Learn japanese tips

Carry Cash

“Japan is a cash-based society, so make sure you have local currency on you at all times. You’ll be surprised by the number of places that won’t take your credit card.”Leah, Kid Bucketlist

Business Cards

“If you are planning on giving or receiving business cards in Japan then don’t forget the etiquette that goes with it: Always hand business cards over by holding them with both hands, thumbs on top, while bowing a little. Make sure you receive your contact’s card with both hands too and if you are sitting, keep the card in front of you.”Maria-Carmen, Orient Excess Above and featured image credit: Tim Bird, Travel Photographer,  fellow BGTW member and blogger at Six Images.


Planning a trip to Japan? Check out this 10 day Japan itinerary.

Don’t Walk and Eat

“Don’t eat while walking – it’s considered rude. Grab your food and sit or stand somewhere, and finish it before moving on.”Thais, World Trip Diaries UPDATE: There are some exceptions, such as street snacks. Image credit: Notes of Nomads, two fabulous bloggers who have made Japan their home.

Watch plenty of cartoons, movies, dramas and listen/sing to plenty of music but do not do only this!

Japanese has increased in popularity with young adults overseas thanks to anime, manga (comics), and Japanese rock and pop music. Many fans want to read and understand without waiting for official translations, so they take on the task of translating manga or lyrics word-by-word. Although this is a really smashing way to learn to slang and challenging grammar patterns, it teaches you a vocabulary that is essentially useless in everyday speech. You may be able to rattle off the words for heartbeat, overflowing, embrace, tears, eternity, unforgivable, and swallowtail butterfly, but you will be in a world of trouble when you’re stuck in Tokyo without knowing bank, staircase, airport, train line, turn, left, right and post-office.

Invest in some quality learning material.

If you’re taking Japanese in school, your textbook is chosen for you, but a bad textbook can mar your learning experience. I once had a Japanese teacher pause and state that a couple of terms in our “Nakama” textbook were outdated. What good does having an outdated book do for a beginning student? Luckily, you have choices when it comes to books, Genki and Japanese for Busy People are great places to start. In reality, I found textbooks to be more like guidelines, but it varies depending on your learning style. Invest in a solid dictionary that has kanji, the hiragana for each kanji and an English definition. Also, pick up Barron’s Japanese Grammar book immediately. Wait on purchasing a kanji dictionary or cards until later in your studies. There are also books on slang Japanese, culture dictionaries, and pop culture encyclopedias that may be useful.

Don’t skip what’s hard.

It’s easy to just think, “I’ll go back to that chapter I skipped,” but in reality you probably won’t. The first lessons are about family titles, telling time and particles. Basic conversations in textbooks often use time and family as topics, and mastering particles takes far longer to than it initially seems like it should. Learn how to conjugate adjectives, and don’t continue to the next lesson until you can do it in your sleep.

Use Google Image Search To Check The Meaning Of Japanese Words

Tofugu.com explains this neat trick: “If you don't know what a Japanese word means, or if you just aren't sure about the translation you're getting, put it into Google Image search and see what pops up. Searching for images in Japanese will also tell you a lot about the Japanese society as a whole. The results will be different from your language's search because that culture will be reflected.” Nice!

Start Reading Japanese With Graded Readers

These are short stories written entirely in Japanese. Find out more from Wired in Japan.

Exploit Romaji Before Going On To Learn Kana

Benny Lewis describes his dilemma in the early stages of learning Japanese:  “I would recommend you learn lots of words and phrases first in Romaji, and when you have just enough to introduce yourself and ask the person to repeat themselves and keep some kind of basic flow, then transition to Kana only mode.”

Find Out How To Use Japanese Words Naturally

Tatoeba has an extensive resource of sample sentences.