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How To Learn Japanese with Anime?

We always see this kind of advice on the Internet: “You should watch Japanese drama, it helped me to quickly progress” or “There is nothing better than anime without subtitles for learning Japanese”.

How to learn Japanese with Anime?

Can you really learn a language without much effort by watching anime?

Following this advice can bring many advantages:

  • Attuning your ears to Japanese by listening to native speakers
  • Boosting your vocabulary
  • Boosting your dialogue-related listening comprehension
  • Letting you hear a language used in context
  • Learning passively while having fun

    At the end of the day, it seems like a great idea, but in reality it’s not totally true… Actually, it varies! We definitely recommend that you expose yourself to a lot of resources in their original language such as movies, drama, anime, music…for the reasons above. But you will never learn Japanese like that.

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    Click here to download our free App and listen to native speakers for free!

    Anime as a complement to your learning tools
    It’s best to see these videos as a Japanese learning complement. You need to acquire a certain amount of vocabulary and grammar in order to better comprehend a Japanese video or conversation.

    This is our approach: JapanesePod101.com brings you tons of audio and video lessons, from songs to dialogues and cultural insights, and each of these lessons has a grammar focus, a vocabulary list, a lesson transcript and notes so that you don’t miss any points. We give you the foundation you need to be able to understand anime and benefit from watching it.

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    Here are the 10 animes that can help you learn Japanese!

    The myth of learning by only watching anime

    The “watch anime and learn Japanese” concept is just a myth. A lot of high school students improve their English level by reading books and comics, or watching dramas and movies in English with subtitles in their own language. You, meanwhile, might watch all 700 episodes of One Piece or Dragon Ball in Japanese but still not make any progress!

    The difference? Those foreign students are not starting from scratch when they use this method to learn Japanese. Even though they might still be at a low level, they were working on some solid foundations.

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    Basically, what you will hear after 6 months of watching anime in Japanese, while hiding the subtitles, would probably be something like:

    bla bla bla bla bla Hello bla bla bla bla Thank you for this meal bla bla bla bla die A**hole bla bla bla Kawaiiii bla bla bla bla bla It hurts! bla bla bla bla I love you bla bla bla bla bla bla really!?

    Still quite far from fluency, right?

    https://media.giphy.com/media/TlqRQ1nowmHIs/giphy.gif

    Start learning Japanese for free right now!

    The key to learning through anime

    The key is the amount of passive vocabulary you already have. It’s all the vocabulary you understand when listening to or reading Japanese, without having the need to search in the dictionary. Our brain has limited capacity and if it doesn’t recognize 70-80% of the words in a sentence, it will be incapable of filling in the blanks to give a sense to the unknown words based on the context.

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    Let’s look at these two cases:
    1. You are at a beginner level of Japanese
    2. You are at an intermediate level of Japanese

    In both cases, you must expose yourself to a lot of Japanese media: podcasts, videos and so on…

    In the first case, your brain won’t be able to analyze what you hear when you’re watching anime because you miss too many words. Of course we don’t forbid you from watching anime, but be aware that you are only training your ears to become accustomed to the sounds of Japanese. This is a good start, though. But you will also need to start learning grammar basics and vocabulary. Our Japanese for Absolute Beginners series will offer you the resources you need to quickly understand the foundations of the Japanese language, through entertaining topics.

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    If you are at an intermediate level, you will need to acquire a lot of vocabulary covering a large range of topics. Challenge yourself with our Listening Comprehension series on YouTube, listen to our podcasts and verify through the lesson notes and transcripts that you understood everything, from the grammar point to the explanation of the kanji used in the lesson.

    Access all the reading, audio and video resources you need to become fluent in Japanese!

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    Anime can be a great learning tool because it’s fun and there is a lot of it around. Just make sure to do a little extra work to optimize its use! Don’t forget to sign up for your Free Lifetime Account to access all our resources and be able to watch anime without subtitles!

  • Advanced Japanese Lesson:肌触り

    やわらかい毛布を触っているところを想像してみてください。「わぁ、この毛布、とっても肌ざわりがいいね」と感想を口にする人もいるでしょう。
    「肌ざわり」とは文字通り、肌に触れるときの感じを意味しています。同じ意味のことばに「手ざわり」があります。

    では、似たような言葉「耳ざわり」はどんな意味なのでしょうか。聞いていて心地よい音楽やことばを指すのでしょうか。
    Read the rest of this post »

    Advanced Japanese Lesson:長い信号

    「この信号、長いね」
    「えっ? どこどこ? 何メートルくらい?」
    これは、私の知人とその娘さんの会話です。
    Read the rest of this post »

    Advanced Japanese Lesson: 街を行き子どものそばを…

    街を行き 子どものそばを 通るとき みかんの香(か)せり 冬がまた来る
    木下 利玄(きのした りげん)

    今回は初冬の短歌を紹介しましょう。

    Read the rest of this post »

    Advanced Japanese Lesson:手塩にかける

    料理に欠かせない調味料の一つに、「塩」があります。塩は、古来から様々な食材をおいしくするだけでなく、「聖なる力を持つもの」として魔よけや病気の治療、美容法にも取り入れられていますね。

    今回は、この「塩」を含む慣用句を紹介しましょう。

    「手塩に掛ける」という言い回しを聞いたことがありますか?
    Read the rest of this post »

    Advanced Japanese Lesson: 一枚、二枚

    日本語で紙や板、皿はなんと数えますか。

    そうです、「一枚、二枚…」と数えますね。薄くて平面的なものを数えるときは「枚」を使います。
    お金の単位は「円」ですが、硬貨や紙幣として捉えたときには「一枚、二枚」と数えます。
    では、ざるそばはどうでしょう。
    Read the rest of this post »

    Advanced Japanese Lesson: すみません

    「すみません」

    このことばは、場面によって様々な意味に解釈できるので注意を要します。
    では、具体例を挙げてみましょう。

    あなたは満員電車に立って乗っています。揺れた拍子に、隣の人の足を踏んでしまいました。「すみません」
    このときは謝罪の意味で使っています。別の表現に言い換えると「ごめんなさい」ですね。

    次の駅に着く直前、前に座っていた人に席を譲ってもらいました。「すみません」
    これは感謝の意。「ありがとう」と伝えています。

    席に座ってしばらくすると、隣の席で眠ってしまった人が、あなたの肩にもたれかかってきました。「すみません」
    これは「起きてください」と注意を促す意味で用いられています。

    目覚めた隣の人が「すみません」と謝罪すると、あなたも「いいえ、すみません」。
    「たいしたことないですよ」という意味で再び「すみません」を繰り返します。

    目的の駅に着いたあなたは、改札口がどちらか分かりません。そこで、駅員に「すみません」
    これは、「尋ねてもいいですか?」という意味で使っています。

    約束の時間五分前に待ち合わせ場所に着いたあなたは、相手が既に到着していることに気づきます。
    あなた「お待たせしてすみません」(謝罪)
    相手「いえいえ、こちらこそわざわざ来てもらってすみません」(感謝)
    あなた「いいえ、いつも連絡をいただくばかりですみません」
    相手「なになに、急かしているようですみません」…。
    このように、日本語では「すみません」という語を大変便利に使っているのです。
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    Sumimasen

    You need to be careful with this word because depending on the situation, it can be interpreted in different ways.
    Here are some examples.

    You are standing on a train that is packed. When the train swayed, you stepped on the person next to you. Sumimasen.
    In this case, you’re using it as an apology. Another way of saying this would be “I’m sorry.”

    Before you reach the next station, the person who was sitting in front of you offers you their seat. Sumimasen.
    This is to express gratitude, and means “thank you.”

    After a while, the sleeping person next to you starts leaning on your shoulder. Sumimasen.
    This means “please wake up” and is to notify the other person.

    They wake up and apologize sumimasen, and you also say iie, sumimasen.
    You say sumimasen once again to mean “it’s no problem.”

    Once you get to the station, you don’t know where the exit is, and so you ask the station attendant, sumimasen.
    In this case, you’re asking “may I ask?”

    You arrive 5 minutes before the meeting time, and notice that the other person is already there.
    You say, omataseshite sumimasen or “sorry for making you wait” (apology.)
    Other person says, ieie, kochirakoso wazawaza kitemoratte sumimasen or “no no, apologies on my part for always having you come.”  (gratitiude)
    You say, īe, itsumo renraku wo itadaku bakari de sumimasen or “no, sorry for always being the one contacted .”
    Other person says, naninani sekashiteru youde sumimasen… or “sorry it seems we’re always making you hurry…”
    In this way, in Japanese the word sumimasen is a very useful and is used a lot.

    Advanced Japanese Lesson: いくたびも

    いくたびも雪の深さを尋ねけり
    正岡子規(まさおか しき)

    今回、紹介するのは冬の俳句です。「雪」という文字が見られるので、冬の情景を詠んでいることがすぐに分かりますね。 Read the rest of this post »

    Advanced Japanese Lesson:午前・午後

    あなたがこのブログを読んでいるのは、午前中でしょうか。それとも午後?

    今回は時間帯を表わす「午前、午後」の中に隠れている動物を紹介しましょう。 Read the rest of this post »

    Advanced Japanese Lesson:大黒柱

    「我が家の大黒柱」 この言い回しには二つの意味があるのを知っていますか。

    「柱」とは、土台などの上に垂直に立て、屋根を支える細長い木材・石材のことです。家を建てる際には何本かの柱を立て、それらが骨組みとなるのですが、その中で最も太くて立派な柱が「大黒柱」なのです。大黒柱は家の中央の柱であるため家の構造上、最も重要な役割を果たします。

    もともとは「太極柱」と表記していたようで、「極」という漢字には「行きついた果て、最高の」という意味があります。つまり、「太極柱」とは「最高に太い柱」を指しているわけですね。それが、同じ発音の「大黒」に漢字が変わった理由として、七福神の一人「大黒天」に対する日本人の信仰が厚かったため、という説があります。

    話を戻しましょう。
    大黒柱のもう一つ意味、それは「ある集団の中心となり、それを支える働きをしている人」。具体的には、一般的な家庭の「父親」を指すのです。家屋の中心に据えられた立派な柱が、家族を支える父親のイメージとぴったり重なった結果、このような比喩的な使われ方が生まれたのですね。
    ちなみに、神様を数えるときに「一人、二人…」ではなく「一柱(ひとはしら)、二柱(ふたはしら)…」と数えたり、お茶を注いだときに茶の茎が縦に浮かんでいる状態を「茶柱が立つ」と言って良いことが起こる前兆として喜んだりと、日本人にとって「柱」という語は現在でも身近なものなのです。

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    Do you know that the expression “the pillar in our home” has two meanings?  A “pillar” is the vertically long wooden or stone structure, which supports the roof and stands perpendicular on the foundation.  When building a house, several of these pillars become the skeleton, the thickest and grandest of all is the 大黒柱 daikokubashira or “main pillar”.

    The daikokubashira is the central pillar in the structure of a house, therefore it plays the most important role.  Originally, it was written as 太極柱, and the kanji 極 holds the meaning of “in the very end, the most.”  In other words, 太極柱 indicates “the thickest pillar.”  That changed 大黒 daikoku which has the same pronunciation, with the theory that because the Japanese had the most faith in the “god of wealth” out of the Seven Deities of Good Luck.

    Let’s go back now.
    The other meaning of the central pillar is “to be the center of a group, and to act as the support.” Specifically, in a typical household it indicates the “father.”  Since the grand pillar placed in the middle of the household perfectly fits the image of the father supporting the household, this kind of figurative use started.

    By the way, when counting gods, instead of saying “one person, two people… “ you say, “one pillar, two pillars…,” also when you pour tea, if a stalk floats vertically, it’s said that “the stalk pillar is standing” and it makes people happy since it’s an omen for good things, therefore, for the Japanese, “pillar” is a familiar word even today.