Category Archives: EDUCATION

10 Children’s Day Phrases

Copyright Philip Gregory 2020

Children’s Day (子供の日) is a Japanese holiday that takes place on May 5th, the last day of Golden Week. The holiday was originally called Tango No Sekku (端午の節句), translated literally as “the first horse of May”, and until 1948 was a boy’s holiday; the counterpart to Hinamatsuri (ひな祭り), Girl’s Day.

Children’s Day

In 1948, “Tango No Sekku” was renamed “Children’s Day”, and it became inclusive of mothers and girls. During Children’s Day, carp streamers known as Koinobori (鯉のぼり) are flown to show appreciation for children and their happiness. The streamers are often flown in a way that symbolizes family unity and hierarchy, with the father fish the largest and the highest, the smaller mother fish next, and the smallest children fish flying lowest. Since the 5th of May is fast approaching, we’ve selected ten phrases (and a few bonuses) to get you prepped you for Children’s Day.


In Japanese, Yane (屋根), meaning rooftop, is a word you will likely want to use when discussing the flying of koinobori. Although residents of smaller apartments have been known to fly koinobori inside, the majority of the streamers will be found flying above Japanese rooftops. Plus, if you learn this word, you’ll be able to cry out for help if you get stuck on a rooftop in Japan. If someone asks where you are, after you scream for help, just sob: “Yane no ue ni imasu” (屋根の上にいます).


Magoi (真鯉), translated literally as “real carp”, is a word used to describe black carp (probably because the most common carp in Japan are black). Regarding Children’s Day, magoi is used to describe the black koi streamers which are typically larger, and reserved for fathers.


Higoi (緋鯉), translated as “red carp” is, you …continue reading


Learn Japanese at Home

Japanese for Busy People

One thing that being stuck at home has been able to improve is my Japanese ability. I’ve found a lot more time recently to hit the books again and to get back into the grove of studying Japanese.

Japanese is not too difficult to learn, but it does take a lot of motivation and practice to successfully learn the language.

Studying at home is an easy option that you can do in the comfort of your own home. In this post, I’m going to highlight some great tools and self-study books for learning Japanese.

Self-Study Books

Japanese from Zero!

A great book for current students of Japanese, or absolute beginners of the language is Japanese from Zero! This innovative and integrated approach was developed by a professional Japanese interpreter and refined over the years by testing in classrooms throughout the world. Using up-to-date and easy-to-grasp grammar, readers are taught new grammar concepts, over 800 new words and expressions, and learn the hiragana writing system.

See Japanese from Zero!

Japanese for Busy People

If you don’t have a lot of time to study with a full work schedule, check out Japanese for Busy People. This series of beginner-friendly books is one of the most popular Japanese language textbooks in the world. The first of the three volumes introduces “survival Japanese” – teaching you the absolute minimum amount of Japanese needed to live in Japan. A great feature are the notes on Japanese culture which expand your understanding of Japan, its customs and people.

See Japanese for Busy People

Japanese for Busy People

Japanese Demystified

Struggling to …continue reading


Adapting to Online Education: 5 Keys to engaging your students

“I fell asleep”.

“I was playing an online game”.

“I was watching TV”.

“I was chatting with friends on social media”.

“I haven’t seen the last 3 lectures”.

These are some the answers from university students when asked about what they did during their virtual classes recently. With such answers, one has to wonder – are they learning anything in the online classes?

The pandemic has forced most educational institutions and training organizations into using online classes. To make the adjustment, they’ve thrown a piece of technology, such as Zoom or Blackboard

Collaborate, at the educators. Unfortunately, such practices greatly limit the amount of learning that happens during these classes. Educators need additional skills and beliefs in order to teach in an online environment and enable learning.

What Defines Learning (especially in these circumstances)?

Let’s first define learning. Many people seem to mistake learning with some activity that obtains information. But, when that information never becomes knowledge, learning doesn’t happen. Ask yourself – how much (percentage) do you remember from the last training workshop or class you participated in? And what of that information you do remember, can you use it effectively? As an educator/trainer, we all wish the answer to these questions would be as high as possible. To achieve this, your fundamental belief about what learning is must be reflective of the function of learning in the human brain.

Let’s start from the beginning. The human brain receives over 400 billion of bites of information each second. Only 2000 of those are bites are in our awareness being processed 1. This tells us that most of what we get has no chance at becoming durable knowledge. For learning to happen, a piece of information has to have some emotional connection or meaning to become knowledge. A much more technical and accurate definition of learning looks at the …continue reading


Kanji Cheat Sheet: Navigating Bicycle Parking in Japan

Source: Gaijin Pot

One of the first things I noticed right after I moved to Tokyo was that aside from all the trains, a lot of commuters use bikes to get around.

It took about six months of back and forth of internal debating, but eventually, I gave in and bought my own bike. It lets me haul a week’s worth of groceries back home with ease, saves me train money, and has kept me in (relative) shape. I’ve definitely gotten on the bike riding “train”…or bike, I suppose.

In Japan, you can’t just park your bike anywhere.

As convenient as bikes can be, you may be surprised that you can’t just park them anywhere in Japan. Despite the number of cyclists in the city, parking can be hard to come by. Don’t run the risk of having your bike confiscated. Use designated parking spots instead!

In this week’s kanji guide, learn where and how to use bicycle parking.

Where to park your bike

The rule of thumb when it comes to bicycle parking in Japan is that there will almost always be a place to park your bike near major stations, that’s how a good amount of people get to the stations after all.

Be aware of signs that prohibit parking 駐輪禁止 (chuurinkinshi) because bike confiscation is a very real thing. Instead, look for 駐輪場 (chuurinjou), the right place to park. You’ll know you’ve found the right one when you see a plethora of other bikes lined up in rows.

Read the full article on GaijinPot Study.

…continue reading


10 Of Japan’s Best Children’s Books—In English

10 Of Japan's Best Children's Books—In English

This selection is composed of the best children’s books translated to English by some of Japan’s most famous authors. Many of the titles have been so popular that they have even developed into series. Most of these are picture books, with distinctive graphic styles, and all of them are stories that will pull you and your children into their own fantasy world.

Even if English-language versions, these books will give you a glimpse of Japanese life and a variety of ways of looking at that life—whether it’s through the eyes of a boy, a rabbit, a mouse, or a more exotic creature. These are beloved modern classics that readers will never grow out of!

1. Hi, Butterfly! by Taro Gomi

Taro Gomi is one of Japan’s most popular author-illustrators for children due to his characteristic drawing style and relatable humor. It’s hard to go wrong with any book by this prolific writer, who particularly has many titles for preschoolers. In Hi, Butterfly!, we join a young boy as he chases a butterfly through town and country, leading to surprising results.

Japanese title: きいろいのは ちょうちょ, kiiro no ha choucho

Author: 五味太郎, Gomi Taro

Reading level: Preschool and up

2. It Might Be An Apple by Shinsuke Yoshitake

10 Of Japan's Best Children's Books—In English

Shinsuke Yoshitake is another author-illustrator with a characteristic visual style and engaging view of life. This book takes us on the imaginative and wild train of thought of a boy looking at what appears to be an apple—but may not be an apple! As well as being a lot of fun, the story encourages readers to question what they see in the world.

Japanese title: りんごかもしれない, ringo kamoshirenai

Author: …continue reading