Learning The Koto

I’ve wanted to learn to play the koto for years. I think it’ss such a beautiful sounding instrument. I already take lessons for violin so learning to play the koto was just a matter of saving and time. I began taking lessons in the fall of 2018 and took a break to focus on school but I’m looking at starting again soon since school is almost done for the year. Learning about the instrument was a lot of fun and it’s definitely a challenging instrument.

 

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My Amazing Koto!

 

I purchased my own koto through Chords Canada. Their customer service was great and purchasing was easy.

When learning to play the koto there will be kanji you need to know in order to read more traditional music. The music goes by string number so the sheet music uses kanji 1-10 plus three unique kanji for strings 11, 12 and 13.

 

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First page of my music book for the koto.

 

Don’t be overwhelmed by the music, once you learn how to read it it’s much less complicated than it seems. When I get back into playing regularly I’ll try to post a video!

For anyone that wants to give it a try, go for it! You only live once and I recommend learning to play. It truly is so beautiful sounding.

 

 

The Basics

When learning Japanese it’s often recommended to start learning Hiragana and Katakana to start out. Kanji comes later but these are the basics to getting you started with reading and writing. Romaji is simply romanization (or English writing) of Japanese characters. Personally, I wouldn’t become dependant on romaji, you will see it used at times in Japan and it is helpful to know but if your goal is to learn Japanese you’ll want to avoid becoming dependant on it.

Below I’ll post the Hiragana and Katana character charts but you can easily find them just about anywhere online and in books.

Hiragana

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Katakana

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Remember that the “R” row doesn’t sound like the English “R” nor does it sound exactly like the English “L” which some will suggest it does. It sounds more like a combination of both letters. A tip was given to me by a native Japanese speaker: Make both the “R” and “L” sounds and pay close attention to how your tongue sits in your mouth when you make the sounds then try positioning your tongue in between those spaces to make a combination sound. It’s tricky since it’s not a natural movement for many but with enough practice, you will get it in no time.

In terms of Kanji, we are talking thousands of characters. Don’t be discouraged though most places like schools, books, the JLPT have recommended Kanji to learn. There may be a lot but if you dedicate enough time and patience, learning them won’t seem so hard. Everyone has a different opinion on how to learn Kanji but mainly I suggest whatever works best for you personally.

So there you have it a simple introduction to the beginnings of the Japanese language.

Good luck!

 

 

Summer Ends And University Begins

Summer has come and gone pretty quickly but we managed to visit family and even go to the Japan Festival held in Mississauga for a short while before we got rained out. We wanted to stick around longer but since it was an outdoor event we got pretty soaked. My daughter, however, managed to find a pretty yukata she liked and loved wearing it. We still enjoyed our time there regardless of how short it was. My husband was happy to at least see some live taiko drumming for the first time.

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My little girl in her yukata and snuggling her new friend!

So I’m currently in my second week of university and it has been quite the change for my entire family. My husband’s work schedule rotates between evenings and days so he has been getting up early to see both my daughter and me off to school. I wake up crazy early to start my mornings now because not only do I have to make sure my daughter is ready for school I now have to get myself ready and out the door. It’s been pretty hectic but that’s to be expected when there is a big change.

University has been great so far! I’m enjoying my Japanese language class and my Culture and Society in East Asia class seems interesting. Japanese class is certainly fast-paced so I have to study very regularly. I found out that my university offers a Minor in Japanese Studies so I’ll definitely be looking into signing up for that. It’s been so long since I attended a school that I’m a bit nervous about writing papers but the school offers lots of help in the Writing Center. I think I’ll be visiting there often while I get the hang of academic papers and essays.

That’s it for now! I’ll be updating again soon!

Starting University

September 2018 is going to be a big change for me and my family. After spending some time throughout the past year focusing on my mental health, I finally made the plunge and applied to university! I got accepted as a Mature Student and will being studying part-time to start out. The best part is that I’ll be taking East Asian Studies!!!! I’ve been very excited to start school and very nervous.

EUu44RWB_400x400So I’ll be attending York University for my undergraduate degree. I’m positive that East Asian Studies will be my major but I’m also considering specializing in Japan. Obviously my language of choice will be Japanese. My career goals are to promote Japanese language and culture and possibly to work as a translator or interpreter. I’ve definitely got some big goals ahead of me but my family and friends definitely have my back and are there to support me 100 percent!

The biggest challenges I face are going back to school after such a long time away, learning to manage a student life and family life and keeping on track with my mental health so it doesn’t majorly interfere with my learning. Student Accessibility has been great in helping me (with my doctor’s recommendation) in setting up some accommodations to help me succeed in school.

I definitely believe people shouldn’t let anything stand in the way of pursuing their dreams. You may not do it all “as planned” but as long as you work hard and are flexible you can accomplish anything!

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Wish me luck!

Japan Crate *DokiDoki*

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Today I thought I would talk about something a bit more fun for those of you who like to see cute items from Japan. I’m sure some have already have heard of Japan Crate. It’s a subscription site where you pay monthly to receive a box or goods from Japan! The type of goods you get depend on your subscription choice. I just recently started the DokiDoki subscription and so far have gotten a parcel for July and August. Since I have a little girl at home I thought she would enjoy some of the things that would come with this subscription so we enjoy opening it together and sharing what is inside.

Here is a picture showing just some of the items (not all) that we have gotten in the past two months.

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Again there is a bit more that was included I just didn’t get a chance to photograph them. I personally enjoy the subscription and may even get another in the future for my husband. His subscription would be for the すごい (sugoi) Crate because he loves trying new snacks. They have other types as well. If you enjoy trying out new beauty products they have the KiraKira Crate and if you love noodles they also have the Umai Crate.

If you’re interested in checking it out for yourself you can head on over to www.japancrate.com and have a look. I’m pretty sure you can cancel your subscription at anytime if you find you don’t enjoy the service. Also if you are trying it out for the first time I suggest heading to www.groupon.com since they sometimes have deals on first time subscribers. Just make sure to read all the instructions first to make sure you use the deal correctly.

So is there any fun ways you like to try out items from Japan? Feel free to comment any tips, suggestions or advice!

Enjoy!

Current Language Books Part 1

I’ve decided to begin posting about the various Japanese language books I currently own and use to study. I have a decent amount of books that are great for beginners to low-intermediate. I haven’t used all of them yet but as I go through them I’ll provide my opinions of the books and whether or not I would recommend them for study. This post will focus on the books ‘Minna no Nihongo’ みんなの日本語.

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First set of Minna no Nihongo みんなの日本語 (current edition)

I personally enjoy using Minna no Nihongo as part of my studying. It’s full of different kinds of questions and exercises that increase in difficulty as you work through the book. The main textbook sits to the far left of the image and of course is the largest book. At the back of the main textbook there is answers to some of the questions so you can double check your own work. The yellow book is the grammar and translation notes that I would also recommend getting. They are available in various languages to help you along with the main text. Obviously you would purchase this book in your native language. Mine is in English since I’m a native English speaker. The current edition includes the audio CD which is needed to complete the listening exercises. I believe the previous editions did not include the audio CD and you had to purchase them separately.

The entire set includes:

  • Minna no Nihongo Shokyu 1 Honsatsu
  • Translation and Grammatical Notes
  • Minna no Nihongo Shokyu 1 Hyojun Mondai-shi (workbook)
  • Minna no Nihongo Sentence Pattern Workbook
  • Minna no Nihongo Kanji Workbook 1

While not all the books are needed I personally like having them. I like the extra exercises that the other books provide and they compliment the lessons in the main text. If you are interested in picking these books up again I advise getting the Translation and Grammatical Notes book to go with the main text at the very least. It follows the same chapters in the main textbook to help you avoid confusion.

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Second set of Minna no Nihongo みんなの日本語 (current edition)

This image shows the second set of Minna no Nihongo Shokyu 2. Both sets are technically beginner level books however Shokyu 2 being harder than Shokyu 1. The Minna no Nihongo series does offer higher level books as well, I just personally haven’t gotten to the point of using them yet especially since I’m starting over with my studies. The sets beyond Shokyu 1 & 2 currently have not yet been revised and updated into a newer edition like these two but I believe the company that creates the books plan on updating the entire series over time. The updated editions had changes made to them to better and more accurately reflect modern Japanese.

So overall I would definitely recommend the Minna no Nihongo series to anyone learning Japanese. In my experience they work well in both classroom and independent study. If you are looking to purchase your own books you can always try buying from https://shop.whiterabbitjapan.com. This is the site where I purchase most of my books and their customer service is great.

 

Happy Studying!

New Year, New Goals

We are already a few months into 2017 and I’ve been putting off studying for a while. Lately I’ve been dealing with some health issues which so far are not anything serious but almost always experiencing pain and discomfort to some degree make it hard to want to get back into the swing of things.

This past weekend my friend and I began discussing learning Japanese and our likes and dislikes of different books available to help us learn. It was great to chat about our different preferences in learning and really started to light that fire in me that makes me want to learn. So before bed tonight I dug out some textbooks and paper and got myself set up for tomorrow. Tomorrow afternoon I will be getting back into it.

I’m excited actually. I miss taking time out of my day to do this for myself.

Wish me luck!

Cheryl