JapanesePod101
JapanesePod101.com Blog
Learn Japanese with Free Daily
Audio and Video Lessons!
Start Your Free Trial 6 FREE Features

Archive for the 'Japanese Holidays' Category

How to Say ‘Merry Christmas’ in Japanese

How to Say Merry Christmas in Japanese

Do you know any ways to wish someone a ‘Merry Christmas’ in Japanese? JapanesePod101 brings you easy-to-learn translations and the correct pronunciation of Japanese Christmas phrases!

Christmas is the annual commemorative festival of Christ’s birth in the Western Christian Church. It takes place on December 25th and is usually celebrated with much food and fanfare! However, not all cultures celebrate Christmas. In some countries, Christmas is not even a public holiday! However, many countries have adapted Christmas and its religious meaning to tally with their own beliefs, or simply in acknowledgment of the festival’s importance to other cultures. If you want to impress native Japanese speakers with culturally-appropriate Christmas phrases and vocabulary, JapanesePod101 will teach you the most important ways to wish someone a ‘Merry Christmas’ in Japanese!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - How to Start Learning A Language!

Table of Contents

  1. How to Celebrate Christmas in Japan
  2. Holiday Greetings and Wishes
  3. Must-Know Christmas Day Vocabulary
  4. Twelve Days of Christmas
  5. Top 10 Christmas Characters
  6. How JapanesePod101 Can Help You

1. How to Celebrate Christmas in Japan

Christmas Words in Japanese

As everyone knows, Christmas is a holiday that celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ. In Japan, this holiday is a major event but does not have any religious association. Instead, it’s celebrated with secular traditions. The day is an especially happy one for children, who receive a present from Santa Claus.

Now, before we go into more detail, do you know the answer to this question: when did Christmas come to be recognized in Japan?
If you don’t already know, you’ll find out a bit later.

From the start of November, cities are adorned with Christmas trees and Christmas sales begin. It’s a happy time when people choose presents for their family, friends, and partners. The stores play a never-ending selection of Christmas songs, which helps to excite the hearts of the shoppers. Department stores, bakeries, and convenience stores often sell Christmas cakes. A wide variety of Christmas cakes are sold, ranging from the ever-popular strawberry and fresh cream cake, all the way to some quite elaborate versions. Some places accept orders from October. Also, sales of chicken increase at Christmas. Trees on the streets are decorated with LED lights that beautifully illuminate the nights of midwinter.

On Christmas Eve, children place a stocking by their bed and are excited to wake up the following morning to find a present left by Santa Claus. Parents prepare in advance by asking their children what kind of toy they would like.

At Christmas, more and more Japanese are enjoying a Christmas dinner at home with their family rather than eating out. Single people often eat dinner with their friends or partner, and they exchange gifts and hold parties. Among the younger generation, there is tendency for people to spend a romantic Christmas with their boyfriend or girlfriend.

Here’s our fun fact for the day! Do you know what the most famous Japanese Christmas song is? It’s no exaggeration to say that the most famous song is “Christmas Eve” by 山下達郎 (Tatsuro Yamashita). It’s a popular song in which the lyrics speak of lovers unable to meet on Christmas Eve.

Now it’s time to answer the quiz question: when was Christmas recognized in Japan?

The correct answer is the Meiji era, beginning in the late 19th century. 明治屋 (Meiji-Ya) is a food import company that established a branch in Ginza and held one of the first Christmas sales there. Because of this, celebrating Christmas became more widespread. With each passing year, Christmas becomes more and more of a major annual event, and perhaps could be considered one of the most fun occasions for the Japanese.

2. Holiday Greetings and Wishes for the Holiday Season

Holiday Greetings and Wishes

1- Merry Christmas!

メリークリスマス!
Merīkurisumasu!

Do you know how to say ‘Merry Christmas’ in Japanese? Learn here how to pronounce it perfectly! ‘Merry’ means to be joyful, to celebrate and generally be in good spirits. So, with this phrase you are wishing someone a joyful, celebratory remembrance of Christ’s birth!

2- Happy Kwanzaa!

クワンザおめでとう!
Kuwanza omedetō!

Surprise your African-American, or West African native friends with this phrase over the Christmas holidays! Kwanzaa is a seven-day, non-religious celebration, starting on Dec 26th each year. It has its roots in African American modern history, and many people celebrate both Kwanzaa and Christmas!

3- Have a happy New Year!

良いお年を。
Yoi o-toshi o.

In countries where Christmas is not officially celebrated, but a Gregorian calendar is observed, this would be a friendly festive-season wish over New Year.

4- Happy Hanukkah!

ハヌーカおめでとう!
Hanūka omedetō!

Hanukkah is the beautiful Hebrew festival over November or December each year. It is also called the ‘Festival of Lights’ and is celebrated to commemorate the Jewish freedom of religion.

5- Have a great winter vacation!

良い冬休みを!
Ī fuyu yasumi o!

This is a good phrase to keep handy if someone doesn’t observe any religious festival over the Christmas holidays! However, this will only be applicable in the Northern hemisphere, where it is winter over Christmas.

6- See you next year!

また来年!
Mata rainen!

Going away on holiday over Christmas season, or saying goodbye to someone about to leave on vacation? This would be a good way to say goodbye to your friends and family.

7- Warm wishes!

ご多幸をお祈りしています。
Go-takō o oinori shite imasu.

An informal, friendly phrase to write in Japanese Christmas cards, especially for secular friends who prefer to observe Christmas celebrations without the religious symbolism. It conveys the warmth of friendship and friendly wishes associated with this time of year.

8- Happy holidays!

良い休暇を!
Ī kyūka o!

If you forget how to say ‘Merry Christmas!’ in Japanese, this is a safe, generic phrase to use instead.

9- Enjoy the holidays!

休暇を楽しんでね!
Kyūka o tanoshinde ne!

After saying ‘Merry Christmas’ in Japanese, this would be a good phrase with which to wish Christmas holiday-goers well! It is also good to use for secular friends who don’t celebrate Christmas but take a holiday at this time of the year.

10- Best wishes for the New Year!

新年が良い年でありますように。
Shin’nen ga yoi toshi de arimasu yō ni.

This is another way of wishing someone well in the New Year if they observe a Gregorian calendar. New Year’s day would then fall on January 1st.

3. Must-Know Christmas Day Vocabulary

Christmas is associated with many traditions and religious symbols in multiple countries across the world. It originated centuries ago in the West with the birth of Christianity, and the celebrations are often embedded with rich cultural significance. So, by now you know how to say Merry Christmas in Japanese! Next, learn pertinent vocabulary and phrases pertaining to Christmas, as well as how to pronounce them correctly. At JapanesePod101, we make sure you sound like a native speaker!

1- Christmas

クリスマス
Kurisumasu

This is the Japanese word for ‘Christmas’. Most happy Christmas wishes in Japanese will include this word!

2- Snow


yuki

In most Northern-hemisphere countries, Christmas is synonymous with snow, and for Christmas, the snowman is often dressed as Santa Claus.

3- Snowflake

雪の結晶
yuki no kesshō

Snowflakes collectively make up snow. A single snowflake is small, white, light like a feather and icy cold! When put under a microscope, the snowflake reveals itself to have the most beautiful, symmetrical patterns. These patterns have become popular Christmas decorations, especially in Western countries.

4- Snowman

雪だるま
yukidaruma

As you guessed - a snowman is only possible to build if it is snowing! What a fun way to spend Christmas day outside.

5- Turkey

七面鳥
shichimenchō

Roast turkey is the traditional main dish on thousands of lunch tables on Christmas day, mainly in Western countries. What is your favorite Christmas dish?

6- Wreath

リース
rīsu

Another traditional Western decoration for Christmas, the wreath is an arrangement of flowers, leaves, or stems fastened in a ring. Many families like to hang a Christmas wreath outside on their houses’ front doors.

7- Reindeer

トナカイ
tonakai

Reindeer are the animals commonly fabled to pull Santa Claus’ sled across the sky! Western Christmas folklore tells of Father Christmas or Santa Claus doing the rounds with his sled, carrying Christmas presents for children, and dropping them into houses through the chimney. But who is Santa Claus?

8- Santa Claus

サンタクロース
Santa Kurōsu

Santa Claus is a legendary and jolly figure originating in the Western Christian culture. He is known by many names, but is traditionally depicted as a rotund man wearing a red costume with a pointy hat, and sporting a long, snow-white beard!

9- Elf

妖精
yōsei

An elf is a supernatural creature of folklore with pointy ears, a dainty, humanoid body and a capricious nature. Elves are said to help Santa Claus distribute presents to children over Christmas!

10- Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

赤鼻のトナカイ
akahana no tonakai

‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ is a Christmas song based on an American children’s story book with the same name. Rudolph is one of Santa’s reindeer. The song became more famous than the book, and can still be heard playing in many shopping malls over Christmas time across the globe!

11- North Pole

北極
hokkyoku

The cold North Pole is where Santa Claus is reputed to live with his reindeer!

12- Sled

そり
sori

A sled is a non-motorised land vehicle used to travel over snow in countries where it snows a lot, and is usually pulled by animals such as horses, dogs or reindeer. This one obviously refers to Santa’s sled! Another word for sled is sleigh or sledge.

13- Present

プレゼント
purezento

Gift or present giving is synonymous with Christmas Eve and the greatest source of joy for children over this festive time! This tradition signifies that Christ’s birth was a gift to mankind, but not all people who hand out presents over Christmas observe the religious meaning.

14- Bell


suzu

On Christmas Day, or Christmas Eve, many religious celebrants enjoy going to church for a special sermon and Christmas rituals. The start of the sermon is often announced with bells or a bell, if the church has one. For this reason, the sound of ringing bells is often associated with Christmas Day.

15- Chimney

煙突
entotsu

The chimney is the entrance Santa Claus uses to deliver children’s presents on Christmas Day, according to folklore! Wonder how the chubby man and his elves stay clean…?!

16- Fireplace

暖炉
danro

In most countries where it snows, Christmas is synonymous with a fire or burning embers in houses’ fireplaces. Families huddle around its warmth while opening Christmas presents. Also, this is where Santa Claus is reputed to pop out after his journey down the chimney!

17- Christmas Day

クリスマス
Kurisumasu

This is the official day of commemorative celebration of Christ’s birth, and falls each year on December 25.

18- Decoration

装飾 装飾
sōshoku

Decorations are the colourful trinkets and posters that make their appearance in shops and homes during the Christmas holiday season in many countries! They give the places a celebratory atmosphere in anticipation of the big Christmas celebration. Typical Christmas decorations include colorful photographs and posters, strings of lights, figurines of Santa Claus and the nativity scene, poinsettia flowers, snowflakes and many more.

19- Stocking

靴下
kutsushita

According to legend, Santa Claus places children’s presents in a red stocking hanging over the fireplace. This has also become a popular decoration, signifying Christmas.

20- Holly

ヒイラギ
hiiragi

Holly is a shrub native to the UK, and parts of Europe, Africa and Asia. It is characterised by glossy, spiny-toothed leaves, small, whitish flowers, and red berries. Ironically, its significance for Christmas relates to Christ’s crucifixion and suffering rather than his birth. However, the leaves’ distinctive shape and image have become popular Christmas decorations.

21- Gingerbread house

ジンジャーブレッド・ハウス
jinjābureddo hausu

According to legend, the gingerbread house synonymous with Christmas is related to Christ’s birth place, Bethlehem. Bethlehem literally means ‘House of Bread’. Over centuries, it has become a popular treat over Christmas time in many non-religious households as well.

22- Candy cane

キャンディケイン
kyandī kein

According to folklore, Christmas candy canes made their appearance first in Germany in the 16th century. A choir master gave children the candy canes to suck on in church in order to keep them quiet during the Christmas sermon! Apparently, the candy is shaped like a cane in remembrance of the shepherds who were the first to visit the baby Jesus. Today, like gingerbread houses, they are still a popular sweet over the festive season!

23- Mistletoe

ヤドリギ
yadorigi

Mistletoe is a parasitic plant that grows on certain trees. In the Middle Ages, it was believed that the mistletoe has magical powers, and could protect a household from evil if hung above a door during December. The belief didn’t last but the habit did, and the mistletoe is another popular Christmas decoration!

4. Twelve Days of Christmas

Twelve Days of Christmas

Wow, you’re doing extremely well! You know how to wish someone a Merry Christmas in Japanese, and you learned pertinent vocabulary too! The Twelve Days of Christmas is not very well known in modern times, so, you’re on your way to becoming an expert in Christmas traditions and rituals. Well done!

The Twelve Days of Christmas, also known as Twelvetide, is a traditional festive period of 12 days dedicated to celebrate the nativity of Christ. Christmas Day is, for many who observe Twelvetide, the first day of this period.

‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’ is also a popular Christmas song about a series of gifts given on each day of Twelvetide. According to experts, these gifts were created as a coded reference to important symbols in the Christian church. Here is a list of those gifts mentioned in the song! Do you recognise them?

5. Top 10 Christmas Characters in American Culture

Top 10 Christmas Characters

This is fantastic, you know how to explain almost everything about Christmas in Japanese! However, do you know the most popular Christmas characters in American culture? Your knowledge will not be complete without this list.

6. JapanesePod101 Is One Of The Best Online Language Schools Available!

Visit JapanesePod101!

We don’t just say this - we can prove it! Geared to your personal needs and goals, we have several learning paths from which to choose. From Japanese for Absolute Beginners to Advanced Japanese, lessons are designed to meet you where you are, and increase your language abilities in fun, easy and interactive lessons! Mastering a new language has never been this easy or enjoyable.

We have over a decade of experience and research behind us, and it shows! With thousands of audio and video lessons, detailed PDF lessons and notes, as well as friendly, knowledgeable hosts, JapanesePod101 is simply unbeatable when it comes to learning correct Japanese. Plenty of tools and resources are available when you study with us. New lessons are added every week so material remains fresh and relevant. You also have the option to upgrade and enjoy even more personalised guidance and services. This is a sure way to fast-track your learning!

So, this Christmas, why don’t you give yourself a present and enroll in JapanesePod101? Or give an enrollment as a present to a loved one. It will be a gift with benefits for a whole lifetime, not just over Christmas!

Must Know Golden Week Vocabulary

https://s3.amazonaws.com/cdn.innovativelanguage.com/sns/em/blog/2016/04_April/goldenweek.png

Click here to listen to the audio pronunciation!

Golden week is almost here! In few days it will be the beginning of the Golden week, the longest public holiday in Japan.

It’s an exciting moment for a lot of people as it’s the period for some time off and to fully enjoy Spring. Here is the list of Top Words you need to know for your holidays!

1. Traffic jam

渋滞 (じゅうたい)

http://31.media.tumblr.com/af9a01291c45c522c9ffed6f534633ba/tumblr_inline_o67xz4R4Wq1tqv1ik_540.gif

2. Warm

暖かい (あたたかい)

3. Golden Week holidays

ゴールデンウィーク

4. Chimaki

ちまき

http://41.media.tumblr.com/c6ce5cef762be5404e1d14eaa055592a/tumblr_inline_o67zqytYGu1tqv1ik_500.jpg

5. Constitution Day

憲法記念日 (Constitution Day)

6. Kashiwamochi

柏餅 (かしわもち)

http://36.media.tumblr.com/e762178f32dca92f53d1a5657a35970d/tumblr_inline_o67zu5MEek1tqv1ik_1280.jpg

7. Greenery Day

みどりの日 (みどりのひ)

8. Children’s Day

子供の日 (こどものひ)

http://31.media.tumblr.com/3f237aaed401f2ebcf4c97197e385a7d/tumblr_inline_o67xc0ZtXy1tqv1ik_500.gif

9. Trip abroad

海外旅行 (かいがいりょこう)

10. Doll for the Boys’ Festival in May

五月人形 (ごがつ にんぎょう)

http://41.media.tumblr.com/90d511651d12472b06f3258a2f81f496/tumblr_inline_o67zviv2TI1tqv1ik_1280.jpg

11. Traveling

旅行 (りょこう)

12. Koinobori

鯉のぼり(こいのぼり)

http://33.media.tumblr.com/62a5ac2c19d13cfd1b2375f0a1857ecd/tumblr_inline_o67x7ssEXm1tqv1ik_500.gif

Click here to access this lesson for FREE!

Here are some handy ways you can master the quotes with this lesson:

  • Press the sound icon to hear each word and read along
  • Review all words in a slideshow by pressing “View Slideshow”
  • Listen to all the words in one lesson with “Play Audio”
  • Add the words to your Word Bank or Flashcards
  • Print the entire list out for your personal review
  • Leave us a comment and put these quotes to use
  • Speak and master even more Japanese with our fun audio and video lessons made by real teachers. Click on “Browse Lessons” in the top menu to access our massive library. Then, start speaking minutes into your lesson.

    Click Here to Learn Golden Week words with FREE Audio Pronunciation!

    8 Extreme places to visit in Japan

    Click here to discover 30 travel phrases you should know!

    If you are looking for exceptional and exciting places in Japan, here is a list of spots not to miss. Some places on the list are difficult to access, or even forbidden.

    1. 青ヶ島。- Aogashima.

    http://41.media.tumblr.com/6a455108f7bd6d09482bc445c527f006/tumblr_inline_o5lrgwE6uU1tqv1ik_1280.jpg

    The island is located 358 kilometers to the south of Tokyo. It is the smallest village in Japan. It is a volcanic island 3.5 km in length and 2.5 km in width that was formed from the remains of several calderas. The island is one of the most mysterious islands and has a beautiful natural environment. It is worth visiting at least once in a lifetime!

    2. 軍艦島。- Gunkanjima.

    http://41.media.tumblr.com/80a7060ce9db67a91d425b065df0909b/tumblr_inline_o5lrtf9cJS1tqv1ik_1280.png

    Once the most densely populated place in the world, the small island of Hashima, commonly known as Gunkanjima (or “Battleship Island”), is now a ghost island. The island floats off the coast of Nagasaki in Japan. It has become a tourist attraction with trips around the island on offer, but has also been a backdrop for many films.

    3. ドリームランド。- Dreamland.

    http://40.media.tumblr.com/afa886b3a3aff4c85f009ef6f7fe826c/tumblr_inline_o5lru7CXqP1tqv1ik_1280.jpg

    Dreamland is an abandoned theme park in Nara, with all its roller-coasters and rides still standing. It closed permanently in 2006 because of low visitor numbers caused by the popularity of Tokyo Disneyland and Universal Studios Japan. It is a private place and access is forbidden, though some people visit it by jumping over the fences.

    4. 富士急ハイランド。- Fuji-Q Highland.

    http://40.media.tumblr.com/96faf8697ca00dc04cdd70dd3b1a8d17/tumblr_inline_o5ls355EiR1tqv1ik_1280.png

    This is another theme park, but it remains open. It is located near the base of Mount Fuji, and will guarantee you some thrills, with two of the biggest haunted mansions and, above all, roller-coasters ranked as the biggest and fastest in the world.

    5. 地獄谷野猿公苑。- Jigokudani Monkey Park.

    http://40.media.tumblr.com/3f124ebf1624ac0bbcc9f9eb5140b46c/tumblr_inline_o5lsa5C1E61tqv1ik_1280.jpg

    This monkey park located in Nagano prefecture is famous for its large population of wild Japanese macaques, which are also referred to as snow monkeys. It is a popular tourist spot and also easy to access. You can watch the monkeys relaxing in hot springs. Don’t forget to ask them before joining!

    6. 与那国島。- Yonaguni-jima.

    http://41.media.tumblr.com/141f37d50bc20962d53d8ac85a657ab3/tumblr_inline_o5lsde4Lwo1tqv1ik_1280.jpg

    This is the westernmost inhabited island of Japan. Here, you can go diving and see submerged stone structures and ruins of a Japanese atlantis, an ancient city sunk by an earthquake about 2,000 years ago.

    7. 立山黒部アルペンルート。- Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route.

    http://36.media.tumblr.com/5aac6ee9e812875a70f27096ee0d2567/tumblr_inline_o5lsfey2ML1tqv1ik_1280.jpg

    You may have seen images of mountain roads locked between great snow walls. This route is a famous mountain sightseeing route between Toyama and Nagano prefecture. The route is just 37 km in length, but the vertical elevation is as high as 1,975m!

    8. 目黒寄生虫館。- Meguro Parasitological Museum.

    http://40.media.tumblr.com/3f62210ab4d5b2b92ef7374d7c57c721/tumblr_inline_o5lshdmWEl1tqv1ik_1280.jpg

    For another kind of experience, this surprising museum will give you chills for sure. The museum displays some 300 samples of 45,000 parasites collected. And you will be able to buy great gifts for your loved ones.

    Click here to access the top 30 travels phrases lesson for FREE!

    Here are some handy ways you can master the quotes with this lesson:

  • Press the sound icon to hear each word and read along
  • Review all words in a slideshow by pressing “View Slideshow”
  • Listen to all the words in one lesson with “Play Audio”
  • Add the words to your Word Bank or Flashcards
  • Print the entire list out for your personal review
  • Leave us a comment and put these quotes to use
  • Speak and master even more Japanese with our fun audio and video lessons made by real teachers. Click on “Browse Lessons” in the top menu to access our massive library. Then, start speaking minutes into your lesson.

    Click Here to Learn Japanese Quotes with FREE Audio Pronunciation!

    Why Sapporo is my favorite city in Japan

    Why Sapporo is my favorite city in Japan

    わや*!That was a hard decision to make Kyushu? Okinawa? South Korea? Taiwan? No… I made it to Hokkaido and have to start this article by talking about Salmon Ikura Don (raw salmon with salmon fish eggs on rice that I ate in Sapporo), in honor of the best dish I’ve ever eaten.

    First, If you want to travel in Japan and don’t know where to start, I suggest you to take a look at this list: here

    So…why Sapporo?
    Well, my two closest Japanese friends are living there… What better reason to fly north?

    First of all, I love big cities. Tokyo is massive and I enjoy it. However, I’m still a Swiss girl from the Alps… So I was actually really excited about this trip. The image I had of Sapporo is pretty similar to the one foreigners can have of Switzerland, I guess.

    There are a few things you should know about Sapporo. It’s not only a beer brand, this is also the fifth largest city in Japan, and almost 2 million people live there! The 1972 Winter Olympic Games were hosted there and it’s famous for its yearly Snow Festival as well.

    Now let me tell you why the capital of Hokkaido Prefecture has became my favorite city in Japan, and how I managed to escape from the real world for 4 whole days (I didn’t even realize that Google had a new logo!)

  • Incredible Atmosphere
  • I’ve lived in Canada, England, and Switzerland and have been able to travel around, including to Japan. But Sapporo has something that other cities clearly don’t have! There is still that urban vibe with areas such as Susukino, as well as a Western touch with the Former Hokkaido Government office and the area around that building.

    The enormous park around the Hokkaido University reminded me of those I could relax in when in was in Toronto. The Maryuyama Park area has many bakeries, small cafės, and restaurants. I would describe this spot as fancy but cosy at the same time.

  • Beautiful Natural Surroundings
  • It is part of the atmosphere, but it needs its own paragraph. My friend took me to Mount Moiwa and the night view was breathtaking… Sapporo is a large city, so seeing all those lights sparkling from the mountain was magical, and I will simply never forget it.
    It might seem insignificant, but the city is full of flowers and greenery, and this is what is missing in Tokyo. Almost every sidewalk has colorful flowers, and you can also find them in parks and even outside people’s front doors. It’s a small detail but it makes a big difference.
    My other friend took me to Otaru, which is by the seaside north of Sapporo. It’s a small and picturesque city intersected by a river and many small boutiques.

    Finally, wherever you are in Sapporo, if the weather isn’t foggy, you can see mountains! It really reminds me of where I am from. Now I can’t wait to go back to Hokkaido during the winter time and enjoy the snow up there!

    Mount Moiwa

  • Kind People
  • The hospitality in Japan is no secret. But in Hokkaido, I was touched by the people’s kindness, generosity, and enthusiasm. I guess life is more peaceful there, so everyone takes the time to do whatever they have to. I felt relaxed from the beginning to the end. And of course, I am so thankful to my friends who were my reason for spending my precious time there.

  • Delicious Food
  • I started with food and I am ending with food. If you do love Japanese cuisine, this is a no-brainer – you just have to go to Sapporo. Curry soup is famous there. I also had the chance to eat えび味噌ラーメン (ebi miso ramen)、うに (uni), and 鮭 いくら 丼 (salmon ikura don), which as you know tasted like heaven.
    If you like cheese and milk, you won’t be disappointed in Hokkaido – just trust the girl from Switzerland, AKA ‘cheese land.’
    Food quality isn’t a problem in Sapporo, and the prices are affordable too.

    Salmon Ikura Don

    If you want to know more about Japanese food, check out this audio lesson: The 5 most popular foods in Japan

    Before visiting this northern part of Japan, I’d heard many times that Sapporo was a great city to live in. Now I totally understand why and if you are planning to go to Japan, drop by Hokkaido, because you can find pretty good deals online to get there ;)

    * わや waya is popular slang meaning ヤバイ (yabai) in Hokkaido-ben.

    Don’t forget to discover more about Japanese culture and language on http://japanesepod101.com

    Must-Know Japanese Holiday Words: Bean-Throwing Ceremony

    Click here to check out the lesson for free and learn more about this holiday!

    Click on the video below to learn about Setsubun for FREE!

    Setsubun (the Bean-Throwing Ceremony) is celebrated on February 3rd in Japan. Can you talk about this holiday in Japanese?

    In this special Weekly Words lesson, Risa will teach you about the customs and vocabulary related to Setsubun.

    You can also get the lesson notes, review the vocabulary and try fun quizzes on our lesson page.
    >> Click here to visit the lesson page on JapanesePod101!

    Want to find out more about Setsubun?
    >> Check out our FREE advanced video on JapanesePod101!

    Are there any events like Setsubun in your country? Let us know in the comments!

    Golden Week in Japan PLUS Exclusive Discount!

    Dear Listeners,

    Golden Week has started! In Japan, almost everyone gets the week off from work - even us! As a student of Japanese, you should enjoy Golden Week too! We can’t give you days off of work or school, but we can offer you an Instant 28% OFF 1-year Premium subscription at JapanesePod101.com.

    Click here to get it now!

    So what is Golden Week exactly? At the end of April/beginning of May, 4 national holidays fall within the workweek. This gives everyone a super long weekend. In Japan, Golden Week is synonymous with travel - both domestic and international. The Shinkansen trains are super crowded and hotel reservations are impossible to find. To learn more about Golden Week, listen to these Golden Week audio lessons:

    And, remember to get your discounted 28% OFF 1-Year Premium Subscription! That’s a year of interactive voice recording, kanji vocab review lists, one-click premium downloads and much much more! Hurry, this exclusive offer is only valid through Sunday, May 9th, the last day of Golden Week.

    Click the following to take advantage of this exclusive one-week offer:
    www.japanesepod101.com/coupon/goldenweek28

    Have a restful and wonderful Golden Week!

    Peter Galante
    Founder

    P.S - At JapanesePod101.com, every membership is backed by our 60-day unconditional money-back guarantee. If, for ANY reason, you are not 100% satisfied with our revolutionary fun and exciting way to learn Japanese, we will happily refund you the full amount of the unused portion of your membership.

    Learn Japanese Culture - Valentine’s Day in Japan

    Many of our readers are probably familiar with Valentine’s Day, and even celebrate it in their home country. Valentine’s Day probably conjures up images of hearts, red roses, Valentine candy, and maybe even the cute little Valentine’s Day cards you used to exchange in elementary school.

     But do you know how Valentine’s Day works in Japan? The Japanese Valentine’s Day has its own set of unique customs and rules that set it apart from the holiday celebrated around the world.

     First of all, while in western countries it is common for both men and women to give gifts on Valentine’s Day, in Japan, the gift-giving is left strictly to the women. Girls and women give chocolate (either handmade or store-bought) to a significant other or someone they are interested in. Surprisingly, though, women do not give chocolate only to that special someone they are interested in romantically, which is known as 本命チョコ (honmei choko, “chocolate for someone special”). There is also a tradition of giving chocolate to platonic male friends, co-workers, and bosses. This chocolate is given out of obligation, which is reflected in the name, 義理チョコ (giri choko, “obligation chocolate”).

    So, do the girls walk away with nothing, you may wonder? Not quite. Lately on Valentine’s Day, many women decide to give chocolate to their female friends, which is known as
    友チョコ(tomo-choko, “friend chocolate”), or even buy chocolate for themselves, known as マイチョコ (mai-choko, “my chocolate”). The main event for women, however, takes place on March 14th, one month after Valentine’s Day. This marks White Day, a day where men give chocolate back to the women they received chocolate from a month earlier. White Day was created by the Japanese National Confectionary Industry Association in 1980 as a way to sell more sweets such as candies. Surprisingly, gifts of flowers, non-chocolate candies, and dinner dates that are strongly associated with Valentine’s Day in Western countries are uncommon in Japan.

     What do you think about the Japanese way of celebrating Valentine’s Day? What kind of Valentine’s Day traditions do you celebrate in your country?

    Japanese Holidays: Kinrou kansha no hi ”Labor Thanksgiving Day”

    In Japan, November 23rd is a National Holiday called 勤労感謝の日(Kinrou kansha no hi) which means Labor Thanksgiving Day.  This holiday was originally a national festival called “Niinamesai” meaning “Harvest Festival.” At the festival, the emperor dedicated the year’s harvest to the Shinto Gods and ate it to celebrate the harvest of that year. Read the rest of this post »

    Japanese Holidays: Health and Sports Day(体育の日)

    The second Monday in October is a national holiday called “Health and Sports Day”, which is known as “Taiiku no hi” (体育の日) in Japanese. It falls on October 12th this year.

    The first Health and Sports Day was held on October 10, 1966, two years after the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, to commemorate the Olympics which started on October 10 of that year. This holiday was held on October 10 until 1999, and in 2000, it was moved to the second Monday in October as part of the Happy Monday system. (Because of this sytem, some National holidays were moved to Monday to make three-day weekends.)

    This holiday is a day to promote sports and physical and mental health. Some sports facilities discount or drop their fees, and many schools hold their sports festivals on this day.  These sports festivals are called “undōkai” (運動会) in Japanese.  This is a big annual event for school kids and their families. They usually do track events such as a relay or a sprint race, or fun events such as three-legged races, ball games, and so on.  Parents and/or grandparents of the children partcipating come to see them at the event, bringing lunch from home and eating it together as a family on the field. Some parents line up early in the morning in order to secure a good spot to see their kids.

    Here are some lessons we have that are about Health and Sports Day or Sports day.  Please check them out!

    Japanese Culture Class #28 - Health and Sports Day
    Audio Blog #57 - Sports Day Memories
    Lower Intermediate Lesson #33 - Sports Day
    Upper Intermediate Lesson S2 #14 - Battle of the Classes 1
    Upper Intermediate Lesson S2 #15: Battle of the Classes 2
    Upper Intermediate Lesson S2 #16 - Battle of the Classes 3

    Japanese Holidays: Silver Week

    A string of consecutive holidays in autumn is called Silver Week in Japan, as opposed to Golden Week, which is a period that includes several Japanese holidays from the end of April to the beginning of May. Read the rest of this post »