Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The particle 「 に 」

Another announcement for Japanese 001 about particle use, this time about 「に」. I used Google IME for all of the various 顔文字 in the previous post and this one as well.
こんにちは みんなさん!
Today I'd like to talk about the particle

So, how do we use 「 」?
Well, we have learned 3 ways so far:

We use 「 」 when we talk about where something is, like "in"

れいぞうこ が だいどころ あります。

We use「 」 to indicate were we are going "to"

がっこう いきます。

Lastly, we use 「 」 to say what we are doing "for" an occasion (like breakfast!)

あさごはん すし を たべます。

Keep Studying!
\(^o^)/ ガンバレー

The Particle 「 を 」

I’m the TA for a Japanese 001 course, and I’ve been making little announcements for the students via the online course management system. Here’s one that teaches the function of 「を」.

Today let's talk about the particle:

Well, 「 を 」 doesn't mean anything.

(゚Д゚;) whaaa?

Don't fret! It doesn't have a meaning, but it has a FUNCTION!

(゜o゜) tell me more...

「 を 」 Just lets us know that the verb has a direct object.
for example:


In this sentence, 「 を 」 tells us that the direct object of the verb 「 します 」 is the noun 「 しゅくだい 」.

Which would otherwise mean, Do homework.


So... in conclusion, don't forget to do your 「 しゅくだい 」 !


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

kimono culture


With the influx of western culture and fashion, traditional Japanese clothing seemed doomed to become a thing of the past. However, kimono are still being manufactured and worn to this very day. Before the Meiji period, kimono functioned as everyday wear, but nowadays people wear kimono on occasions that require formal dress, such as weddings, graduations, and funerals.

JAPAN 038 JAPAN2 146 (2)

Kimono are also worn on certain holidays. Children are dressed in kimono for shichi-go-san festival. Young women who will become 20 years old in the coming year wear ornate furisode (振袖, a special long-sleeved kimono) for coming-of-age festival in January.


I wore this vintage kimono at a tea ceremony lesson. Kimono are still worn for traditional events like tea ceremony, hanami (花見, flower viewing), or a gagaku (雅楽, court music) performance. If you attend a traditional cultural event, you will definitely see women (and sometimes men) wearing kimono.

There is a thriving kimono culture that exists in Japan. Vintage kimono can often be found at local flea markets for extremely reasonable prices. Sometimes they have small flaws or stains, but more often than not they are entirely wearable.

A fairly recent trend has re-styled vintage kimono with modern accessories to to give the wearer a retro kind of look. These kimono are often brightly colored (like the one I’m wearing in the photos) or are woven with strong geometric patterns.


If you’d like to get your own kimono, you can always go and find mountains of cheap used kimono at local flea markets like Kobo-san in Kyoto or the tenmangu market in Kiryu. Sometimes you can even find shops that buy and sell recycled kimono like Usagi-ya in Ashikaga.

What do you think about non-Japanese wearing kimono? Do you think it looks ridiculous? Would you like to try wearing kimono? Tell me what you think!

Thursday, May 26, 2011


JAPAN2 163

If you´re ever in Kyoto on the 21st of any of the non-winter type months, get your butt over to Toji (東寺) for the Kobo-san flea market. Toji is the temple with its famous 5-storied pagoda, images of which show up in a lot of Japan travel literature.


The temple itself was designated by UNESCO as an “Ancient Treasure of Kyoto” Heritage site. I’m not 100% sure if that means it equates with a regular old World Heritage site, like Nikko or Himeji castle, but it’s still pretty cool.


The flea market is really good! You can find just about anything there, from mountains of used kimono (going for about upwards of 1000 yen, cheap!) to tea sets, jewelry, old coins, toy robots, you name it, they probably have it. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for a lower price. I got a kimono set for 3000 yen because the lady was impressed with the fact that I could haggle in Japanese. I also picked up some vintage beads and a homemade sinobue. I ended up spending about 7000 yen including transportation and food for the whole day. Not bad!


The flea market is named after Kobo Daishi (the posthumous name for Kukai) Who is said to have invented the syllabic Kana writing system (yay!), as well as founded Shingon Buddhism.


There are also lots of yummy Kansai-type foods at Kobo-san. Mmm.


Of course, scythes for all you grim-reaper types.


To get there, from Kyoto Station take the Kintetsu line to Toji station and walk up the street for 5 minutes. You can’t really miss it with that huge pagoda. You can also take the bus from Kyoto Station that says its going to 東寺東門 or 東寺南門. Either way, make sure you get there early enough to beat the rush. Happy shopping!

Monday, May 16, 2011


home aug 2010 027

Happy birthday, blog!! Have some cupcakes! I’ve been keeping this blog up for 5 years now! I can’t believe it! I started keeping it as a way to keep in touch with people while I was studying abroad at Kansai Gaidai. You can even go back and read the very first post I ever wrote to help my family understand what exactly a blog is. I guess I’ll mostly talk about the cosmetic changes I’ve done to this blog. However, I will say that my content has become a lot more accessible to more readers in the past few years. Most notably, it has transformed from personal journal-type writing to all sorts of different content: photos, recipes, notes on language and culture, but still maintaining a kind of travel scrapbook type feel. I really like what my blog has turned into, and it’s a creative outlet that I enjoy.

old layout image

Here was the first design I made for the blog waay back when. I used a woodblock print by Ando Hiroshige and broke it up into the little strips and faded the ones that would be behind the text. Prettyyy cool!

Since I didn’t bring my own computer to Japan with me, I didn’t always have one readily available to upload and edit photos on. This is why I didn’t use many photographs to illustrate my study abroad posts. I have a feeling that I’ll be rooting through a lot of those photos and posting them now that I’ve had a chance to really reflect on the experience and, most importantly, edit the photos ( ´∀`)

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I’ve posted this a couple times before but I kid you not that this was a complete coincidence. I still can’t get over it. I took this photo on a class trip to Nara while we visited the Nigatsudo. Apparently Kawase Hasui thought this was a nice view as well. I was going through an old calendar of mine (Japanese Woodblocks 2004, to be exact) when I noticed this image was almost the exact same view of the lanterns of the Nigatsudo with the Daibutsuden in the distance. You can seven see the railing and the mountains in the distance are the same. I decided to go with the silhouetted lanterns as a nice symbol to represent my Japan blog. I also moved away from doing the entire design myself and started using the wysiwyg editor on blogger, with a few of my own tweaks here and there. It just made my life easier since I’m not a programmer.


I also made a couple of headers for different “columns” I intended to write regularly (and did so for a decent period of time) to mimic the style of the main header.


I kept the bright colors and Arial bold font. I however did not keep up with the columns regularly. Σ(´∀`;)

Now that I’m not IN JAPAN anymore, I had to change the name, but I still wanted to keep this as a nice outlet to share all things Japanese, so I decided to keep the lanterns in my logo, but add a Japanese name, ichi go ichi e. I toned down the bright purple color and changed to a rounded-ish handwritten-looking Japanese font.


So there you have it. 5 years of blogging! Here’s to more writing, photos and amateur web design!!


Sunday, May 8, 2011

Using Google 日本語入力

When I initially found out that Google had produced a Japanese IME, I was pretty excited to try it out. I installed it in November of 2010, and I haven’t used any other IME for writing in Japanese since. Of course, I’ve used the default Microsoft IME that just comes along with Windows 7, which hasn’t really made any significant improvements since I first started using the Microsoft IME back when I was still using Windows XP. I’ve also used ATOK, which seems to be on every computer I’ve ever used in Japan. I’ve always disabled ATOK in favor of the Microsoft IME, but since downloading the Google IME, I’ve been more than completely satisfied, I get CRAZY EXCITED every time I use it!!


Google IME gives you suggestions. Way more suggestions than any other IME. It also gives suggestions based on what you’ve previously typed. You can turn that setting on and off as you like, but I quite prefer it, especially if I’m writing Katakana words.

Another great feature, as you can see in the video, is that it suggests the year in various formats.

For example, you type ことし(this year)
suggestion 1 is 今年 (lit. this year)
2 is 2011 (the numerical year)
4 is 平成23年 (the imperial year)
I really like that it automatically suggests the imperial year, which is always so difficult for me to remember, but is important to know for certain kinds of official-type documents.


Wondering what that katakana word is in English? Nooo problem!! Type ラジオ and you will get the English “radio” as your 6th suggestion.

It also suggests less-commonly-used Kanji for commonly used words like “France” = フランス = 仏国

Making special characters is easy. For a heart ♥, type はーと.
For any of the following types of star, ☆, ☆彡, or ★ just type ほし.

Last but not least, and my most favorite thing about Google IME, is that it has over 500 kaomoji to choose from!!!


For the huge selection, you can type in your onomatopoeia word, like ワオ, or you can type かおもじ to get the full list and choose from the 500+ suggestions.

The only thing that I miss from using the Microsoft IME is the IME Pad, which lets you physically write out the Kanji or its radical on a little notepad, and look up the correct character from there. Its helpful when I know the shape (or root radical) of the character, but not the reading. I keep the Microsoft IME around in case I need to use this feature, but since the Google IME has so many helpful suggestions, I rarely use this anymore.

And in true Japanese style, there’s a comic about what exactly an IME is, how it works, and it features the developers! Very cute.

As for me, I really enjoy using this application over my pre-installed Microsoft IME. If you’d like to try Google 日本語入力 You can download it at this address:


Happy typing!

Monday, May 2, 2011



Amanohashidate, or, the Bridge to Heaven, is another place I visited during my West coast of Japan adventure in the spring of 2007.  To get there, we took a bus from Kyoto Station. It took about 3 hours and we went through about 18 tunnels.


Here’s the Chirimen silk factory, with its sign welcoming visitors to Amanohashidate. The Tango peninsula is famous for its production of this type of crepe silk, which is used for fine kimono and other items.

In the Edo period, Shunsai Hayashi traveled the length of the country and considered Amanohashidate to be one of the three most beautiful views of Japan, otherwise known as 日本三景 (nihon sankei). The other two, in case you’re wondering, are Miyajima and Matsushima. Since then, they’ve been considered to be places that people should go and see at least once in their lifetime.


Massive pine trees, twisted by the wind, line the isthmus. Some of them are very old and have been given names. like the one pictured above.


There’s a neat rotating bridge on the southern end, here it is opened to let a barge pass through the tiny outlet.


You can take cable cars up either side of the bay to get both views of the bridge to heaven.


Looking toward the interior of the bay from the Northern side.


The view of Amanohashidate from the northern side, closest to our hostel (Amanohashidate Youth Hostel). Which I and my travelling partner highly recommend, with their fantastic western-style breakfast (they alternated between western-style and Japanese while we were there… the Japanese breakfast was OK, but we really REALLY liked the heart-shaped eggs).

kansai gaidai cell pics 034 kansai gaidai cell pics 031

Heart-shaped eggs!! And not-so-heart-shaped eggs… but still good.

♪~(´ε` )

People say that if you look at Amanohashidate upside-down, you will see a bridge to heaven. So, I tried it.


Hmm. maybe not from this side.


I still don’t know... what do you think?

Friday, April 29, 2011



Moroyose is a small fishing town in Hyogo prefecture I visited in the spring of 2007.





hanging the fish out to dry


glass lanterns


how to find the youth hostel


Show me Japan

Friday, April 15, 2011

new look


I re-vamped the blog. New name, new fonts, new colors, new images.

一期一会 いちごいちえ (ichi go ichi e) is something I learned from tea ceremony. Literally, it means one lifetime, one encounter (or meeting). This is to say that each encounter, each moment, is precious (a once in a lifetime experience) and should be cherished as such. With this in mind, I’ll continue writing, taking photos, and sharing things on this blog.

Let me know what you think of the new look, and enjoy the pretty peacock.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Earthquake Update!

Hi everyone!! Thanks for all of the facebook messages, tweets, calls on skype, e-mails… wow!! I’m safe and everything here is going on as usual, we’re just getting ready for the planned power outages. They will go in cycles, so I won’t always be available to talk. Just know that I’m OK!

What have I been doing all weekend besides stressing over aftershocks, hoarding water, and stocking up on instant ramen?


Today some of my photos were posted on CNN.com http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-571539

I volunteered with some other people and translated a portion of these FAQ about the nuclear reactors for the Science Media Center of Japan.
You can read them at this link: http://smc-japan.sakura.ne.jp/?p=830

I also took a video this morning on my way to the train station:

Unfortunately the trains weren’t running, so I couldn’t get to work, which is probably better anyway.

I took this video last night when I heard some helicopters flying overhead.

We just had another aftershock now. I’m just praying that this is over soon!

Thank you everyone!

Friday, March 11, 2011


earthquake 004

I just wanted to let everyone know I’m ok. We are still having aftershocks, but I have electricity, so my heater works. The water is fine, but I have some bottles just in case. I also have blankets, a flashlight and food just in case things get worse. Hopefully they will not.

earthquake 008 earthquake 006

We evacuated school today sometime around 3. Things started shaking, and just didn’t stop, so we went outside to the soccer field/schoolyard where nothing can hit you on the head, and waited for things to stop shaking. It was scary.  Some of the concrete fell from the ceiling, and there are some big cracks in the walls. I got a ride home, because all of the train lines have completely stopped running.

There is an oil refinery in Chiba that has been on fire since the quake first hit. People are stranded all over Tokyo. Some of my friends are sleeping in their offices tonight. The videos on the news are really really scary. The tsunami have reached six meters high (or probably more) and are strong enough to sweep away a moving vehicle. Buildings are collapsed. Landslides are happening. The power is out in some places. People have no food, water, or candles. Miyagi prefecture, the hardest hit, has 34 people dead and 90 found injured so far.

Please pray for Japan.

We are having an aftershock right now. I’m scared, even though Tochigi is relatively safe as far as earthquakes go. I hope this ends soon.

for more information:

Tsunami Warnings (Yahoo.co.jp)

Rail Service Delay Notifications (JR)

U.S. Geological Survey - Earthquake Information

Up-to-date Earthquake information from the Japan Meteorological Agency


My friend Masa made this really wonderful page full of earthquake safety information, and it is in English, so please be sure to read it and get things together for yourselves if you are in Japan!!

Thursday, March 10, 2011


chanoyu 007

I’ve been reading up on Chanoyu, or Sado, or Tea Ceremony, or The Way of Tea, or whatever you like to call it. One of my coworkers took me to her ochakai lesson with her mother and for the first time EVER I got to wear kimono! It was so exciting, and probably also very good for my posture. The obi is very tight and stiff, but not completely restricting, but the most difficult thing, I found, was standing up and sitting down without letting the undergarment show. I felt a little awkward, but I’m sure if I could practice all the time, I could easily get used to it. However, putting on a kimono by oneself is no easy task. I have a kimono, but I unfortunately do not have all of the appropriate underthings…yet. Don’t you love the tabi (socks)? They remind me of Ninja Turtle feet. Hee.

chanoyu 001 chanoyu 009

Also, I’ve been to ochakai before, but this was a lesson, and not an actual tea-meet. It was way more relaxed than the real thing, which made me feel a lot more comfortable and about 75% less awkward and foreign! You can learn so much about Zen philosophy from tea ceremony, and Japanese culture as well. If you want to learn more about the way of tea, I’d recommend reading “The Book of Tea” by Kakuzo Okakura. It’s all about the aesthetics and philosophy that are the tea ceremony itself. The book also includes the history of tea ceremony and talks about its earliest forms. The book also has a few anecdotes about the most influential tea master, Sen-no Rikyu, who broke apart his tea bowl and committed ritual suicide after performing his final tea ceremony.

chanoyu 005

“[tea ceremony] is an attempt to accomplish something possible in this impossible thing we know as life.”

– Tenshin Okakura, The Book of Tea