Public: library 図書館

With so many young people being on-line these days visits to the local library or even the school library are decreasing. Older people sometimes lament the fact that although you can read material on-line, there is no substitute for the feeling of that book in your hands. Younger people would say there is the feeling of that iPad in your hands... With virtual reality around the corner, the new books are story books the reader (the viewer, the participator, the re-live-r, the engager) walks into. Wether it is still a gadget on your head, goggle-like, or not, the new books are story films one walks into; one can even choose an ending. Now it gets creepy...

図書館  としょかん  toshokan  library  map-writing-hall

図書館へいこう  toshokan-e ikō  let's go to the library

In any case, Japanese children at this stage are encouraged to join up at their local library and this advertisement on a magazine cover tells them all about it. The advertisement is interesting as it also highlights some of the issues of the Japanese language.

ニュースがわかる   nyūsu ga wakaru  I understand the news


Public: smartphone スマホの危険

Modern living: everyone has a smartphone and everyone is doing something on their phone and forgetting about the world around them. That is the message of this poster in the subway: don't use your smartphone while walking about!

スマホ  sumaho  abbreviation for smartphone

注意  ちゅうい  chū-i  pay attention, careful!

危険  きけん  kiken  danger

歩きスマホは危険です。 あるきスマホはきけんです。

aruki sumaho wa kiken desu

walking about with your smartphone is dangerous


巻き込み  かきこみ  kakikomi  stumbling into someone

転落    てんらく  tenraku  plunging onto something

衝突  しょうとつ  shōtotsu  crashing into someone

All these things can happen and not only inconvenience others, or endangering their life, but you could also stumble about and end up on the railway track - just when the train comes. It would not be a smart end to the smartphone conversation.

Please, don't walk about with your smartphone in the station: it is dangerous for others, but also for yourself.

Clothing: western style 洋風

As you can see there is absolutely nothing typically Japanese about the clothing that Japanese people wear generally. It is all western style and the shops are full of it. Just like in western stores the goods are produced most likely in China, or India or Malaysia and then shipped to Japan. During the year there are so many sales in so many  stores that the supply is almost never-ending.

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If there is something a bit different, it would have to be what Japanese find acceptable on their T-shirts. I would think that this particular brand of humour would be seriously frowned on. However, 80% of the Japanese public would not read the stuff, understand the stuff and frankly care about the stuff. It's in English, so it must be cute. If the same message were written in Japanese the reaction would be very different indeed.

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In between it all is some stuff from Nepal. The people who made it would not have received the kind of money that Japanese would pay for it in their shop, but hey, who would in a western society?

20151005_111801We haven't got a clue what an ANAP girl is, but obviously someone finds it attractive, otherwise it wouldn't sell.20151005_111832 20151005_113438 20151005_113433

One also notices immediately that all the mannequins are taller, slimmer than the average Japanese by a long shot! There are many Japanese youngsters who are tall and they all play basketball, but the average Japanese is nowhere near it.

20151005_113212At Japanese weddings, the bride and groom usually change from kimono to a western-style wedding dress to a ball gown for the main party. These look like one of those main party ball outfits.20151005_111923 20151005_111920 20151005_111753Miss ANAP is back again with full industrial strength application.20151005_111854 20151005_111931 20151005_111825 20151005_113151 20151005_113200

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JLPT N1 寿, 壽 long life


Kanji: 寿 modern simplified Japanese ことぶき kotobuki long life

壽 is the classical kanji


If you look at the classical kanji from the the top, the first part is 士 shi gentleman, which later became a warrior, the next is 一 いち ichi one with the hook suggesting inclusion, the next part is 工 こう work, the next part is 一 いち ichi one, the left part is 口 くち kuchi mouth and the right part is 寸 すん sun a little distance. Altogether it means living and working like a gentleman and as time passes, speaking, while little by little feeding the mouth. It makes a good long life.

Interesting that the kanji 寿司 すし sushi also contain long life. Here it means preserving rice. Sushi is rice with vinegar for preservation, because originally it was left-over rice that was used for the little snack. The reading is strictly speaking 当て字 あてじ ateji phonetic reading.

Anyway, back to the mugs. Here the kanji mean long life!


House: kitchen おうちごはん



jōki o nigasu node, futa o shita-mama denshi renji OK!

As it releases steam, it's OK in the microwave with the lid on!


おいしく調理  おいしくちょうり

oishiku chōri delicious food preparation




wanpusshu eaa ben de jōki o nigasu

one push airtight container release steam



熱くなっても大丈夫!  あつくなってもだいじょうぶ!

atsuku natte mo daijōbu!    Even if it gets hot, it's okay!


ワンタッチでオープン wantatchi de ōpun open it with one touch



日本製  にほんせい  nihon-sei  Made in Japan



-20℃ / 冷凍保存 れいとうぞん reitō-hozon cold storage

140℃ / レンジ加熱 レンジねつ renji ka-netsu microwave heating


レンジ renji range, is usually a stove, a cooker or sometimes even an oven, but it can also be a microwave, or magnetron. It depends on the country you're in. The advertisers can always use other katakana words to make it clear what exactly is meant. A picture also helps. 電子レンジ でんしレンジ denshi-renji is strictly speaking a microwave oven. This container wouldn't stand up to being heated in an ordinary oven. Let's not try that one.

Food: dinnerbox お弁当箱

お弁当箱  おべんとうばこ  o-bentō-bako  dinner box

照り焼きチキン  てりやきチキン  teriyaki chikin  chicken teriyaki

天ぷら  てんぷら  tenpura

隠元豆  いんげんまめ  ingen-mame  green bean

かぼちゃ  kabocha  pumpkin

魚  さかな  sakana  fish

ぎょうざ  gyōza  dumplings

刺身  さしみ  raw fish here in a sushi setting

わさび  wasabi  spicy wasabi paste

醤油  しょうゆ  shōyu  soy sauce

サラダ  sarada  salad with flavouring

ご飯  ごはん  go-han  cooked rice

味噌汁  みそしる  misoshiru  miso soup


The word 味噌汁 みそしる misoshiru miso soup actually means flavour-boisterous-soup. Just so you know. It's yummy and tasty.

This version of 味噌汁  みそしる  misoshiru  miso soup has some ねぎ negi spring onions and some 天ぷら てんぷら tenpura batter floating in it for decoration and flavour.


てんぷらうどん  tenpura udon 

Language: Japanese 日本語


漢字はむずかしくない  kanji wa muzukashikunai Kanji isn't hard

that hard would be sonna-ni muzukashikunai



nijūyon no hōsoku de subete no kanji ga masutaa dekiru

with twenty-four rules you can master all kanji

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日本語かんたん  nihongo kantan  Japanese easy

日本のくらし12か月  nihon no kurashi jūni-ka-getsu

Living in Japan for twelve months

たのしく読める  たのしくよめる

tanoshiku yomeru  you can read with enjoyment

Clearly peppy texts with all the answers and so much fun and all the ease in the world. Sure! If it were that easy the whole world would be speaking it. Yes, initially the language is very structured, straight forward and the script is phonetic. You write it the way it sounds. English is complicated right from the start. However, in the latter stages after about 500 kanji Japanese does become more complicated and it would really help living in the country. It is doable, but it does take an effort.

Business: JPBank 郵貯銀行


日本郵便  にほんゆうびん  nihon yūbin  Japan Post


From this to this!

Once the largest Post Office, now the largest Bank in Japan. All because Japanese people are amazing savers and workers!


郵貯銀行  ゆうちょぎんこう  yū-cho-ginkō  Japan Post Savings Bank


This huge bank issues Credit Cards, Debit Cards, Gold Cards, Platinum Cards, Loans, Overdrafts, Mortgages, etc.

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images-1images-2The old post office is these days almost a thing of the past. Couriers now deliver many packages as well. Much banking is on-line anyway. Nevertheless, it will surprise many international visitors how often and how much cash Japanese people still use. For instance, cars are often paid for in total in cash. Teachers' salaries are paid in the school staffroom in cash! Japan is still a cash society; banknotes in large denominations are clean and tidily presented.. images-3imgres-2images 郵貯銀行  ゆうちょぎんこう  yū-cho-ginkō  Japan Post Savings Bank

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ATMs for many banks, by the way, can be found everywhere.

ATM エーティーエム  eeーtii-emu ATM




cash-automatic-keep secure-pay-machine

automatic teller machine, ATM


無料  むりょう  muryō  free of charge! gratis!



tōkun ga anata no taisetsu na zaisan o mamorimasu

This token will protect your important assets.



However, everything comes at a price. It's called interest. Borrowing is at low interest rates, but investing is at nil, or almost nil percent.

借りる  かります  karimasu  borrow

貸す  かす  kasu  lend

払います  はらいます  haraimasu  pay

利子    rishi  interest

クレジットカード  kurejitto-kaado  credit card

課徴金  ちょうきん  kachōkin  charges

ATM エーティーエム  eeーtii-emu ATM

現金  げんきん  genkin  cash

貯金  ちょきん  chokin  savings



ATM     エーティーエム      eeーtii-emu    ATM