Japanese Studying Japanese

March 23, 2017

Dear Virtual Diary,

Thought that I should take some time and talk about my latest findings with my work in studying Japanese.

In regards to speaking…

I have certainly improved over the last seven months and no matter how much I beat myself up about having to know more I know it will just take time and effort to learn more. I think the most difficult task right now is building the muscle memory in my mouth. Often times, when speaking Japanese, I stop or stutter suddenly because my brain has to process what type of pronunciation my mouth must do. Simple way of overcoming this challenge is more practice in speaking Japanese and practicing pronounciation.

In regards to listening…

This is probably the one area that I have improved and made the most headway. It helps that when I leave my house, Japanese is all I hear. Lately, when I hear Japanese I can piece together the topic of discussion. The lack of vocabulary is probably my biggest weakness but I know enough to catch certain phrases here and there and piece them and conjecture some kind of judgement on what is being said.

In regards to writing…

Hiragana and Katakana are all easy to write with no trouble. I plan on attacking Kanji very soon. We will see how that goes. I have been also meaning to pick up a book for practicing Japanese writing. This will help ensure that my current writing skills does not decay.

In regards to reading…

Reading hiragana and katakana are easy enough but the Kanji remains to be the most difficult challenge in the language. My constant reading of Japanese is no doubt helping. I think writing the Kanji out will also help with reading as well. I heard a Japanese teach once say, in regards to studying Kanji, that it was better to learn Kanji by learning vocabulary rather than solely focusing on each Kanji’s On yomi Kun yomi. When reading Shinya Tokkyu I write out any Kanji I do not understand, which is probably 90% of them and this helps with my memorization of Kanji. Many of the Kanjis I write down are often seen multiple times.

Reading Material Lately:

I have been reading a lot about Donald Keene. He is an American author who is mostly know for translating many of Matsuo Basho’s poetry into English. Matsuo Basho is probably the Shakespeare of Japan only instead of plays it’s  Haiku poetry. Keene basically devoted his life to Japanese studies, whether it be the language, literature or history. He has been an inspiration for me as of late as if I can even accomplish a fraction of what he has, before I leave this earth, then I shall leave in peace.

Iga, Mie Prefecture

[Written on March 21, 2017]

Dear Virtual Diary,

Mie-Ken was enjoyable and I feel like I understand the father of the haiku, Matsuo Basho, a little more.

I stayed in the small city of Uenoshi in Iga, Mie. The bus and train, from Kurahashi, took around 5½ hours. In total I had to transfer trains five times.

After taking the bus I departed by train, from Kure station, then went on to Hiroshima stn, then took the bullet train to Kyoto.

I should mention that Kyoto has somehow lost a little of its essence with me. This may come off as a bit hipsterish but I find that the tourists make it difficult to appreciate the history there. It could be because after staying on a pretty remote island for the last 7 months I have been tainted with the bias of seclusion as I am able to enjoy life peacefully here. Also, it got me thinking that if America’s problem is the globalization of its fast food industry such as the McDonalds and Burger Kings, which in many opinion’s swallow up its essence, then an interesting contrast to that argument is Japan’s commodification of its illustrious history. I feel like the all mighty dollar is swallowing up essence as well. At the end of every temple or shrine tour some kind of food or generic picture is shoved in my face. Nothing seems to be one of a kind either in Kyoto. You see on souvenir you are liable to see at numerous different sites as well. I get it though….

”dollar dollar doller bills ya’ll”

Continuing on my journey…

After Kyoto, I took a train to Katsuya, then from there to Tsuge and finally Iga Ueno from there it was a small two car train to Uenoshi. The city of Uenoshi has to be one of the smallest cities I have ever stayed in, in Japan. There were barely any places to eat and I didn’t see one grocery story during my entire stay (3 days). It is also one of the quietest cities I have every visited by far. You could hear a pin drop no matter the time of the day. There was also an eerie atmosphere there. I can’t place my finger on it, but that makes perfect sense because Mie-Ken is the place of birth of the Ninja. That could explain the “something is off” feeling I had all weekend. Maybe ninjas were watching me.

Some photos…

A man from one of the greatest cities in the world —- OSAKA!



Iga Castle


Me and my Ninjas


Holding up a tour while trying to use a trap door in a house


Found poutine in Iseshi…It wasn’t poutine.