Why I started this blog.

As many percieve it, Japanese is a difficult language to learn.  It is the language that all of your favorite anime characters use, or the language that was used to create games like Super Mario Bro. and consoles like Nintentdo and Playstation.

But the question is, “Is Japanese really that difficult?”.

The answer, is obviously “YES”, but so are learning other languages. But what makes Japanese so difficult is 1) grammatical structures that are none like Latin-based languages 2) the conceptualization of the world (or the way the Japanese language “views” the world) ,  this combined with the fact that Japan has long history of being isolated from the rest of the world, keeps the language and culture so intact that it has less influence (or less similarities) to other languages.

This blog will focus on “hacking” the Japanese language. This means 1) easier ways to “formulate” sentences 2) understanding nuances/implications in certain words and phrases.  this will be done through the comparison between the English language.

Even being ethnically Japanese, with all my relatives being born in Japan, I still had the problem of understanding the language and also the cultural aspects that are so closely tied to the language itself.  As I have struggled my way through to unraveling the culture, I would like to share whatever I know so that those with ambitions for the language can do the same to others.



ざ・一本締め Japanese style closer:

一本締め/一丁締め (ippon-jime, icchou-jime)

If you’re every going to a 飲み会 (nomikai) or a 合コン(go-kon) or even some serious meetings like 集会(shu-kai) or 納会 (no-kai) , the one “move” you want to learn is the 一本締め (ippon-jime).

Tejime 01.jpg
By kontenten from Japan. – 三本締め
(Archived by WebCite® at https://www.webcitation.org/63sLuEGx8), CC BY 2.1 jp, Link


Not only is this move used in ceremonies, but at times, can be used at the end of a successful business meeting, or even big congregations such as a 株主総会(kabunushi-sokai)  or Investor relationship.

There are other styles like the 三本締め(sanbon-jime)、一丁締め(icchou-jime) 、博多手一本(hakata-te-ippon, or “the hakata style ippon”), or 大阪締め(Osaka-jime, or the “the osaka style closing (ippon)”.

Need less to say, there are probably local versions of the this closing ritual. If you’d like to really experience a Japanese nomikai (japanese style-after party). You should get a hold of this move!


Showing prefereneces ~たい、好き are used as adjectives

When you want to show a preference, or a desire to do something you have two options.

1) VERB +たい form
 買う ⇒ 買いたい
 食べる ⇒ 食べたい
 見る ⇒ 見たい
2) show your likings for a noun or an action with ”好き(です)”
 XXX が 好き

Interesting part of the sentence is that when the following 2 sentences POLITE (1) VERB +たい form and 2) show your likings for a noun or an action with ”好き(です)”) you will be using “です”。

買う ⇒ 買いたいです。
食べる ⇒ 食べたいです。
見る ⇒ 見たいです。

YYYが好き です。

Usually です is used after a noun or an adjective, so you can see that both VERBS conjugated into ~たい form, and the word ”好き” are both treated as adjectives. You can not use ます like most other verbs, therefore it is safe to say that verbs used for showing preferences and likings are treated like nouns.

どうぞ(douzo) vs. どうも(doumo)


they are one of the most useful phrases to learn in Japanese. They are both polite and both in a rather affirmative tone.

どうぞ meaning “please” in a tone much like “(Please) I insist”.
this is used when you are making any kind of offerings…. this could be a food item, a spot on the que, or allowing someone to speak English with you (although the thing YOU want to do is practice JAPANESE with them… but that’s another story…)

どうも meaning “Hi/yeah/thank you” it’s more like a sound of acknowledgement…
you can use it, basically when you want to say “thank you” or just a simple “hey”, but it has a fairly polite tone to it.

This 2 have the same initial sounds, but don’t get them mixed up.


How do you respond to いらっしゃいませ?

Something that really terrifies a lot of Japanese learners is mannerism upon entering a restaurant. There are many things to pay attention to when you are entering a Japanese restaurant

So what’s the first you thing you hear when you enter a store?

The phrase you’re most likely to hear is

いらっしゃいませー! (irasshaimase … or “welcome” )

So in other countries and cultures it is more customary to say something back. In this situation, you’re inclined to say something like “ありがとうございます” but this is actually a little awkward…

These are the 3 things you would like to say when you’ve entered the building in response to your “いらっしゃいませ” you get from the store clerk/master.

1. 御免下さい (gomen kudasai…. “allow me to come in”)
2. どうも~ (doumo– … “hi/thanks/hello”)
3. こんにちは~(konnichiwa — … “good afternoon”)

in the above phrase, you would most likely pay attention to 2.どうも. this phrase is actually used most frequently in the recent years. It is actually a very mild or “neutral tone” phrase that is applicable to most situation. It’s a sound of “acknowledgement”.

Having the above phrases in mind, it’s about time you give it a try at your next visit to the restaurant.


Random Notes (session: 11/30)

別に not really.. (slang)

hopefully soon 近いうちに。。。

八時(はちじ) eight o’clock

前(mae)より 今(ima)の方(hou)が 

なぜか。。。 for some reason…
なぜ why

★どれくらい about how much

たぶん probably


時間(じかん) time

彼女は 行きたい です。 

麺(めん) noodle
嫌い(きらい) distaste
和菓子(わがし) japanese snacks

とか such
あんこ red bean paste


About myself, about my methodology

I’ve already written my reasons for teaching Japanese, but here’s another intro I was writing in an email. Hope it’s a fun read.

I was born and raised mainly in the US until the age of 15. Despite the fact that most of relatives (including parents) were Japanese, I had quite a lot of trouble going through Japanese high school and Japanese University. My level of understanding of the culture and language were not with par with with my generically Japanese face… And thus, with the “downset” of looking very Japanese, I somehow mistakenly landed into a job of doing consultative sales in the Japanese domestic market working with really authentically Japanese people. Here my struggles continued (and even accelerated) as my customers would be very traditional small businesses in Tokyo and the rural areas… one example of trouble was common ice-breaker of “Where are you from? 出身はどこですか?(shusshin-wa doko desu-ka?)” actually infuriating my customers, because many of them thought I was goofing, messing around them….

Fast-forward 10 years, my Japanese language skills and Japanese-style communication skills were becoming better than most people on my sales team, and after some time I was assigned to teach fellow Japanese team members how to communicate better in Japanese. This experience often gave me a very awkward feeling because a few years back I had always been labeled as being “only half Japanese”… now I’m teaching “genuine Japanese people” how to be “authentically Japanese”? This was both a mistake and maybe quite possibly how the future would be in Japan.

Now, around 2015, when I turned around I realized there was a flood of young foreigners who actually wanted to learn the Japanese language , the Japanese culture, and some even wanted to become Japanese. I realize that this trend is growing, and this is when I decided to make a commitment to help foreigners adapt to Japanese culture better.

My style, or focus of methodology is “how to communicate better with Japanese people” or a “shortcut/hack for Japanese communication” I realize that many Japanese language learners nowadays are really good with memorization of vocabulary and sentence structures. I would like to write articles, on how to better communicate in Japanese society.

SNS(es enu esu)

SNS = acronym for “social networking services”

In rest of the world, this is something that is normally referred to as “social media”, therefore services like Facebook, Instagram, etc…

A must for when you want to make friends in Japan.

お大事に! Get well soon

When you want to tell someone who is sick to get better, the phrase you want to use is

お大事に! (odaijini)

The point here is that you say this as a farewell to someone who is not in their well-being, or temporary injured at the point.
Some people confuse this with phrases like 

お気をつけて (okiwotsukete) Take care, have a safe trip

おやすみなさい(Oyasumi nasai) good night.
Please make sure to get these right!

何時(nanji) = Whattime (and not “what time”)

The word for asking “what time” is 何時(なんじ、nanji)。

But people usually confuse this with the word “time” which is 時間(じかん、ikan)

This is because you have phrases like、

今日の ご飯の 準備の 時間は 何時 ですか?
kyou-no gohan-no jyunbi-no jikan-wa nanji desuka?

But actually you can simply the sentence by omitting the word “time” or 時間(じかん、jikan)

今日の ご飯の 準備    は 何時 ですか?
kyou-no gohan-no jyunbi wa nanji desuka?

You see the difference? This understanding actually comes from the fact that in english (and other latin languages) the word “time” is classified or modified by the word “what”, becoming a ‘phrase’ of “what time”. However in japanese, as you can combine two or more kanji characters to make a new word, the word “何時(なんじ、nanji) sounds like ‘one word’ to an foreign ear. Therefore, when you compare it to a language like english where you would ‘modify’ the word “time” with the word “what” to create a ‘phrase’ called ‘what time’ or in literal japanese “time of what”

Another way to think is to treat the japanese 何(なん、nan *note that 何 alone is pronounced なに、nani) like prefixes in Englsih. It’s also a sign that where it is pronounced like 何(なん,nan) instead of 何(なに、nani), it will work much like a prefix in a word “what-time”, thus therefore, as the title of this post says “whattime”…