How to Use ‘Kaiten’ Sushi

19 Jan

Infographics really are a wonderful accomplishment of the internet. They are a fantastic educational tool because they present information in an easily disgestible format, and more importantly they are great to look at! Here is one created by Trip Advisor Japan on how to use kaiten sushi  回転寿司, also known as a sushi train.


Source: Trip Advisor Japan


19 Jan

It has been a long time since we lasted updated Nihongo Hub, and for that we say ごめんなさい!(gomennasai) Sorry! Last year was such a busy year for us that we didn’t have many opportunties to post updates, reviews and resources to help with learning Japanese. Fortunately, we did manage to find a tonne of great native Japanese language and language learning resources that we will  start posting shortly!

Learning Japanese – An Infographic

16 Mar

Here’s a great little infographic from Lingualift that we discovered. We thought we would post it here as well it’s likely to be interesting for anyone studying Japanese.

Click Image to Enlarge
Learning Japanese infographic: Steps to success & fluency
Source: Learn languages online at LinguaLift

Quick Kanji 2 – 竜 & 龍

2 Mar

Consider the following two kanji 竜 and 龍. Both are read as リュウ (ryuu) and both pertain to the giant, fearsome mythical creature known in English as simply the dragon. In modern Japanese both kanji can be found fairly easily, though 竜 is more popular (more on that in a bit).

So you might be thinking why are there two kanji for dragon…well, 竜 is considered to be the simplified and more popular form of 龍, which is said to be the more archaic of the two (known in Japanese as 旧漢字. There are quite a few kanji like this – 国 & 國, 黒 & 黑 and 舟 & 船). The modern, simplified version is the most accepted version, though 龍 is also allowed to be used in names. Strictly speaking in Japanese they actually have the same meaning, though further investigation does uncover some differences in their etymology and the nuance that they both convey.

For the sake of everyone’s sanity let’s start off by stating the obvious – dragons are NOT real – but you could say that there are actually two types of dragon. First we have the dragon that existed in medieval Europe and soared through the skies indiscriminately roasting innocent townsfolk, knights in shining armour and anything else that moved. Think the Welsh flag and Harry Potter.

The second type of dragon we have comes from the East, that is, China. More serpent-like than its European cousin and supposedly more placid, Chinese dragons are more likely to live around water and frolic in waterfalls in their spare time. Their heads are more crocodilian with a couple of deer-like antlers on top with short stocky legs.

The general consensus seems to be that 竜 is associated with dragons from the West whereas 龍 tends to refer to oriental dragons. A quick search of either kanji in Google Images also gives you a similar result (although not exactly academic…). However there really isn’t a need to make this kind of subtle distinction in your use of the two kanji. It’s actually best to use 竜 given that it is the most widely accepted form, unless the situation governs that you should use 龍 instead. As an example, consider the following words; 青龍 (せいりゅう – blue Chinese dragon), 烏龍茶 (ウーロンちゃ – oolong tea) and 恐竜 (きょうりゅう – dinosaur).

So while we don’t recommend losing sleep over whether you should be using 竜 or 龍 (if you see either in the wild, RUN!) it is important to recognise the history and unique stories that kanji have to tell. Understanding this background knowledge is not only interesting but can really help you to appreciate the language you are learning.



Quick Kanji 1 – 猫, 鴉, 蚊 & 鳩

1 Mar

Welcome to our very first Quick Kanji post. We’ve designed these entries to give you some quick, quirky facts about kanji that we think you might find interesting.

Have a look at the following animal-related. Do you know what they have in common?

猫 (ねこ) cat

鴉 (からす) crow

蚊 (か) mosquito

鳩 (はと) pidgeon

Upon first glance there aren’t really any great similarities. In fact the only visual similarity is the 鳥 (ねこ- bird) radical in 鴉 and 鳩, which for those of you who know your kanji is somewhat unsurprising given both represent a type of bird. However the similarity does in fact have something to do with a radical used in each of the kanji.

One of the radicals actually represents the sound that that animal is said to make in Japanese – essentially it represents the animal’s voice. Let’s have a look in more detail.

鳩 (pidgeon) contains the radical 九 (ku). Pidgeons are said to make a kuu-kuu sound in Japan.

鴉 (crow) includes the radical 牙 (ga). Japanese crows don’t craw, they gaaa instead.

蚊 (mosquito) is made up of 文 (bun) and 虫 (mushi). Mosquitos in Japan go bun-bun not buzz.

猫 (cat) is a little different. 苗 (nae) doesn’t refer to the Japanese sound but rather the original Chinese sound myou.

And there you have it! Who would’ve thought that kanji would contain something as specific as the sound of an animal?


JLPT December 2012 Results Overview

14 Feb

Yesterday the Japan Foundation released its statistics for the JLPT held in December 2012. For those of you who are interested, the official data can be found here, but we are going to give you a quick run down of the results right here.

The first thing we noticed in the data was the much lower certification rate across all levels when compared to the July 2012 and December 2011 exams. This gives us the impression that this time the exam was much harder than previous exams, because strictly speaking, the percentage of certified applicants should be similar each time the exam is held. The greatest difference is in N1 – only 24.1% of all applicants (Japan and overseas) passed, compared to 37.4% in July 2012 and 31.6% in December 2011. That’s a pretty significant drop from last time, nearly 15% in fact.

The number of N2 applicants who passed also dropped from 44.0% in July 2012 to 37.5% in December 2012. This is likely because there is a higher ratio of test takers in Japan and Asian countries for the July exam. However the December 2012 figure was higher than in 2011, though only by 2% or so. For N3, N4 and N5 the situation is basically the same – all levels had a drop in certified applicants from the previous two exams. The total number of applicants who passed the exam was 33.7% (a third of all test takers) while in July 42.9% passed and 38.0% in December the year before.

Since the July JLPT isn’t held in some countries we compared the number of examinees who sat the December 2011 and 2012 exams. Last year 313,322 examinees sat the exam while in December 2011 numbers were about 10% higher at 346,023 examinees. We’d be interested to hear the reason why the number was down in 2012 compared to 2011 but unfortunately the Japan Foundation doesn’t shed much light on this.

In-depth data and charts aren’t available at the moment either, so there isn’t much we can do but wait until these are published. The average score and distribution of scores on the bell-curve chart are always great to look at because it gives you a good idea of how well you did compared to the other examinees. Even if you didn’t pass your exam you might have scored well above the average, which will definitely give you a nice confidence boost!

Let us know your thoughts on the exam statistics and why you think there was such a big drop in the pass rate this time. If you sat the exam in December did you think it was a lot harder than you expected? Or if you sat the exam previously was it easier that time than in December? We’d love to hear what you think!

Review: Chugakusei Kanji Kakitori

7 Feb

Japanese: 中学生漢字(書き取り編)
Level: All
Format: App
Available on: iPhone/Android
Price: Free
Publisher: Gakko Net

Chuugakusei Kanji Kakitori 4This is the second app published by Gakko Net designed to test your knowledge of kanji. Chugakusei Kanji Kakitori follows on from the previous app in the series, Shougakusei Tegaki Kanji Drill 1006 (see our earlier review here). Both apps work off the same formula and design features however this version doesn’t introduce any new kanji but does continue to test your knowledge of vocabulary.

The vocabulary appearing in this app is of a higher difficulty than that in the Shougakusei edition and is generally around N3 or N2 level. The kanji are presented more frequently in kanji compound words (熟語), which require you to know a kanji’s onyomi reading. This is in contrast to the Shougakusei app where kunyomi readings are more common. This isn’t that surprising considering the app is designed for middle school children so naturally they will have a much larger understanding of their language.

Words are divided into three difficulty levels with two groups per level. In total there are 600 questions, which means just only half of the 1006 kanji taught in the previous app appear here. This is a bit of a shame as it would be nice to have the ability to review all of the kanji available in the other app.

As in the Shougakusei version you draw the missing kanji in the compound on the screen to answer the question. This app is also pretty good at recognising handwritten kanji but we did encounter an occasional problem where it wouldn’t accept the correct kanji we had drawn. The answer button makes an appearance again providing you with the correct kanji for you to trace.

We did find a couple of glitches while testing the app that made us answer the same question twice in a row. Overall the stability of the app was good on our Android test device. We also noticed that the advertising along the bottom of this app was slightly more intrusive but it’s free it is a small compromise to make.

Chugakusei Kanji Kakitori is a decent app to practise your knowledge of kanji readings and handwriting. It isn’t as thorough as the previous app in the series since it is lacking quite a number of kanji but nevertheless makes a good revision tool. We recommend completing the app designed for Shougakusei students first before moving onto this app as the difficulty is significantly higher.

Score: 7/10

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