Thursday, 5 January 2012

2011 Japanese Buzzwords and Street Slang

Buzzword of 2011 was 撫子ジャパン (nadeshiko Japan)
but my favourite is also the Kanji chosen for the year 2011

絆 Kizuna 

Other runner-ups include:

東日本大震災 (higashi nihon dai shin sai)
絆  (kizuna)
帰宅難民 ( kitaku nan min)
なう= now
わず = was
うぃる= will
ドクカワrefers to someone who looks cute at first but later reveals a darker sombre side
草食系 (sou shoku kei ) = passive personality
肉食系 (niku shoku kei) = aggressive
ロールキャベツ = looks weak on the exterior but is strong inside
なるはや = as soon as possible
ヒャクパー = 100%
ドンマイ = don't mind

Article is from The Japan Times and Japan Today

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

I Love Japanese Lessons with Maggie 先生

I keep revisiting Japanese Lessons with Maggie 先生 and if you don't know about it yet, you should! It's a fantastic wealth of resources, with loads of grammar points, example sentences, cultural points and up-to-date vocabulary.

Most of all, I love the photos of Maggie 先生 and the captions. I have to nominate Maggie 先生 as one of my top Japanese-language learning sites. The best part is Maggie 先生 has been up since 2009 so there's a lot of posts to go through! Yay!

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

How to Memorise the Hiragana Script

In kindergarten, my parents had this huge chart in our study room that kind of looked like this.

When I started elementary school, I would sometimes mix up Kanji and Hiragana in writing my name during 2nd language class. Then my school teacher persuaded my parents to let me study only Mandarin. That was a bit of a mistake as I didn't do well in those classes at all. Kanji was and still is, a killer ;)

Then for some reason (and I really can't remember now), I was swotting for an entrance exam that required some ability in Japanese. This was when I stayed up all night to memorise the Hiragana and Katakana script. I used this book, Remembering the Hiragana : A Complete Course on How to Teach Yourself the Japanese Syllabary in 3 Hours by James Heisig.
(p.s. there is a PDF copy lying around but you need to trawl the web for it).

There was a Katakana version too.  Maybe the effort paid off in the end but since then, there are loads of (IMHO) better books out there. I think the Heisig series paved the way well as you can see how easy it is to remember each script with a pictorial idea paired with the strokes. 

I've seen a couple of other books out there similar to the Heisig series, such as Dr. Moku's Learn Japanese in One Day, made easy with iPhone and iPad apps. You can check out the youtube here, too.
If you have trouble recalling the script, there are some great and cheap Kumon books you can buy from Kinokuniya.
I used the Katakana series for revision when I started living in Japan again.
Link here: for SGD 15.70 or 14.13 if you're a member. The layout of the book is like this:

Monday, 2 January 2012

Japanese books at the National Library (Singapore)

Lo and Behold!
There's a wealth of resources at the NLB (National Library of Singapore).

Using their catalogue here, turns up about 230 results for "Japanese: The Spoken Language".

Friday, 30 December 2011


From time to time, I get mailers from Medi-ya (Liang Court) Supermarket . This time, there's a huge year-end sale, 歳末大売出し where you can get some fresh produce from rice, veges, wagyu beef to sake and rice cakes which would complete the basics for a traditional New Year's Eve dinner.
Even though it's Summer in Singapore, it's a family tradition to have お鍋 regardless of where we are.
Why don't you try it too, in Singapore! They sell おせち料理 too which could serve as a good taster for Singaporeans but you need to order it well in advance.

The flyers and catalogues from Medi-ya are a great help with language-learning since they are bilingual :)

Even though I really miss the traditional New Year in Japan, I am excited to celebrate my first New Year in Singapore! I think celebrations here are pretty westernised but I guess I will mix it up as I go along. While I miss the cold, TV shows and great food in Japan, I am looking forward to a fun year ahead in Singapore :)
Happy New Year everyone! 新年あけましておめでとうございます!

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Japanese Magazines (Mooks)

I'm not big on Mooks (magazine books) but if you are, you will LOVE Kenji's

NOT A Books Kinokuniya Chinese Magazines & Japanese Magazines Promotions + New Arrivals BLOG 

Kenji blogs about the different types of Mooks for sale (and upcoming) at Kinokuniya. You can see the cover and the free gifts in them. 


Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Singapore Kinokuniya Bookweb - how to use

I'm going to share how I use the Kinokuniya Book Web in different ways.

When I have a book in mind, I get the ISBN off Amazon or some other site and search for it in Kinokuniya Book Web. If they have it, I will either call to ask them to reserve then pick it up after work. The Ngee Ann City and Liang Court stores carry Japanese titles. At the Bugis branch, only Japanese magazine titles are sold there.

 Sometimes I check for the latest books or most popular titles via the Japanese Books tab.
If I see a book I like, I will get the ISBN and check it out on Amazon Japan to see if I can preview them. Kinokuniya Book Web sometimes has a google book preview but chances are you may view them on Amazon Japan more often than not, sans google book preview.

This book has no preview in Kinokuniya Book Web but look it up on Amazon Japan and you may preview it ;)

Kinokuniya Book Web also has cool function which lets you look up similar books of interest.

You may also order books online and have them delivered to your office or home. とても便利ですよ!