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Why the Japanese Nintendo 3DS Is an Amazing Device for Learning Japanese

In my ongoing (and perhaps never-ending) quest to achieve full Japanese literacy, I’ve developed a reputation for being a digital flashcard addict. However, effective as they are, flashcards alone are not enough to become fully literate in Japanese (as friends and colleagues often remind me). Going beyond textbooks and immersing yourself in native Japanese content…

Moving to Japan? Learn Katakana First.

If you’re moving to Japan (or even taking an extended vacation), you’ll want to start learning the language, including how to read. Register for a class or buy a coursebook. You’ll start first from hiragana, then katakana, and finally kanji. It’s a natural progression. Actually, it’s not. Or at least, not for everyone. Hear me…

Is Willpower Now the Most Important Trait for Achieving Japanese Literacy?

When I moved to Tokyo in 2009, learning Japanese was an entirely different experience than what we know today. Electronic dictionaries were more common than smartphone apps. Digital flashcards had yet to go mainstream, so tangible ones, homemade or prepackaged, were the primary way to learn kanji characters. Before the prevalence of handwriting recognition and…

How to Lower the Language Barrier When Visiting Clinics and Hospitals in Japan

As a wannabe athlete, my mind often has greater physical fitness ambitions than my body can handle. This means that I find myself visiting medical professionals in Japan more often than one might expect. Having to explain basic symptoms in Japanese usually isn’t an issue. However, more complex maladies, such as nebulous “overuse” injuries, require…

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