Category Archives: EDUCATION

Tweet of the Week #34: The Truth About Paternity Leave in Japan

Source: Gaijin Pot
Tweet of the Week

On paper, Japan’s paternity leave sounds really, really great. The OECD even ranks Japan as an exemplary country thanks to what looks like one of the most progressive parental laws among the developed nations.

Broadly speaking, employees that have worked for the same company for at least a year are entitled to take up to one year of childcare paid leave. Yes, one full year. To keep the numbers simple, just know that for the first six months, the government will pay two-thirds of the employee’s monthly base salary, and half for the remaining six months. Not bad at all.

The real story

Sadly, according to a survey conducted by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare in 2018, only 6.16 percent of fathers actually dare to take paternity leave.

When they do, the average duration is 10 days.

This is actually not surprising at all given that Japan still considers men as the main provider for their family while practically tossing women out of their jobs as soon as they become mothers. It’s a sad reality embodied by the colloquial expression マタハラ (“mata-hara“) the short version of マタニティハラスメント, a combo of maternity and harassment, that surfaced in 2014.

The bad news is that now you can add パタハラ (“pata-hara“), short for パタニティハラスメント, paternity harassment, to the list of hot topics currently debated in Japan.

Just got a kid and built a new house? Congrats! We’re transferring you far, far away!

Yup. That’s a typical sneaky move from old-school Japanese “black” companies. When their male employees get a kid or buy a house, the higher-ups strategically transfer them out to another office. It’s a twisted way to show who’s boss, counting on the employee feeling stuck with all the costs associated with childcare. Because who would leave their jobs when they have a mortgage and family to …continue reading


Being a Translator in Japan: An Interview with Louise Heal Kawai

Lead Louise Heal Kawai Being a Translator in Japan Savvy Tokyo Yakuza Moon

A translator of Japanese literature into English, Louise Heal Kawai originally comes from Manchester in the north of the UK, has lived in Texas and Nagoya, and now calls Yokohama home.

Her translation of Seventeen by Hideo Yokoyama was a finalist in the 2018 Believer Book Awards and longlisted for the 2019 Best Translated Book Award. Her next translation, the classic Japanese mystery The Honjin Murders by Seishi Yokomizo (featuring Detective Kindaichi) will be released in December 2019.

Savvy Tokyo caught up with Louise to find out more about her journey from teaching English and speaking zero Japanese to meeting famous authors and being nominated for translation awards.

What initially brought you to Japan?

I live in Yokohama, but I’ve only been in the Kanto area for four years. Before that, I spent around 20 years in Nagoya. I first came to Japan to teach English at a university in Nagoya, but after getting married I have followed my husband’s job transfers to Texas — and now to Yokohama.

What attracted you to translation as a career?

I’ve loved translating ever since secondary school in the UK (what would be a middle school in the US) where I studied French, German, and also Latin. Translating pieces into English was my absolute favorite part of the class, and by the time I was in university, I loved to read French and German literature.

However, career-wise, I started off as a teacher of English as a foreign language. It wasn’t until I decided to do an M.A. in Japanese Studies — and thoroughly enjoyed the translation and literature components of the course — that I began to feel that love of translation again.

A couple of years later I had to give up my teaching job when I moved to Texas with my family and translating was a perfect …continue reading


History of the Kanto 10 Mile Road Race

Source: Running Talk

After completing the Kanto 10 Mile Road Race in December last year, I asked the race organizers to share with me information about the history of this race. I had heard that it was the oldest 10-mile road race in the world, though there are few details available about the race and its history, particularly in the English language. Below, I have summarized the history of the race posted photographs of the letter I received from the race organizers.

The Kanto 10 Mile Road Race was first held on 28th March 1937. The race was held twice a year, in March and December until the 103rdconvention in 1989, since which time it has been held once a year in late December. The race was not held from 1942 to 1945 due to the second world war, before resuming on 8th December 1946. Keizo Yamada, winner of the Boston Marathon in 1953 is a former participant in the race, as is Yuko Arimori, who won silver and bronze medals at the Olympics for the marathon in 1992 and 1996 respectively. A 10KM race was added to the event schedule in 1961.

The current records for the 10-mile race are 47:20 (male) and 54:05 (female).

…continue reading


Your Guide to Namba, Osaka

Located in the South part of Osaka City, Namba is a popular area for shopping, restaurants, night life, with even a few well-preserved historic shrines and alleys. Here’s your guide of to how to enjoy Namba!


Namba is Osaka City’s most famous entertainment district, and is packed with endless dining and shopping choices. The area is quite convenient to travel to, as it is has three train stations, three subway lines, and a bus terminal. The area surrounding Namba Station is minami (南, “South”) Osaka, one of Osaka’s two major city centers. The other major city center is kita (北, “North”) which is located around Osaka and Umeda Stations.


Namba Station is not a single station, but rather a collection of multiple station buildings and platforms – including Nankai Namba Station, JR Namba Station and Kintetsu’s Osaka Namba Station. Furthermore, the Midosuji, Yotsubashi and Sennichimae Subway Lines stop at their respective Namba Stations. The Namba Station area can be a bit confusing to first-timers, and even Japanese people can have difficulty navigating between the multiple stations in Namba!


Dōtonbori is one of Osaka’s most popular tourist destinations. The street shares the same name as the Dōtonbori canal, which it runs parallel to. Not only is Dōtonbori a popular shopping and entertainment district, but it is also known as a foodie’s paradise due to the abundant selection of restaurants and street food. At night, the street and canal are lit by hundreds of neon lights and signs, including the famous Glico Running Man sign, which has become a symbol of the area.

The bridge that crosses the canal is Ebisu-bashi, and it offers great views of the signs lining the canal. The view is especially nice at night, when everything lights up. Check out our 1-minute video guide to how to enjoy a …continue reading


Onomatopoeia & Mimetic words  (擬音語 & 擬態語 = ぎおんご&ぎたいご = giongo & gitaigo))



= Kyou wa ichinichi gorogoro shimasu.

= I am going to lie around doing nothing today.

Hi everyone!

Today we are going to learn onomatopoeia. Yes, finally!

So many people asked me to make a lesson in the past and I tried to avoid making one because there are countless of onomatopoeia.

I will focus on the ones with repetitive sound like きょろきょろ= kyorokyoro (kyoro x 2 ) There are more than 200 words here but I won’t be able to cover all of them.

* 擬音語 = ぎおんご = giongo = onomatopoeia = based on sound

* 擬態語 = ぎたいご = gitaigo = mimetic words = describing movement/action/state

Technically you are supposed to write 擬音語 ( = ぎおんご = giongo) onomatopoeia in katakana and 擬態語 ( = ぎたいご = gitaigo ) mimetic words in hiragana

* 彼はがりがりだ。

= Kare wa garigari da.

= He is skinny.

(がりがり= garigari = describe a skinny person.)

* がりがり勉強する

= Garigari benkyou suru.

= to study like crazy

(がりがり= garigari = describe the way you study a lot)

* アイスキャンディーをガリガリ食べる。

= Aisukyandii wo garigari taberu.

= to crunch a popsicle.

(ガリガリ= garigari = crunching sound)

but I will type them in both hiragana and katakana because you will see them written both ways.

You may see the similar words with the same translation.

For example ぷくぷく ( = pukupuku) and ぶくぶく ( = bukubuku).

Basically when there are two dots 「 」Ex. がぎぐげご( = ba bi bu be bo) ・ざじずぜぞ ( = za ji zu ze zo) ・ばびぶべぼ ( = ba bi bu be bo), it sounds stronger or has a slightly negative nuance and many of the words with starts with ぱぴぷぺぽ ( = pa pi pu pe po) sounds cuter.

So if you see a chubby baby, you can say ぷくぷく ( = pukupuku) but if you say ぶくぶく( = bukubuku) to an …continue reading