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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 good....

Duration: 01:04:40

Tofugu Answers 50 of YOUR Questions: The Tofugu Podcast 50th Episode Special

We’ve been doing this Tofugu Podcast thing for 50 episodes now (hooray!) so we decided to celebrate by answering listener questions. We asked you for your most burning questions and you sent us a ton! We picked the 50 best and sat down to answer them all in one fantastic podcast episode. I’m sure after this, all your questions about Japan, Japanese language, and Tofugu will be answered forever. Sure, this means the end of the Tofugu Podcast, but that’s a small price to pay for unlimited...

Duration: 01:17:01

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...

Duration: 00:22:07

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.

Duration: 01:04:03

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...

Duration: 01:21:15

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,...

Duration: 00:59:06

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...

Duration: 01:19:16

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...

Duration: 01:03:44

What's the Difference Between On'Yomi and Kun'yomi Kanji?

Read the article: This is maybe the most frustrating aspect of studying kanji. You start learning 山 as やま. Cool, one kanji memorized. Wait... it can also be read as さん. Wait. All your other kanji have 2 or 4 extra readings too! Some are on'yomi. Some are kun'yomi. Why does this have to be so complicated?! It may seem confusing at first, but if you learn the difference between on'yomi/kun'yomi readings, where they came from, and how they work, we promise it will make...

Duration: 01:36:44

What to Do with One Day in Tokyo

Oh no! The Tofugu Team has been kidnapped by Elon Musk and flown in his spaceship to Japan. He doesn't know how to have fun as a human, so he's forcing Koichi, Kanae, and Michael to show him what they would do with one day in Tokyo. If you're in Tokyo for a short visit, you can get some sweet travel tips from the team as they move from place to place, Elon Musk trailing slowly behind. Exciting destinations like: - A restaurant that serves shaved ice made with water from a World Heritage...

Duration: 01:15:01

We Rented a Japanese Homeless Man

In Japan last year, we rented a homeless person. Now, before you get angry at us for doing something terrible, listen to the podcast. It's not as ominous as it sounds. We wrote about this experience, too. If you want to read Homeless Kotani's story, you can do it here: Be sure to subscribe to the Tofugu Podcast on iTunes or wherever podcasts go to die.

Duration: 01:05:25

The Japanese Craft Beer Movement

If you've ever had beer in Japan, you probably know that there are only four of them: Asahi, Kirin, Sapporo, and Yebisu. But, there is a beer movement going on. Japanese craft beers are making a comeback in a big way. We talked to Beer Tengoku, a duo of professional Japanese craft beer drinkers (hey guys, the first step is admitting you have a problem), about the best and worst craft beers in Japan, and where to get them. Also, there was a blue beer. That was weird. Be sure to check out...

Duration: 01:06:08

Do You Need to Go to Japan to Study "Real" Martial Arts? Feat. Guillaume Erard

A lot of world famous martial arts started in Japan: Karate, Judo, Kendo, Jujutsu, and especially Aikido. But if you really want to study one of these fighting arts properly, like for real, you have to move to Japan and practice it there. Right? Maybe not. This week, we talked to Guillame Erard who has been practicing Aikido for 30 years. He moved to Japan just to study Aikido and has taught students all over the world. He breaks down the pros and cons of studying martial arts in Japan, as...

Duration: 01:20:53

How to Become a TV Star in Japan feat. Matthew Chozick

It’s totally possible for you, a foreigner, to move to Japan and become a TV star. That’s exactly what happened to our guest this week, Matt Chozick, who has appeared weekly on one of Japan’s biggest variety shows for the past five years. But he gets to be where he is because of all the Japanese practice he put in (and a generous portion of luck). Learn how you can follow Matthew’s method to learn Japanese IN JAPAN! FOR FREE! And when we say "learn Japanese" we mean "learn Japanese to the...

Duration: 01:25:22

Do You Have What It Takes to Be a Freelance Japanese Translator? feat. Nora Stevens Heath

If you want to translate video games and anime, you’ll probably have to work freelance. That means no 9–5, no benefits. You’ll be working weekends and rushing work to your clients. That’s been the experience of our guest this week, Nora Stevens Heath, and she's loving every minute of it. Nora has translated A+ titles like Kingdom Hearts 2, Your Name, Assassination Classroom, and Mario Kart DS. Listen to our conversation with Nora and find out if you have what it takes to translate games...

Duration: 00:58:15

Why Going to Japan With No Plans Can be an Amazing Exerpeince

If you're having a hard time planning your trip to Japan, then don't! You can avoid all that stress of fitting everything into your schedule and trying to see the best spots by simply avoiding the planning. Taking the road less traveled can yield a more authentic experience and is a sure cure for the itch of adventure. This week Koichi, fresh off a trip from Japan, and Michael sit down to discuss the joys in exploring Japan with limited or no itinerary. They give you insight on why...

Duration: 00:50:23

The 5 Best Japanese Learning Resources of 2017 (So Far)

In January 2017, Tofugu started collecting the best, newest Japanese learning resources each month and reviewing them in a series (which you can read here: It's been six months since we started, and we've collected 32 new resources. Now it's time to reveal the best of the best! In this episode, Kristen tells you her 5 absolute favorite resources. As Tofugu's translator, she knows what it takes to study faster, better, and stronger. So if your progress is...

Duration: 01:08:16

Is the JET Program Right for You?

The JET Program recruits hundreds of new English teachers every year to live and work in Japan. You could be one of them. But before you apply, there are some things to consider. What is the salary like? What are the benefits? Do you get any support? And most importantly, what is living in Japan REALLY like? Jamal asks Michael, a former JET ALT and current President of JET Alumni Association in Portland, all these questions and more (a lot more). The JET Program isn’t for everyone, but it...

Duration: 01:34:19

How to Protect Yourself from Japan's "Black Companies"

Do you want to work in Japan? Sure, we all do. But before you take that sweet new job with the Tokyo semiconductor conglomerate, maybe you should do some research to find out if it's a... BLACK COMPANY! (dun dun dun) "Black company" is the name Japanese people give to companies that are not so great to work for. Sexual harassment, unpaid overtime, required alcohol consumption, bullying; you name and a black company does it (to you). Kanae, our current Tofugu intern, used to work at a black...

Duration: 01:19:33

What Can You Do With a B.A. in Japanese Studies? Feat. ShinpaiDeshou

Get more from us at: This week, Michael and Koichi discuss career opportunities in Japanese Studies with Shinpai Deshou blog founder, Paula Curtis. Paula is well acquainted with the academic and professional aspects of Japanese Studies and dedicates her time in assisting others further their careers along with contributors to the blog. Discussed in the episode: - What Japanese Studies entails - Options after getting your B.A. - Resources on finding and landing a career -...

Duration: 00:58:45

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