Friday, March 31, 2017

Most Confusing Kanji for Beginners in Common Japanese Words

The Japanese language has many gotchas for beginners, some that will make anyone question everything they've learned so far about a single word, or, most likely, about a single kanji. In this post I'll warn you about some common words in Japanese that have kanji that will suddenly show up in completely different words of totally unrelated meaning which may leave you feeling lost and confused.
Thursday, March 30, 2017


If you've been watching anime for a while, you might have watched one of those famous OVAs, or even an ONA. And if not, I'm sure you've heard of the term before. But what are OVAs, exactly? And how are OVAs different from normal anime? And, of course, what does the word OVA mean to begin with?

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

masshiro, makkuro, makka, massao 真っ白, 真っ黒, 真っ赤, 真っ青

In Japanese, masshiro 真っ白, makkuro 真っ黒, makka 真っ赤, and massao 真っ青 mean literally "true white," "true black," "true red," and "true blue." They're terms for strong, pure colors, but they're more commonly used with figurative meanings.
Sunday, March 26, 2017

Names of Colors in Japanese - Kuro, Shiro, Aka, Ao, Midori, Kiiro + Others

In English, we have the colors white, black, red, blue, yellow, green, orange... uh... gray, purple.... brown...? Cyan, magenta... and... you know, the other ones. In Japanese, there are names for colors, too, obviously, and in this post I'll talk a bit about them.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Japanese Date Format

Perhaps the biggest problem globalization has faced until now is this simple problem: how to write a date. In British English you'd write 12 of March of 2017, or 12/03/2017. Day, month and year. In American English that'd be March 12th, 2017, or 03/12/2017. Month, day and year. But what about Japanese? What's the date format used in Japan?

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Years in Japanese and Eras

This post is being written in 2017, a year. Think of it, it's a pretty big number, isn't it? Over 2000. If you were to give 12 months 12 different names, that's easy, 7 weekdays, 7 different names, also easy, 4 seasons, 4 names, very easy. But 2017 different names is kind of ridiculous, isn't it? Sure the Japanese have a very simple, normal way to call their years?

Existence Verbs

In Japanese, some verbs describe the existence, or possession, of things. They are aru ある, 在る, 有る, nai ない, 無い, and iru いる, 居る. In this article, I'll explain the relationship between these words, and how they're used in Japanese.

nai ない, 無い

One extremely common and very basic word in Japanese is nai. It appears after the particles dewa では, dewanai ではない, after verbs, shinjirarenai 信じられない, and sometimes completely alone, just nai 無い. So, the question is: what does nai mean in Japanese? And why do you hear it so much?
Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Months in Japanese - Names & Counting

The names of the months in Japanese are not like the names of the months in English. In English, we have these very name-like names: January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November and December. In Japanese, however, they are literally just numbers.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

ヴ - ウ with Tenten?

If you have been reading manga for a while you might have encountered this very strange kana: ヴ. The obvious problem with it is that it is an u う in katakana, u ウ, but it has a "diacritic," or tenten, ヴ. You don't put diacritics in aiueo アイウエオ, only in certain syllables like kakikukeko カキクケコ to make them gagigugego ガギグゲゴ, right? So the ヴ kana makes no sense, and yet it exists.

Example of ヴ: vasshu-san ヴァッシュさん, Vash-san, from manga Trigun トライガン

Up, Down, Left, Right in Japanese

The words for "up," "down," "left," and "right" in Japanese are ue 上, shita 下, hidari 左 and migi 右 respectively.
Up, down, left, right in Japanese as an image showing the four directions and their kanji: ue 上 shita 下 hidari 左 migi 右

But surely I didn't make a whole post just to tell you a couple of translations you could find in a dictionary. So here's a lot of stuff you don't even want to know about these four directions!
Monday, March 6, 2017

If you have been reading Japanese for a while you might have come across this kanji: 々. It doesn't look like a kanji, I know, it looks like a katakana, like ma マ, but it's always next to kanji, so it's a kanji, right? Anyway, it makes you wonder: "what is 々 and why does it have so many readings? What does it mean?"

Examples of 々 in Japanese words: dandan 段々 hibi 日々 hitobito 人々 tokidoki 時時 sanzan 散々 junjun 順々 komagoma 細々 samazama 様々

North, South, East, West in Japanese

So you're playing some RPG in Japanese and there's a "map," or chizu 地図, and someone tells you which cardinal direction you have to go to complete the current quest, but there's a problem: you have no idea how to say north, south, east, west in Japanese!

Worry not! Here's Japanese compass rose so you don't lose your way:

A compass rose with the cardinal directions in Japanese: North, South, East, West, kita 北, nishi 西, minami 南, higashi 東. Northwest, Northeast, Southeast, Southwest. hokusei 北西, hokutou 北東, nantou 南東, nansei 南西. North-Northwest, North-Northeast, East-Northeast, East-Southeast, South-Southeast, South-Southwest, West-Southwest, West-Northwest. hokuhokusei 北北西, hokuhokutou 北北東, touhokutou 東北東, tounantou 東南東, nan'nantou 南南東, nan'nansei 南南西, seinansei 西南西, seihokusei 西北西.
Sunday, March 5, 2017

Bakuretsu! Bakuhatsu! EXPLOSION!!!

If you've been watching KonoSuba このすば (if not you should) you might have noticed the character Megumin chants her "explosion" magic with a certain peculiar word: bakuretsu 爆裂. However, there's the more common bakuhatsu 爆発 which also means "explosion." So what's the difference between bakuhatsu and bakuretsu in Japanese?

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Kanji Radicals and Components

If you've been learning Japanese for some time you might have heard about the so-called "kanji radicals," or bushu 部首, and wondered exactly what is so radical about kanji? Do they practice skate-boarding? Bungee-jumping? No? Then what's the meaning of "kanji radicals" after all?

Friday, March 3, 2017

nakama 仲間

In Japanese, the word nakama 仲間 means "someone who's in the same group as you," or can refer to the group itself. This group is, often, a group of friends, colleagues, etc. But it can also mean other sort of groups, like in a "birds of same feather" sense, for example.