Culture Class

Posted on November 19, 2007 | kikuko

Kushida shrine null
Yesterday, the culture class took the students to Kushida shrine, Kawabata shopping arcade, and Furusato Museum.
At the Kushida shrine, they bought a おみくじ (Omikuji, a fortune slip). How was your luck, Liesbeth!?

Top ten words (sounds) with the most meanings in Japanese

Posted on November 10, 2007 | evankirby

The Japanese language has only 101 different possible sounds in its syllabary, which means there are a lot of words that end up sounding the same! This often confounds new students of Japanese, who have difficulties telling the difference between words such as 橋 (hashi, meaning bridge) and 箸 (hashi, meaning chopsticks). We're often asked which words have the most meanings (or, more accurately, which sounds have the most words corresponding to them). So, without further ado, here is a list of the top ten most common word-sounds in Japanese:

10: しょうし (shoushi, 31 words)
9: こうそう (kousou, 32 words)
8: せいし (seishi, 33 words)
6 (tie): しょうか (shouka, 34 words)
6 (tie): きこう (kikou, 34 words)
5: しこう (shikou, 36 words)
4: こうか (kouka, 39 words)
3: こうこう (koukou, 42 words)
2: こうし (koushi, 44 words)
1: こうしょう (koushou, 47 words)

Of course, it's usually quite easy to figure out which of the meanings a person intends to use, based on the context.
The astute reader will notice that 8 of the 10 sounds above contain the component 'kou'. This is because there are a huge number of kanji that can be read as 'kou'. Jim Breen's always useful online Japanese dictionary finds all of 303 different kanji characters read as "kou"! Nobody said it was an easy language to read and write!

New teachers!

Posted on November 06, 2007 | evankirby

Summer is long gone, but we finally got round to updating our teacher information page, taking off the teachers who unfortunately left us, and putting on all the new people we have been fortunate enough to find.
First, the leavers:
Akiko-sensei was accepted to a position with JICA, the Japan International Cooperation Agency, to teach Japanese in high school in Tonga for two years! If you have a message for her, we'll be happy to pass it along!
Etsuko-sensei moved to Tokyo for work, and to take care of her parents.

Next, the new arrivals:
Natsuko-san is our highly capable office assistant, and also a fully-qualified Japanese teacher to boot! She's in charge of student events, and arranging private apartment accommodation.
Yuuji-sensei was the first male teacher we hired, and is still the youngest, but after seeing a few of his classes, most of the other teachers have stopped bullying him now!
Tetsuya-sensei speaks great Korean, and has a lot of experience from teaching at other schools, as well as a quick wit, so he's quickly built up a tough reputation.
Chihomi-sensei is new to the school, but has already become like a mother to a lot of us - she has a great ear for listening, and a barrelful of ideas in the classroom too!
Junko-sensei put in the most class hours of all teachers this summer, but never once even looked tired, despite also spicing up Friday night parties almost every week!
Takako-sensei is surprisingly small, but makes up for it by working twice as hard.
Machiko-sensei has taught Japanese both within Japan and overseas, as well as training teachers, so has a wealth of experience. In addition, she's like a walking grammar dictionary!

Click here to visit the Teacher Intro page!

Useful info for students 2: Great hot springs!

Posted on November 03, 2007 | evankirby

Yu no hana

One of the most relaxing things you can do in Japan is take a dip in an 温泉 (onsen, hot spring). And luckily, there's a great one just 5 minutes' walk from the school!
天神ゆの華 (Tenjin yu no hana) is a natural hot spring, meaning that water is piped up from 500 meters underground. They have a helpful info board outside with some details about the water:

Yu no hana info board

So, the natural 温度 (ondo, water temperature) is 30.6 degrees Celsius. (It is of course heated for the baths.) Next is the 湧出量 (yuushutsuryou, discharge amount), 毎分750リットル (maifun 750 rittoru, 750 liters per minute). Finally the ph (or in Japanese, ペーハー) is 6.6.
Notice the little picture down in the bottom right there. Bonus points if you can guess what it means. That's right, no tattoos!

This onsen costs just 700 yen each time, and offers a huge variety of baths, as well as sauna, steam room, and more. If you don't have your own towel, you can rent or buy one there, for 150 yen. Usually, people bring one small towel (to take into the onsen), and one larger one (to dry yourself off afterwards).

Anyway, the procedure for the onsen is a little complex, and it's easy to make a mistake the first time you go, so we've compiled a little guide to make things easier for you. Unfortunately, they wouldn't let us take any photos from inside the onsen, so in the absence of us sneaking a hidden camera inside, it's all words from here on in, plus a few photos stolen from their website. It might be a good idea to print this out when you go!