Category Archives: EDUCATION

Beyond ‘Kirei’: 5 Phrases to Help You Use Japanese Like a Boss this Spring

Source: Gaijin Pot
Beyond ‘Kirei': 5 Phrases to Help You Use Japanese Like a Boss this Spring

Spring is officially upon us — at least according to the traditional Japanese calendar. In fact, kicking off the months’ long celebration of natural beauty are the frosty February blooms of ume, or Japanese plum blossoms. However, it’s hanami, or the viewing of sakura (cherry blossoms), that is undoubtedly the season’s main event. Not to be forgotten, however, are are the vibrant gardens of azaleas, irises and hydrangeas as well as the fragrant wisteria and roses.

While a rose by any other name other name may smell as sweet, when it comes to describing the beauty of blooms in Japanese, you might want to have a few new words on hand while revelling among them. Saying, “花(はな)がきれい” (“Hana ga kirei,” or “The flowers look so pretty”) can get awfully monotonous when you’re out on a stroll or sprawled out on a blue tarp with friends.

A few tweaks can help you use words probably already in your vocabulary to express the beauty and wonder of spring in Japan. Practice these phrases at hanami gatherings with friends and watch your Japanese flower!

1. 美(うつく)しい (utsukushii) or beautiful

The fluttering rush of cherry blossom petals floating down in a gust of wind is perhaps the epitome of spring in Japan. The word utsukushii (beautiful) uses the kanji for beauty (美) and suggests a gentle, subdued aesthetic. What could be more beautiful than a romantic stroll underneath a soft pink tunnel of cherry trees in blossom?

How to use it: 涙(なみだ)が出(で)るほど美しい (namida ga deruhodo utsukushii) or “So beautiful I could cry!” Prince may not have been referring to the beauty of Japan’s unofficial national flower when he sang “When Doves Cry,” but there’s something about those pink petals swaying in the wind that can bring on the waterworks.

2. 感動(かんどう)してる(kandou shiteru) or “to be impressed”

The kanji for the …continue reading


Making Your Mark: A Guide to Getting your Personal Seal in Japan

Source: Tokyo Cheapo

While a signature is all you need to authorize a contract in most countries outside East Asia, in Japan—as well as Korea and to a lesser extent China—a personal seal, known as inkan or hanko in Japanese, is what you’ll need.
What exactly is a hanko?
A hanko/inkan (used interchangeably) is a carved stamp that can be used in any situation where an individual, or an individual on behalf of a company, might otherwise use a signature or initials. Signing contracts, doing your banking (at a bank) or receiving a parcel are just three such cases. The necessity for a hanko and even the type of hanko may vary depending on the situation.
There are three common types used by both individuals and corporations. The jitsu-in (実印),

The post Making Your Mark: A Guide to Getting your Personal Seal in Japan appeared first on Tokyo Cheapo.

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STEP up to Help Students Pass the Eiken English Proficiency Test

Source: Gaijin Pot
STEP up to Help Students Pass the Eiken English Proficiency Test

Often as an English teacher in Japan, especially in the early days, you will hear all kinds of buzzwords, abbreviations and short forms being thrown around — TOEIC (Test of English for International Communication), TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) and IELTS (International English Language Testing System). Unless you studied for a teaching credential before coming here — which in all honesty the vast majority of new native-speaking English teachers haven’t — you’ll most likely be unsure what many of these points actually mean.

One such word that often came up in my case was “eiken.” If you work with junior or senior high school students and in some cases even older elementary students, then there’s a good chance you will be called upon to coach your students for this test at some point.

So what is the Eiken test and why is it so important to your students? Let’s dig a little deeper.

The Eiken Test in Practical English Proficiency is an exam that caters to all levels of study: from school students all the way up to English language teachers.. It’s often called the STEP Eiken in reference to the previous name of the Eiken Foundation — the Society for Testing English Proficiency

In some respects, it’s similar to the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) although unlike the JLPT, which lacks a speaking component, the Eiken requires verbal answers — so it is stronger in this regard. However, it is still mostly about reading and response rather than spontaneous conversation and communication.

Having seen both exams in detail, my personal opinion is that the Eiken Test gives a more accurate measure of a student’s all-round language ability than the JLPT. It is, however, still a standardized test and as such, it has its flaws. I spoke with one of my …continue reading


Pocket Shelter: The Disaster App That Just Might Save Your Life

Pocket Shelter Early Earthquake Warning

Sometimes it’s easy to believe that, in our sophisticated high-tech society, we are immune to the dangers of natural disasters. Unfortunately, this is not true. In a country like Japan, earthquakes and other natural disasters are a fact of life. While technology cannot eliminate them, new products and services can do a lot to minimize risk. Pocket Shelter is just that: a disaster preparedness app that just might save your life.

As a self-confessed earthquake-phobe, I tried it out to see if it really has what it takes to keep us safe if the worst were to occur.

It features early earthquake warnings

An “Earthquake Early Warning” is a warning issued when an earthquake is detected by the Japan Meteorological Agency, along with guidelines on how to react. In the event of an early earthquake warning, you may have a few seconds up to several minutes to react after receiving the warning, which can be enough time to get away from dangerous areas or seek shelter.

In the event of a disaster, Pocket Shelter offers real time, in-depth information in your language.

Early Earthquake Warnings in Japanese are broadcast on TV, radio, and now should come automatically through to your smartphone. The trouble is, you don’t have any control of when or how those warnings are transmitted to you — which is particularly a problem if you don’t read Japanese.

A primary function of Pocket Shelter is to get warnings to you, in your own language, wherever you are. The warnings also contain vital information tailored to your location on the nearest earthquake resistant structures and shelters.

User-friendly disaster maps have offline capability

City wards usually publish information about the location of shelters in their areas but typically this is either in Japanese only or on a print out that you get when you first register, then …continue reading


This Disaster-Preparedness App Could Save Your Life

Source: Gaijin Pot

I don’t like earthquakes. In fact, every time I feel one I begin to write my will. After I was recently rudely awoken by my house shaking, I took it upon myself to learn how best to prepare for an earthquake and found out about this new app called Pocket Shelter.

The multilingual app is quite literally a life-saver, designed to give users the best chance of survival in the event of a disaster. Even just by looking at the app’s key features, I was able to learn a lot about the actions I should take — instead of mulling over who should get my precious T-Point card in case I don’t make it.

Pocket Shelter incorporates four main tools that could help ensure your safety and survival should something serious occur. Here they are, outlined to the best of my newfound knowledge.

1. Informative warnings that let you know the type of disaster

Earthquakes are pretty noticeable. The ground shaking is often a sign. However, it’s prudent to know whether or not the shaking is from a rave next door or Mother Nature having a kick around with continental plates.

Pocket Shelter GaijinPot Earthquake warnings

Pocket Shelter provides comprehensive real time information on earthquakes.

Most electronics in Japan give off a signal or warning when an earthquake is detected, but actually knowing what kind of earthquake it is can make all the difference.

With Pocket Shelter, different levels of alarms and vibrations occur for different intensities. The same goes for if it’s another type of threat, such as a tsunami or ballistic missile. The app ensures that you know what’s going on by sound alone. Plus, whenever one happens it displays a whole host of information related to the event (like epicenter locations …continue reading