Criteria for choosing textbooks (You should not trust Amazon Reviews)

“What are the recommended textbooks?”

This is the most difficult question I ever be asked to answer.

The criteria for choosing textbooks varies depending on Japanese learning history, learning goals, learning style, learning environment, budget, and preferences.

So, what factors should be considered in choosing textbooks?  In this edition, we summarized tips for choosing textbooks.

 

(1) Do not trust Amazon Reviews

I often shop on Amazon and always check for customer reviews before buying a product.

However, customer reviews on Amazon are not trustworthy when choosing textbooks, because there are few reviews considering the factors mentioned above. As for different learners, it has to be taken into account each learning environment, budgets, and so on, but no customer reviews consider them.

Also, there are regional differences in the evaluation of customer satisfaction.

 

For example, the customer evaluation for the “Japanese for Busy People I: Kana Version (Revised 3rd Edition)” that we often use in lessons for beginners are as below.

(Information as of 10/11/2019)

————————————————-

Country /Stars out of 5/Number of reviews

————————————————-

Japan / 3.5 / 14

US    / 4.1 / 85

UK    / 4.4 / 100

CA    / 4.3 / 19

————————————————

Even with the same product, you can see the 0.9 points difference between Japan and UK.

 

(2) There are only a few textbooks stocked in general bookstores.

When I go abroad, I go to a large bookstore in the area and check what kind of textbooks are sold. Since there are only a small number of Japanese learners overseas, Japanese textbooks do not contribute much to the sales of bookstores. Therefore, there are only a few textbooks are stocked.

 

(3) Don’t trust an advice of any bookstore clerks

A general bookstore clerks will never know about learning Japanese so that you can not expect the advice of the store clerk. They might tell you the most popular textbooks, however, the best-selling textbooks are not necessarily the best textbooks for you.

 

(4) Don’t trust the advice of ordinary Japanese people as well

If you have Japanese friends, you may ask them for advice. However, ordinary Japanese do not know about Japanese language education for foreigners at all. They don’t even know what textbooks are available for learning Japanese.

 

For the above reasons, choosing textbooks is not so simple. So, what will be reliable sources on choosing textbook?

Here are some sources on people and sites helpful for your decision.

 

 

(1) Professional Japanese teacher

Professional Japanese teacher will most likely give you the best answer. However, of course, there are both amateurs and professionals. To give you a good advice on recommended textbooks, teachers need to have a deep understanding of many textbooks, but some teachers have used only a few. Which advice is more reliable by teachers who have experienced only one textbook or one have used 100? Ask how many books the teacher has experienced before.  You will be able to trust an advice of a teacher who has use at least 10 books, preferably 20 books.

(2) Special shop in Japanese language teaching and studying materials

If you can buy textbooks in Japan, you can go to a special shop in Japanese language teaching and studying materials and check them.

Here are some links to special shops in Japanese language.

Bonjinsha http://www.bonjinsha.com/

Japanese Bookstore Sogakusha http://www.sogakusha.co.jp/

Japanese Books Online http://books-online.jp/

(3) Friends who are fluent in Japanese

If you have friends who have already reached your ideal Japanese level, their opinions may be helpful for you. Especially friends of the same native language of you will be reliable. However, it is important to understand that the person does not know much of the Japanese teaching material, but only gives advice to you based on his/her limited experience.

 

(4) Japanese language School curriculum

If any of the above is difficult to find, the textbook used at the Japanese language school may become a tips for you. Japanese language schools usually have courses by level and learning purpose, so check the textbooks close to your level and purpose. Recommended learning materials for each course are also listed on the J-OS website. If you are interested, please refer to the following page.

 

For English

General Japanese Course>

http://www.j-os.com/en/courses/generalcourse/

JLPT Preparation Course>

http://www.j-os.com/en/courses/jltpprepcourse/

Business Japanese Course>

http://www.j-os.com/en/courses/businesscourse/

 

For Japanese

General Japanese Course>

http://www.j-os.com/ja/courses/generalcourse/

JLPT Preparation Course>

http://www.j-os.com/ja/courses/jltpprepcourse/

Business Japanese Course>

http://www.j-os.com/ja/courses/businesscourse/

 

* The main users of J-OS are English-speaking people or English-speaking business persons. Therefore, please note that the information may not be suitable for non-English speaking people and students.

 

What did you think about these tips?

Whether or not you can find a good textbook is an important factor of successful Japanese learning.

What percentage of Japanese citizens do own passports?

Recently, the numbers of overseas visitors to Japan is dramatically increasing as I introduced in the previous month’s issue “8 reasons why the number of foreign tourists growing in Japan”. Conversely, the passport possession rate of the Japanese is only 25% that is the lowest level among industrialized countries.

The Japanese passport is the most powerful in the world, enjoying visa-free or visa-on-arrival destinations to 189. Nevertheless, why many Japanese do not own their passports? Let’s examine some reasons behind this tendency.

 

(1) Japan is an island country.

Due to being an island country surrounded by the sea, and isolated, going to other countries is not that simple comparing to other countries connected by land in terms of time and cost. Even when going to neighboring countries, the means of transportation are an airplane or a ship, not a car.

 

(2) Safety perspective

Japan is one of the world’s top security countries. Some Japanese people are afraid of being exposed danger when travelling overseas.

 

 

(3) Difficult to take long vacations

Many European people enjoy summer holidays for almost one month, however, general summer holidays are about one week in Japan. Japanese do not have enough free days to take a long trip.

 

 

(4) Many tourism resources in Japan

Japan is a long country from the frozen far north of Hokkaido to the tropical south of Okinawa,   and has four distinct seasons. People in Japan can enjoy the various beautiful scenery at the different places, so some Japanese do not have much interests for going abroad.

 

 

(5) Japan is the best of all

Particularly young Japanese are comfortable with their current situation with no major reasons for them to leave their country. When I was young, I did backpacking trip spending time and money to expand my worldviews. However, because of safeness and its comfortableness, recent young Japanese tend to stay close to their home, not spending time and money to driven to seek change.

 

 

What percentage of people in your country have passports?

 

Source: https://www.henleypassportindex.com/global-ranking

8 reasons why the number of foreign tourists growing in Japan

The number of tourist arrivals hit a record of over 30 million as of 2018.This is about five times compared to 2011. In this edition, I will examine the reason why inbound foreigners have surged in recent years in Japan.

Reason 1: Global tourism is on the rise

Tourism is on the rise globally. According to the World Tourism Organization (UNTWO), international tourist arrivals reached 1.4 billion in 2018, a rise of 1.4 times over 2011. However, as mentioned above, this is not enough proof for why the number of foreign tourists coming to Japan has increased by five times.

 

Reason 2: Popularity of “washoku (Japanese cuisine)”

Japanese food was registered as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2013. In addition to Japanese food, many restaurants in Japan serve delicious and healthy meals at a low price.

Reason 3: Global spread of Japanese culture.

An increasing number of people are interested in Japanese culture, such as shrines, temples, and Japanese countryside. Some people were inspired by judo, kendo, and tea ceremony, and others were inspired by anime, manga, and games.

 

Reason 4: Economic Growth of Asian Countries

With the economic growth of Asian countries, the number of people who can afford to travel abroad has grown rapidly. And more and more people chose Japan for travel because of easy access.

 

Reason 5: Progress of yen depreciation

In 2011 Japanese yen reached a record low of 75 yen per dollar, but it is about 108 yen on July 29, 2019 (when the article was written). Compared to that time, Japanese products have become about 30% cheaper and more attractive to foreigners.

 

Reason 6: Expansion of Low Cost Carrier

Traveling abroad has become easier and affordable thanks to the growth of low-cost airlines. As LCCs predominantly operate short- and medium-haul flights, tourists from Asia has increased.

 

Reason 7: Policy of Japanese government

Relaxation of tourist visa requirements has also had an effect on increase of inbound.  The Japanese government has set the target number of tourists of 40 million in 2020 and 60 million in 2030.

 

Reason 8: Many repeaters

According to Tourism Agency data, 61.4% of foreign tourists are visiting Japan more than once. In particular, about 20% of tourists from Taiwan and Hong Kong have visited Japan more than 10 times.

As a side note, I have met a Taiwanese who has traveled to Japan more than 50 times in the last 10 years. On average, this person is traveling to Japan five times per year, which may be more frequent than most Japanese do.

For both those people who already have travel to japan or have not yet, what are your reasons why you would like to travel to Japan?

Is it awkward eating at Yakiniku restaurant alone?

When I go home late at work, I sometimes drink alone in a standing bar near my office and then go home. I personally don’t care about solo dining, however, there are people who can’t afford eating alone because of family traditions, or it’s awkwardness.

What kinds of opinions are there about solo dining in your country?

 

Nowadays in Japan, a growing number of people are eating alone and it is increasingly considered socially accepted.

Recently, “Gusto”, one of the major family restaurants, has enhanced the table for one person.

As you can see from the photo below, the solo dining space in Gusto provides the environment especially for work and study unlike the other normal seats.

The features are as follows.

  • Power supply and Wi-Fi are available
  • Completely private space
  • Enough space for both a laptop and for dining

 

The other day I have used the space between the meetings and it was very comfortable.

 

Fast food restaurants like McDonald’s and Yoshinoya have had many solo diners before, but it is a recent change that the number of solo diners has increased besides fast food restaurants.

 

Originally “famiresu” is an abbreviation for family restaurant, so main target user are family. However, the recent trend is that more people use the place alone.

 

In addition, “Ikinari Steak” the stand-up steakhouse or “Yakiniku Like” where solo diner can enjoy yakiniku alone, are also getting popular in Japan.

http://ikinaristeak.com/home/ 

https://yakiniku-like.com/

 

Although the “Ikinari steak” has opened its first overseas in New York, it seems to be struggling.

The food service business is greatly influenced by the food culture of the country, so just because it is popular in Japan does not necessarily mean it is popular overseas.

 

For example, “Yoshinoya” in China where most users are family unit provide various menus like a family restaurant, not a beef bowl specialty restaurant like in Japan.

 

If you have an opportunity to come to Japan, why don’t you try eating out alone? Even if you go with more than one person, you will usually be sitting next to each other, so please enjoy a new experience in Japan.

10 Best Karaoke Songs for grooving to with senior Japanese

 

In Japan, there are two major ways to do Karaoke:

(1) at a Karaoke Box:

You are assigned your own room for you and your party to enjoy. It is a good option to enjoy karaoke with your friends or fellow workers.

(2) at a Karaoke Snack Bar:

It is a small individually-owned bar that usually has a single Karaoke machine, so you need to share a karaoke machine with other guests.

 

About Karaoke Snack Bars, please refer to the following article for details. (Only Japanese)

https://loohcs.jp/articles/293

 

At a Karaoke box, your party can enjoy karaoke on your own ways, however, at the karaoke snack bar, you need to be careful to choose songs depending on the atmosphere and the other customers. In such bars, it is not so “cool” to sing only anime songs or songs popular among young generation.

 

In this edition, I will introduce a selection of famous Japanese songs that make you special.

There are 10 songs for each male and female singer.

All songs are very popular among 50’s to 60’s Japanese, that melody is not so quick and lyrics are simply understandable.

If you go to karaoke with senior Japanese business people and sing a few these songs, you will be no doubt to be considered “you are so SHIBUI(You have really good taste)!”

 

Songs by male singers

Natsu no owari no harmony (Yoosui Inoue / Kooji Tamaki)

This song is covered by many singers and known to people of a wide range of ages.

Https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WCSeiSOaHxY

 

Mata au hi made (Kiyohiko Ozaki)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5NVcDuS_hxM

 

Hajimari wa itsu mo ame (ASKA)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=74IKR0WeKXY

 

Nani mo ienakute …natsu (JAY WALK)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZkoQPOhhu38

 

Sake to namida to otoko to onna (Eigo Kawashima)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tjrPAAiCbuA

 

HERO (Kai Band)

There are many songs with the same title. Please search on the “Kai band.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZVU3BVmxxU8

 

Azusa 2 goo (Kariudo)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OCK-nWaYxJE

 

Saigo no ame (Yasushi Nakanishi)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JmmPzK0chqU

 

Kowarekake no Radio (Hideaki Tokunaga)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C7QVaahn44A

 

Kanashii iro yane (Masaki Ueda)

Those who speak Kansai dialect should master this song!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xQeEOoKhIqg

 

 

Songs by female singers

Ito (Miyuki Nakajima)

This is a very popular song at weddings.

I couldn’t find the original video, so I will introduce other singers are singing instead.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DboG2xszmcE

This video that amateur singing at a wedding is also popular.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aXwIawYfkjgs://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aXwIawYfkjg

 

Amagi goe (Sayuri Ishikawa)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yvc0LadtZuk

 

Love is Over (Ouyang Fei Fei)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zzRsmDHmZJI

 

Kawa no nagare no yooni (Hibari Misora)

Hibari Misora is called a “Diva of Shoowa.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d_Ns_B23LT0

 

Ano kane o narasu nowa anata (Akiko Wada)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mdLydN0liYQ

 

Toki no nagare ni mi o makase (Teresa Teng)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oJY2RtLADkM

 

Mata kimi ni koishiteru (Fuyumi Sakamoto / Billie Bang Bang)

This song was originally a male duo “Billie Bang Bang”, but it became more famous with the cover of Enka singer “Fuyumi Sakamoto.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SBTjDVLmHn8

 

Miserarete (Judy Ongg)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OFNW0IZUdto

 

Koi ni ochite (Akiko Kobayashi)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7lTkywZljmk

 

Olivia o kikinagara (Anri)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TgRQP9C1M4s

 

Nagori yuki (Iruka)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tp9qHeMjiKg

 

You can easily find the lyrics of any song by searching for the keywords “song title & lyric”.

It will be a good study of Japanese to find your favorite song and remember the lyrics.

So why don’t you try to sing your favorite Japanese songs in Japanese, whether you are good at singing or not good at singing?

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