I start Podcast for Japanese learners!

I hope you’re doing well, my friends!

April is a season to start in Japan. Schools, companies, all starts in April. I start making Podcast for Japanese learners. I tried it before, but last time I used my iPhone and sound crowd, and almost nobody listen it.

This time, I bought professional mic, and start using Anchor. Anchor is awesome! Because when I record my Podcast, it automatically distribute to Spotify, Google podcast, and other music tools.

So far, I’m speaking something related to Japanese language, culture, society, and history. I speak 70% in Japanese then summaries it in English 30%. But a few episodes, I speak almost all in English, and surprisingly these episode listened more. So I might speak 20% Japanese, then 80% in English from now on.

It’s a learning process, so if you listed it and give me a feedback, that’ll be helpful. I’d like to offer something useful for Japanese learners.

After they listened it, if they want to take my lessons, that’ll be great. or if they can join my Patreon community, that’ll be great too, because on Patreon, I’d like to make a community that Japanese learners gather, and can ask questions, or can have Zoom chatting sometimes.

🎤 Podcast: “Small talks in Japanese”
– Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/2pE7A9AXRAxVndX1tJ5M3N

– Anchor: https://anchor.fm/akari-japanese

– Google podcasts: https://www.google.com/podcasts?feed=aHR0cHM6Ly9hbmNob3IuZm0vcy8xYjA3YTg2Yy9wb2RjYXN0L3Jzcw==

👼Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/m/akari_japanese
Be a member, and study Japanese together! or
I’ll appreciate if you can support my activities 😀

Coronavirus… please go away.. (report from Japan)

It’s been about a month since I started to worry about coronavirus. I have some friends in Shanghai, Canton, and Hong Kong in China, so I was hearing about it from them. Then when 春節, Chinese new year started around Jan 23rd, I posted on my facebook and blog, that the Japanese government should stop flights from China for now, but they didn’t, and they still can come except for two regions.

I am living in Japan. I’m teaching Japanese on italki. I feel very disappointed how the Japanese government reacted for the coronavirus for now.I guess there’s some reasons why the Japanese government haven’t stopped people entering from China. 1. The Tokyo Olympics, 2. Official visit of Xi Jinping planed in spring, 3. “human rights”

1 and 2 are in the due to bad timing. Because of these two, I guess they didn’t have a choice. 3. is a strange reason, but there’s some people who say “we should not discriminate against some people” but it’s the infection. The most important thing is to not spread it anymore.

I really hope politicians around the world use true leadership in this hard situation, and I really hope this coronavirus thing goes away as soon as possible.

I’m addicted to “Shiro & Suki”

Do you know about the Shiba inu couple, “Shiro and Suki”?  I’m addicted to watching them recently. You can find them on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCl_Ivm5DNAXYmBJQZa1atoA

I started following them on Youtube about a year ago. They are so cute and emotional.

Suki (the female dog) just gave birth to puppies, and it’s her third litter. Just like her second litter, Shiro (the male dog) was so caring, and be he was with Suki the entire time she was a pregnant. When she had her puppies , however, he became very jealous that the babies got all of Suki’s attention. He didn’t seem to understand they were their babies. His confusion and expressions were really funny.

This is the best reality drama I’ve ever seen! I usually don’t watch reality dramas, but I’m now addicted and watch their videos nearly every day. I especially like that they live in Malta. I loved going to Greece, so I’m sure Malta is also very beautiful.

Since I’m an Airbnb experience host, I wonder if there’s an Airbnb experience to “Meet Suki & Shiro and their hooman!” (Yes, I know this is misspelled, but they use this.) If there is, I would love to do it.

I also wonder why the dogs have Japanese names? Of course, Shiba inu is a Japanese origin dog, which has been with hoomans since the Jomon period (14,000–300 BC). If it’s because their hoomans respect their origin, I think it’s lovely!

# 漆 Urushi (Japanese natural lacquer)

Twice a month, my friend and I organize the event, “Let’s talk about Kyoto in English and Japanese”. Today’s theme is Urushi.
I took memo of useful expression 🙂

(All from “Trad Japan” NHK publisher has copy right.)

The exquisite gleam of lacquer. Traditional lacquerware is one of the best-known crafts of Japan.

Lacquer is widely used for tableware. From the multitiered boxes in which food is served at celebrations to simple bowls used in everyday meals, lacquerware has become a key aspect of Japanese culinary culture.

Each piece of lacquerware presents a different impression depending on the color of its lacquer.

This bowl is coated with black lacquer, which adds a sense of depth and refinement to its frequently seen in Japan.

Red lacquerware is equally common. In ancient times, red was believed to be an auspicious color that kept away evil spirits and brought good luck.

auspicious 縁起のよい giving or being a sign of future success.

Lacquer- known as urushi in Japanese- is a natural material obtained from the sap of the lacquer tree. When the trunk of the tree is cut, it produces a resin to try to repair the wound. This resin is urushi.

sap, resin 樹液
wound 傷 ワーンド

Because the resin can cause a rash if it touches the skin, it was commonly believed that urushi had special powers to ward off evil.

ward off evil 邪気を追い払う
ward —wall と同じ発音

A single tree can only produces a few grams of resin each time it is tapped. Because it’s hard to obtain, lacquer is considered very valuable.

The resin is a milky white color when it’s collected.

Various pigments are added to color this resin. Then colored lacquer is used as  a is used as a coating on the wooden base.

pigment 顔料

After a layer of lacquer has been applied evenly, it’s left to dry. This process is repeated numerous times to build up a surface that gives the item durability and lustre.

durability 耐久性
lustre つや

Urushi was in use in Japan at least 3,000 years ago, in the Jomon period. This is a piece of lacquerware excavated at the Korekawa archaeological site, in Aomori prefecture.

excavated 発掘

This scroll dates from the 13th century. It shows people eating from black lacquerware dishes. From around that time, lacquerware became a part of daily life.

Later, lacquerware was associated with the tea ceremony, and the decoration techniques gradually became more sophisticated.

Urushi is a wonderful natural material which has played a significant role in the development of Japanese culture.

(All from “Trad Japan” NHK publisher has copy right.)
lacquerware 漆器
chinaware 陶磁器

Red lacquerware is equally common. In ancient times, red was believed to be an auspicious color that kept away evil spirits and brought good luck.

Lacquer- known as urushi in Japanese- is a natural material obtained from the sap of the lacquer tree.

Ikura is a seafood obtained from female salmon.

Because the resin can cause a rash if it aches the skin, it was commonly believed that urushi had special powers to ward off evil.

Moisture can cause damage to the house.

get a rash from

Urushi was in use in Japan at least 3,000 years ago, in the Jomon period.

Tatami mats have been in use for more than a thousand years.

Later, lacquerware was associated with the tea ceremony, and the decoration techniques gradually became more sophisticated.

Indian ink painting is closely associated with Zen Buddhism.

(All from “Trad Japan” NHK publisher has copy right.)

One of the art that use urushi is Kintsugi.
If you’re interested in Kintsugi, I have Kintsugi tour that held in Kyoto, Japan.

You can’t come but interested in, please check this video:

#35 仏像 Buddhist Statues

Twice a month, my friend and I organize the event, “Let’s talk about Kyoto in English and Japanese”. Today’s theme was Shito Shrines.
I took memo of useful expression 🙂

(All from “Trad Japan” NHK publisher has copy right.)

Buddhism has bee the dominant religion in Japan for well over a millennium. There are now about 80,000 Buddhist temples around the country.

dominant 最有力な
millennium 1,000年

At most of them, the principal object of worship is a statue, in front of which visitors pray.

the principal object of worship ご本尊

Buddhist statues can be classified into four main categories.

Nyorai are the highest in rank. There are beings who have attained enlightenment. The most famous nyorai is Shaka Nora, the founder of Buddhism. Other nyorai include Amida Nora, who leads people to the Pure Land, and Yakushi Nyorai, who can heal the sick. Different nyorai statues are used by different sects.

Pure Land  極楽浄土
sect 宗派

Next, bosatsu…These are beings who are working toward attaining enlightenment. The most common boasts is Kannon Boasts, who has a warm smile and offers help to people with problems.

Besides nyorai and bosatsu, there are also myo-o and ten. Myo-o are deities who punish those who ignore the Buddha’s teachings. Ten are Indian gods and goddesses who became Buddhist guardian deities.

如来 Nyorai- These are beings who have attained enlightenment.
菩薩 Boasts- These are beings who are working towards attaining enlightenment.
明王 Myo-o- Deities who punish those who ignore the Buddha’s teaching.
天 Ten- Indian gods and goddesses who became Buddhist guardian deities.

Buddhist statues were first produced in Japan over 1,400 years ago. Ever since, great efforts have been made to create representations of Buddhist figures.

guardian deities 守護神

This is the 7th-century Shaka Nora statue at Horyuji Temple. One of its notable features is the long, flowing robe covering the dais.

dais 台座

Its swirling patterns symbolize the divine powers of the Buddha. The combination of the robe and the decorative piece behind the figure suggests that the Buddha is emitting light in all directions.

This Yakushi Nyorai statue at Shinyakushiji Temple was made in the 8th century. It’s easy to see that its raised right hand is thick and plump, but look closely and you’ll notice that the fingernails are curved upwards. They’re said to have been modeled after the nails of a baby. At the time this statue was made, people associated babies’ vigour and innocence with Buddhist deities.

plump ふっくらとした
vigour 活力

Japan is home to a vast number of Buddhist statues that were produced with the aim of spreading Buddhism, and their designs all represent the hopes and prayers of believers.

(All from “Trad Japan” NHK publisher has copy right.)

dominant 最も優勢な
Timber is still the dominant material used for building houses in Japan.
Timber 木材

Syncretization of Shinto and Buddhism

Confucianism was the principal subject of study during the Edo period.

Buddhism is based on the idea that every being is equal.

The ultimate goal of Buddhism is to attain a state of enlightenment.

In the early Meiji period, many books were written to enlighten the public about the concept of democracy.

figure は人物という意味。
Oda Nobunaga is one of the most popular historical figures of Warring States period.

devine 神の、神聖な

In the old days, people believed natural disasters were caused by divine will.

Before the war, the emperor was regarded as having devine status, with powers transcending those of the Diet.

(All from “Trad Japan” NHK publisher has copy right.)



#34 神社 Shinto Shrines

Twice a month, my friend and I organize the event, “Let’s talk about Kyoto in English and Japanese”. Today’s theme was Shito Shrines.
I took memo of useful expression 🙂

(All from “Trad Japan” NHK publisher has copy right.)
Deep amid the trees stands a cluster of buildings of quiet dignity- a shrine. Shrines are dedicated to the deities of Shinto, Japan’s ancient religion. It’s said that Japan has around 80,000 shrines.

amid __の中に
cluster 群れ

People visit shines on important occasions to make wishes and to offer thanks.

Shrines take various forms in different locations, and they are home to many different deities.

This is Ise Jingu in Mis Prefecture. This ancient shine is very important, and it even appears in Japanese mythology. Enshrined here is the sun diety, who is believed to bring bountiful harvests.

Japanese mythology 日本神話
enshrine __をまつる
bountiful 豊富な


This is Itsukushima Jinja in Hiroshima Prefecture. The island on which it’s located is known as one of the three most beautiful scenic spots in Japan. This shrine is built out over the sea, and the gods of the sea are the object of worship.

object of worship ご神体

This is Izumo Taisha in Shimane Prefecture. Enshrined here is the deity who is said to have played a role in the birth of the nation and is also known for bring people together.

People choose shrines that match their needs and pray to specific deities.

Once you pass under this gate, the torii, you are in a sacred realm


The approach to a shine is used by the deity, so it’s considered proper etiquette for visitors to avoid walking in the middle so as not to get in the way of the deity.

As you proceed, you will come to a purification basin.
Before presenting yourself to the deity, you’re supposed to cleanse your hands and mouth to get rid of impurities.

purification basin=手水舎(ちょうずや)

Up  ahead is the hall of worship. This is where you offer prayers to the deity.

Ringing the bell is said to summon the deity and to restore your innocence.

Maiji Restoration=明治維新

The most common way to worship is to bow twice and then clap twice. Then you pray in silence, and you bow one more time at the end.

A shine is a place where you can offer up a prayer and purify your body and soul, so that you can get on with your daily life feeling refreshed and renewed.
(All from “Trad Japan” NHK publisher has copy right.)

This song is dedicated to my parents.

enshrine __をまつる

The Phoenix Hall of Byodoin Temple enshrines a statue of Amida Buddha.

The object of worship at Shinto shrines include mirrors, jewels, and swords.

日本三景 scenic spots

(All from “Trad Japan” NHK publisher has copy right.)


#33 Kaidan 怪談

Twice a month, my friend and I organize the event, “Let’s talk about Kyoto in English and Japanese”. Today’s theme was Kaidan.
I took memo of useful expression 🙂

(All from “Trad Japan” NHK publisher has copy right.)
A creature with eyes not on its face but on the plans of its hands… A long-necked monster with a tongue that moves like a snake… Known as yokai, these characters have been part of Japanese folklore for centuries.

One of the best-known types of yokai is the kappa- a water sprite with a  saucer-like depression on the top of its head. Kappa are believed to live in marshes and rivers, and they love to wrestle with children.

But kappa have a violent side, too. It’s said that they sometimes drag children into the water.

The Japanese used to blame water-related accidents and other natural calamities on yokai.

folklore 民間伝承
sprite 妖精
marsh 沼地
calamity 大災害

There are also yokai based on household items. These picture scrolls from the 16th century tell the story of how these yokai came into existence.

It goes like this: A major cleaning session is held at a big mansion, and many old household items are thrown out. The discarded items get together and discuss how they turn into yokai and start attacking them.

At that time, the Japanese believed that every inanimate object had its own spirit and would cause bad thing to happen to anyone who didn’t take good care of it. Stories about yokai sometimes served as a warning to people to be more respectful to the things they use.

Around 200 years ago, during the late Edo period, the role of yokai changed and they became a source of amusement.

Here’s a pack of cards used for children’s game. Each card features some kind of funny-looking yokai.

And the theme of this traditional board game is also yokai. People began to see yokai as amusing characters, and many famous ukiyo-e artists started depicting them.

The Japanese have always had a certain fear of nature, but they have also felt an affinity with it. Scary but at the same time oddly likable, yokai perhaps embody the Japanese way of seeing the world.

affinity 親近感
embody ___を体現する
(All from “Trad Japan” NHK publisher has copy right.)

People in the old days blamed evil spirits for infectious diseases.

inanimate 無生物の
animate 生命のある

The arrival of the US Black Ships in 1853 caused the Tokugawa shogunate to abandon its isolation policy.

Japanese honorifics include respectful expressions used for others and humble expressions used for oneself.

Toyotomi Hideyoshi reunited the whole country in the late 16th century.

The Japanese see the cherry blossom as a national symbol.

In the old days, Buddhism and Shinto were seen as one religion.

(All from “Trad Japan” NHK publisher has copy right.)

#32 Obon

Twice a month, my friend and I organize the event, “Let’s talk about Kyoto in English and Japanese”. Today’s theme was Obon.
I took memo of useful expression 🙂

(All from “Trad Japan” NHK publisher has copy right.)
Every year in August, the city of Tokushima on the island of Shikoku becomes one big dance floor, as 10,000 people dance through the streets. Called Awa Odori, this is one of Japan’s annual Obon events to honor the spirits of ancestors.

The ritual which Awa Odori is based on is still practiced in a fishing community in Tokushima.

Those who have lost a family member within the past year gather at the port. This straw doll is said to act as a magnet for the souls of the departed.

People believe that facing the sea and calling out the names of the dead will bring their souls back to this world. They lively festival music is played. The participants from a circle and start dancing. This dance expresses the joy of having the ancestral spirits back for a brief while.

In many parts of Japan, Obon takes place around the 15th of August, over a period of several days. There are various regional customs associated with it.

On the first day of Obon, small fires are lit at the entrance to homes. This is done to help the ancestral spirits find their way home.

During the Obon period, there’s a tradition to make “cucumber horses”and “aubergine oxen”, This is based on the desire for the ancestors to come to visit as fast as possible riding on horses, but to leave as slowly as possible riding on oxen.

A special table is set up for the spirits, and offerings of food and drink are placed on it. It’s customary to treat the spirits as if they were still alive.

On the last day of Obon- August the 16th- fires are lit to send the spirits back to the world of the dead. One of the grandest send-off displays is Kyoto’s Gozan no Okuribi.

The sticks of firewood used for the bonfires are offerings on which people have written messages to their ancestors.

Torchbearers climb up the hillsides carrying torches blessed by Buddhist priests, and light one pile of firewood after another.

Here, we see an ideogram on the hillside- bright and magnificent. These bonfires are thought to help guide the spirits back to their world.

These events and practices related to Obon provide a glimpse into the Japanese outlook on life and death, which is based on the notion that people should always give a warm welcome to the spirits of the deceased.
(All from “Trad Japan” NHK publisher has copy right.)

The butsudan is a household Buddhist altar to worship the family’s ancestors.

practice は何かを定期的、習慣的に「行う」、あるいは教義や義務などを「守る」という意味です。また、スポーツや楽器などを目的語に取ると、それらの技術を向上させるために定期的に「〜を練習する、稽古する」の意味になります。
The tradition of bean-throwing is still practiced on Setsubun all over Japan.

the past 〜は過去から現在までの特定の期間を表します。例えば、the past year は「ここ一年間」の意味です。そのほかにも、the past weekとすると「ここ一週間」、the past ten years とすると「ここ10年間」となります。なお特定の期間を指す表現なので、通常定冠詞のthe を伴います。
Japanese anime have become very popular overseas during the past ten years.

this world は我々が生きている現世の世界を意味し、仏教では「此岸(しがん)」と呼ばれます。それに対し、死者の世界である「彼岸(ひがん)」つまり、あの世や来世は the other world と呼ばれます。
Okuribi fires are to guide the souls of the deceased back to the other world.

various は「様々な」の意味です。manyと違い、種類の異なるものが複数あることを意味します。またmanyと同様に、後には数えることができる名詞を複数形にして続けます。
Various kinds of Sake are produced across Japan.

When you watch a Kabuki play, the earphone guide service will help you understand the story.

It’s customary to do- 「〜するのが習慣です」
It’s customary to take newborn babies to a local shine to receive a blessing.

outlook on -「〜に対するものの見方」、outlook on-, outlook over-「〜の景色、眺望」、outlook for- 「〜への見通し」
The Japanese outlook on life is reflected in the general appreciation of seasonal changes.

(All from “Trad Japan” NHK publisher has copy right.)

Do you know “Kintsugi”?

Do you know “Kintsugi”?
If you break your favorite mag, cup, glass, or pottery, what do you do?
You feel disappoint and give up?

Here’s wonderful solution for that.
That is Kintsugi technique.
Kintsugi is the ancient technique of restoring cracks and chips in pottery with gold and urushi—Japanese lacquer.
It is surprising that in Jomon period (14,000 – 300 BC), people already using this technique to restoring cracks and chips in pottery in Japan.

I thought it’s very interesting, and really impressed the idea of kintsugi. By using urushi and gold leaf, you can make beautiful one more than the original like this below:

The other day, I experienced workshop which I make an original incense dish with gold leaf decorations, similar experience of kintsugi, taught by Mr. Kiyokawa, a lacquer restoration artist.

then I made this:

So I made airbnb experience tour that people can experience this and small tour around the place: https://www.airbnb.jp/experiences/259350

Last week, a lady from France who take my Japanese lessons come to Kyoto with her husband and experienced this tour.

We had lot of fun 🙂

#28 Furoshiki ふろしき

Twice a month, my friend and I organize the event, “Let’s talk about Kyoto in English and Japanese”. Today’s theme was Furoshiki.
I took memo of useful expression 🙂

(All from “Trad Japan” NHK publisher has copy right.)
Simple, square pieces of cloth like this made of cotton, silk, or other materials…They’re called furoshiki.

Furoshiki are versatile wrapping cloths. Not only are they useful for carrying things, they also make gifts look more attractive.

The word furoshiki comes from the culture of the bath, or furo in Japanese.

In the 14th century, when samurai and aristocrats used a communal bath, they would take a change of clothes wrapped in a cloth. After bathing, they would use the cloth as a bath mat on which to get dressed. Shiki means ‘something spread on the floor’, so the cloths used when taking a furo came to be known as furoshiki.

Later, the use of furoshiki spread to ordinary people, and they became an essential item for carrying things.

Furoshiki can be used to wrap just about anything.

They can even be used to wrap bottles of wine.

You roll two bottles up in a furoshiki. Then stand them upright, which folds the furoshiki in the middle. Finally, bring the corners together and tie them in a knot. This wrapping method helps to keep fragile bottles from breaking and creates an easy-to-carry handle.

With a furoshiki, there’s also a way to wrap a long box that seems too big for the cloth.

Bring the near corner and the far corner together, intertwine them, take one end to the left-hand corner and the other to the right-hand corner, and tie a knot at both ends.

The fact that a piece of cloth can be folded into various shapes to contain almost any object is the most distinctive characteristic of furoshiki.

Furhisoki used for wrapping gifts often have auspicious patters on them.

This one depicts pine, bamboo, ume plum, the crane, and the turtle, which all symbolize good fortune.

It’s traditionally believed that wrapping a gift with a cloth featuring auspicious symbols like these keeps the gift pure.

Furoshiki are not just a means of wrapping objects.
These cloths are used to express respect for others and to wish them good luck.

The Japanese put a lot of thought and heart into gift giving, and furoshiki are clear evidence of that sensibility.


(All from “Trad Japan” NHK publisher has copy right.)
Wearing a kimono bearing a family crest makes the wearer look more formal.

communal bath 共同風呂
communal kitchen 共同キッチン
communal space 共有スペース

結び目をつくる tie a knot
結婚する tie the knot

An obijime goes around an obi sash and is tied at the front in a knot.

pure の名詞形はpurity, 「〜をpure にする」はpurify-

In Buddhism, the world of the enlightened is called the jodo, or the Pure Land.

Wasabi only grows in fresh, pure water.

(All from “Trad Japan” NHK publisher has copy right.)