N1 on the Horizon

On July 3rd, a little over two weeks away, I’ll be taking the JLPT with my compatriots.

準備できましたか? まあ、ね

I’ve been studying for the past week or so in depth, focusing on my weakest areas. Some sections, like selecting the pronunciation for a kanji, or reading comprehension, I haven’t had much in the way of problems. Admittedly, I am a bit slow with reading. Not sure how much I can improve that in the weeks to come.

My weakest section: choosing what grammar is correct. Example (from my practice book):

30) その日、私はホームに入ってきた電車に飛び乗った。ところが、電車は反対方面に走り始めた(   )。私は電車の行き先を確かめなかったことを後悔した。

1 ではない 2 ではないか 3 のではない 4 のではないか

The answer is 2. Actually, I’m not sure I got that one wrong. It seems so obvious. But, well, I’ve already written it. Might as well leave it there. Okay, what about this one?

31) (インタビューで)
A) 「お店で一番気を付けていることは何ですか。」
B) 「衛生管理です。お客さんに食事を(   )、衛生面の管理には、何よりも注意しております。」

1 お出しになり以上 2 お出しになるうえ 3 お出しする以上 4 お出しするうえ

I think the answer is… 3? Could be 4? Or 2? And the answer is… 3!! But I think I remember doing this problem in the past, so maybe that’s why I thought of the answer? I don’t know. The brain is mysterious. I just hope that this exact problem gets on the test, so I’ll know exactly how to answer it. 😛

I’ve read so much Japanese at this point that, even if I don’t know the word or grammar exactly, if I read it aloud, a certain answer seems more correct. I suppose that’s a good thing? But there are a lot of grammar bits that I didn’t know. につけ after a verb, とあって meaning something like だから, たとえ as a way to emphasize a future ても・でも. All those いかに and いかにもs are starting to make sense. Lots of little things that are coming to light through study.

I’m not sure that I’m ready. Can’t really be sure until the test is in front of you. But studying this grammar has been very useful. Even just a little bit has made me realize it in normal documents sitting on my desk. I used to just glance over it, infer from meaning. Now, even with the sentence obscured, I have some inkling of what it’s doing. That’s definitely an improvement.

On practice tests, depending on what I’m testing, I’ll get somewhere between a 30% and a 80%. I still have a ways to go, but as long as I do a little bit every day, keep my Memrise streak going (currently 26 day streak), ask another teacher about a weird grammar point, and don’t lose myself to stress, I think I’ll be good.

If you’re also taking the JLPT this July, 一緒に頑張りましょう! If you’re not, but you’ll take it in December, and I fail this one and decide to retake it in December, then… そのとき、頑張りましょう!Never give up! Never surrender!

Japanese Tidbits: 水・湯


I’ve been having these moments where I just want to write something tiny and put it on the blog. Similar to how Seth Godin does his blog, where most posts are tiny with the occasional longer-form post, but not quite so prolifically.

I’ve thought: Maybe Twitter is where I should be going with these thoughts. After all, Twitter is good way to build a following and interact with others. But I’ve not been able to bring myself to do it. And instead of letting these thoughts disappear into the void, I’ll do something about it. At least, until I start tweeting.


My water heater (給湯器) broke last Friday morning while I was taking a shower. Which meant, in the middle of my cold apartment, standing in a cold shower, I now had to take my shower with cold water. It was pretty terrible. Thankfully, it got fixed this morning, and I’m all good.

But the past few days, I’ve been telling my harrowing story of cold showers in the morning to my coworkers and I noticed a little curiosity.

For those who don’t know:

水(みず) means “water”.
湯(ゆ) means “hot water”, usually with an honorific お preceding it.

For years, my use of お湯 was relegated to the onsen and sento, where it simply meant hot bathwater. But actually, and I’m sure this is pretty obvious to many people, お湯 refers to all types of hot water. Drinking water included.

Okay, so far, so good.

When talking to people about my shower experience however, I made it clear that the water coming from my shower was 冷たい水. Apparently the 冷たい(つめたい) was unneeded. Whenever a coworker told the story to another person, it always came back to being 水シャワー. The fact is, the normal state of a shower is with お湯. Therefore, it didn’t need to be mentioned that a shower had cold water. 水シャワー lets people know that it wasn’t hot.

While in English we often add a signifier to water (hot water, lukewarm water, cold water), Japanese splits water between 水 and お湯, with 水 being on the colder end of the spectrum, and お湯 being on the hotter end. People just don’t really say 熱い水.

In conclusion:

水 means “water”, usually cold or room-temperature.
湯 means “hot water”, the kind used in baths and for making tea.

Finally, if you burn yourself in Japanese, exclaiming “痛い!” is a little weird. “熱い!” is the appropriate response.

Games as Study: Terra Battle

You can tell these are all on their first jobs, because pretty much everyone becomes robots when they get new jobs.

You can tell these are all on their first jobs, because pretty much everyone becomes robots when they get new jobs.


I was pretty dismissive about mobile games in the past. But perhaps I should reconsider my stance. Continue reading

Japanese Language Fun Facts (4)

Sometimes it's fun to encounter new words. If there's a lot in common, it's just swell. But when they're opposed to everything you know and love, it might take some time to get used to.

Sometimes it’s fun to encounter new words. If there’s a lot in common, it’s just swell. But when they’re opposed to everything you know and love, it might take some time to get used to.


Today we’re going to look at some weird words and the patterns that underlie them. Continue reading

My Four Breakthroughs in Japanese (4)

It seems all my metaphors come back to video games, language learning, and Go.

It seems all my metaphors come back to video games, language learning, and Go.


There are some amazing tools out there. Don’t let their price tags stop you if you think they’re worth it. Continue reading