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Archive for the 'Working in Japan' Category

4 Major Cities in Japan

Hello Listener,

You’re definitely learning new Japanese words and phrases with these lists, the Word of the Day and weekly JapanesePod101 Audio and Video lessons.

But here’s a geography question for you:
Do you know the Major Japanese Cities?

And do you know how to properly pronounce them in Japanese? You’re about to learn it all with this post.

1. Tokyo

Tokyo Tower

Tokyo is the capital of Japan and the largest city in the country. Tokyo is also one of Japan’s forty-seven prefectures, but it is referred to as a to (”a metropolis̶ ;) instead of a ken (”a prefecture”).

2. Kyoto

Kyoto

Kyoto, one of the oldest cities in Japan, was formerly the capital of Japan until 1868, when
Tokyo became the capital. Now it is a major city in the Kansai area, known for its traditional
atmosphere with its numerous temples and shrines.

3. Osaka

Osaka

Osaka is a large city that is located in the Kansai area close to Kyoto. It is the capital of Osaka prefecture as well as the economic and cultural center of the Kansai region. Many famous Japanese comedians hail from Osaka. Osaka is also known for its regional specialty dishes now popular throughout all of Japan such as, Takoyaki and Okonomiyaki.

4. Nagoya

Nagoya

Nagoya is the third-largest city in Japan coming in after Tokyo in 1st - and also one of the biggest in the world - and Osaka in 2nd. Nagoya is located in Aichi prefecture and is also a major port city like Tokyo and Osaka. When in Nagoya, the places you simply must see while in Nagoya are Atsuta Shrine and Nagoya Castle. Other things of note are the Tokugawa Art Museum and Nagoya’s famous foods: misokatsu (a fried pork cutlet drizzled with miso sauce), tebasaki (uniquely sweet-flavored chicken wings with sesame seeds) and kishimen (a broad, flat style of udon noodle).

Want to know more Japanese cities?
Click here to check out this free Japanese City list!

Why Sapporo is my favorite city in Japan

Why Sapporo is my favorite city in Japan

わや*!That was a hard decision to make Kyushu? Okinawa? South Korea? Taiwan? No… I made it to Hokkaido and have to start this article by talking about Salmon Ikura Don (raw salmon with salmon fish eggs on rice that I ate in Sapporo), in honor of the best dish I’ve ever eaten.

First, If you want to travel in Japan and don’t know where to start, I suggest you to take a look at this list: here

So…why Sapporo?
Well, my two closest Japanese friends are living there… What better reason to fly north?

First of all, I love big cities. Tokyo is massive and I enjoy it. However, I’m still a Swiss girl from the Alps… So I was actually really excited about this trip. The image I had of Sapporo is pretty similar to the one foreigners can have of Switzerland, I guess.

There are a few things you should know about Sapporo. It’s not only a beer brand, this is also the fifth largest city in Japan, and almost 2 million people live there! The 1972 Winter Olympic Games were hosted there and it’s famous for its yearly Snow Festival as well.

Now let me tell you why the capital of Hokkaido Prefecture has became my favorite city in Japan, and how I managed to escape from the real world for 4 whole days (I didn’t even realize that Google had a new logo!)

  • Incredible Atmosphere
  • I’ve lived in Canada, England, and Switzerland and have been able to travel around, including to Japan. But Sapporo has something that other cities clearly don’t have! There is still that urban vibe with areas such as Susukino, as well as a Western touch with the Former Hokkaido Government office and the area around that building.

    The enormous park around the Hokkaido University reminded me of those I could relax in when in was in Toronto. The Maryuyama Park area has many bakeries, small cafės, and restaurants. I would describe this spot as fancy but cosy at the same time.

  • Beautiful Natural Surroundings
  • It is part of the atmosphere, but it needs its own paragraph. My friend took me to Mount Moiwa and the night view was breathtaking… Sapporo is a large city, so seeing all those lights sparkling from the mountain was magical, and I will simply never forget it.
    It might seem insignificant, but the city is full of flowers and greenery, and this is what is missing in Tokyo. Almost every sidewalk has colorful flowers, and you can also find them in parks and even outside people’s front doors. It’s a small detail but it makes a big difference.
    My other friend took me to Otaru, which is by the seaside north of Sapporo. It’s a small and picturesque city intersected by a river and many small boutiques.

    Finally, wherever you are in Sapporo, if the weather isn’t foggy, you can see mountains! It really reminds me of where I am from. Now I can’t wait to go back to Hokkaido during the winter time and enjoy the snow up there!

    Mount Moiwa

  • Kind People
  • The hospitality in Japan is no secret. But in Hokkaido, I was touched by the people’s kindness, generosity, and enthusiasm. I guess life is more peaceful there, so everyone takes the time to do whatever they have to. I felt relaxed from the beginning to the end. And of course, I am so thankful to my friends who were my reason for spending my precious time there.

  • Delicious Food
  • I started with food and I am ending with food. If you do love Japanese cuisine, this is a no-brainer – you just have to go to Sapporo. Curry soup is famous there. I also had the chance to eat えび味噌ラーメン (ebi miso ramen)、うに (uni), and 鮭 いくら 丼 (salmon ikura don), which as you know tasted like heaven.
    If you like cheese and milk, you won’t be disappointed in Hokkaido – just trust the girl from Switzerland, AKA ‘cheese land.’
    Food quality isn’t a problem in Sapporo, and the prices are affordable too.

    Salmon Ikura Don

    If you want to know more about Japanese food, check out this audio lesson: The 5 most popular foods in Japan

    Before visiting this northern part of Japan, I’d heard many times that Sapporo was a great city to live in. Now I totally understand why and if you are planning to go to Japan, drop by Hokkaido, because you can find pretty good deals online to get there ;)

    * わや waya is popular slang meaning ヤバイ (yabai) in Hokkaido-ben.

    Don’t forget to discover more about Japanese culture and language on http://japanesepod101.com

    Welcome to Innovative Language Headquarters! Listener Visit #4

    Today, we bring you another blog post from Motoko, JapanesePod101.com lesson creator, host and Office Party Planner! Motoko will be sharing more bilingual posts on our blog, so check back often and leave a comment!

    Hi everyone, Motoko here!

    Today I’d like to tell you about another listener visit we had recently. We had a JapanesePod101.com listener come to visit us in the office. This was the fourth visit for me, but I still felt nervous!

    This is Matt. He was visiting from California.

    I had heard that he came to Japan for a holiday. But it seems that it was more of a special trip for him, because guess what? He came here to meet his girlfriend’s parents for the first time. :o His girlfriend is Japanese, and he wanted to meet her parents. It sounded like a big event to me! But Matt kept smiling the whole time and said he was alright. I thought he was brave. :o

    I guess that Peter probably felt more nervous, because he knows that it’s one of the big events for men in Japan to meet their girlfriends’ parents!

    I was very happy to receive the souvenir he brought. It was popular Girl Scout cookies from the United States. One packet was chocolate mint flavor, and the other was peanut butter. I liked the peanut butter ones more than the choco mint. ;) Thanks, Matt! We all enjoyed them.

    Matt, did you have a lovely time with your girlfriend and her parents? I hope so. :)

    (May 2013)

    イノベーティブは応援しています! オフ会4

    みなさん、こんにちは。もとこです。

    今回はオフ会その4についての報告です。先日、JapanesePod101.comのリスナーさんがオフィスに来ました。今回で4回目。まだまだ私は緊張していました。(笑)

    こちらがマットさん。アメリカのカリフォルニアから来ました。旅行に来ると聞いていました。でも、ちょっと特別な旅行だそうです。なんと、彼女さんのご両親とはじめて会うそうです。日本人の彼女さんと一緒にいたいから、ご両親に挨拶をします。とても大変そうですよね。でもマットさんはずっとにこにこ笑って、大丈夫ですと言っていました。すごい! たぶんピーターさんのほうがどきどきしていました。
     
    今回私がうれしかったのはおみやげ。マットさんはアメリカで人気があるチョコビスケットをくれました。チョコミント味とピーナッツバター味です。ちなみにピーナッツバター味のほうがミント味より好きです。マットさん、ありがとうございました。

    Fond Farewells at Innovative Language

    Today, we bring you another blog post from Motoko, JapanesePod101.com lesson creator, host and Office Party Planner! Motoko will be sharing more bilingual posts on our blog, so check back often and leave a comment!

    Hello everyone! Motoko here.

    Did you know that March is one of the most important months in Japan? That’s because it’s farewell season.

    Schools and companies start new academic and financial years in April. This means their years end in March, and that’s when graduation ceremonies are held in schools. Here, we have interns who are college students, and some of them leave us in March. This March, we said goodbye to two student interns and one full-time staff member.

    But we will see them again someday; we didn’t actually say “good bye”, but “see you again” then saw them off.

    We hope that all three enjoy their new adventures!

    (March, 2013)

    イノベーティブでまた会おうね

    こんにちは。もとこです。日本では3月がたいせつなきせつです。みなさん、知っていましたか。そう、おわかれのきせつ。

    日本の会社や学校は4月にはじまります。だから、3月におわります。3月に学校で卒業式があります。イノベーティブには学生のスタッフもいますから、3月にイノベーティブを退社(たいしゃ)する人もいます。今年は2人のインターンシップスタッフと1人のフルタイムスタップが退社しました。

    でも、また会うことはできますから、「さようなら」じゃないですね。「また会おうね」と言って、送(おく)ります。 3人が新しい場所でがんばれますように。

    (2013年3月)

    Giving Thanks and Sweets at Innovative

    Today, we bring you another blog post from Motoko, JapanesePod101.com lesson creator, host and Office Party Planner! Motoko will be sharing more bilingual posts on our blog, so check back often and leave a comment!

    Hi all! Motoko here.

    It’s been a while since my last post! But today, I’d like to talk about one of the most popular events in Japan. It’s the day that we say “I love you” and “thanks” to the people we spend the most time with.

    This day is Valentine’s Day, on February 14th. It originally came from European culture, didn’t it? And people usually give presents or flowers to the one they love on that day. I’m guessing that in your country, it’s the men who give presents to their partners. But in Japan, ladies give chocolate to men! It’s the only chance each year when ladies can declare their love to the men they love. They usually make or buy chocolates and give them to the men.

    Recently, however, most people have been giving chocolates to their colleagues and friends. On Valentine’s Day at Innovative Language, the ladies brought sweets they had made or bought to the office. Also, Peter gave boxes of chocolate to each of our team members. The men and ladies in the office all enjoyed these sweets together. Though no one declared their love, it was a day for us to say “thanks for everything!” to each other.

    So if Valentine’s Day is for men, did the men of Innovative Language do anything in return? Well, in Japan, this happens on White Day, which falls on March 14th. This is an event that is well known in Japan and also in South Korea. The men who received presents on Valentine’s Day return the favor to the lady they got the chocolate from. Some return the declaration of love to the lady too! And some give sweets and snacks to their friends in return. At the Innovative office, most of the men brought boxes of sweets for the ladies. The boxes said “Happy White Day! Only for Girls!!” (Unlike on Valentine’s Day!) The guys looked sad about this because they love chocolate!

    What happens in your country on Valentine’s Day and White Day?

    (Feb - Mar, 2013)

    Innovativeでの日ごろのありがとうのやりとり

    こんにちは。もとこです。新しいブログをかいていませんでした。今日は日本で人気のある行事を紹介します。「大好き」や「ありがとう」を言う日です。

    一つは2月14日のバレンタインデー。もともとヨーロッパのイベントですよね。好きな人にプレゼントや花をあげる日です。みなさんの国では男の人がプレゼントを用意すると思います。でも、日本では女の人がチョコレートを用意します。一年に一度だけ、バレンタインデーに女の人が好きな男の人に愛の告白をします。たいてい、手作りのチョコレートをわたします。

    でも、最近では同僚や友達にもわたします。イノベーティブでは、女性社員が手作りのお菓子やお店のお菓子をオフィスにもってきます。ピーターさんがみんなへのチョコレートを買います。そしてみんなで食べます。愛の告白はありませんが、「いつもありがとう」「これからもいっしょに仕事をしましょう!」という気持ちをつたえる日です。

    一方、男性社員はどうするでしょう。3月14日はホワイトデー。日本と韓国にもある行事です。男の人が女の人にバレンタインデーのおかえしをする日です。愛の告白の返事をする人もいます。「いつもありがとう」といってお菓子を友達にあげる人もいます。イノベーティブでは男性社員がお菓子を用意します。”Happy White day! Only for girls!!”とメッセージを書きます。(男性社員は食べることができないので、悲しそうでした。)

    みなさんの国ではバレンタインデーやホワイトデーに何をしますか。

    (2013年2,3月)

    Evil Spirits Out, Good Fortune In at Innovative!

    Today, we bring you another blog post from Motoko, JapanesePod101.com lesson creator, host and Office Party Planner! Motoko will be sharing more bilingual posts on our blog, so check back often and leave a comment!

    Hi all, Motoko here!

    Today I’d like to tell you about the Mamemaki (“bean-throwing”) event we held on Setsubun. Setsubun falls on March 3rd. On the Japanese traditional calendar, the day after Setsubun (March 4th) is the beginning of spring.

    However, it’s still cold in the modern calendar!

    According to the traditional calendar, Setsubun falls on the day between winter and spring. On that day, people hold a ceremony to throw beans – usually roasted soybeans – at their homes.

    In ancient times, people believed that oni, a kind of evil spirit, would come to their house between the two seasons. To drive the oni out of their houses, they would throw beans.

    These days, a person plays the role of oni in these ceremonies, and people throw beans at them. In the Innovative office, one of our male team members played oni (see photo), and the other staff threw beans at him, and wished for good luck for the company this year.

    After throwing them, people collect and eat the beans. It is believed that eating them brings good health in the year that follows. People traditionally eat, or should eat, as many beans as their age. For example, a 20-year-old person eats 20 beans, and a 30-year-old person eats 30 beans. So if you are 40 or 50 years old, it must be tough to accomplish this feat! In reality, people usually just eat as many as they want; it can be more or less than their actual age.
    (2013 Feb.)

    イノベーティブの鬼をおいだせ!

    こんにちは。もとこです。イノベーティブではみんなで「節分(せつぶん)」のまめまきをしました。節分は2月3日です。日本の古いカレンダーでは、節分の次の日(2月4日)から春になります。でもまださむいです。

    その冬と春の間の日が「節分」です。節分には豆(まめ:やいた大豆)を家にまきます。昔の日本人は季節(きせつ)と季節の間に「鬼(おに)」がうちに来ると思っていました。鬼はわるいものですから、豆をまいて鬼を家(いえ)のそとにだしました。
     
    今では、一人が鬼になって、ほかの人がまめをまきます。今年のイノベーティブでは男性社員(だんせい しゃいん)が鬼になりました。
    みんなでまめをまいて、会社の今年のしあわせをいのります。
     
    また、まめをまいたあとはまめをたべます。今年も元気でいることができます。本当(ほんとう)は豆を自分の年(とし)の数(かず)たべます。20歳の人は20粒(つぶ)、30歳の人は30粒たべます。40歳や50歳の人はたいへんですね。

    (2013年2月)

    Making Soba and Picking Peaches

    Today, we bring you another blog post from Motoko, JapanesePod101.com lesson creator, host and Office Party Planner! Motoko will be sharing more bilingual posts on our blog, so check back often and leave a comment!

    Hi everyone, Motoko here! In the beginning of summer this year, the Innovative Language staff went on a day trip. Today I’d like to talk about that. We chose peach-picking for fun, and soba-making so that everyone could try a traditional Japanese food! We made soba in a wonderful nihon-kaoku, a traditional type of Japanese house.

    Do you know what soba is? Soba is a famous type of noodle in Japan that is a greyish-brown color. It gets this color from a special type of flour called sobako that is used to make it. You dip the boiled soba into a dip called tsuyu made from fish broth, and eat it. Adding onions and wasabi to the tsuyu give it a more grown-up flavor. Soba comes in two types: cold zarusoba, and warm kakesoba, but this time we had zarusoba.

    Soba is made from sobako and flour. First, you mix the two types of flour into a large bowl called a hachi. You can use chopsticks, but it seems like it’s more common to use your hands. Next, you add water. Then comes the hard part – you have to then knead the soba dough a lot. The teacher made it look easy, but it requires a lot of strength since the dough is not that soft. Apparently, the action of kneading the dough is an important step to making delicious soba. Once you’re done kneading, you flatten the dough with a rolling pin. Then, you place the soba on a wooden board called a komaita, and cut it with a special knife called a bocho. If you cut it thinly, you get great soba. If you cut it thickly, you get soba that looks like udon. (Which still tastes good…it just might be a little hard.)

    Everyone worked hard at making soba, getting themselves covered with flour in the process. After making it, we boiled it and ate it ourselves. Because the noodles are raw, they take only a minute and a half to cook. Soon after boiling them, you do what’s called shimeru in Japanese. Shimeru refers to rinsing the noodles with cold water so that they don’t get too soft. When you do this, it gives the noodles a nice chewy texture. This isn’t done with Italian pasta!

    Then we got on the bus to go peach-picking. Is it common to go fruit-picking in your country? In Japan, there are a lot of opportunities for fruit-picking that change with the seasons. Cherry-picking, peach-picking, grape-picking, and pear-picking are some of the well-known ones. You go to the field to pick and eat a lot – depending on the place, there may be a limit to how much you can eat. The place we went had an all-you-can-eat deal that lasted for 40 minutes. For 40 minutes, you can pick and eat as much as you want. Apparently, the good peaches are at the ends of the branches, so everyone tried hard to get the highest ones.

    The person who ate the most was a family member of one our Innovative Language staff. They ate seven peaches in 40 minutes! As for me, I ate three. The peaches I chose were big, so even after just three, I was really full!

    Readers, you should definitely try your hand at making Japanese food – not just eating it. I had never made soba before, and I’m Japanese! It’s sure to be a memorable experience.

    -

    桃狩り&蕎麦打ち

    こんにちは、もとこです。今年の夏のはじめにイノベーティブのみんなで日帰り(ひがえり)旅行に行きました。今回はその報告です。日本の伝統的な食べ物に挑戦するために蕎麦打ち(そばうち)を、みんなが楽しめるようにと桃狩り(ももがり)を選びました。素敵な日本家屋(にほんかおく・伝統的な日本の家)で蕎麦打ちをすることができました。

    蕎麦(そば)は知っていますか。有名な日本の麺(めん)で、色は灰色や茶色です。「蕎麦粉(そばこ)」という特別な粉を使うので、この色になります。魚でとった出汁(だし)としょうゆで「つゆ」を作ります。ゆでた麺をその「つゆ」につけて食べます。長ねぎやわさびを少し「つゆ」に入れると、大人の味になります。蕎麦には冷たい「ざる蕎麦」と温かい「かけ蕎麦」があります。今回は「ざる蕎麦」でした。
    蕎麦は蕎麦粉と小麦粉(こむぎこ)で作られます。まず蕎麦粉と小麦粉を鉢(はち)の中でまぜます。鉢は日本のボウルです。お箸(はし)を使ってもいいです。でも手を使うほうが一般的みたいでした。次に、お水を入れます。大変なのがその後の作業。蕎麦の生地(きじ)をたくさんこねなくてはいけません。先生たちは簡単そうにこねていました。でも生地はあまりやわらかくないですから、力が必要です。この「こねる」作業がおいしい蕎麦の大切なポイントなんだとか。

    こねおわったら、生地を「麺棒(めんぼう)」でのばして、たたみます。そのあと「こま板(こまいた)」という板で生地をおさえて、「そば包丁(ぼうちょう)」という特別なナイフで切ります。細かく切ると、素敵な蕎麦になりました。でも、幅広く切ると、うどんっぽい蕎麦になります。(うどんっぽくてもおいしいです。でも少しかたいかもしれません。) 

    みんな、粉だらけになりながら、蕎麦打ちをがんばっていました。打ち終わった後は、もちろん、ゆでて自分たちで食べました。生の麺ですから、ゆでる時間はたったの1分半。すぐに水でしめます。「しめる」とは、麺が柔らかくなりすぎないように水で洗うことです。こうすると、コシのあるおいしい食感になります。イタリアのパスタはあまり「しめ」ませんよね。

    次にバスで桃狩りへ。みなさんの国では果物狩り(くだものがり)はありますか。日本では季節ごとにいろいろな果物狩りがあります。さくらんぼ、もも、ぶどう、なし、などが有名です。果物(くだもの)の畑に行って、たくさん食べることができます。畑によっては、食べられる数が決まっています。今回行った畑は40分食べ放題(ほうだい)。40分の間だったら、いくつ食べてもいいです。おいしい桃は枝の先にあるそうです。だからみんながんばって、高い所の実を取りました。

    ちなみに、一番たくさん食べたのはイノベーティブスタッフの家族でした。40分で7つ食べたそうです。ちなみに私は3つでした。大きい実を選びましたから、3つだけでも、お腹いっぱいでしたよ。

    みなさんも日本食を食べるだけではなくて、作ることにも挑戦してみてください。日本人の私ですら、蕎麦打ちはしたことがありませんでした。絶対、いい思い出になりますよ。
    (2012年夏)

    A Trip to the Baseball Game

    Today, we bring you another blog post from Motoko, JapanesePod101.com lesson creator, host and Office Party Planner! Motoko will be sharing more bilingual posts on our blog, so check back often and leave a comment!

    Hi all, Motoko here.

    Today I’d like to tell you about the baseball game the Innovative Language team went to at the end of September. But before I do, which sports are popular in your country? And do you know which sports are popular in Japan?

    The answer is: soccer and baseball.

    Soccer came to Japan because it was popular in Europe. Baseball, on the other hand, can be written in kanji (野球), and that’s because it was introduced to Japan much earlier than soccer was. In fact, it came to Japan in 1872. It is said that it started when an American man taught some Japanese college students how to play baseball.

    Of course, playing baseball is quite popular, but also people young and old love watching it. Stadium tickets come in two types; one is “reserved seating” where you can choose where you’d like to sit ahead of time. Another is “non-reserved seating”, where you can choose where to sit on game day. The second kind is cheaper. Spectators drink beer, eat snacks, and watch the game. Throughout the game, staff (mostly ladies) carry beer tanks through the crowd, so you can easily get more beer without leaving your seat!

    The game was held at Meiji Jingu stadium, which is close to Shibuya. The seating areas are divided among the two teams. In this stadium, the seats on the first-base side were for Yakult Swallows supporters, and the seats on the third-base side were for the opponent’s (Chunichi Dragons), supporters. So, if you’re cheering for the Swallows, you need to have a seat on the first-base side.

    Speaking of cheering for the teams, we found some unique supporters’ gear to help us do just that. Some people had pairs of miniature plastic megaphones and made loud noises by beating them together. Other people had little umbrellas and danced with the cheering groups. Each baseball team has their own mascot. Tsubakuro is the mascot of the Yakult Swallows – “swallow” is tsubame in Japanese. Actually, the first baseball team ever to have a mascot was from Japan. Did you know that?

    (Sep, 2012)

    -

    野球観戦

    こんにちは。もとこです。

    今日は9月下旬(げじゅん)に会社で行った野球(やきゅう)観戦(かんせん)についてお話します。

    みなさんの国ではどのスポーツが人気がありますか。日本ではどのスポーツが人気がありますか。みなさんは知っていますか。

    正解(せいかい)はサッカーと野球です。サッカーはヨーロッパで人気ですから、日本でも人気になったと思います。野球は「野球」と漢字の名前がありますから、サッカーより野球の方が日本に来たのは早かったです。1872年に初めて(はじめて)野球が日本に来ました。アメリカの人が大学生に教えたそうです。

    野球をするのはもちろん人気ですが、見るのは老若男女(ろうにゃく なんにょ)問わず(とわず)人気です。チケットには席の場所を決めることができる「指定席(していせき)」と当日に席を選ぶ「自由席」があります。自由席の方が安いです。みんな、ビールを飲んで、ごはんを食べて、試合(しあい)を見ます。試合中に男の人や女の人がビールを売りにきますから、おかわりもしやすいです。
     
    今回は明治神宮球場(めいじ じんぐう きゅうじょう)というスタジアムに行きました。渋谷(しぶや)に近い野球場(やきゅうじょう)ですね。ここでは1塁側(るいがわ)が「ヤクルトスワローズ」の席、3塁側(るいがわ)が「中日ドラゴンズ」の席とわかれて座ります。つまり、ヤクルトを応援(おうえん)する人は1塁側に座って応援します。
     
    応援には特別なグッズがありました。ひとつは筒(つつ)で、たたくと大きい音がでます。もうひとつは傘(かさ)で、応援団(おうえんだん)の人と一緒におどります。それぞれのチームには「マスコット」がいます。例えば、ヤクルトスワローズのマスコットは「つば九郎(くろう)」です。ちなみに、初めてマスコットを作ったのは日本の野球チームだそうです。知っていましたか。
     
    (2012年9月末)

    Japanesepod101.com Tokyo Office Visit

    Today, we bring you a blog post from Motoko, JapanesePod101.com lesson creator, host and Office Party Planner! Motoko will be sharing more bilingual posts on our blog, so check back often and leave a comment!

    Hi everyone! Motoko here.

    Today’s blog is about the concept of off-kai. At the beginning of this month, two JapanesePod101.com listeners came to visit us at the office. Apparently we often used to have listeners come and visit us, but for me it was the first time, so I was really excited.

    Christophe was from Switzerland, and said that he tries to come to Japan at least once a year. It was really clear to me that he loves Japan! This time he visited our Tokyo office with his friend, who is also a JapanesePod101.com listener. This friend is currently employed at a Japanese company! Isn’t that impressive?

    By the way, have you ever heard of the Japanese word off-kai ? Off-kai is used to describe a meeting in real life between people who have got to know each other over the internet. For example, if you were to go to Disneyland with someone you had met over Facebook, then that would be an off-kai. We call being connected to the internet being ‘online’, right? Well, in this case because the internet is not involved, it’s ‘offline’. An ‘offline’ (off) meeting (kai ) = off-kai. Japanese people really like to abbreviate words, don’t they?

    off-kai.JPG
    We took a commemorative photo together with another JapanesePod101.com host, Jessi.

    If you ever come to Japan, please definitely drop in to our Tokyo office for a visit!

    みなさん、こんにちは。もとこです。
    今日はオフ会についての報告です。今月の初めにJapanesePod101.comのリスナーさんがオフィスに来てくれました。以前はリスナーの方がよくオフィスに遊びに来てくれていたそうです。私は初めてだったのでドキドキしました。
    クリストフさんはスイス出身で、年に1回は日本に来るようにしているのだとか。日本が大好き!という雰囲気がとても伝わってきました。今回は友だちと一緒に東京オフィスに遊びに来てくれました。お友達もJPODリスナーで、今は日本の会社に勤めているそうです。すごいですね。
    ちなみに、みなさん「オフ会」という言葉を知っていますか。オフ会というのはインターネット上で知り合った人が実際に会う集まりことをいいます。たとえば、フェースブックで友達になった人と一緒にディズニーランドに行くのはオフ会ですね。インターネットにつながっていることを「オンライン(online)」といいますよね。インターネットを使わないので「オフライン(offline)」。
    「オフライン」の会 = オフ会
    日本人は言葉を短くするのが好きですよね。
    [photo]
    スタッフのジェシーさんと一緒に記念撮影をしました。みなさんも、日本に来る時は、是非東京オフィスに足を運んでくださいね。

    Our ‘Farewell, Pim! Welcome Back, Kim!’ Tea Party

    Today, we bring you a blog post from Motoko, JapanesePod101.com lesson creator, host and Office Party Planner! Motoko will be sharing more bilingual posts on our blog, so check back often and leave a comment!

    On the 17th of April here at Innovative Language Learning, we had an afternoon tea party.

    Although Kim (a member of our Business Development Team) moved to Hong Kong, last week she came back to Japan for a brief visit, so it was her ‘welcome back’ party. Meanwhile, Pim (host of ThaiPod101.com) is going back to her home country to have her baby, so it was her ‘farewell’ party.

    We all ate pastries, chatted, and enjoyed ourselves.

    pimkim2.jpg

    There was a choice of pastries: strawberry, green tea, custard… It was really hard to choose!

    pimkim3.JPG

    By the way, everyone, do you know what a shikishi is?

    It’s a plain piece of card that measures roughly 20cm by 20cm. Actually, because it’s quite thick – about 3mm – it might be better to call it a board. It usually has a piece of Japanese paper pasted to one side of it. In Japan, when there’s a celebratory occasion, or someone is leaving, everyone writes a message on this piece of card. At ILL, too, when someone has something to celebrate or a staff member is leaving the company, we present them with a shikishi.

    First of all, we write the name of the person in the middle. This time, it’s Pim. Then, so that the person we’re giving it to doesn’t see it while we’re writing on it, we put it inside the Secret File.

    shikishi1.JPG

    Everyone in the office then takes it in turns to write a message along the lines of ‘Congratulations!’ or ‘See you!’ before passing the card to the next person. Of course the company president also writes a personal message.

    shikishi2.JPG

    When everyone’s finished writing their messages, we decorate the card and make it cute and colourful.

    shikishi3.JPG

    Finally, we give it to Pim! She seemed really pleased with it.

    Bonus : The True Face of ILL

    pimkim1.JPG

    ピムさんまたね&キムさんお帰りなさい ティーパ-ティ

    4月17日イノベーティブランゲージラーニングで午後のお茶会をしました。

    香港に引っ越したキムさんが一時来日したので、「お帰りなさい」パーティ
    新しい家族を迎えるためにピムさんが帰国するので、「またね」パーティです。

    みんなでお菓子を食べて、おしゃべりをして楽しみました。
    お菓子には選択肢もあります。いちご・抹茶・カスタード・・・どれにしようか迷います。

    ところで、みなさんは「色紙」を知っていますか。

    20cm×20cmくらいの無地の紙です。でも3mmくらいの厚さがあるのでボードと言ったほうがいいかもしれません。たいてい和紙が表に貼ってあります。日本ではお祝い事やお別れのときに色々な人みんなで色紙にコメントを書きます。ILLでもスタッフが会社を辞めるときやお祝いの時に色紙を贈ります。
    まず真ん中に送る人の名前を書きます。今回はピムさんですね。そして本人にばれないように秘密のファイルにはさみます。

    一人ずつ「おめでとう」や「またね」などのコメントを書いて次の人に渡します。もちろん社長も直筆で書きます。

    みんなが書き終わったらデコレーションをして可愛く華やかにしましょう。
    最後にピムさんに渡しました。よろこんでくれたみたいです。

    【おまけ】 ILLの本性