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.
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.
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.
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.
Good afternoon, everyone! Just yesterday, it was Setsubun no Hi (節分の日), the traditional last day of winter in Japan!
So, what is Setsubun no Hi? Simply put, it is much like the Chinese Lunar New Year – it is a day where one cleanses away all the evil of the previous year and drives away bad luck for the year to come. Traditionally, this is done through a special ritual called mamemaki.
The practice of mamemaki, which literally means “bean scattering”, dates back to the early 14th century. Traditionally performed by the male head of the household, roasted soybeans are thrown either out the door or at a member of the family wearing an Oni (demon or ogre) mask. This is sometimes accompanied by the shouting of a special line to cast out the evil spirits and devils, though the words vary in different prefectures.
Children, obviously, enjoy the ritual immensely – and who wouldn’t? If Mom or Dad is dressing up as Oni, it is a free pass to chase them around, screaming and throwing beans at them. In some schools, teachers might play the part of the Oni, and which child would not enjoy pelting a figure of authority with food?
The beans are thought to purify the home by driving away the demons and spirits that carry bad luck and misfortune. It is also considered good luck to eat beans on this day, and people usually eat the same number of beans as their age. In some areas, they eat one more, in order to bring good luck and health for the year ahead.
Shrines and temples often throw large Spring festivals, where dozens of people gather for the mamemaki, sometimes jostling to catch the “lucky” beans thrown by priests, dignitaries or celebrities. The festivities in the shrines are much more elaborate, where they bring in famous celebrities and feature people in elaborate Oni costumes.
Additionally, some people eat ehomaki, literally “favorable direction roll”, a special sushi roll, while facing a certain auspicious direction that changes every year. In some areas, it is also traditional to make a wish while eating, and you are supposed to eat it without stopping or speaking. It may seem like an easy task, but the ehomaki is not as small as your usual, local sushi roll!
The whole allure of Setsubun no Hi, however, is the fact that it is socially acceptable – encouraged, even, to pelt people with beans. Can you imagine how much more fun Lunar New Year would be if we were throwing oranges instead of politely handing them over?
Okay, actually, that may not be a very good idea…
Anyway, here are some adorable, creative pictures from Japanese Twitter in celebration of Setsubun no Hi! I hope that everyone will have a great, lucky year ahead!
Holographic idols that never age, whose singing voices are stored in computer programs all over the world, whose music will never die – does all that sound straight out of a science fiction novel to you?
Well, it’s not.
Meet the Vocaloids, short for vocal android, voice banks you can download into your computer. Currently, there are more than 30 of them, though only a handful of them are well-known, and they account for about 30% of all the videos uploaded to Japan’s video sharing website, niconico.
Vocaloids come in a wide range of colors and voices: from bright blue to silver-gray, from high-pitched male voices to low and raspy female ones, the possibilities are endless. The speed they can sing at, and the highest and lowest notes they can hit also vary, just like humans, so there is probably a Vocaloid out there for everyone.
They are also available in other languages – Mandarin Chinese, Korean, English and Spanish, to name a few. However, they tend to be less well-known than their Japanese counterparts.
Vocaloids also cover an extremely wide range of music genres, depending on whatever the producer they are handled by is interested in. Hence, Vocaloids probably hold the record for most amount of songs and genres sung by the same artist – peppy pop, angry rock, sweet love songs, sad breakup songs, horror songs… You name it, they probably have it.
So, who are these producers of Vocaloid music? Well, they are anyone with a computer and a semblance of musical ability, so if you think you fit the bill, you could try buying a Vocaloid voice bank. The more popular producers often go by stage names, like Wowaka, PowaPowa-P or Hachioji-P. The P stands for Producer, and they often have their own distinct tuning and pitching styles, as well as signature Vocaloids they enjoy using.
Today, I will introduce you to two producers, Neru (Oshiire-P), and Dixie Flatline, who are both known for rather different genres of music – Neru does more rock, while Dixie Flatline is known for pop and love songs.
Neru’s producer name, Oshiire-P, translates to Closet Producer, because he started out making music in his closet. His most used Vocaloids are the Kagamine twins, Rin and Len, though he has used IA’s rock voice bank as well, and he tends to like to pitch them up, making them sound more inhuman.
He is famous for his series of loosely connected songs that the fans call Neruke, or Neru’s family. The songs take place in the same world, with the characters featured in them all being connected in one way or another, and his subject matter is nearly always a dark reflection of Japanese society.
The Lost One’s Weeping, for example, is about a schoolboy who throws away all his dreams to become a good student, going as far as to lose even himself and his entire personality. It is basically an angry rock song criticizing the Japanese school system, and it is one of the most popular Vocaloid songs, entering the Vocaloid Hall of Fame just days after its release.
Dixie Flatline is known for his human-like tuning and his mastery over pitching, making Vocaloids sound incredibly human. He commonly uses Hatsune Miku and Megurine Luka, and sometimes uses the rare and difficult-to-use Mew.
His songs are usually love songs in some form or another, be they breakup songs or sweet, fluffy ones, and his lifelike tuning makes his music an easy start for people unused to Vocaloid, as the difference is less jarring.
One of his most famous songs is Just Be Friends, by Megurine Luka, a sad breakup song that sounds much too happy for its lyrics. He often writes about that wistful, not-exactly love you feel toward your ex-partners, that strange state where you don’t love them anymore but you still care about them. Uploaded in July, 2009, the song has more than 3 million Niconico views alone.
Another plus point about Vocaloid is that their music videos usually have the lyrics in them, which will help you a lot with recognizing hiragana, katakana and kanji. So, if you’re looking for some music to listen to, why not give the Vocaloids a go? You’re bound to find something that you will like.
I am positive that most people know at least one thing about Japan’s booming idol industry: it’s unique. From abnormally large groups to underage girls singing heavy metal, it seems like Japanese idols can literally do anything.
Today, I am going to introduce to you my favorite Japanese band, The Hoopers.
The band’s concept is simple: イケメン女子 (ikemen joshi). Ikemen is a slang term for handsome or cool men, while joshi means girl. Basically, they are a boyband consisting entirely of girls that look and dress like beautiful boys, and to be entirely honest, they look better than most of the boys I know.
However, being handsome, crossdressing girls is not their only selling point. They are also acrobatic, with more than half of the members capable of doing cartwheels, and two of them – Makoto and Sena – capable of doing backflips.
In case you aren’t sure what a kabedon is, here are multiple demonstrations from The Hoopers.
Originally, the band had seven members, but between their third and fourth singles, the sub-leader Yuhi fell sick and had to take a break to recover. The company brought in Cecil as her temporary stand-in, but when Yuhi recovered enough to return, they decided to keep Cecil and expand into the eight-girl group that The Hoopers are today.
The Hoopers’ music is a little old school, strong and beat-heavy, and focuses on heartbreak and the pain of love. Despite that, their dances are energetic, exciting and acrobatic, with a focus on special, fluid formations using all members. In every single music video thus far, they have had at least one backflip, and in Itoshii Koishi Kimi Koishi, one part had them literally cartwheeling into position, because walking is too mainstream.
My favorite song of theirs is Ame wo Oikakete. You can check out the shortened version here:
Their tomboy, semi-punk style has won them the hearts of thousands of girls – their official Twitter has more than 14,000 followers, and more than 3,000 viewers showed up to a live broadcast of Sena and Yuhi trying out different brands of cup ramen. (I have no right to judge – I was one of them.)
So if you’re looking for some new music to listen to, or a new group to obsess over, why not give The Hoopers a shot? The lack of English translated content on them might motivate you to work harder at Japanese than before :3
Hey friends of BUNKA! For those who have attended the JLPT on December 4, 2016, let’s celebrate that it is now finally over!
No matter whether it was as easy as a breeze, or it went beyond control, let’s just put it all behind us. Give yourself a pat on your shoulder for all the hard work throughout the past few months with the phrase “おつかれさまでした (otsukaresama deshita)”!
Well, it could feel a little empty after all. You have worked so hard on it (maybe not), and it was over sooner than you expected. What should you do next before your results are out?
After a long and tiring day at work, the Japanese often want to relieve stress or treat themselves for the accomplishments they have achieved in the day. Why don’t we do the same with our friends after the JLPT?!
Izakaya (居酒屋), better known as Japanese pubs, are the places to head to in the evenings to chill with your colleagues or friends over a couple of drinks and some simple but awesome Japanese street-style dishes such as えだまめ (edamame, or Japanese boiled green soybeans) and からあげ (karaage, or Japanese popcorn-chicken).
What could compare to that rewarding gulp of beer together with those taste bud-teasing food?! Sounds good, ain’t it? Don’t forget to shout out the phrase “かんぱい (kampai)” when you clink your beer mug with your friends!
No worries if you are on diet before the Christmas break. Karaoke (カラオケ), a popular leisure event in Singapore, is also where the Japanese would go for some fun after work or school. A variety of J-pop songs are available at the following karaoke places:
Shake the tambourines and move your body if you would like to try out the Japanese way of enjoying karaoke. It will be a good workout!
Most importantly, don’t forget to check your results after all that partying. The JLPT online results for the December test are usually released in late January to early February of the following year. You might not receive emails notifying you that your result is ready so it is recommended that you check the JLPT official website regularly (click here)
Curious about which parts of the test you excelled in and which parts needed a little more effort? A Score Report containing a detailed breakdown of each component, including grammar, vocabulary, reading and listening, will be sent to you through mail.
It should reach you around March 2017 together with your certificate if you have passed the test. For more information, please refer to the JCS website (click here).
After you have a rough idea of where you stand, it is never too late to reflect on what you should do for your next step in Japanese learning.