Popular Jobs in Japan

Popular Jobs in Japan

Japan has hundreds, if not thousands, of fast-paced and driven industries that keep the country going. When asking someone in Japan what their job in Japan is, you can expect the same few answers in rotation — there’s generally a handful of jobs that are more popular than the others, based on what the country needs. 

And, surprise surprise — Japan’s economy is focused on service, technology and development. Can you already think of a few jobs that are in abundance? In this article, we’ll look at the most popular jobs in Japan, split into two categories: general and as a foreigner.

General Popular Jobs

“General” just refers to…well, the general public, regardless of whether or not you’re a local. Jobs in this category have vacancies probably all year round because they are in such lucrative industries that won’t see the end in Japan. In fact, some might even say the country’s economy is reliant on these industries. Let’s look at the top five common jobs you can often hear about or encounter in Japan.

Hair Stylist

I know at least ten friends in Japan who are in the beauty industry, particularly the hair business. Walk down any random street in Japan and you’ll come across at least five different hair salons.

Because the industry is so highly concentrated, there is quite a demand to fill the position holes in the salons. Whether or not you have any experience at cutting or grooming someone’s hair, you have quite a chance at getting a job as a hairstylist — as long as your Japanese ability is at a conversational level or more. The business that hires you will put you through training before sending you on your merry way to serve customers, so don’t worry about that. 

Sales Staff

Another common job in Japan is definitely sales staff — anything from sales representatives and support staff to sales managers. Japanese companies have products that they are needing to sell, whether it is domestically or internationally. Usually, if the company is looking to sell domestically, they will just hire a local out of convenience since locals are more accustomed to the local traditions, culture and customs.

For the companies that are looking to access the international market, most of the time, these jobs are with technology, automobile and banking companies. But from time to time, you’ll get openings from other industries like publishing. If you’re bilingual and can speak two languages — Japanese should be at least one of them — then you should definitely consider this job. They are known to pay well and provide stability. If you don’t have the Japanese language ability, don’t be bummed out because you still have options in the sales staff department.

Service Staff

Service is a huge aspect of Japan — tons of restaurants, cafes, supermarkets and convenience stores are scattered on every street in Japan. What’s more, hotels and resorts are recently booming due to the rise of tourism in the country. Because of such demand, there are hundreds of job openings in the service staff industry day in and day out, without fail.

Because Japan is primarily using the Japanese language, to be part of the service industry, you would have to be able to speak the language. A lot of the local service facilities wouldn’t need their staff to speak any other languages except Japanese, so that’s a crucial requirement.

Your bilingualism will be considered an asset and extremely useful in certain parts of the service industry like the hospitality department, especially in areas that attract more foreign guests. Hotels and resorts are the way to go if you want a notch above the rest with your multiple language ability.

Banker

Japan has a huge banking industry — due to that, they are in need of more staff to fill their position gaps in various departments. More and more locals are taking on these jobs as well as foreign staff. The bigger investment banks, especially, can afford to hire workers from overseas and provide and support their workers with well-paying roles, including positions in the IT sector.

Depending on the company, you may or may not require the Japanese language to get in. If it’s a small business, chances are, you would need to have at least basic Japanese to get by. If it’s a larger one and they’re actively seeking foreign workers, then you might not need to pick up Japanese for your job. 

Researcher

Japan is constantly looking to improve every industry in the country, from products and technology to medicine and science. There will always be a position open for a researcher of any type including data scientists and analysts. With this job, there are specific skill sets that are required to fulfill the roles of the job, like a strong background in statistics and computer science. 

The demand is extremely high for the job of a researcher, hence many with the required skills often snag up these jobs. Bigger companies are also stretching outside of the country due to the small talent pool in Japan, so us foreigners have a higher chance of getting hired in this industry. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you won’t even need Japanese for your job!

Popular Jobs For A Foreigner

On to the next category and that is the list of common jobs as a foreigner in particular. While the first five common jobs mentioned are still considered jobs that are able to be acquired by a foreigner, those are more common for locals.

In some other fields, foreigners are the ones that bring a competitive advantage over hiring a Japanese person. Usually, these industries require constant interaction with foreign customers or require another language other than Japanese — English, most of the time.

Let’s take a look at the most common jobs in Japan as a foreigner — both that require and don’t require Japanese language ability.

English Teacher

First up is definitely the job of an English teacher. I’ve been there; I’ve done that. If you have at least a bachelor’s degree, you don’t need any level of Japanese or prior experience to land a full-time job here in Japan. It’s probably the easiest job to get out of them all. You can choose to teach at a variety of teaching institutions including public schools or English conversational language schools known as eikaiwa (英会話), which offers one-to-one tutoring.

However, there’s a catch: they don’t pay all that well because it’s such a crowded market. Nonetheless, it does offer invaluable experience and gets you a legitimate working visa as you live in a foreign country. Give and take, am I right?

Tourism Roles

Source: Mads Bødker from Flickr

As we all know, the tourism industry in Japan is booming in recent years — it’s picking up at such a fast pace that the locals are unable to keep up with it. That’s where the foreigners come in — travel agencies and tourism-related businesses require foreigners to fill in the roles in their companies to assist with interactions with non-Japanese clients. One common and easy-to-get role is being a tour guide.  

In the case of jobs similar to these, you might be required to have at least conversational level Japanese to communicate between your company and your clients. Salaries and benefits can vary depending on your experience and skill set since it’s such a competitive market. One of the best parts about being part of the tourism industry is that you get to travel yourself!

Translator/Interpreter 

Source: Laura from Flickr

This is the perfect job if you’re confident in two of the languages that you speak. There is quite a demand in the translation and interpretation industry not only in Japan but also the rest of the world. In Japan, the biggest industry that is in need of translators and interpreters is the gaming industry as Japan is quite well known for its animation and video games. Most of the time, game companies need their works to be tested and finalised locally before releasing it worldwide.

There are also other alternatives like freelance work and part-time work as well. Jobs like this involves assisting businessmen travelling to Japan for work or translating written works. 

IT Professional

After English teaching, the second most common job in Japan for a foreigner is an IT professional like software programmers. That is because the talent pool among the local Japanese for programmers is small, so companies reach out to international talent pools to fill the roles in their company. That benefits us, most definitely!

The best part about this job is that it requires minimal to no Japanese language ability most of the time. As long as you have the required skill set, you’re good to go.

Engineer

Last but definitely not least of the common jobs as a foreigner in Japan is engineering. In fact, its commonness comes right after the job of an IT professional. The country is reputed for its advanced engineering, and it comes in all shapes and sizes — from automobile engineering to computer engineering.

Japan is not going to stop developing its engineering industries, hence these companies are looking overseas for talented engineers. No Japanese is required for most companies — especially the bigger ones. Because these companies are looking to expand or already expanding their business overseas, you’ll be dealing with more foreign clients than local ones.

Conclusion

With such a wide range of common job opportunities available — even those that require no Japanese to some Japanese — there is nothing stopping you from getting a full-time job here in Japan. It’s not that difficult, especially when you know where to look for your specific skill set. Get searching and sending out your applications; you’ll be landing one and packing your bags for Japan in no time!

Top 10 Japanese Online Stores

Top 10 Japanese Online Stores

I have to admit — I’m a shopaholic. But who doesn’t like shopping? There’s always that part of us that wants to get the new collection’s pair of trousers, or for some of us, it’s anything that’s made and designed in Japan. 

Whether you’re in Japan or overseas, it’s kind of hard to shop in-store — especially during this COVID-19 pandemic. A lot of stores go online, and recently Japan has been following suit. Hooray for us! 

So if you’re looking to get your hands on some Japanese-made or Japanese-designed fashion products, here are top 10 Japanese online stores — some even offer international shipping!

1. Uniqlo

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First off, we have the famous Japanese lifestyle fashion brand that offers casual clothing pieces, Uniqlo. They offer everything from basics to new collections, but everything is timeless you can wear right now as well as ten years from now. That’s the beauty of this brand. 

They’re not stagnant, though. It is constantly expanding its categories as well as partnerships. The past few collaborations include Walt Disney, famous artists as well as local talents like anime illustrators to produce every piece of clothing on the rack including graphic tees.

Not to mention their top-notch quality — Uniqlo is dedicated to providing only the best of products. You won’t see a slip up in quality in any aspect; the fabrics are always soft on the skin; designs are constantly innovating; comfort has always been the key.

Uniqlo ships domestically in Japan and, depending on where you are in the world, Uniqlo does ship internationally too. 

2. GU

Under the same company as Uniqlo, GU is considered like the discounted version without compromising quality. It’s an extremely popular clothing brand that offers both basic pieces as well as modern and trendy ones — all at affordable and, dare I say, cheap prices!

Not only are there modern designs but also collections to include traditional Japanese pieces like yukata and kimono. What’s more, GU does occasionally feature quirky ones that reflect Tokyo’s fashion scene — from eye-catching prints to funky embellishments, you’ll be taken aback by what this classic brand comes up with. 

This brand is also extremely supportive of collaborations, especially with local artists and brands. One notable one is their collaboration with a popular anime series, Sailor Moon, offering graphic tees and other exclusive pieces.

GU, unfortunately, doesn’t offer international shipping — but you can find ways around that.

3. Rakuten

Image Credit: Toomore Chiang

 

This online Japanese marketplace is much like a combination of Amazon and eBay — This e-commerce website is the largest one in all of Japan. From brands and manufacturers to normal consumers, you get sellers that offer not only clothing products but also Japanese cosmetics, household appliances, electronics and much more. Prices of products can have a huge range, giving you the choice without compromising the quality.

Rakuten also has an international website that includes Japanese resellers who are willing to ship their products outside of Japan. While it’s not as big of a marketplace as Rakuten Japan, you’ll still be able to access Japanese products when you’re out of the country. 

4. Zozotown

Since 2004, This online Japanese clothing store provides an online platform for brands to sell their products online. Zozotown is the largest online fashion retail website in all of Japan and has various offshoots including ZOZO, a custom-fit clothing brand, and ZOZOSUIT, an at-home measurement system.

Zozotown has a huge selection of not only Japanese brands but also international brands including Adidas and Nike with exclusive pieces. They act as the middleman for Japanese customers to get their hands on international brands, and the same for the other way round — for international customers to get their hands on Japanese brands.

Zozotown offers international shipping — they have two separate shopping pages: a Japanese one and a US one. The Japanese one only supports domestic shipping but the US website ships to the US as well as other countries in the world.  

5. WEGO

Image Credit: Doran Thai

Harajuku is the most iconic place to be when it comes to Japanese fashion — multiple subcultures were born in this neighbourhood. WEGO is a Japanese clothing company that is famous for its combo of casual and Harajuku-style designs.

This Osaka-based local brand aims to cater to a fashion-forward audience of their mid-20s, and is famous for its exclusive collaborations with other major brands like Kappa and Disney. Now that WEGO has an online store, there’s no need to run down to the nearest WEGO outlet when the next collection drops. Simply go onto their website to browse through their designs.

Unfortunately, WEGO doesn’t support international shipping just yet — but there are platforms that act as the middleman for it.

6. Salz Kimono

Salz Kimono offers the chance for people — regardless of whether or not you’ve been to Japan — to get a taste of Japanese souvenirs. This online store offers authentic Japanese products including vintage kimono and yukata, as well as original designs like graphic tees, dresses and unique accessories.

Alternatively, you can even make use of their customization services where you can custom-make your own kimono and even zori sandals! 

The best part about Salz Kimono is that this online Japanese clothing store ships internationally — and fast!

7. Mercari

Mercari is an online customer-to-customer marketplace, one I use quite often. What’s great about Mercari is that you can find one-of-a-kind pieces of impeccable condition at stellar prices — even though they’re mostly second-hand, you won’t even notice it! 

There are two Mercari shopping pages: the Japanese one and the US one. If you want Japan-exclusive items, it’s on the Japanese Mercari. 

8. Punyus

One of the most famous Japanese fashion brands is Punyus, founded by Naomi Watanabe. Naomi Watanabe is a famous Japanese comedian — her aim for this brand is to challenge the sizing standards of the Japanese fashion industry. Japan is known to offer extremely petite sizing, but Punyus offers sizes up to US 16, proudly showing off their body inclusive factor.

Punyus aims to spread the word of body positivity through every piece of clothing and new designs. In fact, even the brand name loosely translates to the Japanese word for “chubby”. Punyus designs are a refreshing take of the Japanese fashion scene, bringing in modern styles of streetwear, hip hop and even “kawaii”. 

Many big-name celebrities including Lena Dunham publicly support Punyus’ movement.

9. BAPE

Image Credit: Fabian Reus

If you’re a fashion enthusiast like me, you probably have heard of BAPE — also known as A Bathing Ape. It’s popular for its modern lifestyle and streetwear aesthetics, started in 1993. BAPE has become such a successful clothing brand that it has successfully landed collaborations with big names such as Kanye West, A$AP Rocky and Kid Cudi.

The brand doesn’t forget its Japanese roots, though — local collaborations like the one with Hello Kitty still takes the Japanese fashion scene by storm! Sadly, BAPE Japan website doesn’t ship outside of the country — but there are other BAPE shopping platforms that potentially do ship to yours.

10. Amazon Japan

Amazon Japan is like Rakuten. The Japanese version of Amazon is one of the most famous e-commerce sites in the country and offers products that are only available here. It’s also great for getting unique clothing pieces from resellers and manufacturers at affordable prices.

Not all Amazon Japan sellers offer international shipping — but most of them do. So don’t be bummed out just yet; make sure you set the filter on Amazon Japan for “international shipping” before you start your browsing. 

Conclusion

Well…what are you waiting for? What’s stopping you from going on to one, or all, of these sites and get a head start on your monthly shopping spree? Even if we’re quarantining at home, we still have to look fab — why not be fab in Japanese brands?

Top 10 Japanese Musical Artists To Know

Top 10 Japanese Musical Artists To Know

Introduction

Most of us have that image of Japan as funky, out-of-the-ordinary and flat out wacky. Fair enough, the country has its fair share of unique subcultures, bizarre trends and unusually eccentric music.

But if you dig deeper, the Japanese music scene — while those standing-out-of-the-crowd ones dominating the media — is pretty diverse. There is something for everyone — from the popular J-pop and loud metalheads to the ones that are peaceful and calming for the soul. 

Japan’s music industry is huge, and having to shortlist to the top 10 was quite a painful process — picking from lists of popular as well as influential, new and old. Regardless, these Japanese musical artists are definitely ones you have to know, both familiar names and new ones. 

Let’s get right into it!

1. Utada Hikaru

First on the list is one that every Japanese person will know: Utada Hikaru. She has been on the Japanese music charts since 1997 — that’s over two decades! She’s not just on it; she basically rules it. 

This half-Japanese half-American artist’s music is on the slower-paced side that’ll tug on your heartstrings, but her music can be classified under a few categories — J-pop and R&B are just to name a few, so there’s a song for everyone

Utada Hikaru is a perfect artist for those looking to train their Japanese listening skills using music as she pronounces her lyrics clearly and slowly. Give First Love and Heart Station a listen — you’ll definitely be hooked…and maybe even in tears.

2. Shiina Ringo 

This is one of the Japanese artists you don’t want to miss out on. In fact, the West has already caught on to her musical talents. Shiina Ringo is an avant-pop queen — everything from her music and performance to her style and personality screams unusualness. You might think, “is her last name really ‘apple’ (りんご)?” Her real name is actually Shiina Yumiko but took on the stage name, Shiina Ringo, from a childhood nickname. 

Anyway, her music is not the usual ones you’d expect — there are influences from J-pop, enka (演歌) which is a genre of traditional Japanese music, jazz, rock…you name it, there’s probably a song with it. They all combine seamlessly together, though. That’s the best part.

That’s not all — Shiina Ringo’s performance hints at the traditional Japanese style. What a way to represent your own culture even after going international!

3. Perfume

If you’re looking for an artist that offers amazing techno-pop, Perfume is your girl — or girls. This girl group made waves in the Japanese music industry as soon as they first got onto the scene in 2008, and their popularity hasn’t wavered since. If you watch more than a few Japanese dramas and movies, chances are you’ve probably heard their music before.

Perfume is not only a big hit in Japan but also overseas — I mean, it’s quite obvious, what with their numerous international all-English fanbases. Even famous EDM DJs like Zedd and Madeon have acknowledged the group.

While their sound is nostalgic and refreshing at the same time, Perfume’s performances are definitely ones to keep an eye out for. There’s always something new in them, whether it’s an unconventional choreography or using new technology. 

4. ONE OK ROCK

Anyone who’s into rock and has looked into the rock scene in Japan definitely has heard of ONE OK ROCK. They’re kind of like the most essential Japanese rock artist. Influenced by bands like Nirvana and Good Charlotte, this high school-formed band entered the industry in 2005, and has continued creating milestones after milestones for the Japanese rock scene.

Since their exposure and opportunities to go international, ONE OK ROCK has been including more and more English lyrics to cater to their expanding audience — but don’t worry for those Japanese language enthusiasts, if you listen to their earlier ones, you’ll still get them in full Japanese. 

But hey, music has no boundaries — not even language, I dare say.

5. AKB48

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dFf4AgBNR1E

A list of Japanese musical artists is not complete without one of the most famous and influential Japanese groups, AKB48. This group is not your average one where there’s only a handful of people — it actually has over a hundred people!

You heard me; as of this day of writing, AKB48 has 135 members — don’t let the number 48 in the group name fool you. It did start off with 48 members and expanded to include more, but their front members are ever-changing, joining in and coming out of the groups as fast as one could blink.

Those who have left actually become stars on their own, but not without grabbing a few loyal followers from being in the group. AKB48 is also great for anyone who’s looking to learn Japanese through music, as their song lyrics are repetitive and catchy.

6. Arashi

Of course, I have to include a Johnny’s group, and what better group than Arashi? We have an all-female group AKB48, so it’s only fair to have an all-male group on the list. This charming five-member collective has been around since 1999, and every generation in Japan would either be swooning over them or at least know of them. While they do fall under the category of J-pop, Arashi has a softer, slower tune. From upbeat to ballads, they have it all. 

If you haven’t heard of the group, you must have at least heard of their members — they are all very active. Hana Yori Dango is a perfect example of Arashi’s exposure through the form of one of their members. 

7. Keiji Haino

As I’ve mentioned before, Japanese music is more than just J-pop, and Keiji Haino is the definition of that — in fact, he’s the extreme other end with his avant-garde music genre, combining minimalism with power.

This is not your average music — think of normal, everyday noise with rock and percussion. It’s kind of hard to really put a pin on Keiji’s music, and any description doesn’t really do them justice. It’s the kind where you have to hear it to understand it.

Oh, and of course, some people would even argue that Keiji Haino is a fashion icon — the hair, ‘nuff said. 

8. X Japan

One of the oldest on the list, X Japan was formed in 1982. You can’t miss them — you literally can’t overlook them. Not only does their music stand out but also visuals; they are kind of the pioneers — some would say they are the leaders and creators — of the Visual Kei subculture.

If I had to describe their sound, X Japan has put quite an emphasis on ballads, focusing strongly on theatricality — as you can tell by their dressing. Watch their videos and live performances and it’ll be very obvious of the passion they have for their band concept.

Recently, X Japan has been leaning towards the metal genre but without sacrificing up fully their original tunes.

9. Kyary Pamyu Pamyu

While her original name is Kiriko Takemura, she goes by her stage name, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu. Extremely famous and influential, I bet everyone in Japan knows of her. Some of you might already know her as her fame is not limited to just domestic fans — the West has grown a liking to her music and performance, with videos going viral and raking high view numbers.

It’s very obvious that her music genre is J-pop — the fast and upbeat tune is hard to miss. They make excellent karaoke songs, if I do say so myself. Some argue that Kyary Pamyu Pamyu is kind of like the Japanese version of Lady Gaga when it comes to her fashion style.

10.  Nujabes

Last on the list is Nujabes — this one is pretty underground compared to the rest on the list. It’s the classic case of idolisation after the artist’s passing. Nujabes is without a doubt one of the pioneers of instrumental hip hop as well as a legend of bridging various music genres through his creations. 

This artist has influenced many other artists, during his life and even after. His beatmaking has been an inspiration to not only local artists but Western ones as well, including Pete Rock and  A Tribe Called Quest, both of who are American jazz rap artists.

The Wrap-up

And that sums up the top 10 Japanese musical artists who you have to know — everyone from the mainstream J-pop and sensational pop stars to pioneers of subcultures and music genre legends alike. If you’re a music enthusiast like me, you’d want to check every single one of the artists on this list out, and even do a little bit more digging on the ones I left out (because I had to). I bet your playlist is hours long now — you’re welcome!

Bubble Tea in Japan

Bubble Tea in Japan

Introduction

Bubble tea has more than one name — bubble tea, boba, tapioca; whatever you call it, it’s all talking about that sugary drink with balls of goodness at the bottom of the cup. This Taiwanese-born drink needs absolutely no introduction — just the brief mention of “bubble tea” brings ideas like tapioca and bubble tea into mind.  Bubble tea has taken the world by storm, and Japan is no exception. In fact, the capital city Tokyo is one of the biggest victims to be brainwashed — in a good way, of course — by this pearly goodness. 

As the years go by, the popularity and hype of bubble tea seem to only be growing — and to be very honest, I see no end to it! This bubbly drink has since evolved from the classic Taiwanese milk tea to all sorts of renditions; Tokyo is definitely one city to be hold accountable for their creative mixes and creations.

Let’s take a look at how bubble tea dominated the streets of Japan, as well as the top bubble tea shops in the capital city, Tokyo.

The Rise of Bubble Tea in Japan

Rewind a couple of years back, Tokyo (and Japan) streets in every neighbourhood are lined with local ramen (ラーメン) stalls, konbini (コンビニ) and unexpected small boutiques. When the trend of bubble tea started brewing, it didn’t take long for the Japanese people to pick up on it. That’s when the ordinary Japanese-looking food and shopping districts started to get invaded by fresh-looking, kawaii (かわいい) bubble tea shops that attract the crazy crowds, all lined up outside the stall with possibly no end.

I have to admit: I wasn’t one for bubble tea. It was too…overhyped. I’m more of the down-low, hipster kind of girl. But even with my stubbornness and extreme disapproval of the trendiness, the boba goodness got me hooked! As did many other girls, and guys, like me.

With crazy demands, the only solution to that problem was to have bubble tea shops popping up constantly at every corner of this neon light city. And what’s more, it’s not only Taiwanese chains — local Japanese cafes and restaurants added bubble tea to their menu, as well as local businesses solely offering bubble tea fill up the gaps on the streets. You can tell the difference of the classic Taiwanese drink to that of the Japanese’s; local ones have a unique touch in their menu, experimenting and pushing boundaries no others thought of. Can anyone actually say no to a Japan-exclusive bubble tea?

Tokyo’s Top Bubble Tea Shops

We all know the reputation that Tokyo has: a fun, crazy city with innovation and creativity oozing everywhere. Of course, that applies to bubble tea as well. In this lively city, not only will you be spoilt for choices for the classic Taiwanese bubble tea, but you’ll also have a selection of wild and exciting new mixes.

If that hasn’t gotten you pumped up about the bubble tea craze in Japan, let’s take a look at the top bubble tea shops this dazzling capital city has to offer!

1. Comma Tea

First off, we have Comma Tea. If you’re wondering why they’re called that, they have an explanation for that. In our busy daily lives, we’re all too caught up with everything that we sometimes forget to take a break. The idea of a “comma” is like pressing pause on life when you take a sip of bubble tea, free from the shackles of work piles and personal problems.

This local Japanese bubble tea shop has not only a single shop in Tokyo, but multiple ones nationwide. Every cup is customisable — adjust the sweetness to how you like it and pick the toppings that suit your taste. 

If it’s your first time and you’re lost clueless, what you don’t want to miss out on is their signature black tea. Go for the Bruleed Brown Sugar Latte, a bubble tea drink topped with a layer of lightly-bruleed creamy foam.

2. OCHABA

One of the newer bubble tea shops on our list is OCHABA — opening its doors in March 2019. Ever since then, their success has been unimaginable. What makes OCHABA different from the rest is that they are the first-ever brand to use Japanese tea in their drinks! With each sip, you’ll taste the Japanese authenticity from the tea leaves harvested from Shizuoka itself. 

If you think that’s amazing, you’re in for a treat. No, really — an actual treat! OCHABA is not your typical bubble tea shop that uses sugar pearls and jelly balls — instead, their toppings are a little closer to home. 

Pick from a whole range of Japanese sweets for your bubble tea toppings — mochi (もち), warabi (わらび) and shiratama (しらたま) are just to name a few that are offered. The combination of Shizuoka tea with wagashi (和菓子, Japanese sweets) might as well make this drink the most authentic Japanese drink in the country!

3. ZJins

You’ll be in for quite a treat at this local bubble tea shop. Ask any local youth on the streets of Harajuku if they know about ZJins, and their answer will always be yes. This is another not-your-average bubble tea shop; ZJins set the standards for brand collaterals at a whole other level!

Just one step into the store is like being in a fairytale — this bubble tea shop flooded Instagram with aesthetically pleasing drink accessories and a beautifully divine interior. Flowers, fruits, purplish-pink atmosphere — all that, and more!

That’s not to say that the actual drinks are rated below the appearance. Select from a variety of drinks — from classic milk teas to cheesy mixes, not to mention fruity flows! Keep an eye out for their seasonal menus that will constantly impress you, raising the bar higher and higher each time.

4. Alfred Tea Room

For this bubble tea shop, you don’t want to leave your camera phones at home, ladies (and gents). Alfred Tea Room hits the streets of Tokyo, all the way from Los Angeles. You can’t miss this one — the all-pink aesthetic is definitely an eye-catcher. 

Oozing warmth and friendly hospitality, don’t think that the highly-presented drinks are just for the ‘Gram. If anything, they exceed every high expectation one has for bubble tea. The drinks menu is quite extensive — pick from the bestselling category, with the top choice being the Peach Blossom Latte. Rest assured the quality is second to none, with syrups and tapioca being made in-house with their very own recipe.

5. Tapista

If you’re walking randomly in Japan and stumble upon a store with pastel pink and minty green aesthetics, it’s without a doubt the bubble tea shop Tapista. They basically own the combo — easily spottable, highly reputable and extremely famous. 

What you get from the store’s presentation is just a sneak peek into what their drinks are all about. Trust Tapista to pull off a bubble tea drink so extremely beautiful that it’ll be a shame to drink it. This bubble tea shop is full of surprises — unique flavour combinations that make up the drinks menu, natural sweetness for toppings that give the flavour an edge over the rest, and of course customisation that twerks each up to their drinker.

6. Fortuner Tea Box

For those who are such cheese enthusiasts, what if I tell you that there’s a bubble tea shop in Japan that specialises in cheese bubble tea? Yes, you read it right — CHEESE bubble tea. Fortuner Tea Box prides themselves in being one of the best shops out there to offer cheese tea.

Known more famously as a cheese tea shop, Fortuner Tea Box tops off every drink with cheese foam, adding a new dimension of flavours for each and every drink. Say no to straws — not only for the environmental causes — but also for the cheese foam. Switch to a lid that allows you to drink directly from the cup.

Don’t forget to add your selfie with a cheese foam mustache alongside the other aesthetically pleasing photos of this unique bubble tea shop!

7. Pearl Lady Cha Bar

Another local Japanese bubble tea shop not to miss out on is Pearl Lady Cha Bar, with countless stores all around Japan! Serving the freshest bubble tea since 2009, this bubble tea shop has quite a reputation. It’s everyone’s go-to and number one choice.

Pearl Lady Cha Bar never keeps their tapioca pearls for more than 24 hours. In fact, they don’t keep them at the end of each day at all! Every day, a new batch of those round, sugary goodness is made to ensure the freshest and chewiest for every cup sold. What’s more, you can pick the size you fancy for your pearls.

Bubble tea lovers go to Pearl Lady Cha Bar for their classics as well as their limited edition and seasonal ones. There’s one particular range that got the attention of many: the Nilgiri tea range. From Berry Black Latte to Rose Black Tea Latte, the constant evolution of this bubble tea shop makes the loyal customers stay loyal, and the new ones into loyal customers.

Conclusion

Bubble tea shops in Tokyo — or Japan in general — are not short of surprises and creativity, just like the country itself. Anything and everything you want from a cup of boba, from the unrealistic imaginations to the traditional cravings, you can find them here. Put “bubble tea shop-hopping” on your list of things to do in Japan on your next trip to this sweet, bubbly country!

Top 10 Japanese Celebrities To Follow

Top 10 Japanese Celebrities To Follow

Introduction

On billboard magazines and gossip websites, Western celebrities pop up more often than anyone else. What about Japan? Japanese celebrities are just as talented and successful as the rest who are yet to be discovered by the Western audience. 

There’s one notable difference between Western celebrities and Japanese celebrities: while many can rise to stardom from tons of auditioning in Hollywood in the West, Japanese celebrities usually start their career with modeling or being a part of a pop idol group. Through those, they gain popularity by appearing in variety shows, movies and television shows. 

There’s a term for them — they are called tarento (タレント), coming from the English word “talent”.

Japanese celebrities aren’t that popular in the west, except for a notable handful. If you’re interested in diving into the Japanese celebrities pool, here’s a list of the top 10 Japanese celebrities to follow!

1. Naomi Watanabe

First on the list is Naomi Watanabe. She may or may not need an introduction — the latter being more true. This half-Japanese half-Taiwanese celebrity is an actor, comedian and fashion designer. She’s not your average celebrity; many would say she doesn’t fit the “image” of a Japanese celebrity. But that’s what brings her the charm.

Naomi is the most famous Japanese celebrity on Instagram, especially catching the attention with her celebrity impersonations like Beyonce and Lady Gaga. Not only that, but she also has a knack for making people laugh with her down-to-earth personality, positive energy and passion for what she believes in, including body positivism. 

This bubbly personality also has her own fashion line where she stays true to her beliefs and offers clothing sizes from small to plus-size. Naomi Watanabe is a celebrity role model, aiming to break beauty standards in Japan.

2. Yoko Ono

Another Japanese celebrity to follow is John Lennon’s wife, Yoko Ono. Her husband once said she’s “the world’s most famous unknown artist”. Born in Tokyo, she moved to New York with her family after World War II.

Be prepared for this one — she’s a tad bit off her nut. Just do a quick Google search of her appearance during one of The Beatles’ performances where she started screaming into the mic out of the blue! Not only did it catch the other performers off-guard, but also the sound engineer who hastily muted her mic.

What can you say? This conceptual artist and avant-garde musician has some unique tricks up her sleeve. Her most famous performance is Cut Piece, where the audience cut her clothes with scissors.

Yoko Ono isn’t defined by her screaming moments, though. She is also a peace activist, and to this day, she is actively supporting gun control and going against fracking.

3. Jun Hasegawa

This Japanese celebrity is another one who isn’t fully Japanese — she’s only half Japanese, and the other half is American. Jun Hasegawa was born in New Hampshire and lived in Hawaii until the age of 14. Soon after, she came to Japan and pursued her modeling career. It paid off, most definitely, as she is now one of the top supermodels in Japan.

Jun is a regular model for fashion magazine ViVi. That was her stepping stone to being big in the modeling industry. Because she is a “haafu” (ハーフ), which refers to anyone who is half-Japanese, she is more popular due to her unique features. Even being well past the age of 30, Jun is still regularly modeling.

She’s not only a big model celebrity in Japan — her popularity extends to the international market. Jun has modeled for top fashion magazines like Vogue and Elle.

4. Rola

What I tell ya — half-Japanese people are dominating the Japanese entertainment scene (in a good way). Rola is another “haafu”; she is half-Japanese and half-Bangladeshi. She was born and raised in Bangladesh till she was about 9 years old, then left for Tokyo and continued her life here. When she was in high school, she was scouted and that was when her modeling career began. Rola is also a model for ViVi.

Modelling isn’t her only role — she is also a TV personality and author. Her Instagram is not as popular as her Twitter handle where she is the most-followed Japanese celebrity there. A passion-driven woman, she has her own fragrance line, a few released books and also starred in the 2016 Hollywood movie, Resident Evil: The Final Chapter.

5. Kento Yamazaki 

Switching it up a bit, here’s a male Japanese celebrity to follow: Kento Yamazaki. He is an actor as well as a model — because every celebrity in Japan is most likely a model, right? This name is not at all unfamiliar — in fact, Kento is one of the most popular Japanese celebrities in the country. His Instagram followers number won’t reflect that though; he only started using Instagram not too long ago.

Kento is best known for being the “shoujo (少女) prince”, referring to his lead roles in shoujo mangas’ live adaptation. Shoujo mangas are aimed at a younger, female audience and they usually involve a prince-like male lead.

He has moved towards a different direction recently, picking up roles for adult, intense movies and shows.

6. Masami Nagasawa

Masami Nagasawa is one of the most talented actresses in Japan — she not only stars in movies and television shows but also does voice acting. One of her more notable roles is Kimi No Na Wa where she was the voice behind Miki Okudera.

Masami’s dedication and passion can be seen immensely whenever she performs her role. It’s extremely prominent in the Taiwanese drama show she was in called Chocolat — for the role, she picked up the Mandarin language and practiced day in and day out for half a year. 

Need proof of her talent? Masami has won countless awards including a Blue Ribbon Award for Best Supporting Actress. She’s been nominated for a Japan Academy Award for Best Actress. This one is definitely a Japanese celebrity to keep an eye on — you’ll never know what she’s going to achieve next.

7. Kiko Mizuhara

Another model-celebrity in our midst, it’s Kiko Mizuhara. Some may know her as the girl who dated South Korean pop star G-Dragon, but it’s been clear time and time again that she has proven herself worthy of the success she’s getting.

She started her career at quite a young age: when she was 12, Kiko was scouted and went on to star in Seventeen Magazine. Originally from Kobe, she moved to Tokyo to continue pursuing her modeling career. Her hard work paid off and she made a name for herself in the modeling world. 

Even overseas brands are interested in this Japanese talent — magazines like Cosmopolitan, Vogue and Nylon wanted her on their spread. What’s more, she’s the first Asian ambassador for Dior!

8. Tomohisa Yamashita

A Japanese celebrity list isn’t complete without at least one Johnny’s on it. Tomohisa Yamashita was a former trainee in Johnny & Associates, a Japanese talent agency and debuted as part of a popular idol group called NEWS in 2004. A few years later, he debuted as a soloist alongside pursuing further his acting career.

Today, Yamashita isn’t part of the idol group anymore and focuses on his solo singing career as well as his acting career. He has had extreme success in his past, especially the Code Blue series.

Regardless of a few scandalous reports and gossip every now and then, Yamashita is still favourably loved by the Japanese market. He’s even a regular TV host and pops up as celebrity guests on other varieties. 

9. Haruna Kojima

Make way for Haruna Kojima, a Japanese celebrity who took the path of joining a girl group to start her career instead of modeling. She became extremely popular after being qualified for one of the top Japanese girl idol groups, AKB48 — a group that has over 200 members! Haruna was a singer for the group for over a decade before deciding to leave and pursue a solo career.

Haruna not only continued singing but also ventured into acting — starring in movies like Tofu-Pro Wrestling and Cabasuka Gakuen. She’s a busy celebrity, doing all the acting and singing with side projects like her own online clothing shop and managing her YouTube channel.

10. Takayuki Yamada

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bo8n1O7HusV/

Of course, we have to end the list off with a legend, Takayuki Yamada. This Japanese celebrity was born in Okinawa and moved to central Japan to pursue his acting and singing career. I’d say, he’s not your typical celebrity. If you follow his Instagram, you’ll be greeted by his refreshing sense of humour and realism. He’s also in a band — as do all hot and popular stars are — called The XXXXXX, where he is the lead singer.

Takayuki is also known to take on a wide range of acting roles, and people are convinced that there is no role he isn’t capable of. He’s extremely notable in the TV drama Socrates in Love, and roped in the international popularity when he starred in Crows Zero film series. To top it off, Takayuki also produces a live-action web series called Saint Young Men — what can’t the guy do?

Conclusion

This list of the top 10 Japanese celebrities to follow will get you right on the way to getting to know the Hollywood of Japan. Talents in Japan can be young and old, local and international, single-talent or multi-talented — regardless of it all, the Japanese entertainment is always churning out new celebrities, so be ahead of the game!

Top 10 Japanese YouTubers

Top 10 Japanese YouTubers

Introduction

YouTube has, without a doubt, been dominating the world in this day and age. Every year, it grows in users who log in religiously to watch their favourite YouTubers — both locally and internationally. It’s a wonderful platform for anyone to garner a huge following for something they’re passionate about — not only does their content circulate around audiences of their own region but it also reaches other parts of the world as well.

Japanese YouTubers are no different; they have gained quite a following of not only Japanese audiences but also the international ones, thanks to the likes of YouTube’s worldwide accessibility. Some of these Japanese YouTubers are so successful, they have their views and subscription numbers in the millions!

Everything from comedy and entertainment to food and music, these Japanese YouTubers have got them covered. Here’s a list of the top 10 Japanese YouTubers you should definitely check out — if you haven’t already.

1. Hajime Shacho

First on the list is definitely Hajime Shacho. This YouTuber has been holding the title for the largest number of subscribers in Japan for a very long time — he has almost 9 million subscribers with a rough estimate of 7 billion views in total!

Hajime Shacho is originally part of the multi-channel network called UUUM that’s created by another YouTuber. Joined the YouTube community in August 2012, he has since achieved milestones in his YouTube career. While this YouTuber has three different channels that focus on various entertainment — including Q&As, product reviews, lifestyle videos, experiments and hidden camera videos — this channel focuses all-around comedy; that is his main act, after all. He even has YouTube movies that are released for YouTube premium members.

Not convinced yet that Hajime Shacho is worth watching? Tell that to his Twitter followers, where he is known to have the fifth-largest Twitter following in Japan!

2. HikakinTV

Another famous YouTuber that you cannot ignore is HikakinTV, with about 8.6 million followers — not far behind Hajime Shacho! — and also almost 7 billion views collectively. Co-founder of the Japanese multi-channel network UUUM, Hikakin is considered one of the pioneers of Japanese YouTubers! Hikakin rose to stardom in 2010 when his “Super Mario Beatbox” video went viral, reaching almost 4 million views. Since then, his channel is dedicated to beatbox covers as well as tutorials.  

Hikakin is quite a successful Japanese YouTuber, especially since he has collaborated with popular named acts like Ariana Grande and Aerosmith — these collaborations did quite a solid for his career.

He’s not only a beatboxer; Hikakin also has a gaming channel called Hikakin Games. It has almost 5 million subscribers and takes you on adventures through different gaming programs — all the while making you laugh and keeping you entertained.

3. Fischer’s

Onto our next YouTuber — who is not only one single person, but a group of seven individuals. Fischer’s is run by a group of good friends who met and created the group in high school in 2012, and went on creating comedy content like skits, vlogs, food and gaming related videos. They have about 6.5 million subscribers that garnered around 9 billion views! 

One of the most impressive achievements of the team that runs Fischer’s is breaking the Guinness World Record for the largest game of tag — the group of YouTubers gathered almost 11,000 people to play the biggest game of tag in the whole world! The group initially aimed for just 10,000 people to break the previous world record, but they’ve exceeded their own goal.

4. Yuka Kinoshita

The fourth YouTuber on the list is the number one female YouTuber in all of Japan! Yuka Kinoshita is not only kawaii (かわいい, cute), but she is also surprisingly a big eater. Her channel, with about 5.5 million subscribers, is all about food product reviews and eating videos — known as “mukbang” where she films herself eating while answering some questions asked by her viewers.

Even though she speaks Japanese in her videos, Yuka has quite an international following as all her videos are accompanied by English subtitles.

She is not only entertaining on YouTube; Yuka also stars in a Japanese TV program called Ogui (大食い), which means “heavy eater”. 

5. Tokai OnAir

Tokai OnAir is a YouTube channel that is also run by a group of individuals — this time, it is by six guys from Okazaki City in Aichi. The group formed when they were in high school and, similar to Fischer’s, went on YouTube to create comedic content. With about 5.5 million subscribers, Tokai OnAir became their hometown city’s official tourism ambassadors — a huge achievement for them.

Even though the channel was created in 2013, it took them a few years before successfully garnering a following. What made them rise to fame was their human bowling video in 2017 — not only was the video a huge hit, the group also came out on top of the Japanese YouTube charts when it comes to subscriber growth and view count in that year.

6. SUSHI RAMEN (Riku)

You might think that this channel is about the Japanese noodle dish, ramen (ラーメン), but it isn’t. SUSHI RAMEN (Riku) is a channel run by the YouTuber known as Riku Horiuchi — active since 2013 with just over 5 million subscribers.

SUSHI RAMEN (Riku) is all about experiments. His videos cover content like stunts and extreme challenges that you wouldn’t normally participate in but curious about. But don’t worry, that’s where Riku comes in and does it for you.

He also has a second channel with about the same name, Sushi Ramen 2nd. This channel has about a million subscribers and quite similar to the first one — so why not subscribe to both?

7. Seikin TV

This YouTuber is the brother of another famous YouTuber that appeared earlier on this list: HikakinTV. Seikin is the older brother of Hikakin and created his own channel, SeikinTV, which boasts almost 4 million subscribers. You may even see videos of the two brothers singing together on Seikin’s channel.

Most of the time, SeikinTV’s content revolves around music creation, comedy and vlogs like DIY project tutorials. In fact, these videos are the popular ones that gained a large following for Seikin. There are even product review videos, everything from chocolate molds to strollers — he’s so popular for those videos that he has a nickname for it: “the master of product reviews”.

8. Mizutamari Bond

Focusing on comedy with an emphasis on the dramatic, Mizutamari Bond is made up of Kanta and Tommy, two good friends that started the channel whilst studying at university. With about 4.3 million followers, this comedy duo takes the Japanese YouTube scene by storm. One of the videos went viral when Kanta flips a massive pan of fried rice — the rice wasn’t real, though — as part of pranking Tommy.

Did I mention the emphasis on the dramatic? All of Mizutamari Bond’s videos have such a variety style of content, with overemphasized subtitles and superimposed images. It’s nothing short of entertaining when it comes to these Japanese YouTubers.

9. Hikaru

This Japanese YouTuber takes a twist on the comedy genre that’s such a big hit in Japan. Hikaru’s channel has just over 4 million subscribers with videos that are unconventional and original — a breath of fresh air in the community of comedic YouTube.

Through his style of dark humour, he retells stories of urban legends, supernatural experiences and anything similar to the likes. Hikaru also has another channel called Hikaru Games where he walks his viewers through some of the most famous Japanese video games — and being the country that invents a reputable amount of video games, there are quite a few.

10. JunsKitchen

Last, but definitely not least, is JunsKitchen. This YouTube channel has short of 5 million subscribers and has captured the hearts of many cooking enthusiasts as well as cat lovers — that’s because JunsKitchen combines cats and cooking, all in one video! You won’t get enough of his cute furballs.

Junichi also has another channel where he manages it with his wife, called Rachel and Jun. There, you’ll get more than just cat and cooking content — but once in a while, those furballs will make an appearance!

Conclusion

These are just the top 10 Japanese YouTubers with a huge amount of following — that’s not to say that the ones with smaller numbers are less respectable. The Japanese YouTube community is full of entertaining content where some are even yet to be discovered but deserve more attention. So hop on the Japanese YouTube entertainment — starting off with these top 10 Japanese YouTubers!

Ways To Say Hello in Japanese

Ways To Say Hello in Japanese

Introduction

One of the first few phrases anyone learns when picking up a new language is how to say hello. It’s the simplest greeting, or aisatsu (挨拶) in Japanese, and also sort of mandatory to know — or at least people assume you would know. 

I believe that there are more ways than one to greet someone — like in English, “hello” comes in various forms. Similarly in Japanese, you get to take your pick on which greeting you want to use. The only difference is that, while most of English greetings are flexible and can be used for almost any situation, Japanese greetings can be more specific to the setting.

It’s also best to note the significance of social status even in greeting forms. In Japanese culture, where you rank on the social status scale can affect how you speak to another. 

Let’s take a look at the top ways to say hello!

1. Konnichiwa (こんにちは)

Source: Flickr

The most basic form of greeting in Japanese is “konnichiwa” (こんにちは). Anyone who has ever picked up a Japanese textbook, or have roamed the streets of Japan, would be familiar with this phrase. It’s probably the first few phrases in Japanese a lot of people pick up. 

“Konnichiwa” can be both formal and informal. You’ll hear street vendors and salespeople greeting passersby to get their attention by calling out “konnichiwa”. This greeting can also be used when you first meet someone. 

Some people say “konnichiwa” can’t be used casually, but in my opinion, there is no wrong to that. You can definitely use this greeting to say hello to your friends and family — but it can be considered unusual since this phrase is perceived as somewhat semi-formal, so speaking to your family or friends in that tone might be odd. 

“Konnichiwa” can also mean “good afternoon”, so when you pass by a colleague at the office, a simple greeting like this with a nod is appropriate. 

2. Hisashiburi (久しぶり) 

The second greeting phrase is “hisashiburi” (久しぶり). This is quite different from “konnichiwa” — while you can use konnichiwa to greet someone at any time, “hisashiburi” is used to greet someone you have not seen in a long time. 

A long time can be subjective, though. Some can feel like a few months is long, while others may think a week is long as well. To me, it depends on who the person is — do I usually see them more than once or twice a week, or is it normal to see them once every few months?

Anyway, if you, personally, feel like it’s been quite some time since you saw your good friend, greet them with “hisashiburi!” to mean “it’s been a while!” It’s kind of like saying, “long time no see!”

You can use it casually and also politely — with the latter, there has to be a few adjustments. The polite form is “ohisashiburidesu” (お久しぶりです). This form of the phrase can be said to someone of higher status or people you are not so familiar with. 

3. Ya-ho (ヤッホー)

If you want to take it super casual when greeting someone, use this: “ya-ho” (ヤッホー). Some people say that it’s a feminine greeting, but I have friends — both guys and girls — greeting me using this. I feel like it has a more playful tone than anything, on top of a sense of familiarity. 

It’s quite similar to saying “yoohoo!” to grab someone’s attention. “Ya-ho” is a great greeting for someone you’re close with — say, your best friends or classmates. I would avoid using this anywhere in a formal setting like at work and the office.

4. Ya- (やあ)

Another casual hello to use to greet your friends is “ya-” (やあ). It’s kind of like the “hey!” in Japanese. It’s a simple and effective way to grab someone’s attention. It’s usually followed by the name of the person you’re greeting.

For example, your friend Haru is walking ahead of you and you want him to turn around and say hi. Call out, “やあ、はるちゃん!” (Ya-, Haru-chan!)

Alternatively, you can even omit the “ya-” completely and just greet them by calling out just their names. 

5. Osu (おす)

Here’s one for the guys: “osu” (おす). This is a slang greeting for guys to greet other guys. Usually, when they pass by each other or approaching one another, they’ll have a hand raised up or a nod to accompany the greeting.

Girls don’t usually say this, but I have a couple of friends who use it to greet their guy friends. Guys wouldn’t say it to girls, and girls wouldn’t say it to other girls either. I guess as long as the receiving end is a guy, it’s probably a safe bet.

Unlike “ya-” and “ya-ho”, “osu” is used when you already have someone’s attention rather than getting it. You don’t usually have their names followed after the greeting — you can if you want to.

6. Yo- (よー)

There’s nothing complicated about this greeting. “Yo-” (よー) is simply “yo!” in Japanese. Say it to your friends or schoolmates, but I don’t recommend using it to anyone older than you — especially your boss. Maybe colleagues would be fine, but only if you’re familiar with them and not total strangers. 

“Yo-” does have a bit of masculine tone to it, but that doesn’t mean girls can’t and don’t use it, too — just like how “yo” in English is used. I’d like to think that “yo” has a cooler vibe to it; maybe it’s the same in Japanese.

Some guys switch it out for “o-i” (おーい) for more of an exclamation and grabbing one’s attention. It can be considered rude, so use it only with people you’re comfortable with so as to not offend anyone accidentally.

7. Moshi moshi (もしもし)

In English, we usually say “hello” when we pick up a call on the phone. In Japanese, while it is somewhat okay to say “konnichiwa” when picking up the phone, it’s way more common to go with the phonecall hello, and that is “moshi moshi” (もしもし). This phrase comes from the verb mousu (申す) to mean “to say”.

This way of saying hello is usually only for phonecalls from friends and family. In any business situation — for example, if your client or boss calls you — don’t use “moshi moshi”. Instead, say “hai” (はい) which translates to “yes?”, like how we sometimes answer in English for phonecalls as well.

8. Genki? (元気?)

Last but not least, this way of saying hello is more of a “how are you”. “Genki?” (元気?) quite literally is asking someone if they are healthy or not, as the word “genki” mean “health”. You don’t say it every time you see someone — if you saw the person you’re going to see today, you won’t ask them “how are you”. It’s, in a way, similar to “hisashiburi” since you’ll only use this form of greeting after a period of time.

If it’s been quite a while, changing it to the past tense is better: “genki datta?” (元気だった?) It translates to, “have you been well?” or “how have you been?”

In the casual form, you can use it to friends, family and colleagues of the same social status, but if you want to greet someone of a higher social status, switch it to the polite form that is, “o genki desu ka?” (お元気ですか?)

Another way of asking someone how they have been is by using this phrase: “ikagadesuka?” (いかがですか?) It has a more formal tone — even more than the polite form of “genki?”. Usually, you use this to greet the higher-ups and asking how something specific is going rather than their general condition.

An example is asking your university pal how his new job is going: “shigoto wa ikaga desu ka?” (仕事はいかがですか?) This translates to, “how’s work going?”

Conclusion 

There are way more ways of greeting someone in Japanese, but these are the best ways to start you off depending on the various situations and familiarity level. Learning simple phrases for greetings is a great way to get yourself comfortable with the language while expanding your vocabulary! So, switch up your “konnichiwa” to a “ya-ho” the next time you see your good pal!

What To Do When You Feel Like Giving Up On Your Japanese Learning

What To Do When You Feel Like Giving Up On Your Japanese Learning

Introduction

Trust me, I know the feeling. Not every day you wake up and feel the motivation to open that textbook. I know I’ve had my fair share of days where all I wanted to do was throw my Japanese notes across the room, and other days I just wanted to give up.

I’m glad I didn’t though because these feelings did eventually go away. Just like everything else, the bad times pass and the good ones come after. It’s all about bracing through the storm and coming back out in one piece. 

All of that motivational talk is easier said than done — I get that. So, instead of telling you to just pick yourself back up and keep going on, I’ll walk through with you the ins and outs of why you feel like giving up, and what are the realistic ways of bouncing back up from that slump. Let’s go!

So You Feel Like Giving Up…

Don’t beat yourself up for feeling that way. It’s okay to want to give up; that’s totally normal. Things get tough for most of us and the more times we convince ourselves to go back on it, the harder it gets. I’m here to tell you that probably everyone who’s ever picked up a Japanese learning textbook has thought about giving up. You and I both know it’s not the easiest language to learn.

Take a step back before deciding whether or not you want to put the Japanese books down permanently. It’s easier to just call it quits early on and just move on with your life because at the early stages you haven’t really put in much to learning the language. But there are ways you can fight and argue with yourself to stop yourself from giving up; first and foremost is looking at the causes of making you feel this way.

What’s Causing You to Give Up?

There can be quite a number of reasons that are making you feel like giving up. Believe it or not, what’s causing you to give up is quite common among other Japanese learners as well! I probably had all the reasons below. Let’s take a look at what they are.

Losing confidence

After months and months, or even years for some, of learning the Japanese language, you’re finally able to read a whole manga and watch an anime or drama without much trouble. You understood every single word and sentence — even the language humour, and that’s saying a lot! 

You switch to a different theme of drama or pick up a more serious Japanese book to read, and everything comes crashing down. You barely understand half of what they’re saying or what you’re reading. 

You travel to Japan, all excited to put all your studying to good use. The first chance you got, you messed up because you couldn’t understand what the cashier staff was saying, or what the restaurant waiter was asking you.

You went from an all-time high to an all-time low in a matter of seconds. Your mood changes and this sudden shift just brought a whole set of weight on your shoulders. You end up feeling like all the effort you put in just didn’t pay off. You lose confidence in yourself, especially your language ability. 

It’s tough to push yourself back up from such a setback, but also tell yourself that everyone’s a student one way or the other. We’re all learning, and there’s always highs and lows in everything, especially language. 

Comparing yourself to others

A comparison can be a real enemy. Whether it’s another student in the same language class as you, a friend, or just some stuff you read online, you start comparing yourself to them. Someone had learned in three weeks what you had in three months — and during that time you were really struggling as well.

There are two ways this comparison can affect a person — the first one being a good motivation and pushing the person to work harder, and the other is actually demotivating the person who ends up giving up because they don’t feel good enough. 

Just like in life and the various life stages, everyone has their own timeline. Stop comparing yourself and your progress with others. Different people have different studying habits, obstacles and timelines. You might be juggling three different jobs and using the limited free time you have to study Japanese, so don’t compare yourself with someone who dedicates their whole days to studying the language full time. Don’t run a bicycle race.

Frustration

I’ve been there, done that — getting frustrated at Japanese learning, especially when I’ve been stuck on a grammar point for a few weeks, and still not getting it! I’ve lost count the number of times I wanted to call it quits because I couldn’t grasp the structure of how the grammar works.

They say if you’re too close to something, you won’t be able to see the full picture. During times where you feel extremely frustrated because you can’t remember or can’t comprehend something, take a step back and put a pause on that specific thing. Go on learning others and get back to it when you’ve had a bit of time and space apart from it. You’ll come back with a fresh set of eyes and memory space.

Cultural triggers

This happens more often than you think, and it’s, unfortunately, one of the biggest reasons why people feel like giving up on learning Japanese. For those who haven’t been to the country, Japan is like a dream destination. Even for those who have been on holiday, it’s still a heavenly place on Earth.

There are times where Japan doesn’t live up to our expectations. There can be unpleasant bump-ins with some Japanese people, realizing that Japan is not all that it seemed or receiving unintentional condescending comments. All of these can definitely put a damper on one’s motivation to learn the Japanese language.

Times like these, you have to look at the bigger picture; why did you learn Japanese in the first place? Realistically, a country cannot be perfect in every corner; a small handful of people does not represent the whole race; comments are just comments and they won’t be able to affect you if you don’t let it. Look within yourself — are these encounters really worth giving up a whole language skill?

Ways to Bounce Back Up!

If any of the above reasons are what’s causing you to feel like giving up, I’m here to tell you that there’s a way out of all of them! I’ve been through them all, and I personally have used these ways below to bounce myself back up to feeling pumped about learning Japanese again.

Let’s take a look at what these ultimate ways are to pick yourself back up after falling down! 

Take a break

This is a way that quite a number of people neglect and forget to do. You always have to take a break, and not just a short pause in between grammar points and kanji memorization sessions. When you’re at quite a low level of motivation, it’s best to take a break from the Japanese language fully. Press pause for a couple of days. Get anything and everything Japanese out of your mind — music, manga, articles; all of it, out! 

This space between you and the Japanese language allows you to come back to the problem and fix it with a new perspective and not one that’s been clouded and affected by all the negative emotions. Even if it’s not a full 100%, you’ll definitely feel more enthusiastic about getting back into learning Japanese again with a renewed sense of energy. 

List the pros and cons of giving up 

When you’re feeling stuck between giving up and holding on, take out a piece of paper and grab a pen. Then, list out the pros and cons. Learning a new language is exciting and all, but is the language you have chosen the right one for you? If there’s not a strong reason and passion behind learning the language, the harsh reality is that you’ll always struggle with it.

List the pros of giving up — are there so many things going on in your life that you don’t have time to spare to learn a language, so giving up opens up your free time? List out the cons of giving up — do you have a strong desire in learning Japanese, and giving up your passion?

This list will be a good visual representation of what’s going on in your head with relations to your life situation. Only you have the power and the answer to make the decision based on this list. And only you know what’s best for you — you can drop it fully if learning the language is more of a negative impact than a positive one, continue if you really love it, or go for the third option and hit that pause button while you sort other things out in your life.

Try another learning approach

This is one that I highly recommend to those who feel like they can’t absorb anything that they learn. Everyone has a different learning style. Not one style fits all, so don’t force yourself to learn a language by memorization when you’re more of a visual learner. Some people learn better through audio, so go for some podcasts! 

The language learning world is your oyster, and in this modern day and age, there’s no learning tool that you can’t find to help you with your language learning using a different learning approach!

Find a study partner or group

I know that some of us are better at studying alone, but when it comes to learning a language, we all work better together! Having a study partner or a group not only motivates you to regularly pick a new learning point of the language, but you’ll also have people to practice the new skills you’ve acquired.

A study partner or group is so effective in improving your Japanese speech. Not only that, but you can also even have fun activities together like movie nights binge-watching only Japanese TV shows, movies and anime — only with Japanese audio and no English subtitles! Who says you can’t mix work and pleasure together?

Conclusion

I understand that the pressure of learning a new language can get quite overwhelming, but know that you’re not alone in this. Every one of us struggles with it at every stage of the learning process, but there are always ways to get back up! Ganbatte (頑張って)! We’re all rooting for you!

Japanese Language-Focused Gatherings

Japanese Language-Focused Gatherings

Introduction

Opening a Japanese textbook to learn the language would get your theory skills as solid as a rock. But what about actually using it? Regardless of whether you’re travelling to or living in Japan, you would want to be able to put your skills to good use. The question is, then: how?
 
It sounds like an easy task to meet local people to practice your Japanese with. Little did you know it actually isn’t effortless at all! Not to worry, there’s this wonderful thing called the Japanese language-focused gathering. This type of gathering can consist of speaking or writing in Japanese, or just talking about Japanese in English. There are all types of language gatherings that covers any sort of event you can think of.
 
Then the next questions follow: what is it, and how do I get into it? Well, you’ve come to the right place. This is your one-stop to all you need to know about the matter!

What is a Japanese language-focused gathering? 

As it suggests, a Japanese language-focused gathering is a gathering that’s committed to the Japanese language. There’s no rule to the flow of these sorts of gatherings. It’s not like a curriculum in school. It can be anything under the great blue sky! One thing’s for sure, no two gatherings will ever be the same.
 
If you’re wondering who goes to these gatherings, the answer is basically anyone and everyone. From local Japanese people to expats and foreigners like us, everyone’s welcome to participate! You’ll meet people near and far. But regardless of where we come from, we’re all here and using our Japanese language skills!

What happens in a Japanese language-focused gathering?

Japanese language-focused gatherings can target the different usages of the language. Some gatherings can be all about conversing in Japanese. Even with that, these gatherings can be categorised into different fluency levels or topics. So you don’t have to worry about being intimidated by big words! 
 
Some can be about reading, and the same categorisation applies. It’s exactly like a book club, only the books, or “hon” (本), are in Japanese.
 
Level up your Japanese language-focused gathering game by attending some that kill two birds with one stone. Some gatherings are a group of people cooking or painting together, and at the same time practicing Japanese. What better way to master your language skills than doing something that you love while at it?

Why go to a Japanese language-focused gathering?

The question shouldn’t be why, but why not? It’s a fun way to learn Japanese while not actually learning. You’ll be surprised at how much more you pick up when you’re out and about using it instead of being cooped up in a room with your textbook.
 
Not only are you improving your language skills, but you’re also making friends! Who doesn’t like making friends? Japanese language-focused gatherings expand your social circle in this great, wonderful country!

Ways to find Japanese language-focused gatherings

At this point, you’re convinced about this whole Japanese language-focused gathering. Now, you’re wondering how you can go about finding them. You don’t have to browse around the web for hours because we’ve already done that for you! We’ve even made things simpler by collating it into a list! Here are the top five ways to find some Japanese language-focused gatherings:

1. Meetup App

The Meetup app is one of the best ways to find Japanese language-focused gatherings. The layout of this app is so easy to maneuver. There are so many “ebento” (エベント) going on at one point that your calendar is going to be packed in no time. You can filter the events based on what you’re looking for under specific categories like sports or arts. If you don’t have anything in mind, browse by the date to see all that’s going on that day or in the week.
 
If you’re interested in a group that hosts events and gatherings catered to your interests, you can even follow that specific group. You’ll get notifications when they post a new upcoming event. There are some recommended groups that are perfect for Japanese language-focused gatherings. Tokyo International Friends is a group that consistently hosts great gatherings focused on spreading the knowledge of Japanese culture and language

2. Facebook Events

You would never have guessed to use Facebook to find Japanese language-focused gatherings. This platform is, in fact, one of the best ways to search for them. Facebook is packed with groups and pages that are always hosting events to bring people together. Both local Japanese people and foreigners in Japan are part of these Facebook groups! 
 
Just like the Meetup App, there are groups that host specific events like study sessions or casual cafe chills. What makes the Facebook groups stand out is that there’s a group chat where you’re welcome to converse in Japanese in it any time

3. Classes

While the first two are free options, this is one that may require a bit of extra cash put in. Regardless, it’s still an ideal way to find some Japanese language-focused gatherings. Take a class in something you are interested in. It can be an art class, a cooking class or a martial arts class. These classes can be in full English, but some can be in basic Japanese all the way to fully fluent Japanese. Isn’t that a great way to practice your listening skills?
 
What’s more, you’ll be leaving with a few extra friends of the same hobbies! These classes are rather easy to find. It’s literally a Google search away! As there are various classes offered out there, filter them by area and price to suit your preference.

4. Accommodation Company-Organised Events

Depending on where you’re staying, the company that hosts you may or may not have events organised. A foreigner-friendly company that hosts various share houses and apartments would definitely have them. There’s bound to be a gathering or two each week that gets people mingling. Even hostels have some sort of event organised! 
 
Usually, these sorts of gatherings are more of a casual chit chat over drinks. You’ll be able to make friends and you’ll definitely be able to use your language skills. Some companies do offer more specialised events that introduce you to Japanese culture like a karaoke gathering.

5. “Gaijin” publications

Look at local publications aimed at foreigners, or “gaijin” (外人), travelling to Japan. Some Japan-based magazines and websites have a section that lists out all the events going on that week or month. Everything from concerts and parties to art exhibits, these publications cover them all! Some recommended publications are Time Out Tokyo and Tokyo Weekender for happenings in the capital city.
 
While it is not exactly a Japanese language-focused gathering, it is a great way to put yourself out there and meet like-minded people. It’s also a chance for you to put all your theoretical Japanese skills to use, especially if you’re going to an event that is fully local. It’s not a bad idea to brush up on your friend-making skills, either

Conclusion

Are you sold on the idea of Japanese language-focused gatherings yet? Books and exercises can nail your grammar and vocabulary down, but this is the easiest way to ace your communicating skills in Japanese! While at it, you’re building yourself a wonderful circle of friends in the country! What are you waiting for, then? Get going and sign up for some!
2018 Holiday Gift Ideas for Japanese Learners

2018 Holiday Gift Ideas for Japanese Learners

It’s that time of year again. The weather is getting colder and everyone is frantically racing around trying to figure out what to get as gifts for the special people in their lives. If you happen to have a Japanese learner in your life, your job is even harder thanks to the multitude of products aimed at those who love Japanese or even just Japan itself.

For the last month, I have been pouring through the internet to come up with a sure-fire list of gift ideas to please even the hardest to satisfy gift recipients. From books and study aids all the way to stuff that is just for fun, you should definitely bookmark this list and refer back to it if you find yourself stuck on what to get for your special someone.

Books/Magazines/Study Aids

Hiragana Times Cover

Hiragana Times – Since 1986, the Hiragana Times has been publishing a bi-lingual monthly magazine which caters to those learning Japanese. With interesting articles that are printed in both English and Japanese (complete with furigana for the difficult kanji), this is a great magazine to learn not only more about Japan but brush up on reading comprehension. You can subscribe to either a physical or digital edition via their official website.

Studio Ghibli picture books – If magazine-style articles aren’t your thing, how about some simple picture books to practice basic reading skills? With so many children’s books to choose from though, getting the right one can be a challenge which is why I recommend this series of picture books which are based on famous Studio Ghibli movies. There are a number of them available including Howl’s Moving Castle, Spirited Away, Ponyo, My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Princess Kagura, and more!

Lonely Planet Phrasebook – One of the most trusted series of travel guides out there, this handy book will fill a student’s brain with tons of handy phrases and words that they need in order to navigate Japan. Available from Amazon.

Amy’s Guide to Best Behavior in Japan: Do It Right and Be Polite! Book – DO NOT visit Japan without doing diligent research on proper manners and etiquette! This book is a great way to start that! Available from Amazon.

Manga magazines – Unfortunately, there are literally dozens of different manga magazines in Japan which cater to different audiences. Some are shoujo based, some are shounen, and don’t even get me started on the myriad of cosplay magazines that are available! Luckily for you, there is a website which offers subscriptions to various magazines from Japan but I warn you that you should do your research to make sure that the manga magazine you’re ordering is actually something that your intended will actually enjoy. For more information about a regular monthly subscription, contact Kinokuniya or you can purchase magazines one month at a time via J-Box.

Kanji Flashcards – When I decided that I wanted to include physical flashcards on this list, I quickly found out that flashcards are slowly disappearing from the world and are being replaced by mobile apps. Luckily there is still one place to get high-quality flashcards to study kanji with: White Rabbit! While they are not cheap, these sets still set a gold standard for what information a kanji flashcard should contain so don’t let the price tag scare you away!

Electronics

Casio Japanese to English Electronic Dictionary – This item might not be for everyone but if you have a serious student of Japanese in your life, this will eventually become an essential purchase so make someone’s entire holiday with this big-ticket purchase. Available via Amazon.

Nihongo Master Subscription – I would be seriously remiss if I didn’t at least mention that now is the perfect time to get a subscription to this fine site that you’re reading right now! Simply head over to the subscription page and choose the plan that fits your needs and budget!

Food/Drink

Japanese Whiskey – I know that when you read the word ‘whisky’, Japan is not the first country to come to mind but Japan has been brewing quality whiskey for over a decade now and has become of the world leaders in the alcoholic beverage. I’m not saying that this bottle of 12-year-old Yamazaki is the best whiskey you’ll ever have (because tastes vary) but it was the best selling whiskey in Japan in 2017. Hard to argue with that. Head over to Dekanta to get your own.

Kit-Kat – Every year, the Japanese branch of Nestle puts out special flavors of Kit-Kats which are considered a treat for fans of both the candy and the country. If you want to put a smile on the chocolate-loving face of the Japanese learner in your life, head over to World of Snacks and order yourself some of these sweet treats!

Clothing

Yukata or Kimono – These beautiful works of art have been worn in Japan since at least the Heian era. This style has withstood the test of time and would make a wonderful addition to anyone’s wardrobe. Check out the multitude of styles available here.

Just for Fun

Japan Subscription Box – So you’ve gone through this list and still don’t see anything that you think would be a good fit? How about letting someone else pick for you by getting a Japanese subscription box? Just like other items on this list, you’ll want to do good research into each box company to make sure that you’ll be getting exactly what you paid for. CrateJoy has a huge selection of Japan-themed boxes to sort through including some aimed at anime lovers or even just general fans of Japanese culture.

Omamori – This is a gift that I know for a fact that your loved one won’t see coming; an authentic Japanese shrine charm! Coming straight from Japan, wish your intended good luck on any number of different situations such as good grades, car safety, health and more! Head over to Omamori.com to find out more info.

That’s our list of awesome gift ideas for this year! Be sure to check back next year around this time for another list of awesome gifts.