For those of you who are learning Japanese and want to work in Japan, check out this site!
This Sunday, 16 July, we will be holding our next Cultural Event, Waraji Workshop. If you have gotten tickets to the workshop, lucky you! The teachers will guide you in making waraji keychains, using the same technique as the sandal waraji.
So, what is a waraji?
About 300 years ago, waraji was the standard footwear of the common people in Japan. These sandals are traditionally made of rice straw that are weaved into ropes.
Long straw straps are attached to the front loop and the loops on the sides as well as the heel. It is then tied around the ankle to fasten the sole to the foot.
Waraji is cheap to make, light and used for everything from walking to long-distance hiking. It is commonly worn with tabi socks. To ensure that they are comfortable for walking, it is advisable to soak your waraji in water for about 10 minutes, whenever they start to dry.
As humans constantly seek convenience and durability, waraji is not as popular as in the past and today are only worn during events, cosplay or school lessons.
There is a festival in Japan that celebrates waraji. It is held annually in Fukushima to mark the start of summer. Take a peek at the festival in the video below:
Planning to take the JLPT Test this coming December? Bunka’s JLPT Prep Courses are here to help you!
JLPT Preparatory Course Schedules
Time: 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Commencement Date: 28 August 2017
Duration: 10 weeks
At the N4 level, students should have the ability to read and understand passages on familiar daily topics written in basic vocabulary and kanji, and also be able to listen and comprehend conversations encountered in daily life and generally follow their contents, provided that they are spoken slowly.
Time: 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Commencement Date: 22 August 2017
Duration: 13 weeks
At the N3 level, students should have the ability to read and understand slightly difficult written materials with specific contents concerning everyday topics, and also be able to listen and comprehend coherent conversations in everyday situations, spoken at near-natural speed, and is generally able to follow their contents as well as grasp the relationships among the people involved.
Time: 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Commencement Date: 4 August 2017
Duration: 13 weeks
At the N2 level, students are expected to read materials written clearly on a variety of topics and comprehend their contents, follow their narratives as well as understand the intent of the writers. Students should also be able to comprehend orally presented materials such as coherent conversations and news reports, spoken at nearly natural speed in everyday situations.
Sorry we’ve been a little quiet lately as we were busy handling some policy changes, but today, we are back again to talk about another form of Japan’s traditional performing arts; Bunraku.
(Bunraku Performane. Image © A For Radio)
Bunraku is the more commonly used name for Ningyo Joruri; ningyo refers to the doll/ puppet and joruri, a form of traditional Japanese narrative music. It is Japan’s traditional puppet theatre which has also been inscribed on UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, just like Noh and Kabuki.
This form of theatre depends heavily on the synchronization of the narrator (known as Tayu), shamisen player and the puppeteers.
- The tayu tells the story and lead the performance.
- The shamisen player punctuates the narration, as well as add sounds to suggest the scene and enhance the characters’ emotions. The shamisen instrument supports and sometimes lead the Tayu.
- In Bunraku, there are three puppeteers. The main puppeteer (known as omo-zukai) is in- charge of the head and the right hand of the puppeteer. Usually, the face of the omo-zukai is visible to the audience. Another puppeteer hidari-zukai operates the left hand and the other puppeteer ashi-zukai operates the legs. The path to become an omo-zukai requires many years of training. A Bunraku puppeteer starts out as a ashi-zukai, then becomes a hidari-zukai and finally becomes an omo-zukai.
(Bunraku Stage. Image © https://ich.unesco.org)
The narrator’s platform is called a yuka. It juts out into the audience area at the front right area of the seats. The yuka has a special rotating platform where the narrator and the shamisen player make their appearance. The platform will half rotate again to bring the first set of narrator and shamisen player backstage. While the second set of narrator and shamisen player will now perform to the audience.
Most bunraku plays are based on Japanese history and deal with the common Japanese theme of conflict between social obligations and human emotions. You can catch Bunraku at regular performances that are held at the national theatres in Osaka and Tokyo. Below is an excerpt of a Bunraku performance:
Hey, it’s Hana. In my first post I shared my little research on Kabuki. Today, I will be posting about another form of Japanese theatre called Noh.
(A Noh performance © www.japanesesymbolsofpresence.com)
Noh is a form of theatre that has been performed since the 14th century and it involves dance, music and drama. The word ‘Noh’ is derived from the Sino-Japanese word ‘No’ which means skill or talent. Noh performers use their body and visual appearances (i.e costumes) to suggest the essence of the story and not the full enactment, as it is assumed that Japanese audiences know the story’s plot very well. The language used is poetic, the movement is slow, costumes rich and heavy and tone is monotonous.
(Noh stage © www.keioplaza.com)
Noh performances take place on a square stage with a roof that is supported by pillars. All its sides are open except the back, which has a wall with a painted image of a pine tree. A narrow bridge is connected to the stage and serves as an entrance for actors. Just like the bridge in a Kabuki performance, this bridge also has a symbolic meaning. While the hanamichi bridge in Kabuki is literally a path that connects two spaces in a single world, the hashigakari in Noh symbolizes the mythic nature of Noh plays in which the supernatural frequently appear.
There are 5 roles in any Noh performance and all are played by male performers. There’s Shite – the leading character, Waki – the supporting actor, Hayashi – the musicians, Jiutai – the chorus, Koken – stage attendants who assist in handing over of the props to the performers.
A key feature of a Noh performance is the mask that is worn by the shite. It gives the audience an idea of what character is being portrayed. The masks are carved from blocks of Japanese cypress. Performers wear costumes of multiple layers and textures to create an elegant effect as well as a bulky, massive figure. The props used will enhance their expressions.
For every Noh performance, there are intervals where comedy pieces about everyday life are performed. These are called Kyogen. Most kyogen is about 15-20 minutes long and involves two or three actors.
I have included a video below which is an excerpt of a Noh performance by Kyoto-based Kashu-juku Noh Theater. Enjoy!
SkillsFuture has announced that from 19th May 2017, SkillsFuture Credit (SFC) will be disbursed directly to only the training provider.
Source : http://www.skillsfuture.sg/credit
With this change, please DO NOT make payment via paypal after you registered the course on Bunka’s website. Instead, please email to us at email@example.com indicating that you want to use your SFC.
Upon receiving the invoice from us, you may then proceed to submit the claim at www.skillsfuture.sg/credit
Please refer to this link for the user guide on skillsfuture credit (individuals)
The Bunka Team
24th May 2017
In our previous post, we have discussed the situation for exchanging business cards with one single person. However, it becomes more confusing in the case when you need to exchange business cards with more people. It can be quite tedious if you have to receive a number of cards and remember everybody’s look and details within a short while. Worry not, there are a few ways to help you with remembering everyone better, and we should move on into discussing a little more about it.
In most cases, the “card-exchanging” process always starts from the person with the highest status, of the visiting party, and then the flow continues down the chain. This is very helpful in learning who is the decision-makers and it is important later on when making correspondence.
Once a card is received, be sure to keep the cards in a way that you know who it is from. For example, you may like to place the card from left to right according to the givers’ seating order, as seen from your own point of view. This helps to remind you the name of the person that you are talking to. Thus, cards should be kept on display for the remainder of the interaction.
Do not panic if the order gets a little messed up. As we have previously learnt about how sitting position reflects one’s status, it will definitely save you much effort on trying to remember which card belongs to who. Since we know how to tell the status difference by recognizing kamiza and shimoza, you can then refer back to the business card with the rank to find the right person.
Always keep the business card of the person with the highest rank on top of your own business card case to show your respect.
Business card acts as a representative of a person. It is therefore very important to show respect to it as how you respect the person himself. Even when meeting a group of people, it is always a good thing to do if you can take a moment to read each individual’s business card upon exchange. Most importantly, keep in mind that during a business situation, the cooperation or the team is far more important than any individual actions. Always address the group as a whole rather than single out individuals.
Learn Japanese words!
複雑 (fukuzatsu) – complicated
基本的 (kihonteki) – basically
スムーズ (sumuuzu) – smooth
個人情報 (kojinjoohoo) – personal information
重要 (juuyoo) – important
にほんは、 そろそろつゆのきせつに はいります。
みなさんは かさを なんぼんもっていますか。
にほんじんは へいきんで ３．３ぼん もっているそうです。
そして、にほんでの しゅりゅうは ながいかさです。
おりたたみの かさでは ありません。
せかいてきには おりたたみのかさが しゅりゅうのようです。
ですから、シンガポールでは、にほんのように ながいかさを あまり みかけません。
かさのいろは せかいでも にほんでも、
にほんのかさのとくちょうは かいがいのくにと くらべて
あめが あがったあとで また そとに でます。
つぎのあめが ふりはじめるまえに いそいで いどうします。
わたしは、シンガポールに きてから おりたたみのかさを つかっていますが、ながいかさのほうが すきです。
What are the must-have items for a business person?
When you are meeting your business partners for the first time, a neat and smart self-introduction is one of the most important factors that could lead you to success in a business partnership. A proper self-introduction includes the words and body language you use, the sincerity in you, as well as providing a summary of yourself. A business card helps you with summarizing your self-introduction and shaping it into a physical first impression that your prospective partner can refer back to in the future. However, as a business card is something that is so customized and personalized that you will not be able to purchase in any convenient store in case you forgot to bring one, it is definitely an item that you need to carry wherever you go.
A Japanese Business Card, or meishi (名刺), typically features the company’s name in the largest print, followed by the job title, name and contact information of the individual. This information is mostly presented in Japanese and sometimes in both English and Japanese.
Steps of exchanging business cards:
- When presenting a business card to the other, the card should face up and to the person who is receiving the card so that it would be easier to read. A business card should not be presented over any obstacles such as tables or desks.
- Introduce yourself by saying out your name, position/rank and the company that you are from. At the same time, bring the business card up to the receiver with your right hand.
- Upon receiving a business card, look at the card and note the information on it. Take the card by holding on to the blank space on the card (usually the bottom corners) and make sure no words on the card is covered by your fingers. Reply with “お名刺頂戴致します (o meishi choudai itashimasu)” , which means “Thank you for the card, I will now keep it”.
- Repeat aloud the name of the person who just presented you the card to confirm and end the sentence with ” よろしくお願いいたします (yoroshiku onegai itashimasu)“, which means “It is my pleasure to work with you”. Don’t forget to do the right ojigi here!
A received business card is usually kept in a smart case that is separated from your own business cards in order to avoid confusion. A case with partition can be used to keep both your own cards as well as received cards. Note that it is considered as rude if you write on a received card or just place it in your pocket.
The Japanese way of presenting a business card to another person is more ritualistic than any other places. Showing respects to a business card is as equally important as showing respects to a person. Therefore, it’s necessary to ensure that you present and receive a business card in the right manner.
Learn Japanese words!
名刺 (meishi) – business card
交換 (koukan) – exchange
確認 (kakunin) – confirm
必携品 (hikkeihin) – must-have item
パーテーション (paateeshon) – partition