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, there’s only 2,136 joyo kanji, so how hard could it be?  Riiiight.  Over the years, people have proposed lots of different ways of learning them.  Learn only the meanings and forget the readings (Heisig Method).  Learn them in context of words, write them, don’t write them, create mnemonics, make them into funny pictures, dissect them into their component parts.  Somehow you’ll need to find a way to sandwich them into your brain.

Continue reading “The 3 Phases of Learning Kanji”

The Great Tohoku Earthquake

When the Tohoku earthquake happened, I was sitting at my tiny Japanese desk, in the middle of a giant Japanese office, in the middle of Tokyo, just hating life.  I was working elbow to elbow with about a hundred people, facing a row of unsmiling coworkers across from me, crouched in front of my pc, without speaking from morning until night.  The most exciting part of the day was lunchtime, when we’d all take out our bento boxes and eat lunch together without talking.  I couldn’t imagine it could get any worse. Continue reading “The Great Tohoku Earthquake”

Back on the Chrome Horse

Thanks to the Swine Flu, I now own a bicycle. If that Pig Influenza hadn’t sidelined me in bed for a week, I would have surely blown another paycheck on yet one more all-you-can-drink karaoke session. But as it happened, once my fever broke, my wallet contained a spare hundred bucks worth of yen, so off I went to the bike store. I bought the largest bike I could find. It was still tiny, like riding a midget, but also just as fun.

Continue reading “Back on the Chrome Horse”

One Really Long Year in Japan

Fellow citizens, our long national nightmare is finally over. Let us now embark upon that shining road to recovery. Of course, by “national” I mean Japan, and “long nightmare” as in my teaching English here while everyone else listens to my grumbling about it. In retrospect, I guess I should have read my one-year school contract more carefully. I assumed “one agrees to be poked by devils while drowning in a pool of anguish” was just boilerplate contractual stuff. Who knew they meant it literally? Continue reading “One Really Long Year in Japan”