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A Day of Rest for the Weary: Labor Thanksgiving Day in Japan


From the Harvest Festival in Germany to Thanksgiving Day in the United States, many cultures around the world have a thanksgiving holiday of some sort. In Japan, this holiday is 勤労感謝の日 (きんろうかんしゃのひ), or “Labor Thanksgiving Day.”

In this article, you’ll learn how the Japanese show 感謝 (かんしゃ), or “appreciation,” on this special day, as well as the holiday’s origins. 

Are you ready? Let’s get started.

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1. What is Labor Thanksgiving Day in Japan?

Up-close Image of a Man in Work Gear

Each year on November 23, the Japanese celebrate Labor Thanksgiving Day. This is a national holiday dedicated to honoring all workers, reflecting on progress and production, and enjoying the company of family. 

While Labor Thanksgiving Day in Japan does have some similarities to Thanksgiving in the United States, there are marked differences which we’ll discuss in the following section.

    → Feeling appreciative today? Learn different ways to say ありがとう。 (“Thank you!”) with our relevant blog post.

Labor Thanksgiving Day Origin

Labor Thanksgiving Day has its roots in a very old Japanese tradition, called Niiname-sai. This was a moveable harvest festival during which the Emperor would thank the gods for all of the food produced that year, offer rice and beans to the gods, and then eat some of the offering himself. During the Meiji Era, the holiday received its fixed date of November 23.

In 1948, following World War II, the harvest festival became Labor Thanksgiving Day. This was to commemorate the positive changes that were made to the Japanese Constitution following the war. 


2. How Does Japan Celebrate Labor Thanksgiving Day?

Labor Thanksgiving Day traditions largely revolve around giving thanks and showing appreciation to workers for all of their hard 労働 (ろうどう), or “labor,” all year long.

Children often write thank-you notes to their parents, take part in chores, and even try their hand in the kitchen to give their parents a break after working so hard. In addition, kids often write notes for and give gifts to workers whom they find inspirational or have much gratitude toward, such as police officers or hospital workers.

Labor Thanksgiving Day celebrations in Japan are not nearly as elaborate as those for Thanksgiving in the United States. Most businesses are closed on this day, giving workers time off to enjoy the holiday with family. Common Labor Thanksgiving Day activities include spending some quality home time with loved ones or heading to the outdoors for some fresh air. Certain organizations or companies may use this day to discuss important topics regarding the future or to show gratitude for their employees.

The Imperial House of Japan continues the original tradition of Niiname-sai, in which a food offering is given to the Shinto gods from that year’s harvest and then eaten by the Emperor. It’s important to note that this is done quietly and is not a large celebration.

Japanese Labor Thanksgiving Day food tends to be less important than Thanksgiving food in the United States. That said, because this holiday traditionally celebrated the autumn harvest, there’s often some type of ごちそう (“feast”) to be enjoyed with family or loved ones. 


3. Japanese Constitution Changes

We mentioned earlier that the Japanese Constitution underwent some important changes following WWII. Do you know what they were? 

The new Japanese Constitution was drafted by a team from the U.S. under Douglas MacArthur, with the help of Japanese scholars. The finished document made several provisions, such as the right to life, universal suffrage, greater equality between men and women, and the right to a fair trial. Additionally, Article 9 of the constitution prohibits Japan from declaring war. 

The new constitution also limited the Emperor’s power within the Japanese government, and the country created a new bicameral parliamentary system.

The Japanese Constitution is a topic of debate; some consider it a sensitive issue, though most people fully welcome and accept the provisions of the new constitution.

    → Do you want to learn more about how the Japanese view their constitution? Then look at our Culture Class lesson about Japanese Constitution Day.

4. Essential Labor Thanksgiving Day Vocabulary

An Industrial Building

Let’s review some of the vocabulary words and phrases from this article so you can talk about Labor Thanksgiving Day in Japanese!

  • ありがとう。-  “Thank you!”
  • 祝日 (しゅくじつ) – “holiday” [n]
  • 家族 (かぞく) – “family” [n]
  • プレゼント – “present” [n]
  • 勤労感謝の日 (きんろうかんしゃのひ) – “Labor Thanksgiving Day” [n]
  • 仕事 (しごと) – “job” [n]
  • 感謝 (かんしゃ) – “appreciation” [n]
  • 労働 (ろうどう) – “labor” [n]
  • 産業 (さんぎょう) – “industrial” [n]
  • 労をねぎらう (ろうをねぎらう) – “appreciate the pains somebody has taken”
  • ごちそう – “feast” [n]

Remember that you can hear the pronunciation of each word and phrase on our Labor Thanksgiving Day vocabulary list!

Final Thoughts

Two Female Colleagues Shaking Hands

The Labor Thanksgiving Day festival is a time of gratitude, appreciation, and enjoyment. Is there a similar holiday in your country? If so, how do you celebrate?

If you enjoyed learning about this Japanese holiday, we think you’ll enjoy the following articles on JapanesePod101.com:

In addition to our insightful cultural lessons, JapanesePod101 provides tons of Japanese language learning materials, from podcasts to YouTube videos and free vocabulary lists. What are you waiting for? Create your free lifetime account today and start learning Japanese in the easiest, fastest, and most fun way!

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Japanese Keyboard: How to Install and Type in Japanese

Thumbnail

You asked, so we provided—easy-to-follow instructions on how to set up your electronic devices to write in Japanese! We’ll also give you a few excellent tips on how to use this keyboard, as well as some online and app alternatives if you prefer not to set up a Japanese keyboard.

Log in to Download Your Free Japanese Alphabet Worksheet Table of Contents
  1. Why it’s Important to Learn to Type in Japanese
  2. Setting up Your Computer and Mobile Devices for Japanese
  3. How to Activate an Onscreen Keyboard on Your Computer
  4. How to Change the Language Settings to Japanese on Your Computer
  5. Activating the Japanese Keyboard on Your Mobile Phone and Tablet
  6. Japanese Keyboard Typing Tips
  7. How to Practice Typing Japanese

1. Why it’s Important to Learn to Type in Japanese

A keyboard

Learning a new language is made so much easier when you’re able to read and write/type it. This way, you will:

  • Get the most out of any dictionary and Japanese language apps on your devices
  • Expand your ability to find Japanese websites and use the various search engines
  • Be able to communicate much better online with your Japanese teachers and friends, and look super cool in the process! 

2. Setting up Your Computer and Mobile Devices for Japanese

A phone charging on a dock

It takes only a few steps to set up any of your devices to read and type in Japanese. It’s super-easy on your mobile phone and tablet, and a simple process on your computer.

On your computer, you’ll first activate the onscreen keyboard to work with. You’ll only be using your mouse or touchpad/pointer for this keyboard. Then, you’ll need to change the language setting to Japanese, so all text will appear in Japanese. You could also opt to use online keyboards instead. Read on for the links!

On your mobile devices, it’s even easier—you only have to change the keyboard. We also provide a few alternatives in the form of online keyboards and downloadable apps.

3. How to Activate an Onscreen Keyboard on Your Computer

1- Mac

1. Go to System Preferences > Keyboard.

2. Check the option “Show Keyboard & Character Viewers in Menu Bar.”

3. You’ll see a new icon on the right side of the main bar; click on it and select “Show Keyboard Viewer.”

A screenshot of the keyboard viewer screen

2- Windows

1. Go to Start > Settings > Easy Access > Keyboard.

2. Turn on the option for “Onscreen Keyboard.”

3- Online Keyboards

If you don’t want to activate your computer’s onscreen keyboard, you also have the option to use online keyboards. Here are some good options:

4- Add-ons of Extensions for Browsers

Instead of an online keyboard, you could also choose to download a Google extension to your browser for a language input tool. The Google Input Tools extension allows users to use input tools in Chrome web pages, for example.

4. How to Change the Language Settings to Japanese on Your Computer

Man looking at his computer

Now that you’re all set to work with an onscreen keyboard on your computer, it’s time to download the Japanese language pack for your operating system of choice:

  • Windows 8 (and higher)
  • Windows 7
  • Mac (OS X and higher)

1- Windows 8 (and higher)

1. Go to Settings > Change PC Settings > Time & Language > Region & Language.

2. Click on “Add a Language” and select “Japanese.” This will add it to your list of languages. It will appear as 日本語 with the note “language pack available.”

3. Click on 日本語 > “Options” > “Download.” It will take a few minutes to download and install the language pack.

4. As a keyboard layout, you’ll only need the one marked as “Japanese – 日本語.” You can ignore other keyboard layouts.

2- Windows 7

1. Go to Start > Control Panel > Clock, Language, and Region.

2. On the “Region and Language” option, click on “Change Keyboards or Other Input Methods.”

3. On the “Keyboards and Languages” tab, click on “Change Keyboards” > “Add” > “Japanese.”

4. Expand the option of “Japanese” and then expand the option “Keyboard.” Select the keyboard layout marked as “Japanese.” You can ignore other keyboard layouts. Click “OK” and then “Apply.”

3- Mac (OS X and higher)

If you can’t see the language listed, please make sure to select the right option from System Preferences > Language and Region

1. From the Apple Menu (top left corner of the screen) go to System Preferences > Keyboard.

2. Click the Input Sources tab and a list of available keyboards and input methods will appear.

3. Click on the plus button, select “Japanese,” and add the “Japanese” keyboard.

Adding a system language

5. Activating the Japanese Keyboard on Your Mobile Phone and Tablet

Texting and searching in Japanese will greatly help you master the language! Adding a Japanese keyboard on your mobile phone and/or tablet is super-easy.

You could also opt to download an app instead of adding a keyboard. Read on for our suggestions.

Below are the instructions for both iOS and Android mobile phones and tablets.

1- iOS

1. Go to Settings > General > Keyboard.

2. Tap “Keyboards” and then “Add New Keyboard.”

3. Select “Japanese” from the list.

4. When typing, you can switch between languages by tapping and holding on the icon to reveal the keyboard language menu.

2- Android

1. Go to Settings > General Management > Language and Input > On-screen Keyboard (or “Virtual Keyboard” on some devices) > Samsung Keyboard.

2. Tap “Language and Types” or “ + Select Input Languages” depending on the device and then “MANAGE INPUT LANGUAGES” if available.

3. Select 日本語 from the list.

4. When typing, you can switch between languages by swiping the space bar.

3- Applications for Mobile Phones

If you don’t want to add a keyboard on your mobile phone or tablet, these are a few good apps to consider:

6. Japanese Keyboard Typing Tips

Typing in Japanese can be very challenging at first! Therefore, we added here a few useful tips to make it easier to use your Japanese keyboard.

A man typing on a computer

1- Computer

1. To toggle your IME on/off, you just need to hit “Alt + Tilde (~).” 

2. You can just type in Japanese words on your keyboard, if you know how they’re spelled in Romanization. (Like “a” = あ, “ko” = こ, and “re” = れ)But there are some points to be noticed:

 – To type ん, you need to type “nn” (double “n”). When you hit just “n,” you may have the chance to hit vowels (a, e, i, o, u) and it will make な, に, ぬ, ね, の. So you need that extra “n” to type ん.

 – To type small-sized vowel characters, as in ねぇ or あぁ, you need to hit “l” or “x + vowel.” For example, to type ぁ, you hit “la” or “xa.”

 – To get っ, the small “tsu.” However, you don’t have to type “ltsu” or “xtsu.” You just type it using a double consonant. For example, to type きっと, you hit “kitto.”

3. If you want to use Katakana instead of Hiragana, in most cases all you need to do is hit “spacebar” after you’ve typed the word in Hiragana. Then, your IME will most likely recommend that word in Katakana. But if this isn’t the case for you, or if you instead want a Katakana input mode, just hit “Ctrl + Caps Lock” to find it.

4. To convert to Kanji, you need to use the “spacebar” just like you do with Katakana words. Your IME will suggest a candidate Kanji list for the word. So hit the “spacebar” until you find the one you’re looking for, and then hit the “Enter” to determine the conversion candidate.

2- Mobile Phones

1. You can type Japanese words on a Kana-style keyboard as well as a Romanization-style keyboard. As for the Romanization-style typing, it’s almost the same as it is on the PC.

2. You’ll have only ten Hiragana letter keys, plus a punctuation key and a text face key to input with a Kana-style keyboard. The letter keys are arranged by consonant and each of them has three or more letters inside it. To select a letter, quickly tap the key to go through the different letters. Alternatively, you can simply hold down the key, which will bring up the options visually, and then slide your finger to the intended letter. 

3. The 改行 key is the equivalent to the Enter key, and the 空白 key is the equivalent to the space key.

7. How to Practice Typing Japanese

As you probably know by now, learning Japanese is all about practice, practice, and more practice! Strengthen your Japanese typing skills by writing comments on any of our lesson pages, and our teacher will answer.
If you’re a JapanesePod101 Premium PLUS member, you can directly text our teacher via the My Teacher app—use your Japanese keyboard to do this!

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The Autumn Equinox Festival in Japan

Is that autumn in the air, already? I don’t know about you, but I’m more than ready for it! 

Today, we’re going to explore 彼岸の中日 (ひがんのちゅうにち), or “the equinoctial day,” on which the Japanese acknowledge the arrival of autumn. On the Autumn Equinox, Japanese people express appreciation for their ancestors and indulge in a few seasonal celebrations as well. 

Let’s take a closer look!

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1. What is the Autumnal Equinox?

the Autumnal Equinox

Autumnal Equinox Day, or 秋分の日 (しゅうぶんのひ), normally falls on September 22 or 23. This is the day on which summer officially becomes autumn; in addition, the sun will rise in the true east and then set in the true west. 

The Autumn Equinox celebration in Japan began as a holiday called 皇霊祭 (Kōreisai), literally meaning “a royal court event held in the autumn.” This holiday began in 1878, and on this day, people would worship and pay respects to the deceased emperors and other members of the royal family. Over time, the Japanese began to celebrate the holiday in a less-religious manner, instead honoring the dead in general and praying for a successful harvest.

Today, the Autumn Equinox celebration maintains its non-religious status, and the Japanese honor their ancestors while celebrating the coming season.

2. Autumn Equinox Rituals and Celebrations

an offering left at a grave

墓参り (はかまいり), or “visiting a grave,” is the most important tradition for Autumnal Equinox Day. Japanese people, over the course of 彼岸 (ひがん), or the “equinoctial week,” pay their respects to deceased ancestors by cleaning the gravesite and giving offerings of food and flowers. Many people also burn an “incense stick,” or 線香 (せんこう), to show respect. 

There are two main reasons for the popularity of this tradition: 

1) It resembles the traditions of the older Kōreisai holiday we mentioned earlier. 

2) The Japanese believe that the deceased go to another world in the west, the direction that the sun sets for the Autumnal Equinox. 

The Autumnal Equinox is also a time of appreciation for the coming season. In fact, there’s a saying in Japan: “No heat or cold lasts over the Equinox.” This refers to the fact that the weather during autumn tends to be more mild and tolerable than the weather at any other point in the year—certainly a reason to celebrate after a long summer, and before the coming winter! 

3. Autumnal Equinox Food

a tray of Buddhist cuisine

The Autumn Equinox Festival in Japan is the perfect time to sample some fall-time Japanese treats. Many people offer a traditional Japanese sweet called おはぎ, or “ohagi,” to their ancestors and enjoy some themselves. “Ohagi” comes from the word 萩 (hagi), meaning “Japanese clover,” which blooms around the time of the Autumnal Equinox. This dessert consists of cooked rice grains that have been crushed and covered in bean paste. 

One will also find a lot of 精進料理 (しょうじんりょうり), or “Buddhist cuisine,” available during this time. 

4. Essential Japanese Vocabulary for the Autumnal Equinox

a white myrtle blossom

Let’s review some of the Japanese vocabulary from this article! 

  • 花 (はな) — “flower”
  • 先祖 (せんぞ) — “ancestor”
  • 精進料理 (しょうじんりょうり) — “Buddhist cuisine”
  • 秋分の日 (しゅうぶんのひ) — “Autumnal Equinox Day”
  • おはぎ (おはぎ) — “ohagi”
  • 線香 (せんこう) — “incense stick”
  • 墓参り (はかまいり) — “visiting a grave”
  • 彼岸明け (ひがんあけ) — “the last day of the equinoctial week”
  • 彼岸の入り (ひがんのいり) — “the first day of the equinoctial week”
  • 彼岸の中日 (ひがんのちゅうにち) — “the equinoctial day”
  • 供え物 (そなえもの) — “offering”
  • 彼岸 (ひがん) — “equinoctial week”
  • 秋分点 (しゅうぶんてん) — “autumn equinox”

Remember that you can find each of these words, along with their pronunciation, on our Japanese Autumn Equinox vocabulary list

Final Thoughts

Due to the prominence of filial piety in Japan, one can see how important the Autumnal Equinox traditions are. But this holiday is just one drop in the ocean of Japanese culture! 

For more great content about Japanese culture and holidays, check out the following articles on JapanesePod101.com:

What are your favorite things about autumn? Do you have any special autumn celebrations in your country? Let us know in the comments.

Happy Autumn Equinox from the JapanesePod101.com family!

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Hanabi: The Japanese Fireworks Festival!






Japanese fireworks are arguably the best part of summer. After a long and trying rainy season (tsuyu), people are just itching to get out and enjoy themselves!

Did you know there’s a firework display called the Niagara? These fireworks are arranged in a row, set off at the same time, and are specially designed to look like a huge wave or waterfall.

In this article, you’ll learn all about the fireworks festival in Japan: what to expect, how these festivals got started, and some relevant vocabulary you can use to impress your Japanese friends.

Let’s get started.

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1. What is the Hanabi Festival in Japan?


Sumidagawa Fireworks Festival

Every year during the summer, usually in July and August, the Japanese celebrate the Hanabi festival. Hanabi is Japanese for “fireworks,” but it literally means “fire flower.” The Japanese consider Hanabi to be the 夏の風物詩 (なつの ふうぶつし), or “epitome of summer.”



A History of Fireworks in Japanese Culture


It’s believed that Japan had its first taste of fireworks in the 1600s when the shogunate founder, Tokugawa Ieyasu, was given fireworks as a gift from someone representing King James I. He greatly enjoyed them, and over time, the Edo lords began using the fireworks for their entertainment by setting them off above the Sumida River.

It was at the Sumida River that one of the first public fireworks displays in Japan took place in 1733. During this time, the fireworks were used for both entertainment and to ward off evil spirits. Many Japanese during this era had taken ill or died from disease, so watching the Hanabi in Japan was both a means of easing one’s mind and of mourning.

Today, there tends to be a greater focus on the creative aspect of fireworks, and once you see the amazing fireworks in Japan, you’ll see that the Japanese take this creativity very seriously.

2. What to Expect During Hanabi


Exhibition Fireworks

How to Prepare


Because Hanabi takes place during the hottest months of summer, you’ll definitely want to wear cool summer clothes. Alternatively, you can purchase a 浴衣 (ゆかた), or yukata, which is a summertime kimono designed to keep you cool. You should also ensure that you have something to sit on, like a blanket or groundsheet.

The Fireworks


Japanese fireworks are known for their clever, fascinating designs. There’s no better time to see them than during the Hanabi festival. Japanese pyrotechnicians really put their heart and soul into these things! There are fireworks that are shaped like hearts, faces, cartoon characters, and other objects or elements.

Some of the best fireworks festivals in Japan are:
  • Nagaoka Fireworks
  • Osaka Tenjin Fireworks
  • 隅田川花火大会 (すみだがわはなびたいかい) – Sumidagawa Fireworks Festival

Of course, there are many more all summer long!

Another important note: If you really want to fit in while watching the fireworks, be sure to say 玉屋 (たまや), or “tama-ya,” and 鍵屋 (かぎや), or “kagi-ya,” as the fireworks burst. Everyone around you will be doing this, so why not join in the fun?

We highly recommend that you try something from a 屋台 (やたい), or “food stall,” while you’re out.

    → Take a look at our list of the top Japanese Foods and let us know which one is your favorite!


Tips for the Festival


Before you visit Japan for the Hanabi festival, keep in mind that it’s going to be crowded.

This means that if you want a good seat or view, you’ll need to arrive super-early. Many Japanese people show up to the fireworks location several hours before they actually begin. The same goes for tickets: If you need a ticket to attend a specific firework show, be sure to purchase it in advance. You normally can’t buy a ticket on the day of the show.

In addition, you’ll need to book a hotel room as soon as possible. If you wait until the last minute to take this step for your trip, you may find all of the hotels booked!

And big crowds mean long lines! Definitely use the bathroom before arriving at the firework viewing area. Otherwise, you’ll end up waiting a really long time to use the bathrooms there.

Finally, don’t leave immediately after the firework show. If you do, you’ll be squished between all the other people leaving; the trains will be full, and the roads will be jammed with traffic. It’s better to wait a little while and enjoy the other amenities before leaving.

3. Why Do We Say Tama-ya?


During the Edo period, there were two men credited with bringing fireworks to Japan. These two firework-makers’ names were Tamaya and Kagiya, and the Japanese shouted their names while watching the Hanabi.

Today, there’s less meaning in shouting the names, and it’s mostly done to make the show more exciting.

4. Vocabulary for the Japanese Fireworks Festival


Japanese Food Stalls

Here’s a quick list of some of the vocabulary words and phrases from this article.
  • 夏 (なつ) — “summer”
  • 甚平 (じんべい) — “jinbei”
  • 花火大会 (はなびたいかい) — “fireworks festival”
  • 浴衣 (ゆかた) — “yukata”
  • 屋台 (やたい) — “food stall”
  • 玉屋 (たまや) — “tama-ya”
  • 夏の風物詩 (なつの ふうぶつし) — “epitome of summer”
  • 隅田川花火大会 (すみだがわはなびたいかい) — “Sumidagawa Fireworks Festival”
  • 打上花火 (うちあげはなび) — “sky rocket”
  • 花火師 (はなびし) — “pyrotechnician”
  • 鍵屋 (かぎや) — “kagi-ya”
  • 火薬 (かやく) — “gunpowder”
  • 仕掛花火 (しかけ はなび) — “exhibition”


To hear the pronunciation of each word and phrase, visit our Japanese Fireworks Festival vocabulary list!

Final Thoughts


The Hanabi festival in Japan really is one of the most beautiful and exciting occasions all year long. There’s something about the coolness of the rivers, the company of fellow onlookers, and watching the brilliant Hanabi with a drink in your hand.

What are your favorite things about summer? Are there any special summertime events in your country? Let us know your experiences with them in the comments!

To learn more about fun things that happen in Japan throughout the year, and to pick up some new phrases you can start using today, check out these free articles on JapanesePod101.com:


Stay safe out there, and happy Japanese learning!

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The Rainy Season in Japan: Making the Most of Tsuyu

Rain, rain, go away…

I don’t know about you, but I get pretty depressed when it’s rainy or overcast—and more so with each day that the weather remains gloomy. Imagine that kind of weather for several weeks straight!

Each year, various regions of Japan experience a several-week period of much rainfall and cloud cover called the rainy season, or tsuyu. In this article, you’ll learn all about this rainy season, Japan’s most notable features during this time, what you can do during a rainy season visit, and some useful vocabulary.

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1. What is the Rainy Season in Japan?

梅雨 (Tsuyu) is the rainy season in Japan, and it literally translates to “plum rain.” This is in reference to when the rainy season generally takes place: mid-summer, around the time that the plums begin to ripen.

During the rainy season, Japan experiences several weeks of 大雨 (おおあめ), or “heavy rain.” This is caused by a 梅雨前線 (ばいうぜんせん), or “rain front,” that develops when cooler air from the north mixes with warmer air from the south.



2. When is Rainy Season in Japan?

Japan’s Rainy Season is in June The 梅雨入り (つゆいり), or “start of the rainy season,” varies slightly from region to region.

For most of the country, Japan’s rainy season starts in early June, though the rainy season in Okinawa is known to start about a month earlier. In contrast, Hokkaido and Ogasawara often receive very little rain compared to the rest of Japan and don’t really have a rainy season.

The 梅雨明け (つゆあけ), or “end of the rainy season,” also varies. For most of the country, it ends in mid-July. In Okinawa, it ends in mid-June.

  • Keep in mind that the Japanese Meteorological Agency announces the beginning and end of the rainy season each year. You can check in often to see any updates.


3. Visiting Japan During Rainy Season

People Walking the Streets with Umbrellas Rainy weather can be a bummer any day, even more so when you’re on vacation. If rain really isn’t your thing, we recommend that you schedule your trip to Japan for another time of year when you can better enjoy the great outdoors!

That said, there are a few things you can do in Japan during the rainy season—and a few precautions you can take before you even board your plane!

How to Prepare

A Seven-day Forecast Do your research. First things first, you’ll need to do your research before scheduling your visit. Check to see the start and end dates of the rainy season for the area you want to visit, and see if you can find information on what to expect there.

Buy an umbrella. In Japan, the rainy season makes owning an umbrella a necessity!

Pack clothes for any weather situation. In addition to pouring rain, you can expect the weather to be hot and humid at times and cool at other times. Pack clothes that you can wear no matter what the weather decides to do, and once you arrive, dress in layers.



Things to Do

Have you decided to visit Japan during the rainy season, after all? Great! There are several activities you can still enjoy—and a couple that you can especially enjoy—during the rainy season!

Hydrangea Festivals

Hydrangea flowers are to the rainy season as cherry blossoms are to springtime. If there’s one thing to truly look forward to during these gloomy weeks, it’s the blooming of the hydrangeas!

Throughout the rainy season, Japanese temples and gardens hold hydrangea festivals. This is the perfect time to see a variety of hydrangeas, which can vary in color from region to region.

Hydrangeas are a greatly loved flower in Japan, and some people even wish for the rains to continue so that the hydrangeas can bloom to their full potential!

Food

Just because you’re trapped indoors or under an umbrella most of the time doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some good cuisine. Rainy season in Japan is a wonderful opportunity to taste seasonal dishes and explore a variety of foods from street vendors or small restaurants.

Shopping

Because Japan’s rainy season generally takes place after Golden Week, you can expect to find prices quite low during this time. Perfect for shopping!

Hiking

If there happens to be a 梅雨晴 (つゆばれ), or “sunny spell during the rainy season,” which there probably will be, you may enjoy going on a hike. Hiking in the mountains or taking a walk through a park is a fantastic way to see some of those hydrangeas we told you about. 😉



4. How Bad is the Rainy Season in Japan?

Heavy Rain in a Park Despite the beauty and adventure associated with the rainy season in Japan, the high humidity and perpetual rains can cause some damage. In particular, many Japanese households experience a mold problem during the rainy season: food goes bad, walls can begin growing mold, and personal items (especially clothes) can become damaged if the proper precautions aren’t taken. Do be mindful of this during your visit!

In addition, Japan is known to have typhoons. Generally, typhoons strike hardest after the official rainy season period (in August and September), though you should definitely keep this in mind while planning your trip, and stay aware!

5. Must-Know Rainy Season Vocabulary

Ladybugs on a Dripping Blade of Grass Ready to review some of the vocabulary words from this article? Here’s a quick list!

  • 梅雨 (つゆ) — “rainy season”
  • 雨 (あめ) — “rain”
  • 六月 (ろくがつ) — “June”
  • 大雨 (おおあめ) — “heavy rain”
  • 梅雨晴 (つゆばれ) — “sunny spell during the rainy season”
  • 梅雨入り (つゆいり) — “start of the rainy season”
  • 梅雨前線 (ばいうぜんせん) — “rain front”
  • 梅雨明け (つゆあけ) — “end of the rainy season”
  • 梅雨の中休み (つゆのなかやすみ) — “break in the rainy season”
  • 梅雨明け宣言 (つゆあけせんげん) — “announcement of the end of the rainy season”
  • 降水量 (こうすいりょう) — “amount of rainfall”


If you want to hear the pronunciation of each word and phrase, be sure to visit our Japanese Rainy Season vocabulary list!

Final Thoughts

As you can see, Japan’s rainy season may not be for everyone, though it does produce some beautiful sights and unique opportunities for tourists.

What are your thoughts on the rainy season in Japan? Does your country have a similar period where it rains a lot? Let us know in the comments!

If you’re interested in learning even more about Japanese culture and the language, JapanesePod101.com has several free resources for you, straight from our blog:



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Bunka no hi: Celebrating Culture Day in Japan

Bunka no hi, celebrated each year in November, is a relatively new Japanese cultural holiday that has experienced some adaptations over time. Originating during the reign of Emperor Meiji, and originally called Meijisetsu, this holiday was a day for Japan to celebrate the birth of its emperor until 1948.

In this article, you’ll learn the most pertinent facts about Culture Day in Japan: activities, meaning, and what role the Constitution of Japan played in evolving the holiday into what it is today.

At JapanesePod101.com, we hope to make every aspect of your learning journey both fun and informative!

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1. What is Culture Day in Japan?

Culture Day is a Japanese national holiday for appreciating peace and freedom, and was originally put in place to celebrate the birthday of Emperor Meiji. The entire week from November 1 to November 7 is designated as Education and Culture Week, with a focus on Culture Day. Various events such as public lectures and hands-on activities are held, and admission to art galleries and museums is free.

2. When is Culture Day?

November Holiday

On November 3, Culture Day in Japan is celebrated. Later in this article, you’ll discover why this date in particular was chosen. 😉

3. Japan Culture Day Events & Celebrations

On Culture Day, Japan puts on events with a deep connection to culture. For example, at the Meiji Shrine in Tokyo, a Fall Festival is held which is dedicated to traditional arts such as Bugaku and horseback archery. In Asakusa in Tokyo, and in Shiga Prefecture, parades are held in which people dress in costumes from different eras to demonstrate Japan’s history. In Kanagawa Prefecture, a reenactment of the Daimyo’s Procession from the Edo era is also held. Events such as these provide the opportunity to once again look at the culture that has been passed down through the ages.

At the Imperial Palace, an Order of Culture Ceremony is held. During this culture award ceremony, people who have made remarkable achievements in the development and improvement of science, technology, culture, and the arts are awarded a medal. In recent years, world-renowned conductor Seiji Ozawa, leading architect Tadao Ando, and famous fashion designer Issey Miyake have all been honored. Images of the emperor personally presenting the awards always appear on the news.

For National Culture Day, Japanese arts festivals sponsored by the Agency for Cultural Affairs are also held. During this time, those with a proven track record of excellence in the performing arts give performances. In addition to this, from all of the participating performances and works of art, including those approved by the Executive Committee, a grand prize, excellence award, and newcomer award are presented to those who have made great contributions to the promotion of art and culture.

4. The Japanese Constitution & Culture Day

Child Doing Crafts

Do you know which law caused this holiday to be known as Culture Day?

The answer is the Japanese constitution. The constitution was proclaimed on November 3, 1946. Because of its focus on peace and culture, the anniversary of the proclamation of the constitution was designated Culture Day.

Incidentally, the Japanese constitution was actually enacted six months later, on May 3. This is also a holiday, known as Constitution Day.

5. Must-Know Vocabulary for Bunka No Hi in Japan

Couple Looking at Painting

  • 劇場
    げきじょう
    Theater
  • 十一月
    じゅういちがつ
    November
  • 美術館
    びじゅつかん
    Art museum
  • 美術館
    びじゅつかん
    Museum
  • 文化の日
    ぶんかのひ
    Culture Day
  • 文化
    ぶんか
    Culture
  • 休日
    きゅうじつ
    Day off
  • 文化勲章
    ぶんかくんしょう
    The Order of Culture
  • 明治天皇
    めいじてんのう
    Emperor Meiji
  • 授業参観
    じゅぎょうさんかん
    Class observation day
  • 工作
    こうさく
    Craft
  • 文化祭
    ぶんかさい
    Cultural festival

To hear each of these vocabulary words pronounced, and see each one accompanied by a relevant image, be sure to check out our Japanese Culture Day vocabulary list!

Parting Words…

We hope you enjoyed learning about Bunka no hi with us, and that you took away something valuable from this lesson.

Does your country have a cultural holiday? If so, how do you celebrate it? Let us know in the comments; we always love to hear from you!

Learning about a country’s culture may be the most enriching and exciting aspect of trying to master a language. If you want to continue delving into Japanese culture, you may be interested in the following pages:

We know that learning Japanese isn’t easy, but at JapanesePod101.com, we do everything we can to make it fun! You really can master the language and come to understand Japanese culture, and we’ll be here with help and encouragement on each step of your language-learning journey!

Happy learning!

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Japanese Keiro no hi: Respect for the Aged Day in Japan

Have you ever wondered “How are the elderly treated in Japan?”

Each year, the Japanese population celebrates and honors the elderly people in Japan for their contributions to society. The aged are regarded with much respect, and Respect for the Aged Day is a special occasion on which to really go all out and show this admiration.

In this article, you’ll learn all about the Respect for the Aged Day meaning, and more facts about the elderly people in Japan. Learning about this holiday and what it looks like in Japanese society will go a long way toward helping you understand the culture of Japan.

At JapanesePod101.com, we hope to make every aspect of your learning journey both fun and informative! So let’s get started.

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1. What is Respect for the Aged Day?

Essentially, the Respect for the Aged Day meaning has to do with respecting one’s elders.

Respect for the Aged Day, Tokyo and all over Japan, is when Japanese people convey feelings of gratitude, respect, and good wishes toward the elderly population. Be it grandparents, parents, or elderly neighbors, the Japanese recognize the contributions that the aged have made for society to make it what it is today.

While there are several theories about this holiday’s origins, many people think it began in a rural village in the Hyōgo Prefecture in 1947. However, until 1964, this holiday was known as としよりのひ (toshiyori no hi), or “Old Folks’ Day.”

2. Respect for the Aged Day Date

Third Monday in September

Each year in Japan, Respect for the Aged Day is observed on the third Monday of September. For your convenience, here’s a list of this holiday’s date for the next ten years.

  • 2019: September 16
  • 2020: September 21
  • 2021: September 20
  • 2022: September 19
  • 2023: September 18
  • 2024: September 16
  • 2025: September 15
  • 2026: September 21
  • 2027: September 20
  • 2028: September 18

3. How to Celebrate Respect for the Aged Day

Comparatively speaking, this holiday is a modern one. Therefore, Respect for the Aged Day traditions are few, though there are a few common Respect for the Aged Day activities that we’ll cover here.

The day before, the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare finds out how many people are over 100 years of age. Local municipalities often give gifts or souvenirs to elderly people who are celebrating a milestone birthday that year, such as Sanju (which is when they turn 80), or Sotsuju (which is when they turn 90). Those turning 100 years old or older receive a visit from the city or town mayor. They’re then congratulated and presented with a congratulatory gift.

On Respect for the Aged Day, and the days surrounding it, the elderly gather together in public facilities, such as community centers, to watch entertainment—such as choir and dance performances—alongside the participants and local residents. Sometimes the elderly also receive souvenirs such as red rice, Japanese sweets, and magnifying glasses.

Kindergartens and nurseries invite grandparents to see their grandchildren, and elementary school students write letters of thanks to their grandparents. This day is a good opportunity for different generations to strengthen their bonds.

Naturally, households with elderly family members convey their gratitude on Respect for the Aged Day, but families who live apart get involved as well. Often, this involves not only saying thank you, but also giving gifts. Meals, flowers, handmade crafts by the grandchildren, and photos of the grandchildren, are high on the list of popular gifts.

4. A Declining Population

Old Woman with Flowers

Japan currently faces the prospect of a declining population, and this is a potential situation that could result in profound economic and social impacts.

Japan’s population is rapidly aging, which means that the number of people over 65 is rapidly increasing. Some people also call this phenomenon the “graying” of the population.

There are a few major factors behind this trend:

  • An increasing number of retiring baby boomers
  • Gains in longevity
  • Decreasing fertility

To combat this, the Japanese government has implemented a series of plans, beginning in 1995, with the goal of improving conditions for child-rearing.

5. Useful Vocabulary for Respect for the Aged Day

Longevity Rankings

Here’s some vocabulary you need to know for Respect for the Aged Day in Japan!

  • プレゼント (プレゼント) — present
  • 孫 (まご) — grandchild
  • 米寿 (べいじゅ) — 88th birthday
  • 敬老の日 (けいろうのひ) — Respect-for-the-Aged Day
  • 祝う (いわう) — celebrate
  • 高齢者 (こうれいしゃ) — senior citizen
  • 祖父母 (そふぼ) — grandparents
  • 長寿 (ちょうじゅ) — long life
  • お年寄り (おとしより) — elderly person
  • 9月の第3月曜日 (くがつの だいさんげつようび) — the third Monday in September
  • 長寿番付 (ちょうじゅばんづけ) — longevity ranking
  • 白寿 (はくじゅ) — 99th birthday
  • 卒寿 (そつじゅ) — 90th birthday
  • 傘寿 (さんじゅ) — 80th birthday
  • 喜寿 (きじゅ) — 77th birthday

To hear each of these vocabulary words pronounced, check out our Respect for the Aged Day vocabulary list!

How JapanesePod101 Can Help You Understand Japanese Culture

We hope you enjoyed learning about Respect for the Aged Day with us! Does your country have a holiday to celebrate or show respect to the aged and eldelry? Let us know in the comments!

To continue learning about Japanese culture and the language, explore JapanesePod101.com. We provide an array of fun and effective learning tools for every learner, at every level:

  • Insightful blog posts on an array of cultural and language-related topics
  • Free vocabulary lists covering a range of topics and themes
  • Podcasts to improve your listening and pronunciation skills
  • Mobile apps so you can learn Japanese anywhere, on your own time
  • Much, much more!

If you’re interested in trying a one-on-one learning approach, be sure to upgrade to Premium Plus. Doing so will give you access to your own Japanese teacher who will help you create a learning plan based on your needs and goals. Yes, really!

Japanese isn’t an easy language to master, but know that your hard work and determination will pay off. You’ll be speaking, writing, and reading Japanese like a native before you know it, and JapanesePod101 will be here with you on each step of your language-learning journey!

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How to Celebrate the Obon Festival in Japan

Each year, Japan celebrates the Bon Festival (also called O Bon, The Obon Festival, or The Feast of Lanterns). This holiday is essentially a time for families to honor their deceased by throwing a celebration for them, a tradition we’ll go more into later.

In this article, you’ll learn about Japanese Bon Dance music, and many other Obon Japanese events and symbols. In learning about the Obon Festival Japan observes each year, you’re allowing yourself a deeper, more heartfelt glimpse into its culture and its history.

At JapanesePod101.com, we hope to make this learning adventure both fun and informative. So let’s get started learning about the Japanese Bon Festival holiday!

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1. What is Obon in Japan?

The Bon Festival is an event of Buddhist origin observed in order to honor the spirits of the ancestors. Essentially, this day is for families to hold a memorial service to welcome the spirits of their deceased ancestors.

The word Bon is said to be an abbreviation of the name for the Ghost Festival, which came from China. The Feast of Lanterns is an event held to save the spirits of deceased parents and ancestors from suffering. This event was brought over to Japan, and together with the Japanese custom of ancestor worship, O-bon in its current incarnation came to be held in the Edo Period.

2. When is the Bon Festival?

Paper Lanterns Hanging

Most of Japan celebrates the Bon Festival from August 13 to August 15, though some regions celebrate it in mid-July.

Many companies close for the Obon holiday, and people go back to their hometowns to visit their families, or go on a vacation somewhere with them. Obon is not just a religious event held to honor the ancestral spirits, it has also taken on a greater meaning as a national holiday.

3. Reading Practice: Bon Festival Japanese Celebrations

Read the Kanji Japanese text below to learn about how the Japanese celebrate the Bon Festival, and find the English translation directly below it.

行事の内容も地域によって様々ですが、一般的な風習(ふうしゅう)を紹介しましょう。

13日に、先祖(せんぞ)の霊を家に迎えるために、提灯(ちょうちん)を灯(とも)したり、迎え火(むかえび)を焚(た)いて、戻る家の場所を伝えます。

14日から15日は、迎え入れた先祖(せんぞ)の霊と一緒に過ごします。仏壇には、帰ってきた先祖(せんぞ)の霊のためのご飯もお供(そな)えします。

16日は、送り火を焚(た)いたり、灯篭流し(とうろうながし)をして、霊を送り出します。

また、お盆には、「盆踊り」が行われます。広場にやぐらを立て、人々は、やぐらの上の太鼓の音頭(おんど)に合わせて、その周りを回りながら踊ります。もともとは、お迎えした霊を供養(くよう)するための踊りといわれていますが、今では、屋台がならび、お祭り的な要素も強くなっています。地域によっていろいろな盆踊りがあり、有名な「阿波踊り(あわおどり)」も、盆踊りの一つです。

「盆と正月が一緒に来たようだ」という表現を知っていますか。これは、お盆や正月は故郷で家族が集まり、楽しく、忙しい時期なので、嬉しいことが重なったり、とても忙しいときに使う表現なのです。

Although the details of Obon vary depending on region, let’s look at some common customs.

On the 13th, lanterns are lit in order to welcome the ancestral spirits back to the home. The fire of these lights shows the spirits the location of the home.

On the 14th and 15th, time is spent with the ancestral spirits. Offerings of food are laid at the household Buddhist altar for the returning ancestral spirits.

On the 16th, the departure lamps are lit, and through these hanging lanterns the spirits depart.

Another custom is the Bon Dance that is performed at Obon. A watchtower is raised in a square, and people then dance around it in time with the beating of the drum on the turret. While originally it was a ritual dance for the memorial service in which the spirits are welcomed, these days with booths lined up, it feels more like a festival. There are regional variations of the Obon Dance. One famous version is the Awa Dance.

Do you know the phrase “It’s like Obon and New Year’s both came at once!”? Because Obon and New Year’s are both busy, enjoyable times when families gather together, this phrase is used to refer to busy times filled with happiness.

4. Horses & Cows

Floating Lanterns

It is thought that at Obon, ancestral spirits come back from the afterlife and then return to it. What do you think spirits use to go back and forth between the afterlife?

It’s thought that the spirits ride a horse and a cow to travel back and forth. At Obon, cucumbers, eggplants, and disposable chopsticks are used to create figures of the horse and cow, which are then put on display. The cucumber represents the horse, and the eggplant the cow. The idea is that the spirits ride on a horse to come home quickly, and ride on a cow to go back slowly.

5. Useful Vocabulary for the Japanese Bon Festival

An Offering

Here’s some vocabulary you should know for the Bon Festival in Japan!

  • お盆 (おぼん) — Bon Festival
  • 提灯 (ちょうちん) — paper lantern
  • 仏壇 (ぶつだん) — Buddhist altar
  • 盆踊り (ぼんおどり) — bon dance festival
  • 精霊流し (しょうろうながし) — Spirit Boat Procession
  • お盆休み (おぼんやすみ) — bon holiday
  • 墓参り (はかまいり) — visiting a grave
  • 供え物 (そなえもの) — offering
  • 迎え火 (むかえび) — welcome fire
  • 霊 (れい) — spirit
  • 灯篭流し (とうろうながし) — floating lanterns
  • 送り火 (おくりび) — ceremonial bonfire
  • 盆踊り (ぼんおどり) — bon dance
  • あの世 (あのよ) — afterlife

To hear each of these Bon Festival vocabulary words pronounced, check out our relevant vocabulary list!

Conclusion: How JapanesePod101 Can Help You Master Japanese

We hope you enjoyed learning about the Japanese Obon Festival with us! What do you think about this holiday? Is there a holiday similar to it in your own country? Let us know in the comments!

To continue learning about the Japanese culture and language, visit us at JapanesePod101.com and explore our array of practical learning tools. Read more insightful blog posts like this one, study our free Japanese vocabulary lists, and download our mobile apps designed to let you learn Japanese wherever you are and on your own time! By upgrading to Premium Plus, you can also take advantage of our MyTeacher program and begin learning Japanese one-on-one with your own teacher and personalized plan.

Learning Japanese is no easy feat, but know that with enough determination and hard work, you can not only learn, but master, the language. And JapanesePod101.com will be here to help every step of your way there!

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Chichi No Hi: How to Celebrate Fathers Day in Japan

What day is Father’s Day, and what do Japanese traditions look like?

Fathers Day in Japan (known by the Japanese as 父の日 or Chichi No Hi), is similar to Father’s Day in other countries. It’s simply a day to honor one’s father or father-figure, and to show him appreciation and gratitude for all he does.

However, for each aspect of Father’s Day that’s familiar around the world, there’s a distinction that makes it uniquely Japanese. In this article, we’ll be going over common Fathers Day traditions in Japan, from the most popular gifts to its stance next to Mother’s Day.

At JapanesePod101.com, we hope to make this lesson both fun and informative as we examine Japanese culture from the perspective of Chichi No Hi. After all, any successful language-learner can tell you the importance of comprehending a country’s culture in mastering its language.

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1. What is Japanese Father’s Day?

In Japan, Father’s Day is called Chichi No Hi, with chichi meaning one’s own father. The Japanese version of this holiday is similar to versions around the world; Father’s Day is a time to let your father (or father-figure) know how much he means to you.

Just like in many other countries, Father’s Day tends to fall in the shadows of Mother’s Day, however. A Japanese mother is more likely to receive gifts and affection on Mother’s Day than a father is on Father’s Day.

2. When is Father’s Day in Japan?

Father's Day is on a Sunday

So, when is Fathers Day celebrated in Japan?

The date of Father’s Day varies each year, though it always takes place on the third Sunday of June. For your convenience, we’ve prepared a list of this holiday’s date for the next ten years.

  • 2019: June 16
  • 2020: June 21
  • 2021: June 20
  • 2022: June 19
  • 2023: June 18
  • 2024: June 16
  • 2025: June 15
  • 2026: June 21
  • 2027: June 20
  • 2028: June 18

3. How Do the Japanese Celebrate Father’s Day?

A Father with His Daughter and Wife

On Fathers Day, Japan celebrates and shows thankfulness toward fathers, though traditions tend to be profit-oriented. (As seems to be true in the majority of participating countries.)

That said, the most common way that children in Japan show their fathers gratitude is through gift-giving. Gifts tend to be food- or alcohol-related, with Japanese steaks (wagyuu) and traditional alcoholic beverages like sake being the most popular and well-received. A nice family meal is always appreciated, as well.

Other Father’s Day gifts and Father’s Day gift ideas include greeting cards, thank you notes, cash and gift cards, and origami creations. Some children also choose to gift their fathers with flowers at the beginning of the day.

Japanese Father’s Day celebrations don’t typically go beyond gift-giving, which is one way that traditions are unique here. For example, in the United States, spending quality time with one’s father is a popular tradition, and this isn’t the case here.

4. Father’s Day Gifts: The Universal Struggle

We all struggle with Fathers Day ideas. No matter how well we know our dads or how well we get along with them, getting them a gift they’ll actually like is difficult. This struggle exists in Japan, as well.

According to SoraNews24, there’s a huge disconnect in Japan concerning what fathers want on their special day. Children (and entire families) tend to give their fathers more expensive gifts, like the Japanese steaks, when their fathers would actually better appreciate something inexpensive and from the heart—like a thoughtful note of gratitude, or even a little bit of quality time with their children.

5. Useful Vocabulary to Celebrate Father’s Day in Japan

Shochu

Here’s some of the most important vocabulary you should know for Father’s Day in Japan!

  • 日曜日 (にちようび) — Sunday
  • ビール (ビール) — Beer
  • お父さん (おとうさん) — Father
  • 息子 (むすこ) — Son
  • 娘 (むすめ) — Daughter
  • 夕食 (ゆうしょく) — Dinner
  • 愛する (あいする) — Love
  • 焼酎 (しょうちゅう) — Shochu
  • プレゼント (プレゼント) — Present
  • 祝う (いわう) — Celebrate
  • ネクタイ (ネクタイ) — Tie
  • 挨拶状 (あいさつじょう) — Greeting card
  • 六月の第三日曜日 (ろくがつの だいさんにちようび) — third Sunday in June
  • 父の日 (ちちのひ) — Father’s Day

To hear each of these Japanese Father’s Day vocabulary words pronounced, check out our relevant vocabulary list. Here, you’ll find each word accompanied by an audio file of its pronunciation.

Conclusion

Does your country celebrate Father’s Day, or a similar holiday honoring fathers? If so, how do you celebrate it? Let us know in the comments! We look forward to hearing from you.

To learn more about Japanese culture and the language, visit us at JapanesePod101.com! We provide practical learning tools for every learner, including insightful blog posts like this one and free Japanese vocabulary lists to expand your word knowledge. You can also listen to our podcasts, chat with fellow Japanese learners on our forums, or upgrade to Premium Plus to take advantage of our MyTeacher program!

Learning—and mastering—a language is a formidable task. But with your hard work and determination, combined with our lessons and support, you’ll be speaking like a native before you know it!

Best wishes, and Happy Fathers Day!

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Best Japanese TV Shows to Learn Japanese

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Did you ever enjoy watching Japanese anime shows as a kid? Well, Japanese anime shows are just the tip of the iceberg, and there are other entertaining Japanese TV shows (such as Japanese game shows) waiting for you to discover! In this article, I’ll be going over the best Japanese TV shows (read: Japanese must-watch TV shows) for entertainment and learning Japanese!

Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced learner of the Japanese language, watching Japanese television series and shows offers you hours of fun and immersive opportunities to learn practical and conversational Japanese. Various shows are available, and you can choose whatever suits your preference of genre, language level, or interests.

You’ll learn practical Japanese by simply watching Japanese TV shows. Although there aren’t English subtitles for most Japanese TV shows, you’ll get used to the sound of Japanese, learn how Japanese people speak, and what vocabularies are used. This will eventually improve your pronunciation and increase your Japanese vocabulary.

You can find Japanese TV shows on Japanese TV channels, satellite TV, streaming channels, Netflix, YouTube, DVD, and beyond. In particular, you should have an easy time finding Japanese TV shows online, or on Netflix.

Here at JapanesePod101, we introduce the best Japanese TV shows to check out. When you’re bored of studying with textbooks, watch these popular Japanese TV shows and have some fun!

Table of Contents

  1. ドラえもん / Doraemon (Beginner Level – Cartoon)
  2. サザエさん / Sazae-San (Beginner Level – Cartoon)
  3. ちびまる子ちゃん / Chibi Maruko-Chan (Beginner Level – Cartoon)
  4. 南くんの恋人 / My Little Lover (Intermediate Level – Live Action Drama)
  5. 僕だけがいない街 / Erased (Intermediate Level – Live Action Drama)
  6. カッコウの卵は誰のもの / Whose is the Cuckoo’s Egg? (Intermediate Level – Live Action Drama)
  7. 白鳥麗子でございます! / Shiratori Reiko de Gozaimasu! (Intermediate Level – Live Action Drama)
  8. YOUは何しに日本へ?/ Why Did You Come to Japan? (Intermediate Level – Entertainment Show)
  9. 行列のできる法律相談所 / Legal Office: Advice So Good You Stand in Line (Intermediate Level – Entertainment Show)
  10. 世界まる見え!テレビ特捜部 / WORLD GREAT TV (Intermediate Level – Entertainment Show)
  11. Conclusion: How JapanesePod101 Can Help You Learn More Japanese

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1. ドラえもん / Doraemon (Beginner Level – Cartoon)

Improve Listening

When it comes to anime Japanese TV shows for beginners, Doraemon may just be the jackpot!

Doraemon is one of the greatest and most popular Japanese anime shows, and has been aired on Japanese TV for many decades as well as broadcasted to many overseas countries. This is originally from a manga, or comic series, that was first published in 1969 and later adapted into an anime series. Doraemon also has a series of movies, each one independent and with a more action-adventure-oriented story.

The story of Doraemon centers on an elementary school boy named Nobita, who is poor at studying and sports, and is often bullied by classmates. Doraemon, the robotic cat which was invented by Nobita’s descendant in the 22nd Century, was sent back in time to protect and help Nobita. Doraemon has a special pocket where he stores useful gadgets which have superpowers. The story revolves around Nobita and Doraemon, as well as Nobita’s friends.

This Japanese anime show is suitable for beginner learners of the Japanese language. It’s very easy to watch; one episode is fifteen minutes long, and the language used is very basic and spoken by children characters. This Japanese TV show is easy to understand and has a good visual effect.

Example conversation:

Nobita (main character): Doraemon! Tasukete! Jaian ga ijimeru yo.
Doraemon! Help me! Jaian bullies me.

Doraemon: Konkai wa dōshita no? Shōganina, Nobita kun ni iimono ga aruyo.
What happened this time? Fine, I have a good thing for you, Nobita.

2. サザエさん / Sazae-San (Beginner Level – Cartoon)

Family Watching TV

Sazae-san is another one of the top three Japanese cartoons on Japan TV, and a fantastic children’s Japanese TV series in particular. It has been aired for many decades and has been popular across generations. Sazae-san is also originally from a comic series that was first published in 1946, and later adapted into an anime series. It’s still broadcasted on Fuji Television, a Japanese TV station.

This Japanese TV program revolves around the traditional Japanese family and it centers on Sazae, a twenty-four-year-old woman who’s very cheerful. She lives with her parents, her husband, her younger brother and sister, and her son. Each episode focuses on different characters and situations, such as Sazae-san’s husband and his work place, her brother and his elementary school, their neighbours, and so on.

Sazae-san is good for beginner-level learners. You’ll learn a lot about Japanese daily conversations among family, friends, and neighbors. In addition, by watching this family-focused story, you’ll also learn about traditional Japanese family and cultural customs, especially within the home.

Example conversation:

Sazae-san: Kora! Katsuo, Iikagen ni shinasai! Heya ni itte benkyō shinasai!
Hey! Katsuo, that’s enough! Go to the room and study!

Katsuo: (Nukedashite) Ittekimasu!
(Sneaking out) I’m going!

3.ちびまる子ちゃん / Chibi Maruko-Chan (Beginner Level – Cartoon)

Chibi Maruko-Chan is another famous and popular Japanese anime show, broadcast on Japanese TV for many decades. This is also originally from a comic series first published in 1986, which later became an anime series.

The story of this Japanese anime show follows the main character Maruko, who is an elementary school student, and her family and friends. It depicts Maruko’s everyday life in a comical, and sometimes cynical, way. Chibi Maruko-Chan broadcasted mainly in the Heisei era and is called the “Heisei version of Sazae-san” comparing it to Sazae-san, which was the most popular cartoon in the Shōwa era.

This show is also good for beginner learners. Chibi Maruko-Chan uses very easy language about everyday life. You’ll also learn about the typical daily life of a traditional Japanese family from the child’s (Maruko) point of view.

Example conversation:

Maruko: Fujisan ga mierune. Itsuka nobotte mitaiyo.
I can see Mt.Fuji. I want to climb there some day.

Tomozo (Grandpa): Ohh Fujisan ga mieru nō. Washi mo nobotte mitai nō.
Ohh I can see Mt.Fuji, too. I want to climb there some day, too.

Maruko: Sono toshi de noborunkai…
Are you going to climb with your age…

4. 南くんの恋人 / My Little Lover (Intermediate Level – Live Action Drama)

Woman Watching TV

Looking for cute drama Japanese TV shows? This Japanese TV show is based on the manga comic, and it has been adapted into Japanese television dramas. My Little Lover (Minami-kun no Koibito in the original title in Japanese) has been made into four versions of live-action dramas, and the latest version was made in 2015 with ten episodes.

The story of the latest version is about a highschool girl who accidentally shrunk to fifteen centimeters (about six inches) in height. She was discovered by a childhood friend and they try to find a way to restore her to her normal size as they grow their relationship. The show is well-made with a mixture of elements such as fantasy, school drama, humor, and romance.

This show is good for beginner- to intermediate-level Japanese learners. Conversations take place mostly among young people, and the language used isn’t very difficult. Although the setting is in a rural area, they don’t speak any uncommon dialect. Subtitles are available both in Japanese and English for the 2015 version. It’s a good tool for learning everyday speech.

5. 僕だけがいない街 / Erased (Intermediate Level – Live Action Drama)

Erased, or Boku dake ga inai machi in the Japanese title, is a live-action series with twelve episodes, and is originally from a manga series. It’s been adapted for anime as well as a live-action film. If you’re looking for good Japanese TV shows from 2018 or 2019, Erased is an excellent watch.

This show follows the story of a young man who has a strange superpower that allows him to go back in the past, known as “revival.” When bad things happen, he’s thrown back to the past to solve the cause of those bad things. One day, his mother was murdered and he was suspected as a killer. He wished to go back to the past to save his mother. However, after going back in time eighteen years, a mystery begins. With the mysterious plot and some visual effects, it’s very interesting to watch and is sure to draw you in.

The language used in this show is relatively easy, as it’s mostly daily conversations. The drama takes place in Hokkaido, the northern part of Japan, and some characters use a dialect, but it’s not difficult to understand.

Both the live-action drama series and the anime series are available on Netflix with subtitles in Japanese and English. If you’re an intermediate learner looking for good Japanese dramas (TV shows), this one is really good.

6. カッコウの卵は誰のもの / Whose is the Cuckoo’s Egg? (Intermediate Level – Live Action Drama)

Woman Covering Her Face

Whose is the Cuckoo’s Egg? is originally a mystery fiction novel written by Keigo Higashino who is a famous award-winning novel writer. It’s been adapted into a live-action drama and this series has six episodes. This Japanese TV show is a fine example of great Japan television.

The mysterious story revolves around the daughter, Kazami, of a former Olympic skier named Hiromasa. Kazami is expected to be an Olympic athlete, but one day finds out that she has the F-type gene, which is considered a “genius sport gene,” but is rare for Japanese. A scientist, who researches about talent and inheritance, asked Hiromasa for research cooperation of his and his daughter’s DNA, but he refused. There’s huge untold secret about Kazami’s birth…

This show is suitable for intermediate-level learners or above. Some conversations involve scientific vocabulary, and it would be a bit difficult to follow the story if you miss some conversations as the story develops in unexpected ways. This show is available with English subtitles on Netflix.

7. 白鳥麗子でございます! / Shiratori Reiko de Gozaimasu! (Intermediate Level – Live Action Drama)

Shiratori Reiko de Gozaimasu! is a romantic-comedy-drama series adapted from a comic series. This Japanese television program has two live-action drama remakes apart from the original one, and it also has two films.

The story revolves around Reiko Shiratori who is a super-rich girl from the countryside. She likes an ordinary college boy named Tetsuya, and she follows him in Tokyo to tell him her feelings. However, she has too much pride to be honest. The show depicts Reiko’s delicate feelings and complicated behaviors with a comical touch.

It’s not very difficult to understand conversations in this show as they’re mostly casual daily talks among young people. Because of the main character being super-rich, she talks in an elegant and posh style. Shiratori Reiko de Gozaimasu! is available with English subtitles on Netflix.

8. YOUは何しに日本へ?/ Why Did You Come to Japan? (Intermediate Level – Entertainment Show)

This is a Japanese entertainment show aired on TV, presented by a comedy duo known as “Bananaman.”

The program is a studio-based show, and a team of staff members go outside the studio to interview foreigners who have just arrived in Japan at the Narita International Airport, and ask them “Why did you come to Japan?” Next, staff members attempt to follow the interviewees on their trips in Japan to feature and report. Some interviewees have particular hobbies or a business; one example is about a Polish man who collects grinding stones. He came to Japan to visit a renowned artisan and workshop in Osaka that was established more than 200 years ago.

Although this show doesn’t have subtitles in English, there are some subtitles in Japanese for the main featured contents or comments of the participants. Most of the contents are easy to understand thanks to visual aids and subtitles. Some foreigners speak English, which may make the show easier to understand. You’ll be able to learn some characteristic aspects of Japanese culture from this show.

9. 行列のできる法律相談所 / Legal Office: Advice So Good You Stand in Line (Intermediate Level – Entertainment Show)

Cameraman Filming a Scene

This show is a studio-based entertainment show dealing with legal matters. It has been one of the most popular Japanese variety shows since 2002, when it was first aired on TV.

There are reenactment clips on featured legal matters and a fun group discussion follows, with hosts and a variety of guests who are lawyers, comedians, actors, models, and sometimes politicians. After having enjoyable discussions about the featured legal matters, they explain the matters in detail with the current law and legal issues it involves.

This show doesn’t have English subtitles, but most of the important matters and main points are put in subtitles in Japanese. Although the show itself is enjoyable and makes law more familiarized and fun, it’s recommended for Japanese learners at the intermediate level or above when it comes to legal vocabulary.

10. 世界まる見え!テレビ特捜部 / WORLD GREAT TV (Intermediate Level – Entertainment Show)

To conclude our complete guide to Japanese TV series, we’ll talk about WORLD GREAT TV!

This show is a studio-based entertainment show and it’s been one of the most famous and popular Japanese variety shows on TV since 1990.

The show mainly introduces selected TV programs and news from all around the world. Contents are diverse and they feature a wide range of programs, usually very funny and entertaining. The introduced programs are originally from overseas, but some featured contents are remade with a re-enactment drama produced by this show. The main hosts Takeshi Kitano and George Tokoro often have funny discussions and skits with each other and other guests.

Although this show introduces the contents of overseas TV programs, the language is translated and featured in Japanese, and there’s no English. The show can be a bit difficult to understand when it comes to complicated contents such as the investigations of particular cases. However, some contents don’t require language at all, such as funny or shocking video collections. Most of the contents are easy to understand with visual aids and Japanese subtitles on the main information.

Conclusion: How JapanesePod101 Can Help You Learn More Japanese

We hope you enjoyed our complete guide to Japanese TV shows 2019. This article of Best Japanese TV Shows to Learn Japanese introduced the ten recommended Japanese shows that can help make your Japanese studies more enjoyable!

Do you want to further improve your conversation skills? We have a lot to offer!

To learn more about the Japanese language, you’ll find more useful contents on JapanesePod101.com. We provide a variety of free lessons and information for you to improve your Japanese language skills. For example, you can check out Top 15 Questions You Should Know for Conversations to practice your Japanese with audio. If you’re a fan of Japanese anime, How to Learn Japanese with Anime? is just for you! When you notice how often Japanese people use Onomatopoeia and wonder what they mean, 76 Must-Know Japanese Onomatopoeia Words is helpful. How to Say I Love You in Japanese – Romantic Word List is good to review after watching a Japanese romantic show.

Know that your hard work will pay off; with enough practice, you’ll be speaking like a native in no time with JapanesePod101.com

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