Category Archives: EDUCATION

Gunma Games 2019 – A Tale of Villainy, Memery, and Family

When you move to a new place it can be hard to find new friends. It’s hard enough when you move across the country, let alone across the world. I’ve been here in Japan for about a year, and in that time I have made many friends and discoveries to enliven my time here.

But with each year comes fresh faces to Gunma, and they do not have those same connections. So last weekend, myself and some other Gunmans carried on a tradition of friendly competition to help everyone get to know each other.

The goal was the Golden Cabbage, but the prize was the friends made along the way. This is the Story of Gunma Games 2019.

Setting the Scene

Gunma Games has been an annual tradition of the Gunma Area JET Organization, or GAJET for brevity’s sake, for seven years now. GAJET is all about bringing people together to make Gunma feel like home, and I joined the 2019 staff to lend a hand in that regard.

It’s not common knowledge outside of Gunma that there exist four different regions:

  • Tone-Agatsuma
  • Seibu
  • Chubu
  • Tobu

*Tone & Agatsuma are combined for administrative purposes*

In addition to the executive positions, there also exist representatives for each region. I sit on the committee as Tobu’s representative, and my main purpose is to motivate my fellow Tobu-ites to attend GAJET events.

Talking Up Tobu’s Heart

Petty inter-region rivalries exist, but during Gunma Games they tend to exist at their most volatile. After all, there’s nothing better than a day of competition to stoke the flames of contention. Tobu, as the reigning champions of 2017 and 2018, was the region to beat.

Due to its size, Seibu always has players who are unable to join any games, and it’s common to see their members defect for a better chance to play. 2018’s Gunma Games …continue reading


Four Terrifying Japanese Legends

Countries from all over the world have legends – stories past down from generation to generation. Some of those legends are absolutely terrifying. Japan’s stories are no exception. Here are four Japanese legends that just might freak you out.

Hanako of the Toilet トイレの花子さん

Hanako of the Toilet is the story of a school girl ghost that haunts the third stall of the third-floor of the school bathrooms. Japanese school children often challenge each other to walk into the third-floor bathroom alone, and knock on the third stall. The student then asks, “Hanako-san, are you there” (はなこさん、いますか). This kind of creepy challenge, by the way, is similar to the story of “Bloody Mary” in the United States, where children are challenged to hold a single candle and say Mary’s name into a mirror three times. As for Hanako-san, if she’s there, the children will hear, “I’m here” (いますよ) from the third stall. If they open it, they will find the ghost of a small young girl with short hair and a one-piece (ワンピース) red skirt. I never want to go to the bathroom again.

Kokkuri-san (こっくりさん)

Kokkuri-san is a fox that appears if you correctly perform his ritual summoning. Here’s how it works: a Japanese person will write down all of the hiragana, from あ to ん, on a sheet of paper. Then they place a ten-yen (十円) coin on the paper. They then call Kokkuri-san by chanting “Kokkuri-san, please come here”, (こっくりさん、おいでください). If Kokkuri-san is there, he will spell out the word “hai”, (はい) meaning, “yes”, by moving the coin to both “ha” (は) and “n” (ん). Sounds harmless right? In many cases, yes, Kokkuri-san seems perfectly safe. In fact, it is said that you are able to ask …continue reading


Easy Japanese For Emergencies

Easy Japanese For Emergencies

Calling For Help

In Japan, there are three phone numbers to dial in the case of an emergency.

If you need to report a crime or join a police officer, you need to dial 110. If the crime or accident you witnessed was at sea, you need to call Japan Coast Guard using 118. Lastly, if you want to make an emergency call in Japan for an ambulance, dial 119, the one situation we are focusing on today.

Keep in mind that you can still reach emergency numbers even if you don’t have a SIM card, using the emergency call option on your screen. In Japan, you can also use public phones—green phones available everywhere— without having to insert coins for dialing those numbers.

Joining An Emergency Operator

The operator will answer and try to assess the situation you are in by asking you: 火事ですか、救急ですか? (Kaji desu ka, kyuukyuu desu ka?,“Is it an emergency or a fire?”)

Here, you will have to help him or her by stating the situation you find yourself in. Either way: 火事です (Kaji desu, “It’s a fire”) or 救急です (Kyuukyuu desu, “It’s a medical emergency”).

Explaining The Situation

The dispatcher might then ask you what has happened:どうしましたか? (Dou shimashita ka?, “What happened?”)

We gathered essentials words and sentences for you to explain every kind of situation you could be in. Nobody wants to have to use these words one day but it’s always good to have a cheat sheet in your wallet or better, memorize them in the case you would be needing them.

Japanese sentence Pronunciation English translation
けがです Kega desu I’m injured
病気です Byouki desu I’m sick
交通事故です Koutsuu jiko desu There’s been a traffic accident.
胸が苦しいです Mune ga kurushii desu I’m having difficulty breathing
意識不明です Ishiki fumei desu (Someone) is unconscious
高熱です Kounetsu desu (I have) a high fever
出血です Shukketsu desu (Someone) is bleeding

Transmitting Essential Information

To help you, the operator …continue reading


Kanji Cheat Sheet: How to Navigate the Japanese Train System

Source: Gaijin Pot

My relationship with the Japanese train system has always been complicated. There are times when I’m able to navigate it well enough to feel almost like a Tokyo native and times where I feel like I can’t even read the English signs.

Coming from Manila, which only has three working train lines, terrible traffic, and barely any sidewalks, acclimating to the Japanese train system was like jumping into the deep end of a shark-infested swimming pool.

I couldn’t understand how one station could have over 30 exits (I’m looking at you Shinjuku Station).

I first visited Japan in the fall of 2016 and despite months of preparing, I still got lost. I couldn’t understand how one station could have over 30 exits (I’m looking at you Shinjuku Station). Sit down and buckle up kids, let’s get into the most commonly seen Kanji in Japanese train stations.

Do you want the express or local train?

English Japanese Romaji
Train 電車 densha
Subway 地下鉄 chikatetsu
(Train) Line sen
Express 急行 kyuukou
Semi-express 準特急 juntokkyuu
Limited Express 特急 tokyuu
Rapid 快速 kaisoku
Local Train 普通列車/各駅停車 futsuu-ressha/kakueikiteisha

Picture this, you’ve just arrived at Shinjuku Station and it’s as busy as ever. You fumble your way around the massive station trying to look for a way to get to your Airbnb/hostel and all you have on hand is the train line, station name, and station exit.

Read the full article on GaijinPot Study!

…continue reading


How To Curse In Japanese

You are planning to come to Japan, and you want to be completely and utterly prepared. You’ve learned all of the standard phrases, but what do you do when you need to curse at someone?

Most people generally avoid flinging out expletives willy-nilly, but it can’t be denied that there are some situations where cursing seems appropriate. In those situations, you’ll need some linguistic ammunition. That’s why I’ve prepared a list of words and phrases that you can use to curse, in Japanese. It’s true that Japanese curse words are not profanity in the same way that some English words are, but by forming sentences from the words and phrases below, you can nevertheless become a legitimate Japanese-speaking potty mouth.

We’ll start with “teme” (てめぇ). This word isn’t technically a curse word; it means “you”. I included this word because it is useful in conjunction with curse words, because it is so rough and informal. You’ll want to add this word to the others in this list in order to make a nice, happily insulting sentence. For example, “teme, nani shitendayo” (てめぇ、何してんだよ), or, “Hey you, what the hell are you doing?” is fluid, whereas adding more formal versions of “you” would be out of place.

Next up: “yaro” (バカ). This is not really a word that is used by itself; it’s attached to other words to add the meaning of “bastard”. It essentially increases the severity of a curse word. It’s incredibly useful, because you can tag it onto almost anything. For example, kusoyaro (くそやろ) means something like “shit bastard”, while “bakayaro” (バカヤロー) means something like “stupid bastard”.

Next, we have “kuso” (くそ). Kuso translates literally to “shit”. If used simply and by itself, “shit” is generally understood as the meaning, but in the case of strong emphasis, it is more like “fucking”. …continue reading