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Archive for the 'Working in Japan' Category

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。

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?

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!

「オフライン」の会 = オフ会

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.


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


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.


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.


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


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

Bonus : The True Face of ILL


ピムさんまたね&キムさんお帰りなさい ティーパ-ティ








【おまけ】 ILLの本性

The Best Japanese Phrases - Learn Your Japanese Teacher’s Favorite Phrases

This lesson Will teach you some of the most commonly used and most hopeful expressions in Japanese.

sō ieba (そういえば)

  • “speaking of which” or “now that you mention it, and you use it when you are reminded of something and want to talk about it.

toriaezu (とりあえず)

  • A handy phrase that means, “in the meantime” or “for now.”
  • Use it to talk about some kind of action you take or decision you make “in the meantime” because for now, you feel like it’s better than doing nothing.

ryōkai desu (了解です)

  • Ryōkai is a word that means “comprehension” or “consent.” It is often used as an exclamation in the following ways: by itself (ryōkai!), with the copula desu (ryōkai desu!), and with the past tense verb shimashita (ryōkai shimashita!).
  • These are all used to show that you have understood and will comply with what someone has told you.

tekitō ni (適当に)

  •  an adjective that literally means “suitable” or “relevant.” When the particle ni (に) is added, however, it becomes an adverb.
  • the original meaning was that the action was done properly, but recently it has started to mean that the action was done “half-heartedly” or “without much care.”

tashika ni (確かに)

  • The phrase tashika ni (確かに) is often used as aizuchi, interjections that we say in response to someone who is speaking, When you use tashika ni after something that someone has said, it means that you agree with them on that point, even if you don’t agree with them on other things.

“Top Five Tips for Avoiding Common Mistakes in Japanese “

In this lesson, we’ll offer tips to help you overcome some common errors that learners of Japanese make.

Don’t Attach -san to Your Own Name!

  • One of the first things English speakers learn in Japanese is name suffixes used when addressing other people. The most common one is -san, which we attach to people’s first or last names to show respect.
  • Because we use -san to show respect for others, you should never use it to refer to yourself.

Watch Your Politeness Level!

  • One of the unique aspects of Japanese is the varying politeness levels that change according to a number of factors: age and status of the speaker and listener, the speaker’s relationship with the listener, and so on.
  • It is important to remember to speak formally to one’s teachers, elders, and anyone else who follows under the category of senpai, those who are of higher status.

Watch Your Gender!

  • In the Japanese language, the speaker’s gender plays an important role in determining word choice, tone of voice, and the types of expressions used.
  • Non-native male speakers in particular should be careful about the kind of language and intonation they pick up from female teachers as well as female friends or girlfriends.

Learn Your Long Vowels Now!

  •  In Japanese, there is a big distinction between long vowels and short vowels. In fact, the distinction is so big that the length of a vowel can change the meaning of a word!

Watch Out for Similar Sounding Words!

  • Because there are a relatively small number of possible sounds in Japanese, many words are exactly the same or almost the same but with different meanings.

Top 5 Phrases Your Teacher Will Never Teach You

The focus of this lesson is teaching you some very common Japanese expressions you might not learn from a Japanese teacher.

  • (Sugoi) - An adjective meaning “wow,” “amazing,” or “great.” This word is commonly heard and is often used when one hears or sees something interesting or unusual.


  • (Baka) -  A noun meaning “idiot” or “fool.” When used as baka na (バカな), it becomes an adjective meaning “stupid.” This word can either be insulting or playful depending on how it is used.
  • When used in a serious manner, it can come across as a strong insult, so it’s better to exercise caution with this word.


  •  (Uso!) - literally means “lie,” but when used as an exclamation, it corresponds to “No way!” or “Really!?” in English.

Words used by young people:

  •  超(Chō) - a slangy adverb that usually comes before adjectives to emphasize them, making this word the equivalent of “very,” “so,” or “really.”
  • や ばい(Yabai) - a very slangy word that has a few different meanings. When used as an exclamation (yabai!), it usually indicates that something is wrong and roughly means “oh no!” or “shoot!”
  •  When used to describe something, it can have both a good meaning and a bad meaning depending on the context.
  • マ ジ(Maji) - similar to chō in that it often comes before adjectives to emphasize them. When used as “maji de?!”(マジで?!), it becomes an exclamation meaning “Really?!” or “Are you serious?!”
  •  す げー(Sugē) - a colloquial version of the above-mentioned sugoi. In young people’s speech (and particularly in young male speech), the “-oi” and “-ai” word endings turn into an “eh” sound.
  • あいづち (Aizuchi) - frequent interjections listeners make during a Japanese conversation that show the listener is paying attention to and understanding the speaker. They can include things such as:
  •  そうそう/だよね~(Sō sō/Da yo ne~) “Yeah” or “I know~” (expressing agreement)
  •  うんうん (un un) “Okay” or “Yeah”. Sometimes used just to show that you are listening.
  • へぇー(Hē) “Whoa!” or “Oh!”. This is often used to show that you are impressed or that you didn’t know something.

Top 5 Classroom Phrases in Japanese

In this lesson, we’ll teach you the top five useful classroom phrases in Japanese, and then some!

“Please say it.” / “Please repeat.”

  • Itte kudasai (言っ てください) means “please say it.” As a variation, you might also hear ripīto shite kudasai (リピートしてください), which means “please repeat (after me),” when teachers want you to repeat exactly what they have said.

“Please look.”

  •  Mite kudasai (見てください) means “please look,” and when an object comes before the phrase, it means “please look at (object).

“Please read.”

  •  Yonde kudasai (読んでください) means “please read.” You can expect to hear this phrase if a teacher wants you to practice reading some word, phrase, or passage.

“Please write it.”

  •  Kaite kudasai (書いてください) means “please write it.” Teachers may use this phrase when they want you to practice writing some hiragana, katakana, or even kanji!

“Do you understand?”

  •  The most direct translation is wakarimasu ka? (分かりますか?).
  • Other variations Japanese teachers often use include daijōbu desu ka? (大丈夫ですか?) and ii desu ka? (いいですか?) which both literally translate to “Is it/everything okay?”
  •  they might also ask shitsumon arimasu ka? (質問ありますか?), which means “Are there any questions?”

We hope that these phrases can help you get a head start in the classroom! please check out our other lesson series at JapanesePod101.com for more great usefull phrases!!

Top Five Tools for Learning Japanese

This lesson offers a few tools to help you learn Japanese. Some of these great tools to aid in your Japanese studies include the following:

  • a popup dictionary extension for the Firefox Internet browser that translates Japanese into English, German, French, or Russian. With this extension installed, you can easily look up the meaning of Japanese words that show up on webpages by simply hovering the cursor over the word. A box will instantly pop up with the reading and definition of the word.


Rikaichan Kanji Dictionary

  • Hover the cursor over any kanji, whether it is part of a compound or by itself, and press the Shift or Enter key to toggle between the word, kanji, and name dictionaries.
  • The kanji dictionary gives detailed information that include the kanji’s meaning, all possible readings, radicals that make up the kanji, number of strokes, and more.


Eijiro Dictionary

  • an English-Japanese/Japanese-English dictionary with an extensive database of translations and sample sentences.
  • You can buy Eijiro online at the ALC Online Shop website in the form of a CD-R or a downloadable dictionary file, and a free online version of Eijiro is available through the SpaceALC Japanese website portal.

http://shop.alc.co.jp/top/ (free version http://www.alc.co.jp/)

  • a flash card program that lets you review vocabulary, kanji, or both!
  • This kanji and vacabulary practice is based on a theory called spaced repetition, which means it presents the learner with flash cards at certain calculated intervals.



  • a Social Networking Service (SNS) created for the purpose of language exchange and international communication
  • Once you register, which is free, you can write a journal entry in the language you are studying, and other users who are native speakers of that language can correct your entry.


Top 5 pop culture things/icons you need to know about Japan

Japan is a country rich in pop culture that has started to gain recognition and popularity throughout the world. As popular culture changes quickly and drastically, we focus this lesson on the most recent pop culture.

Popular Music

  • Japan boasts the second largest music industry in the world after the United States.
  • Pop music is especially popular in Japan, although you can find all sorts of music in Japan done by Japanese artists-including rock, rap, hip-hop, reggae, and more.

Popular Movies

  • Recently, the popularity of domestic Japanese movies has been on the rise, with the annual box-office revenue for domestic movies hitting an all-time high in 2008.
  • Of the top Japanese films of 2008, the highest-grossing title was the animation film Gake no
  • Ue no Ponyo (”Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea̶ ;)
  • Hayao Miyazaki directed this movie as well as other popular animated titles such as My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Princess Mononoke, and Spirited Away, which was the first anime film to win an Academy Award.

Popular Television

  • Variety shows, true to their name, feature a variety of different content-cooking segments, comedy segments, skits, and quizzes are just some of what you’ll find on a typical Japanese variety show.
  • Variety shows often feature a large panel of currently popular celebrities and sometimes a studio audience.
  • Quiz shows that feature contestants (who are almost always celebrities) answering questions on numerous subjects, such as science, history, math, the Japanese language, pop culture, and so on, also enjoy great popularity.
  • Japanese dramas are also very popular among Japanese people of all ages.
  • Many current dramas’ running in Japan are adaptations of popular movies, comics, or animated shows.

Popular Foreigners in Japan

  •  Jero, is an African-American singer who was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
  • He has gained popularity singing enka, a traditional type of pop music that is especially popular among older people.

Popular Japanese Men/Women Abroad

  • Actor Ken Watanabe became a recognized name after appearing alongside Tom Cruise in the 2003 war film The Last Samurai.
  • Issey Miyake is the most well-known Japanese designer in the world, and he is considered the first Asian designer to gain worldwide recognition.

Popular Sports Figures

  • Ichiro Suzuki joined the Seattle Mariners in 2000, a move that many watched with great interest, as he was the first Japanese position player to play regularly for a Major League Baseball team.
  • Shizuka Arakawa made headlines when she received a gold medal in the 2006 Winter Olympics, a first in the event for a Japanese skater.

Top 5 Important Dates in Japan

This blog focuses on the top five most important holidays in Japan.

Seijin no Hi

  • “Coming-of-Age Day.” On this
    day, people who turn twenty during the current school year, which runs between April until the following March, celebrate their coming of age. In Japan, when people turn twenty, society legally recognizes them as an adult, and they are able to drink alcohol and vote.

Golden Week

  • The period in late April and early May that contains many Japanese national holidays grouped closely together.


  • a Buddhist event where people pray for the repose of their ancestors’ souls and remember the deceased. If you are familiar with Mexico’s Day of the Dead festival, O-bon is quite similar. O-bon takes place from the 13th to the 16th of August (celebrated from July 13-15 in some areas).


  • New Year’s Eve, This day is very symbolic in Japan as it is the last day of the year and the day before New Year’s Day, the most important day of the year.
  • There are many traditions that fall on this day such as Ōsōji, or “big cleaning,” and a dinner of toshikoshi soba, New Year’s Eve Soba, a type of Japanese noodle.

O-shōgatsu or Gantan 

  • New Year’s Day, Many people spend time with their families, and people who work or live far from their families often go back to their hometown for New Year’s.