Category Archives: EDUCATION

Kanji Cheat Sheet: Going to the Movies in Japan

Source: Gaijin Pot
GaijinPot Leisure Study

Halfway through the middle of my course at Japanese language school, my teacher asked if anyone had gone to the movies since moving to Japan. No one raised their hand. She asked why, and most if not all of my classmates said they felt intimidated because they couldn’t understand enough Japanese to watch a movie without subtitles.

While the movie-going experience is pretty much universal, there are some things to look out for.

Looking back, I realized that one of the fastest ways to get a more native understanding of Japanese is to immerse yourself in pop culture. Immersion allows you to learn new vocabulary and grammar points you may not have come across in JLPT review guides. Try listening to J-Pop, watching Japanese Youtubers, or if you live in Japan taking a trip to the movies!

While the movie-going experience is pretty much universal, there are some things to look out for. In this Kanji guide, you’ll learn the how-tos of watching a movie at the theatre in Japan.

Going to the movies

Search for the movie theatre nearest you by placing 映(えい)画(が)館(かん) (eigakan) on Google maps. If you happen to live in Tokyo, there are tons of theatres around Shinjuku and Shibuya.

Once you enter the lobby, check for the screening schedule, or 上(じょう)映(えい)スケジュール (joueisukejuru). When you see it be sure to double-check if the movie you want to watch is subtitled 字(じ)幕(まく) (jimaku) or dubbed 吹(ふ)き替(か)え(fukikae). After deciding on which type of movie you’d like to see, now it’s time to buy your ticket.

English Japanese Romaji
Movie theatre 映画館 eigakan
Subtitled 字幕 jimaku
Dubbed 吹き替え fukikae
Screening schedule 上映スケジュール joueisukejuru

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Japanese Decoded: Nutrition Labels

Japanese Decoded: Nutrition Labels

Have you ever felt like Alice in Wonderland when visiting a Japanese supermarket? Or found yourself spending more time than you have staring at a package, trying to figure out what the heck you’re looking at?

Been there, done that. Don’t feel embarrassed—we’ve all made at least one prayer to the god of labels asking for some secret knowledge. For those of you who shop regularly and are regular label readers—either because of dietary restrictions, allergies, or things you want to avoid for your health—but find yourselves lost in Japan, here’s a quick guide to navigating the supermarket and deciphering nutrition labels and ingredients.

Navigating The Supermarket

Most Japanese supermarkets are not difficult to navigate as they are more or less the same as in other countries. At times, though, it’s easy to get lost when searching for the perfect soba or ingredients for that home-inspired gravy sauce. You can orient yourself by looking at the product category sections, usually separated by green banners hanging from the ceiling. Below are the names of the most common ones.

Japanese Rōmaji English
青果 seika Fruit & vegetables
鮮魚 sengyo Raw fish
食肉 shokuniku Meat
加工肉 kakoniku Processed meat or in other words sausages, ham and other goodies
生肉 namaniku Everything from chicken, pork, and beef to ground meat and the like
菓子 kashi Snacks and cookies
麺類 menrui Instant noodles, soba, udon
デリカ or 惣菜 delika or sozai Appetizers, ready salads, fried bites, finger food and ready meals
パン pan Bread
加工食品 kakoshokuhin Canned and packaged food

Frosted foods
Japanese bits and bites, including tofu, oden, salads
Dairy products: milk, ice cream, yoghurt, cheese, butter
dorai inryo
Juice, canned coffee, mineral water

Product Labels

Now that you’ve found the proper grocery category, let’s look at the product labels!

Below is the back of a bag of rice crackers (senbei) carrying a standard Japanese nutrition label. On the top left, we see the nutritional information (栄養成分表, eiyou seibun you), which contains all the basic nutrition facts about the product, such …continue reading


Kanji Cheat Sheet: Filing Taxes in Japan

Source: Gaijin Pot

Filing taxes in Japan can seem like a daunting prospect. However, with a few key terms, you will soon be filing like a professional accountant—no briefcase or perfectly pressed suit required.

We’ve all been there. Smiling in anticipation as we open our first payslip, but when we open the letter, the amount is a lot smaller than we expected. You try to work out why, but it’s full of complicated kanji like 所(しょ)得(とく)税(ぜい) (income tax) and 社(しゃ)会(かい)保(ほ)険(けん) (social insurance).

Get that refund!

Different types of taxes

The answer to your decreased wages is that most of us have deductions beyond income tax like social insurance and resident’s tax (住(じゅう)民(みん)税(ぜい)). For the most part, these are simply the expenses that come with living and working in Japan.

Here are some taxes that all of us need to get familiar with.

English Kanji Romaji
National tax 国税 Koku-zei
Local tax 地方税 Chihou-zei
Resident’s tax 住民税 Jyuumin-zei
Income tax 所得税 Sho-toku-zei
Consumption tax 消費税 Sho-hi-zei
Property tax 固定資産税 Kotei-shisan-zei
Automobile tax 自動車税 Jidousha-zei

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Get Prepared: What To Put In Your Earthquake Kit

emergency backpack

It is very important for every household to keep a readily available survival kit with enough food and water to last for a few days, alongside a flashlight, radio, and first aid kit. Make sure that the whole family is familiar with the designated evacuation area in your neighborhood, and avoid placing any heavy objects in places that can block your exits. Having a fire extinguisher or fire blanket in your home is also recommended.

Preparation is key!

Your earthquake kit will come into play when required to leave your home due to the building being unsafe, during evacuation dangers of fire or tsunami, or for any other emergency. The kit will need to consist of all the supplies you and your family will need to stay safe and healthy for up to three days after a disaster, including cases where the use of power, water, and sewage are lost.

Preparing in advance is key to having peace of mind. Many may remember, or have seen photos, of the empty shelves after the March 11, 2011 disaster. Panic buying in advance is not necessary, however, trying to stock up after the disaster is too late.

The basis of your earthquake kit

Here are a few essentials to have in your kit:

  1. Water—drinking water is an absolute necessity; prepare two liters of water per person per day. On top of that, remember that you may also want water supplies to cook and clean with. Although shelters will have water, it is best to pack some in your kit just in case.
  2. Food—foods should be non-perishable that don’t require further cooking or heating. Japan has a vast variety of food bars, vacuum-packed rice, and other meals you can stock up on. Including a sensible amount of comfort foods such as chocolates and chewing …continue reading