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Archive for the 'Living in Japan' Category

AnimeJapan: The World’s Largest Anime Convention

Hello Listeners!

This weekend, an exciting event is taking place in Tokyo, Japan! AnimeJapan, one of the largest anime conventions in the world, will take place at the Tokyo Big Site exhibition center! Anime conventions are known for their crazy and unique festivities aimed at otaku culture, and AnimeJapan is no different.

AnimeJapan will feature:

  • FOOD PARK, AnimeJapan’s first food park that will carry dishes from 6 different restaurants.
  • A total of 3 different stages (Red, Blue, Green) for panels and entertainment.
  • Cosplayers’ World, an area where cosplayers can “enjoy the world to the fullest.”
  • A Main Area filled with tons of exhibitions and activities.
  • A section dedicated to anime good where dozens of vendors will sell merchandise.

Tickets are 2000¥ at the door and admission is free for those in elementary school and younger! The convention is being held at Tokyo Big Site and can be accessed from both Kokusai-Tenjijo Station and Kokusai-Tenjijo-Seimon Station.

4 Major Cities in Japan

Hello Listener,

You’re definitely learning new Japanese words and phrases with these lists, the Word of the Day and weekly JapanesePod101 Audio and Video lessons.

But here’s a geography question for you:
Do you know the Major Japanese Cities?

And do you know how to properly pronounce them in Japanese? You’re about to learn it all with this post.

1. Tokyo

Tokyo Tower

Tokyo is the capital of Japan and the largest city in the country. Tokyo is also one of Japan’s forty-seven prefectures, but it is referred to as a to (”a metropolis̶ ;) instead of a ken (”a prefecture”).

2. Kyoto

Kyoto

Kyoto, one of the oldest cities in Japan, was formerly the capital of Japan until 1868, when
Tokyo became the capital. Now it is a major city in the Kansai area, known for its traditional
atmosphere with its numerous temples and shrines.

3. Osaka

Osaka

Osaka is a large city that is located in the Kansai area close to Kyoto. It is the capital of Osaka prefecture as well as the economic and cultural center of the Kansai region. Many famous Japanese comedians hail from Osaka. Osaka is also known for its regional specialty dishes now popular throughout all of Japan such as, Takoyaki and Okonomiyaki.

4. Nagoya

Nagoya

Nagoya is the third-largest city in Japan coming in after Tokyo in 1st - and also one of the biggest in the world - and Osaka in 2nd. Nagoya is located in Aichi prefecture and is also a major port city like Tokyo and Osaka. When in Nagoya, the places you simply must see while in Nagoya are Atsuta Shrine and Nagoya Castle. Other things of note are the Tokugawa Art Museum and Nagoya’s famous foods: misokatsu (a fried pork cutlet drizzled with miso sauce), tebasaki (uniquely sweet-flavored chicken wings with sesame seeds) and kishimen (a broad, flat style of udon noodle).

Want to know more Japanese cities?
Click here to check out this free Japanese City list!

JapanesePod101 Review - How JapanesePod101 Helped Me Prepare for the Trip of a Lifetime

How JapanesePod101 Helped Me Prepare for the Trip of a Lifetime

I was always interested in traveling to Japan. The culture, people, and natural beauty of the country were what drew me in. I knew that it was definitely a place that I wanted to visit in the future and something that would be on my bucket list. But for one reason or another, I had never really had the opportunity to travel across the Pacific. I was either too broke or too busy. That changed last summer when I decided to put an end to my procrastination and fulfill my dream. I purchased my ticket to Japan online and celebrated with a triumphant cheer. However, I soon came to a realization. I did not speak one word of Japanese.

Flight to Japan

I had one month until I embarked on my adventure and I wanted to learn as much Japanese as I could, so I decided to look into my options. While perusing the internet in search of a Japanese language program that would fit my needs, I kept finding myself at JapanesePod101.com. Admittedly, I was a little skeptical at first as I had tried similar language programs in the past with no success, but with hundreds of positive reviews as my reference, I decided to give them a shot. I was pleasantly surprised when I found out that JapanesePod101 not only offered affordable prices, but also a free 7-day trial of their Premium plan. With nothing to lose and a whole new world to gain, I signed up for the Premium plan. The sign-up process was quick and simple. It may have taken me 2 minutes at most to submit my information and receive my confirmation email. After that, I was immediately able to log-in and start my studying.

The layout of the site was beautiful and I was able to use it on my Macbook, iPad, and iPhone without any trouble whatsoever. Due to the fact that I had no previous knowledge of Japanese language, I started my journey at the “Absolute Beginner” level. Instantly, I found myself eyeing over a curriculum that I knew would be beneficial to my trip. Topics such as survival phrases, introductions, shopping, and ordering food each had their own individual lessons. I began my studying that night with the goal of learning basic travel Japanese before I left. JapanesePod101 made it easy to track my progress and that helped me stay committed to my studies. I studied every single night for one whole month.

Asakusa

Here are some of the features of JapanesePod101 that I found the most helpful:

Lessons by Native-Speaking Instructors
Throughout my years, I’ve noticed that those who do not learn a language from a native-speaker tend to pick up an accent that derives from the teacher’s mother tongue. That’s why I think that this is one of the best things about JapanesePod101. Why learn from someone whose native-language is something other than Japanese when you could just as easily learn from someone who has been speaking it from birth? JapanesePod101 offers real dialogue from real Japanese speakers.

Printable Notes Available to Download
For me, this was a deal-breaker. Though I love the convenience of being able to study online from any of my devices, sometimes I just like to keep it old school and have my notes on a piece of paper that I can physically touch and write on. Fortunately for me, JapanesePod101 offers easy to print PDF notes and transcripts for each of the lessons in the curriculum. Printing them out only takes a few seconds!

Japanese Word of the Day
I think that this is helpful for those lazy days when you may not feel like studying. JapanesePod101 will send you one word per day from their Japanese Core Word List. This ensures that even on your days off, you’re still getting a healthy and relevant intake of Japanese language!

Check out the Japanese Word of the Day widget!

JLPT Practice Tests
As someone who is thinking about learning Japanese language seriously in the future, this feature really stood out to me. JapanesePod101 offers a large number of practice exams for the N4 and N5 JLPT tests, exams which test your proficiency in Japanese and are required by many employers who look to hire foreigners. This struck me as extremely valuable for someone who might want to find work and live in Japan.

Japanese Flashcards
Last but not least, JapanesePod101 offers flashcards that make learning Japanese fun and easy. Users can select the set of flashcards that matches their current lesson in order to enhance their studies!

Other Things to Think About When Considering JapanesePod101:

Affordability
JapanesePod101 offers a high-quality product at a fraction of the price of its competitors. For what you get, JapanesePod101 is a complete bargain.

Different Levels for Different Learners
I think that this allows the student to grow and mature as a learner. Students can advance from one level to the next as they improve. On the other side, if you already have some knowledge of Japanese, you can easily start at a higher level without having to re-learn things you already know.

Available on Any Media Device
This was a really big plus for me! I was able to use JapanesePod101 on my cell phone, tablet, and laptop. They even have their own apps!

Study When You Want, Where You Want
JapanesePod101 gives you the best of both worlds. Rather than taking a scheduled class, why not get the same benefit while studying in the comfort of your own home on your own time?

Tokyo Tower

In the End:

I used JapanesePod101 to study for one month and then left for Japan. I stayed in Tokyo for 2 months and had the time of my life. There were definitely tons of things I couldn’t understand, but I was really surprised at how much I had learned! I was able to order food, go grocery shopping, and even order drinks at a local bar! I had become very comfortable with both hiragana and katakana and could actually read a lot of the signs and posters I saw. I can honestly say that I would have had a completely different experience without JapanesePod101. Without my studies, I wouldn’t have known how to ask for directions, get food by myself, or even thank someone for opening door for me! My time in Tokyo was one of the best times of my life…and I owe a large part of that to JapanesePod101.

Click here to visit JapanesePod101!

Welcoming Our New Innovative Language Team Members

Today, we bring you another blog post from Motoko, JapanesePod101.com lesson creator, host and Office Party Planner! Motoko will be sharing more bilingual posts on our blog, so check back often and leave a comment!

Hi everyone, Motoko here!

Today I’d like to tell you about the welcome party we held recently. This spring, we welcomed four new team members: Ice, Gabriella, Paloma, and Raul. To introduce them briefly, Ice is a member of the video team; Gabriella and Paloma work on content creation; and Raul is a member of our IT team.

The welcome party was held at a Japanese shabu-shabu restaurant near our office. The restaurant’s traditional Japanese-style design was quite nice. The great service was also a pleasant surprise for us—waitresses in kimono and a waiter assisted at each table with cooking the shabu-shabu properly.

Shabu-shabu is a type of hot pot cuisine where people cook the vegetables and meat by themselves. So diners usually put the vegetables into the hot water in the pot. Diners also pick up the finely-sliced meat (pork or beef) with their chopsticks, then cook the slices by swishing them in the hot water. The name “shabu-shabu” actually came from this swishing action, and is an onomatopoeia, as the swishing makes the sound “shabu-shabu.” Did you know that?

At the restaurant, we did the “shabu-shabu” by ourselves. After all, that’s the most important part of having a shabu-shabu, right!? But the waiters helped us cook the other ingredients, which was very handy for the shabu-shabu beginners.

Have you ever had shabu-shabu before? If you haven’t, please try it at least once!

(Apr 2013)

しゃぶしゃぶでイノベーティブ新入社員歓迎会

こんにちは。もとこです。

今回はイノベーティブランゲージ2013年度春に行なった歓迎会についてお話します。この春、新しく4人のメンバーが入りました。アイスさん、ガブリエラさん、パロマさん、ラウルさんです。アイスさんはビデオをつくっています。ガブリエラさんとパロマさんはレッスンをつくるスケジュール管理をしています。ラウルさんはたいせつなITの管理をしています。
 
歓迎会ではイノベーティブの本社の近くのお店へ行きました。しゃぶしゃぶのお店です。とてもきれいな、日本らしいお店でした。サービスがとても親切で、スタッフみんなはびっくりしていました。お店の人がしゃぶしゃぶを手伝ってくれるんです。しゃぶしゃぶはおなべのお湯で野菜やお肉を料理します。自分で野菜をなべに入れます。お肉ははしでつまんで「しゃぶしゃぶ」と動かします。知っていましたか。

お店では、「しゃぶしゃぶ」は自分でしました。(楽しいですから!)でも、野菜はお店のスタッフが料理しました。とても簡単です。
 
みなさんはしゃぶしゃぶを食べたことありますか。ぜひ、一回食べてみてくださいね。
(2012年4月)

Welcome to Innovative Language Headquarters! Listener Visit #4

Today, we bring you another blog post from Motoko, JapanesePod101.com lesson creator, host and Office Party Planner! Motoko will be sharing more bilingual posts on our blog, so check back often and leave a comment!

Hi everyone, Motoko here!

Today I’d like to tell you about another listener visit we had recently. We had a JapanesePod101.com listener come to visit us in the office. This was the fourth visit for me, but I still felt nervous!

This is Matt. He was visiting from California.

I had heard that he came to Japan for a holiday. But it seems that it was more of a special trip for him, because guess what? He came here to meet his girlfriend’s parents for the first time. :o His girlfriend is Japanese, and he wanted to meet her parents. It sounded like a big event to me! But Matt kept smiling the whole time and said he was alright. I thought he was brave. :o

I guess that Peter probably felt more nervous, because he knows that it’s one of the big events for men in Japan to meet their girlfriends’ parents!

I was very happy to receive the souvenir he brought. It was popular Girl Scout cookies from the United States. One packet was chocolate mint flavor, and the other was peanut butter. I liked the peanut butter ones more than the choco mint. ;) Thanks, Matt! We all enjoyed them.

Matt, did you have a lovely time with your girlfriend and her parents? I hope so. :)

(May 2013)

イノベーティブは応援しています! オフ会4

みなさん、こんにちは。もとこです。

今回はオフ会その4についての報告です。先日、JapanesePod101.comのリスナーさんがオフィスに来ました。今回で4回目。まだまだ私は緊張していました。(笑)

こちらがマットさん。アメリカのカリフォルニアから来ました。旅行に来ると聞いていました。でも、ちょっと特別な旅行だそうです。なんと、彼女さんのご両親とはじめて会うそうです。日本人の彼女さんと一緒にいたいから、ご両親に挨拶をします。とても大変そうですよね。でもマットさんはずっとにこにこ笑って、大丈夫ですと言っていました。すごい! たぶんピーターさんのほうがどきどきしていました。
 
今回私がうれしかったのはおみやげ。マットさんはアメリカで人気があるチョコビスケットをくれました。チョコミント味とピーナッツバター味です。ちなみにピーナッツバター味のほうがミント味より好きです。マットさん、ありがとうございました。

Welcome to Innovative Language Headquarters! Listener Visit #3

Today, we bring you another blog post from Motoko, JapanesePod101.com lesson creator, host and Office Party Planner! Motoko will be sharing more bilingual posts on our blog, so check back often and leave a comment!

Hi everyone, Motoko here!

Today I’d like to tell you about another listener meetup we had.

The other day, we had a JapanesePod101.com listener come to visit us from Mitaka, Tokyo. (Yes. From TOKYO!)

Audrius studies at a private university in Tokyo and lives in the dormitories there. He is from Lithuania, in Northern Europe. He is the first Lithuanian I’ve ever met! I was pleasantly surprised by his level of Japanese fluency.

Welcome to Innovative Language Headquarters! Listener Visit #3

Let me talk a little about his Japanese learning journey: he started learning Japanese with JapanesePod101 in Lithuania, before he came to Japan. Then he continued to study it at the university. His energy and efforts towards learning Japanese are awesome, aren’t they?

We welcome anyone traveling to Japan or studying here to visit us! Drop by our office and say Kon’nichiwa!
(Apr, 2013)

Innovativeにいらっしゃい! オフ会3

みなさん、こんにちは。もとこです。

今回はオフ会その3について話します。先日、東京都三鷹市からJapanesePod101.comのリスナーさんがオフィスに来てくれました。(そうです。東京からなんです。)

アウドリュスさんは今、東京の私立大学に留学しているそうです。大学の寮に住んでいるそうです。出身はヨーロッパのリトアニアだそうです。私は初めてリトアニア人に会いました。とても日本語が上手でした。びっくりしました。

リトアニアから日本に来る前に、JapanesePod101で日本語の勉強をしたそうです。その後、大学でもっと日本語を勉強したそうです。アウドリュスさんの努力はすばらしいですよね。

日本へ旅行に来る人も、日本に留学している人も、イノベーティブランゲージのオフィスに来てくださいね。まっています。
(2013年4月)

Fond Farewells at Innovative Language

Today, we bring you another blog post from Motoko, JapanesePod101.com lesson creator, host and Office Party Planner! Motoko will be sharing more bilingual posts on our blog, so check back often and leave a comment!

Hello everyone! Motoko here.

Did you know that March is one of the most important months in Japan? That’s because it’s farewell season.

Schools and companies start new academic and financial years in April. This means their years end in March, and that’s when graduation ceremonies are held in schools. Here, we have interns who are college students, and some of them leave us in March. This March, we said goodbye to two student interns and one full-time staff member.

But we will see them again someday; we didn’t actually say “good bye”, but “see you again” then saw them off.

We hope that all three enjoy their new adventures!

(March, 2013)

イノベーティブでまた会おうね

こんにちは。もとこです。日本では3月がたいせつなきせつです。みなさん、知っていましたか。そう、おわかれのきせつ。

日本の会社や学校は4月にはじまります。だから、3月におわります。3月に学校で卒業式があります。イノベーティブには学生のスタッフもいますから、3月にイノベーティブを退社(たいしゃ)する人もいます。今年は2人のインターンシップスタッフと1人のフルタイムスタップが退社しました。

でも、また会うことはできますから、「さようなら」じゃないですね。「また会おうね」と言って、送(おく)ります。 3人が新しい場所でがんばれますように。

(2013年3月)

Getting Sporty at Innovative Language

Today, we bring you another blog post from Motoko, JapanesePod101.com lesson creator, host and Office Party Planner! Motoko will be sharing more bilingual posts on our blog, so check back often and leave a comment!

Hi listeners! Motoko here. In this blog, I would like to talk about our trip to Round1. This was the second event we held while Eran was here (actually, we went there in November! :p). Round1 is one of the Japanese amusement complexes that have a variety of athletic fields for sport and other indoor activities. It is also famous for “Spo-cha,” (short for “sports challenge”) which is the name of the kind of service Round1 offers.

You just pay the fee for 1 or 3 hours and then enjoy as many sports and arcade games as you like. We call it ‘1-jikan asobi hōdai’ or ‘3-jikan asobi hōdai’ (1時間遊び放題 or 3時間遊び放題).

I tried rollerblading for the first time in my life and it was REALLY difficult even just moving forward. (So one of my co-workers rescued me. It was a very good experience though!)

Even if you are not good at sport, you can still find something to enjoy. There are arcade games (for free!), darts, a rodeo bull machine, and karaoke!


When you’re hanging out with a group of friends in Japan, Round1 is a great place to go!

(Dec 2012)

スポーツをたのしむには。

みなさん、こんにちは。もとこです。今回はラウンドワン(Round1)について話したいと思います。エランさんが東京に来たとき、イノベーティブのスタッフで行きました。2回目のイベントです。(本当は11月に行きました。(●´ω`●)ゞ)。 ラウンドワンはスポーツアトラクション施設です。たくさんコートがあって、色々なスポーツをすることができます。また、ほかの室内(しつない)での遊びをすることもできます。このサービスは「スポッチャ」という名前でも有名です。(スポッチャは「スポーツ チャレンジ」の省略だそうです。)

1時間か3時間用の料金をはらって、スポーツやゲームセンターのゲームで遊ぶことができます。「1時間遊び放題(ほうだい)」と「3時間遊び放題」といいます。
 
私は人生ではじめてローラースケートをしてみました!とってもむずかしかったです。前にすすむことができませんでした。(だから、イノベーティブの同僚(どうりょう)がたすけてくれました。いい経験(けいけん)でしたよ!)

スポーツが苦手でもだいじょうぶです。ゲームセンターのゲームを(ただで!)することができます。また、ダーツやロデオマシーン、カラオケもあります!

日本で友だちとあそぶときは、ラウンドワンはおすすめです。きっとたのしい時間をすごすことができますよ。
(2012年12月)

Year-end Cleaning at Innovative Language Tokyo Office!

Today, we bring you another blog post from Motoko, JapanesePod101.com lesson creator, host and Office Party Planner! Motoko will be sharing more bilingual posts on our blog, so check back often and leave a comment!

Hey everyone. Motoko here! I’d like to talk about our year-end cleaning event, called Ō-sōji(大掃除) in Japanese. Most of our staff had questions about why people in offices did cleaning themselves instead of hiring cleaning staff. But this process is very significant for the year end in Japan.

As you see from its kanji, this is the biggest cleaning season and takes place at the end of the year. It has its origin in a Shinto event called Susuharai (煤払い), in which monks and people cleaned their houses to purify them and welcome the god/kami called Toshi-gami (歳神様 or 年神様) on new year’s day. In other words, Ō-sōji was originally a ritual event. The god, Toshi-gami, is believed to bring people and also their houses happiness and luck each new year. People traditionally clean their houses together and prepare for new year’s day. They believe that if the house is dusty and dirty, the god won’t come. (Japanese gods tend to like nice and clean places!)

In order to invite happiness and luck to the office, some of us formed a group: Team Ō-sōji. We had a one-hour cleaning session in the office. To be more eco-friendly, we chose to use dusters, zōkin (雑巾), to wipe everything off. You can use one of these almost forever just by washing and squeezing it.

[photo1: Our powerful weapon: マイペット]
マイペット

[photo2: Clean dusters after the cleaning ]
Clean dusters after the cleaning

After the cleaning, we of course went to a meal to reward everyone for their hard work.

[photo3: Salt can be one of the good sauces. Simple is best! ]
Salt can be one of the good sauces. Simple is best!

(Nov. 2012)

   Innovative Languageのオフィスを大掃除

 みなさん、こんにちは。もとこです。今回は年の終わりに行った「大掃除(おおそうじ)」を紹介します。イノベーティブの多くのスタッフがどうして自分たちでオフィスを掃除するのか。どうして清掃員をやとわないのか、不思議に思っていました。でも、大掃除には大切な意味があるんです。
 「大掃除」の漢字を見ると、「大きい」「そうじ」だということがわかりますね。年末に盛大にそうじすることなんです。大掃除は「煤払い(すすはらい)」という神道の行事がはじまりだといわれています。「煤払い」では人々がお寺や神社、自分の家を掃除して、清めます。お正月に歳神様(としがみさま)をお迎えするためです。つまり、大掃除はもともと儀式的な行事だったのです。歳神様は神道の神様の一柱(はしら, counter for gods)で、新年とその年の幸をもたらす(持ってくる)と信じられています。日本人はみんなで掃除をして、新年を迎える準備をするのです。もし家が汚かったら、歳神様は来てくれません。(日本の神様はきれいなところが好きな神様が多いです。)
 オフィスに幸運を招きいれるべく、イノベーティブのボランティアでチームを作りました。一夜限りのチームの名前はチーム大掃除です。 一時間位オフィスを掃除しました。環境のことを考えて、道具は雑巾(ぞうきん)を使いました。洗ってしぼればいつまででも使うことができますからね。
 もちろん、大掃除の後は「労をねぎらう」ためにご飯を食べに行きました。

(2012年11月)

Welcoming Eran to the Tokyo office!

Today, we bring you another blog post from Motoko, JapanesePod101.com lesson creator, host and Office Party Planner! Motoko will be sharing more bilingual posts on our blog, so check back often and leave a comment!

Hey everyone. Motoko here!

Today I would like to talk about our recent visit from Innovative Language’s Co-Founder, Eran. Though he’s usually based in New York, he came to visit the Tokyo office in mid-November. It had been a year since his previous visit, so we welcomed him and took him to some interesting spots!

The first event was dinner at Ninja Akasaka. I’m sure you know what a ninja is! And this is a restaurant where you can see modern-day ninja and enjoy creative, gourmet meals. When we arrived, we were let in to the restaurant in groups of 4 or 5 people. What we saw as we entered is a secret, but it was definitely a fun and exciting experience! After being welcomed in, ninja or kunoichi (female ninja) took us to our tables. The seating areas looked like caves and we squished into our small but comfortable seats.

Every meal both looked and tasted great! The course started with a terrine of foie gras with Shuriken-shaped biscuits.

Most of the dishes related somehow to ninja and were fun to look at and eat. I really liked the tiny ninja-shaped dessert, because it was pretty cute!


If you like the animes Naruto or Nintama Rantaro, or even if you don’t really like ninja, I recommend a visit to this restaurant because you will experience something special!

(Nov. 2012)

エランさんいらっしゃいパーティ @東京オフィス
 
みなさん、こんにちは。もとこです。今回はエランさんをむかえたパーティについてお話します。11月の中旬、エランさんが東京にいらっしゃいました。エランさんはイノベーティブの副社長さんです。いつもはニューヨークで働いています。一年ぶりに東京オフィスにいらっしゃいましたから、東京のおもしろい場所に案内しました。

まずはNinja Akasaka。みなさん、忍者は知っていますよね。Ninja Akasakaは忍者に会うことができるレストランです。モダンな創作料理も食べることができます。レストランについたら、4~5人でお店に入ります。ここでお店でおこることを教えることはできません。でも、絶対みなさんもわくわく、どきどき、楽むことができると思います。その秘密(ひみつ)のイベントの後、テーブルに行きます。忍者か、女性の忍者の「くの一」が席まで案内します。ほとんどのテーブルは洞窟(どうくつ)みたいな席で、小さくて居心地がよさそうな席にすわります。
 
全ての料理がすてきでおいしかったです。一番初めの料理はフォアグラのテリーヌ、手裏剣(しゅりけん)ビスケット添(ぞ)え!ほとんどの料理が「忍者」に関係していました。どれも見て、食べて、楽しい料理です。でも、私が一番好きだったのは忍者の形のデザートでした。とってもかわいかったからです。  

もし『ナルト』や『忍たま乱太郎』が好きだったら、特に忍者が好きじゃなくても、ぜひこのレストランに行ってみてください。素敵な体験ができますよ!

(2012年11月)