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How You Can Improve Your Japanese Pronunciation

In this episode we get into Japanese pronunciation. Whether you are a beginner, advanced, or fluent, you'll find something in this episode that will help you to improve your pronunciation. To read more, check out our (really in-depth) guide:


Getting Into 込む Compound Verbs

Prefer reading instead? We wrote a whole article about this (even more example sentences included!) Have you ever seen the Japanese verb 込む? On its own, it means "to be packed" or "to be crowded." But, this verb is also used in compound verbs... 255+ of them, in fact! You may have seen examples of this in your studies: 入り込む, 切り込む, 駆け込む, the list goes on and on. The problem is, the way that 込む affects the first verb (we'll call that V1)...


Podcast Updates! New Season and Secret Guests!

The Tofugu Podcast is taking a break for a couple of weeks while we prepare Season 2 of our prolific podcast and interview a special guest that is near and dear to our hearts!


How to Lead a Group of Friends Around Japan

Traveling around Japan in a large group (10 or more) may seem impossible. But let me tell you, friends, it is very possible. In fact, the Tofugu team recently went on a trip to Japan organized and led by our very own Koichi. In this episode, he tells you how he planned an weeklong international trip for 15 people. He got everything together, led everyone around, made sure everyone was taken care of—all with zero mishaps. If you dream of showing your friends Japan, listen to this episode so...


White Day, Japan's Sequel to Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day 2: PAYBACK! That should be the name of "White Day," Japan's sequel to Valentine's Day, which is exactly one month later, on March 14. But what does one do on White Day, exactly? All the gifts has been given. All the love received. What's left? Boy howdy, to understand what's going on, Koichi, Kanae, and Michael discuss how Japan's Valentine's and White Days work in tandem to create one-two marketing punch that'll embiggen your waistline and ensmallen your wallet.


Stories from Translating Final Fantasy X feat. Alex O. Smith

Friend of the podcast, Alex O Smith returns! After two decades translating video games (including many Final Fantasies), Alex has accumulated quite a few stories from inside the Japanese video game industry. Some of his excellent tales include: - The incredibly insane task of voicing every line of dialogue in Final Fantasy X. - How he basically didn't sleep for two months. - Hanging out with smokers to gain allies at Squaresoft. - How he learned to compromise with big budget directors. -...


How to Make Friends in Japan

It's tough making friends in a new place. Different people have different ways of going about it. Throw in a culture and language barrier and it can be downright frustrating. For these reasons and more, visitors and new residents to Japan often worry about making friends. That's why the Tofugu Team got together with returning co-host Kanae (she's back!) to discuss the best ways to meet people and start friendships in Japan.


The Absolute BEST Japanese Learning Resources from 2017

Read the series: --- After a year of collecting the best Japanese learning resources every month and delivering them straight to your eyeballs, Tofugu sits down to discuss which study tools are the best of the best. We divided all the resources into six categories. Then each host (Koichi, Michael, and Kristen) picked their favs before battling it out on the podcast field! Actually, they discussed it pretty civilly, but the result is the same: you now have a...


How to Get a Job at a Japanese Video Game Company feat. Ben Judd

If you want to find your way into the Japanese video game industry, there's no better example we can point to than Ben Judd, a Capcom veteran responsible for giving Phoenix Wright his English voice. But we'll do you one better than just "pointing to him." We TALKED with him for over an hour about his experience breaking into Japanese work culture, establishing himself in the video game industry, and becoming a driving force in game production. In this interview, Ben reveals some secrets to...


Answering Your Own Questions About Japanese

"Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll stop emailing you about free fish." - Koichi (probably) Learning Japanese on your own can be challenging. Especially when you need clarification about abstract concepts, how to pronounce kanji, and how native speakers use certain words. We're here to show you that you can answer your specific questions about Japanese. Kristen and Michael discuss different methods to answering questions that will arise while...


The Challenge of Bringing Japanese Rock to America feat. Robby Takac from the Goo Goo Dolls

Running a record label that brings Japanese rock music to the US is not easy. But if anyone can do it, it’s Robby Takac, the bassist for the Goo Goo Dolls. He knows the ins-and-outs of the music industry pretty well; his band has double and triple platinum records and a globetrotting tour schedule. We talked to Robby about his record label, Good Charamel, which produces albums for Japanese bands like Pinky Doodle Poodle, the MOLICE, and Osaka-based punk rock institution Shonen Knife. He...


How to Learn Japanese with Anime (And Why Maybe You Shouldn't)

Resources for learning Japanese we talk about in this episode: - Using SRS to Learn Japanese: - How to Study Japanese with Sentences: - Language Shadowing: === "You can learn Japanese from anime!" You’ve probably seen promises like these floating around the Internet. Maybe you’ve secretly hoped they’re true. We’re here to tell you THEY ARE TRUE! But just because you CAN learn Japanese from anime, it doesn’t mean you...


The Lifestyle Behind Japanese Clothing Brand Kiriko

There’s a clothing brand here in Portland that Koichi is a big fan of. It’s called Kiriko. What makes Kiriko special? The company makes clothing out of reclaimed Japanese fabric, some of it over 100 years old. But more important, they promote taking time to appreciate simplicity and quality. That’s why they sell more than just clothing; ceramics, coffee makers, backpacks. You could make an entire Kirko life. And that’s what we talked about with Kiriko’s founder, Katsu. We wanted to know...


Foreigner Forgiveness: What Happens When You Screw Up in Japan

When visiting or living in Japan, you may be worried about making mistakes: speaking informally to a superior, using chopsticks awkwardly, or bowing at the wrong degree. Things like this cause a lot of anxiety for foreigners in Japan. But we’re here to tell you about foreigner forgiveness. Basically, don’t worry so much. But on the other hand, don’t not worry enough. Some foreigners stretch this goodwill thin by taking advantage of peoples’ kindness for their own benefit. That’s not so...


Visiting Tokyo’s Festival and Drum Museum

Read more about Japanese festivals here: There’s nothing better than a Japanese festival. Drums, mikoshi, dancing, food. It’s a magical experience. But Japanese festivals don’t just "happen." They take a lot of hard work and equipment. And some of the best festival equipment comes from a 150 year old shop in Tokyo called Miyamoto Unosuke. This shop is one of the top suppliers of festival gear in Japan. And if you love intricately carved portable shrines inlaid with...


Tofugu’s Favorite Japanese Ghosts and Monsters

Read more: Yokai is Japan’s category for monsters, ghosts, demons, and pretty much any spooky or fantastic creature you can think of. And there are hundreds upon hundreds of fun yokai to learn about. With Halloween on the way, Michael and Kristen discuss their eight favorite Japanese ghouls; some terrifying, some creepy, and some just plain weird. Turn down the lights, light some candles, and settle in for some unsettling Japanese ghosts and monsters.


Our Favorite Japanese Learning Resources from Tofugu’s "What I Use to Study Japanese" Article Series

Since March, we’ve been publishing articles in a series called "What I Use to Study Japanese" (you can read them all here: In each article, a Japanese language learner tells us what they use to study and the methods they followed to get the language ability they have today. Over the past seven articles, we’ve seen patterns, techniques, and resources that helped us look at learning Japanese in new ways. In this episode, the Tofugu team shares their thoughts on the...


Improving Relationships in Japan Through Omiyage

Read the article: When living in or visiting Japan, there’s one simple thing you can do to make good relationships with Japanese people: omiyage. This art of gift-giving is steeped in tradition and has lots of rules to follow. Get it right and you’ll get off on the right foot with your host family and smooth over relations with co-workers. Get it wrong and… well, just don’t get it wrong. In this episode, Koichi and Michael talk about omiyage etiquette, where to buy,...


How to Memorize Japanese Words Faster with Keyword Mnemonics

Read the article: Memorizing Japanese vocabulary takes a lot of time and energy, and there's so much to memorize! This alone makes people give up before they even get started. But what if there was a way to alleviate this burden by making memories of Japanese words stick in your head almost instantly? You might not have to quit learning Japanese. In fact, you might just become fluent. In this episode, Koichi, Kristen, and Michael teach you how to use the keyword...


Why Are Japanese Classes Disappearing from Your School?

Get more from us at: Why are Japanese classes disappearing from your school? Demand for Japanese classes at universities isn't decreasing. In fact, more people want to learn Japanese than ever before! Then why are Japanese teachers losing their jobs? Recently, Koichi met with a group of professional Japanese teachers to discuss problems facing them. In this podcast, he talks with Kristen and Michael about what he learned. The group brainstorms solutions for Japanese...


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