Author Archive | Sami Nicholas

Japanese Phonetics and the Power of Pronunciation

japanese phonetics

Let me set the scene: Japanese class, second semester. Small university in the middle of nowhere. A meter of snow.

The semester had just started, so my 10 classmates and I were arranged in horseshoe formation around the teacher, who …

Make Japanese Friends Online and Go Beyond Language Exchange


“Blasphemy” is the word Vera chose to describe the fact that I’d only just finished Harry Potter at the age of 24.

The impact of this strong word was notably lessened by the fact that she pronounced it as “blas-PAY-me” …

How to Say “I Want” in Japanese, Explained with Ties


It’s an unremarkable weekday evening and a salaryman is collapsed in the aisle of a dilapidated discount department store.

He is, for some reason, sobbing.

A concerned customer service representative approaches him to ask what’s wrong, to which he replies:…

Build a Strong Japanese Core Vocabulary from Your First 100 to Beyond 6,000

japanese core vocabulary

The first time I walked into a コンビニ (こんびに) — convenience store in Japan, I was greeted with an enthusiastic いらっしゃいませ!, a phrase that I assumed must mean “hello.”

I began repeating the word back to cashiers when I entered …

Learn Japanese by Reading: 20+ Guided Reading Suggestions for Eager Students

learn japanese by reading

Struggling to begin reading in Japanese? So did I.

In fact, my first attempt at reading a real book was a complete failure.

I’d gone out to eat Ramen with a friend after class. We stopped at a bookstore on …

The Etiquette and Format of Japanese Email Writing


“… I think that your Japanese is good enough to understand how you should address a professor. Please reword this email before I forward it to the department head.”

This is the last sentence of an email I received after …

Let’s Dance: Using the Volitional Form of Japanese to Make Suggestions


I’m about to explain the Japanese volitional form to you and once I’ve finished this post let’s reward ourselves by going out to eat 石狩鍋 (いしかり なべ) — Ishikara Nabe, a super delicious hotpot dish from Hokkaido.

Actually, I’m …