So how has everyone been enjoying spring (春)?! We’re still alive and kicking over here at Kanji & Tea, but more importantly, we’re still learning!

I’ll admit though, we’ve found it a little bit frustrating at first. We feel so behind our other learning buddies who can read full sentences and we’re lucky when we pick out a kanji we recognize. And we’re still spending most of our time listening. And after a while of doing this, we feel like we don’t have much progress to show for it. But I suppose that’s natural. And the good news is we haven’t given up. We’re still studying our kanji and we’re still watching and listening.

At first we were watching anime that we already owned in Japanese without the subtitles, but we’ve found that watching actual Japanese people in their own movies/dramas/TV was far more helpful. Even though we don’t like dramas usually, we had more fun watching 赤い糸 (Akai Ito) than Trigun. Why? Because we picked up more (we felt) by watching an “every day life” show. Like the landscape, the decorations in their homes, the gestures they make, the way friends talk to each other vs the way they talk to adults, and so on. So we decided that was the best route for us. And at first we had fun making up our own plot lines, but after a while watching something where you have no idea what’s going on tends to be a bit frustrating. We decided this is what it felt like to be three again. And then we realized quite abruptly that it might be in our best interest to try children’s movies once and a while!

Right now I’m watching 西の魔女が死んだ (The Witch of the West Is Dead). I get the feeling that even though I can’t understand what’s going on, it would be a movie I’d love. (Perhaps I already do!) There’s a home in the countryside with a garden and strawberries, stargazing, and homemade jam and what feels to me like life lessons.

We have (on recommendation) ホッタラケの島 遥と魔法の鏡 (Haruka and the Magic Mirror) even though it’s animated, we feel like it might be fun to stay up on the Japanese popular movie culture.

And we’re still eating!! (Obviously!) We’ve got a lot more recipes to share and I bravely tried eel! Surprisingly it was good! It wasn’t out-of-this-world, and I’ll admit, I was kind of hoping it would be after all the hard work I went through working myself up to eating it. But at least it wasn’t vomit-on-the-table bad.

My smiling sushi plate. He has no idea what’s in store for him, or he wouldn’t be smiling.


3 Responses to Everyday Life In Japanese

  1. Delphine says:

    Don’t worry, I think eel takes a little bit of practice. Maybe try not eating it by itself so much at first – I first had it in a sushi roll avocado and cucumber and whatnot in it (it was a very nice restaurant mind you) so it really made it easy for me to eat. When I first ate eel by itself with rice, though, I didn’t like it as much, so I can see why you didn’t find it outstanding. Nowadays though, I absolutely love eel – it’s sooo good in onigiri!

    Also, I definitely agree with live action being more beneficial than anime. Not only is the speech generally more natural with real people than with cartoons, there is better body language, like you mentioned. I would further venture to say that variety shows are even better than dramas (because in variety shows, it’s not so scripted, but real everyday speech), although I watch plenty of both kinds, and both have their merit! I haven’t really watched many kid shows myself, but there are definitely quite a few dramas that wouldn’t be *too* hard to understand. Maybe check out “My Girl” – a lot of it revolves around a little girl, so much of the speech patterns are pretty simple. “Hana Kimi” might be something you could also enjoy without subs – the plotline is pretty simple, and the show is so silly that there’s plenty to laugh at even if you don’t understand anything.

    I’ll also say that I actually think that *sometimes* subtitles are okay – and this is totally a personal thing. The problem is when you get too comfortable just reading subtitles and are barely even listening to the Japanese. But I think that as long as you’re actively listening as you read along, subtitles might actually help you. For example, if I understand most of a sentence except for a specific word that’s not in my vocabulary, I’ll have the answer right there in front of me and can actually learn it immediately instead of having to look it up later. Again, I know it’s easy to get lazy, and I definitely don’t recommend doing it all the time, but it’s an idea. Ultimately, you need to find what works for you!

    Happy learning! 😀

    • says:

      I’m actually surprised about my indifference to the eel. I didn’t dislike it, but I was sort-of expecting/hoping it to be mind blowingly awesome. It tasted more like watery chicken with a hint of ocean water and salt. (Which I liked!)

      Eiji and I were just discussing the benefits of subtitles on occasion as well! Simply because some of the movies we have don’t have the option to watch without subtitles. But it’s times like that where we go, OH, so that’s how you say ____. I think as long as you know the subtitles aren’t an exact translation, I think they’re a great learning tool. But you’re right. You can’t rely on them and you can’t use them all the time. Eiji and I were thinking maybe we would watch the movie once in Japanese, then with subtitles, then any other time we watch it we’d watch it in Japanese only. I think that’s a good compromise.

      Happy learning! (I love that you use this as a farewell greeting!)

  2. Cosmo says:

    I am new to attempting to actually learn Japanese and I am in love with Dramas. If you normally watch anime the dramas that are from manga are really good. I watched Nodame Cantabile and it was cute and super silly sometimes with people flying through the air and hitting each other, but there was still all the good bowing and hand waving and other mannerisms. Have you seen or read that one yet? I thought Real Clothes was really great too though I probably just liked it because it was all about fashion and I see it as prime sentence picking material after I finish Heisig RTK. It has silly manga like running and hitting though. Although none of these are really anything like Trigun if that is the kind of anime you go for.

    I watched Proposal Daisakusen without subs first and then with subs and realized that I had actually figured out most of what was going on. I watched Nodame with subs first and then without. After doing it that way I realized what a huge amount of dialogue I wasn’t even hearing because I was reading and I think I listened a bit more closely than I did on Proposal the first time. I also think it is easier to hear the language when I am not trying to figure out what is going on because I have already read it. I am still alternating back and forth which way I do it.

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