Japanese thoughts, Movies and Dramas

Blue light Yokohama

….or should I say “bru raito yokohama”:-). Caught bits of this delightful song in the trailer of the movie “Aruite mo Aruite mo”. The movie’s title has been borrowed from this song.

“Aruite mo aruite mo, kofune no youni,

watashi wa yurete yurete,

anata no ude no naka”

The lines roughly mean, “As I keep walking, I sway like a boat, in your arms”.

This song  released in the year 1968, captures the romantic spirit of Yokohama. Strangely even after all these years, Yokohama still retains it’s charm as a romantic hangout making this song an evergreen tribute to the city.

Love this song for it’s simple lyrics.

Japanese thoughts, JLPT, Vocab and Grammar

Japanese not taught in classrooms

Most Japanese youngsters speak the kind of Japanese that is not taught in language school. The “masu” form of a verb is used only while speaking to superiors at work or probably while speaking to teachers at school. 80% of the time it is the plain form that is used while speaking to colleagues. Even if you spoke using “masu” form, your colleagues might still reply using slang and informal Japanese. Watching dramas is a good way to pick up spoken/ informal Japanese. Did you know that the site www.dramanote.com gives the complete dialogues of old Japanese dramas? So, when you hear a dialogue that you don’t understand, you can read the same in Japanese and look up the meaning “word by word” in a dictionary. Works similar to watching a movie/drama with Japanese subtitles. The site also gives a brief narration followed by a brief observation on the drama/movie. Definitely helps to pick up reading comprehension skills too.

night television tv video
Photo by Tookapic on Pexels.com
Japanese thoughts

Clean lines and perfect angles in Japan

The Japanese seem to love them as is clear from the curve that they draw on the road to indicate the angle at which you make a turn to the right or left. Most roads are narrow and you can rest assured that by taking the turn exactly at that angle you will stay within your lane no matter how big your vehicle.

Even the randomly placed rocks at a zen garden have a certain aesthetic appeal to it. Apparently, the rocks at Ryoanji have been so arranged that viewed from any angle only 14 out of the 15 rocks are visible at a time.

The Japanese tea ceremony is another instance where you turn your tea cup at a particular angle, lift it and transfer it to another hand in a particular way. There is a certain way the teapot is held and tea is poured. So Zen..so neat!

The traditional Japanese bow is made at different angles depending upon the person you are bowing to. You’d bend 45° (Keirei) to show respect and 70° (Saikeirei) to show respect to the point of reverence:-). You would probably just mildly nod your head for someone who is junior to you.

Even Japan’s funkiest architecture seem well thought out – with clean lines and angles. Nothing ever seems out of place in Japan to the point where you begin to think the Japanese have some kind of “obsessive compulsive disorder” :-).


(picture source- wiki and trendir)
Japanese thoughts

How proficient are you in your mother tongue?


This does not simply refer to the ability to make yourself understood. How many of us can give a decent speech in our own mother tongue – a speech that is not laced with too many foreign words, a speech without grammar mistakes?

In India especially, mother tongue is spoken at home with a heavy mix of English words. Most of us go to English-medium schools and pick up a bit of spoken English along the way. While at school, English, for most of us works just as a medium to understand other subjects like Science and Math. We don’t stop to enjoy the beauty of English poetry and English grammar is something we worry about only the day before the exam.

If this is the case with English, the way we treat our mother tongue is infinitely worse.Some of us finish schooling without learning to read or write in our mother tongue. Some of us barely learn to read and write and quickly shift to learning French or Spanish in middle school. We do this under the false assumption that these languages are easier to learn and therefore easier to score marks in. At the end of 16 years of schooling,  we find that although we have “learnt” around 3 languages, we are fully conversant with none.

Later, depending on where life takes us, some of us are forced pick up a new language. This is when all those schooling years that we spent relegating “language” to the bottom of our priority list comes back to haunt us:-).

Those who have a sound grammar base in their mother tongue invariably find it easier to learn a new language. The others struggle and imagine that the language they are trying to learn is “tough”. But as far as grammar is concerned there is no tough or easy language. If you already have a fairly good hold over one language, the journey to learning another new one can actually be fun…you compare the sentence structure of the new language with your own and try to relate to a new system of thinking and communicating. It’s almost as if you’ve found the keys to a whole new world.

But when your grasp over your own language is weak, it becomes that much more difficult to pick up a new language. Add a tough script like Japanese or a tricky pronunciation system like Chinese to this mix and learning a new language can seem tortuous.

I would think that the first step to learning any new language is to love, enjoy and appreciate one’s own language first.



Japanese thoughts, JLPT

Voluntary translation and interpretation for my ward

Foreigners staying in Japan who can speak and understand Japanese can register themselves at their respective ward offices for voluntary translation and interpretation assignments. None of the assignments will require you to travel outside that particular ward area. Translation assignments might include medical forms, vaccination reminders, kindergarten application forms, school rules and so on to be translated into English from Japanese. Interpretation assignments could involve going to a neighborhood Japanese school to help a “gaikokujin” (foreigner) mom with her child’s PTA or to interpret a teacher’s instructions about an upcoming exam or field trip.

These voluntary assignments can give you the confidence to take up paid assignments later on. They can give you  a lot of satisfaction too – of having helped someone not comfortable with the Japanese language – all of us started there, right?

Each time you are required to interpret at a Japanese school, you will be sent a list of instructions – Ring a bell (I honestly didn’t know schools could have a calling bell until then), introduce yourself in Japanese, change to the slippers that you are provided with and so on.

Although I had already lived and worked in Japan for many years, I was surprised at how many things I still didn’t know about Japan. Working for my ward was a truly memorable experience for me. Highly recommend this for Japanese learners living in Japan.