Japanese thoughts, Vocab and Grammar

Shoulder massaging ticket: 肩たたき券 for mother’s day

What better present to give someone who does so much for you. It doesn’t cost anything and rest assured it will put a smile on your mom’s face. Japanese kids are encouraged to make these for their parents for mother’s day and father’s day too. It works like a craft activity for kids and gives them a chance to get creative with the services they wish to offer their parents. Though they are called “肩たたき券” literally “shoulder massaging ticket”, the tickets can be anything including “お手伝い券” (errands ticket), “プリクラ券” (ticket for getting snapped at a photo booth). They gift their parents with these tickets and even put an expiry date on the ticket:-).

 Though it is kids who usually gift these tickets to their parents, I feel it would be awesome for a parent to receive tickets such as these from an adult son or daughter in their 30’s or even 40’s. An expensive gift might thrill them for a few days, a “kata tataki ken” without an expiry date is sure to warm their heart for a much much longer time.

Cheesy? Maybe yes. But priceless and timeless:-)

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Japanese thoughts, JLPT

Learning to write Kanjis

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As we know, Japanese language has three scripts – Hiragana and Katakana which are phonetic and are similar to English alphabets and then we have around 2000 Kanji characters.  Native Japanese can read and write all the 2000 plus Kanjis by the time they finish school.

But what about us foreigners? Remember feeling really disappointed when I was told by my Japanese teacher that I wouldn’t be taught to write Kanjis. Since JLPT exams don’t have a writing section, for most of us foreigners writing Kanjis is mostly self taught. While I can read, I can not really write Kanjis with any amount of confidence – even really simple ones like say the Kanji for “natsu” 夏(summer):-)

Even if you lived in Japan, it is perfectly possible to get by without knowing to write Kanjis. If you’re working you’d be using a computer where you would just have to type – there is no need to worry about stroke order or stroke count there. Even in the rare instance of filling out medical forms or an application form there is not really much writing involved.

So since there is no need, there is somehow no pressure or motivation to learn to write Kanjis. For a brief while I tried practising Kanjis using “The Kanji Learner’s Course Green Book” on a daily basis. I then purchased “genkou youshi(原稿用紙)” or practice sheets and toiled on a daily basis. But, I just had to give a small break of a week for my stroke order and even stroke count to go completely haywire.

The only way to master writing Kanjis is by keeping at it day after day and not let minor setbacks let you down. After all, as foreigners we have to make up for the 12 years of school life that Japanese kids spend internalizing Kanji characters.