Category: musings

How to pass the JLPT 1 – Part IV

jlpt level 1 part IV excerpt

Stop right now. Listen to me. The kanji section on the JLPT I is hard. Do not sleep on this ish. To paraphrase Ice Cube: “You better check yo’self before you wreck yo’self.” You’re gonna need to study pretty intensely if you want to pass the kanji section of the JLPT I, my friends, so leave yourself plenty of time. So how to study? If you’re here looking for nifty tricks like mnemonic devices or fancy illustrations ostensibly derived from kanji radicals to help you, then I’m afraid you’ve come to the wrong place. There are only two main ways in which I’ve studied kanji: by reading them in context (in novels, newspapers, during the course of daily life or else at work) and also by brute force baby (break out a piece of paper and start writing them beasts out over and over and over (and over) again). I used both ways when studying for the JLPT I kanji section, so that’s what I’ll talk about. If you want to use pretty pictures or mnemonics you’re welcome to, but I don’t have any particular advice for you.

How to pass the JLPT 1 – Part III

jlpt level 1 part III excerpt

So if the object is not 100% listening and comprehension accuracy, then what is the goal? The answer is simple: your goal is to comprehend just enough to answer the question in front of you correctly. In order to do this, you need to be familiar with the general structure of spoken Japanese, be able to grasp the context of a conversation/situation, have a sufficiently deep vocabulary to enable literal comprehension to occur and most of all, be able to “keep up” with the pace of Japanese as spoken by native speakers.

2010 Year in Photos

2010 in photos - excerpt image

So just like last year, it’s time again for a wrap-up “year in photos” post. I had a hard time paring everything down into a manageable selection of photos for a single post, despite blogging less this year than last year. I’d like to think that it’s because my photos are improving slightly, but honestly speaking it’s probably that my editing skills are just getting worse haha. (though I did update the Photo of the Day section a lot more this year).

How to pass the JLPT 1 – Part I

jlpt level 1 excerpt

The results for the Japanese Proficiency Exam (JLPT) Level 1 (the highest level) for last December were announced earlier this month, and I was delighted to see that I passed. I passed both the JLPT 1 and the JLPT 2 (which I sat back in 2008) each on my first try. I’m not particularly great at Japanese (I famously confused the words for “poop” and “bean jam” once, causing great consternation to the old woman staffing the bakery counter), but still passing both on your first try doesn’t seem to be a super common feat, especially for test-takers whose native language is English. When I was studying for the test, I remember googling for study strategies which others might have used. There are a few good resources out there, but I thought I would write up my take on it as well, for what it’s worth.

Quiet streets


My mind ended up turning to thoughts about my blog, life and future these days (not necessarily in that order, mind you). It’s been almost 7 years since I moved to Japan and I thought that by now I’d know what I want to do with my life. Sadly, this does not appear to be the case. I think the core issue is that I’m a fickle panda: this is a blessing in that I have many and multi-varied interests, but also a curse because I tire of things quickly. Every time I think I have found something I want to do with my life, three weeks later I decide it’s not really for me and I stop working towards it.

2009 Year in Pictures

2009 in pictures - excerpt image

2009 was a pretty great year (well for me personally. For the world and the economy, err, not so much) and it was hard to choose just a few pictures as my “favourites” from the thousands that I snapped over the past 12 months. On top of that, there’s the question of how to sort them? While all the pictures could be classified dozens of different ways, in the end I decided to go with the four basic themes below. (if you need more granularity than that, head over to the photos section of the site and play around with the search options!)

My life at present

This is my life everyday. Sigh. I work 8 to 10 hours, then I come home, try to cook some dinner, and then sit down to face this: Trying to study for two major standardised tests while working full time sucks. I wish I was a college student again so I could just concentrate on…
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Top of the Morning

It seems like such a shame to spend 30 minutes dressing up nice and getting ready for work in the morning just to head out the door and have it all ruined by the combination of wind, rain and heat which conspires to turn one into a wet, tussled, sweaty mess in a matter of…
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Unnecessary Automation

Sorry, there are not many interesting pictures in this entry, namely because people tend to freak out when you start taking snapping photographs in public bathrooms (you’ll see what I mean if you read this entry) But don’t fear! If you want pictures, check the entry right above this one, which I posted like 5…
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