Category Archives: EDUCATION

Making Reservations in Japanese

Source: Gaijin Pot

Nothing beats getting out of the house and traveling somewhere new in Japan — even if it’s just a one-night expedition.

Yet, unless you plan on staying up all night like it’s your first night out in Shibuya, you’re going to have to make proper overnight reservations. If you’re like me, this can be a daunting task even if you’re speaking English. Why can’t everything be automated? Outside of the impersonal digital connections, let’s go over how to make some reservations in Japanese so you can get out of the house and explore Japan to your heart’s content.

In Japan, you will also find you have a third lodging option outside of a hotel or a hostel: a ryokan.

Most places here take credit cards and Visa (or JCB or MasterCard) debit cards. I would still advise to err on the side of caution and bring cash with you to your destination — just in case. Especially if you plan on booking in more remote locations. In Japan, you will also find you have a third lodging option outside of a hotel or a hostel: a ryokan. A ryokan is a traditional Japanese-style inn that has tatami rooms, typically an onsen (communal bath) and your own personal yukata to shuffle around in.

Luckily, you can book most hostels here in English and can conveniently do so from Hostel World. Additionally, JapanICan lets you book ryokan and hotels in English as well. Let’s not forget that Airbnb also allows bookings in English if you’re seeking a more personal and lived in experience. For the remaining establishments that don’t support this service let’s go over a typical interaction.

Reservation dialogue





Hotel staff: もしもし東京ホテルでございます。 Moshimoshi, Tokyo hoteru de gozaimasu. Hello, it’s Hotel Tokyo.
You: 予約お願いします。 Yoyaku onegai-shimasu. I would like to make a reservation.
Hotel staff: いつからお泊りになりますか?

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Song of the Week 27 – “Put ’em Up”

Memoirs of a Gaijin Playlist

“Put ’em Up” by Amuro Namie

This week’s song comes to us courtesy of Malcolm Harper. At the end of our interview, he had this to say about his song choice:

This was the very first Japanese song I ever heard, and it was this song that got me interested in Japanese music. It also introduced me to Amuro Namie, who became my favorite Japanese singer. I figure if I have to choose a song to reflect this interview, this is most appropriate. Without it, I may not have been interested enough to come work in Japan.

This song went along with this week’s interview.

Check out the full post here!




The post Song of the Week 27 – “Put ’em Up” appeared first on Memoirs of a Gaijin.

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A Guide To Cycling In Tokyo With Kids

Tokyo can have some of the best railway and subway system in the world, but locals know that one of the best ways to get around the tightly packed metropolis is no other than by bicycle. If you’re cycling around, however — especially with kids! — you’ll need to be extra cautious, packed with all the information and totally ready to hit the road. Here’s all you’ll need to know.

Know the rules

Just like driving a car in Japan, when cycling on the road you need to keep to the left-hand side. Other traffic rules include coming to a full halt at stop signs (止まれ) and intersections, not riding side-by-side with another cyclist and not carrying a passenger on your handlebars or any other undesignated spot, not using earphones and not carrying an umbrella while cycling. You will need to have a front light attached to your bike to use when dark.

The 止まれ sign means STOP and should be followed by cars and cyclists alike.

Riding on the sidewalk: In principle, bicycles should be ridden on the road, but there are a number of exceptions that permit riding on sidewalks, in particular, when the cyclist is either younger than 13 or older than 70. All cyclists are allowed to ride on the sidewalk when safety reasons require it and when an area is signposted for dual use by pedestrians and cyclists. In this case, you’ll see a round blue street sign with pictures of a bicycle and of a parent and child on it (can you find it in the photo below?). When riding on the sidewalk, go slowly, keep to the side of the street that is closest to the road, and always give way to pedestrians.

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Malcolm Harper – How to travel, teach, improve each day, and thrive all around the world

Last week I sat down in Maebashi, Gunma with Malcolm Harper, traveling teacher and bon vivant, to talk all about his travels, lifetime enthusiasm for Japanese, and the differences he has found between the American and Japanese school systems. His thought on these matters and more are articulate, steadfast, and impactful.

Mr. Harper’s class is now in session, so come sit down and get ready to learn!

Getting to Know Mr. Harper

So Malcolm, give me an elevator pitch for yourself

That’s a good question. Well, my name is Malcolm Harper, and I wake up every morning and ask myself “How can I do better than yesterday?” In my heart I believe that despite mistakes and other things that may have happened in the past, it is necessary to learn from those and improve.

So every day, I wake up and put this philosophy into practice.

So where in the world do you wake up now?

Right now I am waking up every day, or at least I should be waking up every day, in Isesaki, Gunma, right here in the middle of beautiful Japan. I can see a lot of that beauty in the mountains that surround me, such as Akagi, Haruna, and Asama.

However, before I came here, I woke up every single other day of my life in Wichita, Kansas.

Really, you woke up every single other day in Wichita?

Well, maybe not every day, but the majority of them. I’ve made sure to travel around a fair amount.

What places did you see before coming to Japan?

Traveling has always been a passion of mine, and I am fortunate enough to have been able to pursue that passion on several occasions. I have been to Sweden, Denmark, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and I lived in Mexico for a semester during college.

And while I have been …continue reading


Words for Spring Cleaning in Japan

Source: Gaijin Pot

The winter is almost over and if you’re anything like us, you spent so long huddled under the duvet that you probably have an apartment full of bulky jackets that need a good dusting or throwing out and a couple of dark places that haven’t seen a vacuum cleaner in far too long (hint: if it starts moving, it has been waaaaay too long… ).

If this sounds familiar, it’s time to 断捨離(だんしゃり) (throw some things out), 部屋(へや)を片付(かたづ)ける (clean your room), roll up your sleeves and get involved in some hardcore 大掃除(おおそうじ) (housecleaning).

Of course, when it comes to the life changing magic of tidying up in Japanese, not only are the tasks difficult and time consuming, but you’ll also have to learn some tricky nouns and verbs to describe it at the same time.

The first words are, of course, the names of some of the weapons that are needed for this monumental task of fighting that ゴミ (trash). These include:

  • ホウキ (broom)
  • ちりとり (dustpan)
  • 雑巾(ぞうきん) (dust cloth)
  • バケツ (cleaning bucket)
  • 掃除機(ぞうじき) (vacuum cleaner)
  • エプロン (apron)
  • はたき (feather duster)
  • ゴム手袋(てぶくろ) (rubber gloves)
  • ブラシ (brush)

And, of course, plenty of ゴミ箱(ばこ) (trash bags).

As well as cleaning, it can also be a useful time to expand your vocabulary with some of the weird and wonderful verbs that are associated with cleaning in Japanese.

As well as cleaning, it can also be a useful time to expand your vocabulary with some of the weird and wonderful verbs that are associated with cleaning in Japanese. Likely you recognize the verbs 捨(す)てる (throw away), かける (to turn on or set a machine), 取(と)る (take) and 磨(みが)く (polish) from other uses. However, which of the aforementioned nouns — so far we’ve studied ほうき, ゴミ, ちりとり, 雑巾, バケツ, 掃除機, エプロン, はたき, ゴム手袋 and ブラシ — do you think these verbs go with?

Some examples:

  • ゴミをさらう (throw out the trash)
  • 掃除機をかける (clean the …continue reading