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How to Bow Like a Japanese

What could be more typically Japanese than bowing?  Every other book about Japan has something to say on the subject, so it must be important, right?  Certainly a lot of foreigners come to Japan and start bowing like crazy, so maybe they all read the same book. It’s common knowledge, if not entirely correct, that...
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Navigating a Japanese Starbucks

The first time I walked into a Japanese Starbucks, I thought I was ready.  It’s pretty easy, really.  “Large” translates to “Grande,” in some bizarro Italian-English-Japanese-word hybrid, and “coffee” is just a bastardized pronunciation of the same:  “ko-hee.”  Even “Hot” is, well, “Hotto.”  So it’s not rocket science.  Coffee’s just about all they sell, so...
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The 4 Skills and Learning Japanese

When people think about the Japanese language–assuming they ever think about it at all–they often assume that speaking and listening are easiest, while reading and writing are hardest.  While that may seem obvious–since the Japanese writing system is clearly the work of insane monks like two thousand years ago–it’s actually not the case. The easiest...
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The 3 Phases of Learning Kanji

So you’ve set out to master Japanese and decided to learn kanji.  Well, before you march further into the ranks of people who have devoted their lives to learning this arcane form of communication, it might help to step back and take an overview of the entire process. Phase 1:  Learn the Individual Kanji Well,...
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