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April 2019

Is Japanese a Waste of Time?

A couple of days ago, I got a pretty sweet invitation.  It’s the opportunity to go to Japan in a year or so, with a group.  The chance also possibly (depending on the ticket lottery) involves the chance to see the 2020 Olympics. It is pretty much the chance of a lifetime.  I would have a chance to use the Japanese I’ve been working really hard on learning.  Maybe I’d even like it there… … and I declined.  I’m not going. The honest truth is, I have no expectation whatsoever… Read More »Is Japanese a Waste of Time?

Thinking in Japanese

Over the past week or two, I have found something happening, and I am not sure what to make of it.  On multiple occasions, I have found myself nearly responding in Japanese to an English question – and I have to consciously correct myself.  Sometimes that’s before it comes out of my mouth, and sometimes it’s not. Yesterday, I was at a Sushi restaurant, and the waitress came up to ask what I wanted to drink.  I replied “Mi-er, I mean, Water, please”.  I very nearly said “Mizu kudasai”. I’m… Read More »Thinking in Japanese


On a YouTube channel I watch, the person who made a video mispronounced the word “Hitachi”.  He pronounced it “Hai-TA-chi”.  I posted a helpful comment telling him the correct way to pronounce it. Someone “took me to task” for correcting his pronunciation, with the rationalization “we aren’t Japanese”.  Of course, he devolved to calling me stupid in a roundabout way, so I ended the chat  But I’m going to explore that here. He’s right about one fact:  we aren’t Japanese.  But that’s not important.  I think there are circumstances where… Read More »Pronunciation

Never Rely on Google Translate

My coworkers know that I’m learning Japanese, so today one got a bit cute and ran a phrase through Google translate:  “I am ready whenever you are”. It translated to this: あなたがいるときはいつでも私は準備ができている。 It translates back to something very similar, and one would never know that anything was wrong with this phrase.  And I don’t know enough Japanese to understand everything about what it translated, but I looked at it and said “that’s not right”. See, it says, literally, “Whenever you are, I am ready”.  But that’s not what it means. … Read More »Never Rely on Google Translate


This morning was a very stormy day.  In fact, it was so stormy, that parts of I-35 were shut down because of flooding.  My Japanese lesson was scheduled for the morning.  It got cancelled.  But we rescheduled for the afternoon, so it was not necessarily a bad thing. Sensei told us yesterday that she only wanted us to speak to her in Japanese in the future.  That did not work out.  But I think it sets a good direction, so I started sending messages to the group in Japanese –… Read More »Progress

My Gaijin Life

I have launched my new project.  Well, “launched” is a pretty hefty word.  Perhaps it would be better said, I have thrown my new project at the world, while holding out a faint hope that the world doesn’t throw it right back. It can be found at In the beginning, I fully expect I will be making liberal use of Google Translate and  I will not be using Google Translate to translate English phrases to Japanese, as that would be cheating and contrary to the purpose of the… Read More »My Gaijin Life

It is time.

It is a stormy day in Round Rock, Texas today. My Japanese teacher has decided that she now only wants to speak to the small group of people I learn with, in Japanese.  I don’t like this, but I think it may be necessary.  I’ve been feeling a little stuck lately – and I have no confidence in anything but the most basic written and spoken Japanese – so I don’t want to.  But I’m going to see what I can do. That means, I think that it’s probably time… Read More »It is time.


I’m struggling with what to write, to be honest. I think a part of it is that I’m far more depressed then I usually am, but that’s not all of it.  I just feel like I’ve said everything interesting that I have to say, and everything else just seems to be a rehash of some old post from here or there.  There are only so many ways to say “Japanese is hard”, and Japanese popular culture, as I’ve mentioned, seems mostly to be a very broad, very shallow sea –… Read More »Honesty

Kanji is easier than Hiragana

At my Japanese lesson today, the question was posed: ひらがなは漢字どちら方が一番やさしいですか (which is the easiest, kanji or hiragana) I responded 漢字は方が一番やさしいです (kanji is the easiest). I didn’t make this statement lightly or without thinking.  And while it would have been fun to troll sensei, I wasn’t doing that either.  I really do think that is the correct answer.  And here’s why. Yes, when it comes to pronunciation, hiragana is by far easier.  This is obvious. Each kana has its own pronunciation, and the syllables are one to one – meaning there… Read More »Kanji is easier than Hiragana