy that?

And just like that, you can speak natural, casual Japanese!

Words With Friends – Japanese Slang Words!

There are certain “trendy” Japanese words that you often hear on the streets, and yet won’t typically find in …continue reading


5 Easy Manga for Japanese Learners

Source: Gaijin Pot
5 Easy Manga for Japanese Learners

There are a few things that unite the Japanese people no matter their class, age or background. You’d be hard-pressed to find a Japanese person who has never tried motsu (beef, chicken or pork entrails) or shiokara (paste of fermented seafood and innards) for example.

Likewise, most Japanese follow the same traditions of going back to their hometowns on the New Year’s and obon (Festival of the Dead) holidays or eating gathering together to share a hearty nabe (Japanese hot pot) in the winter.

Japan is filled with unifying cultural traditions. While there are many, one of the most beautiful and most widely indulged in form of Japanese popular culture is, of course, manga (Japanese comics). When you’re on a crowded train and see people with their heads buried into small books or even their smartphones, much of the time they’ll be deeply engrossed in their manga of choice.

Manga is a form of storytelling that is also a great study method for those learning to read and understand the Japanese language.

In the eikaiwa (English conversation school) industry, we encourage reading — especially in our younger students. Not only to promote literacy, but also because seeing the language in written form tends to help students build a stronger understanding of the concepts used.

The same goes for us foreigners who are trying — and struggling — to learn Japanese. If you choose the right books for you, reading manga can be a surprisingly effective and enjoyable way to learn Japanese. To that end, here are five relatively simple and helpful manga for Japanese language learners.

Note: These recommendations are for people who consider themselves intermediate or high-beginner Japanese language learners (around JLPT N5 and above).

1. Doraemon


One obvious pick for beginner manga is Doraemon.

If you’re currently teaching or plan on teaching Japanese …continue reading


Pictograms in Japan: Toilets, Tourism, and More!

Have you ever seen a Japanese toilet? With the newer toilets, there are so many buttons and symbols that it can be quite confusing for anyone who doesn’t speak Japanese. Not to mention the fact that depending on where you are in Japan, the pictures on the buttons are completely different! Because the 2020 Olympics are being held in Tokyo, it is predicted that a record number of foreign tourists are going to be visiting Japan. Therefore, new regulations have been passed to make the pictograms on Japanese toilets both easier to understand and universally standard!

What is a Pictogram?

A pictogram, also referred to as a “pictograph”, is a picture/symbol that that conveys its meaning through its pictorial resemblance to a physical object. Pictograms are often used to provide information, to give instructions, or to offer warning. For example, the universally-recognized symbols for toxic materials is a nuclear hazard sign or a skull snd crossbones. People can easily associate these images with danger or death, and can therefore understand the meaning conveyed by the pictograph.

This common pictogram is used to convey a warning of danger.

Pictograms in Japan

For people who come to Japan but do not read any Japanese, pictograms are incredibly helpful. Pictograms can be found virtually anywhere in Japan, including bathrooms, train stations, bus stops, hot springs, and of course on street signs!

Here are some examples of common pictograms you will see in Japan:


Tokyo Olympics: Toilet Trouble?

Japan is already experiencing record numbers of tourists coming from overseas, and with the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Olympics, those numbers are predicted to rise even more. Many of those tourists actually have difficulty using public restrooms due to the wide variety of pictograms on the operation panels of bidet toilets. Toilets all across Japan are all …continue reading