Category: ramblings

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).



It’s been a while since I’ve been in a car with the lovely Risapie (in fact, I believe the last time was some 7 years ago!!) but last weekend we found ourselves in a car headed to a very rainy Kawaguchiko (Lake Kawaguchi) for a lovely overnight trip to the beautiful Fujigoko area out west of Tokyo. It’s the middle of the rainy season here and as luck would have it, it rained all weekend AND I forgot my umbrella… things weren’t all bad, however, I ended up getting some pretty nice photos of a cloud-covered Mt. Fuji which make for a nice change of pace from the usual blue-skies postcard-type shots.



I debated for a while whether to title this a Sky Worship post or not, but in the end decided that it wasn’t focused enough to merit the title. Actually, there’s not much to this post in general. I stopped by Kichijoji the other day, one of my favourite neighborhoods in Tokyo to take a few photos with a friend. This random smattering of pictures is the result.

Tokyo B&W

Tokyo B&W

I woke up at 5:20 AM this morning and decided to take the day off to attend to the huge pile of things I had to do that have built up over the past month. I started out making some pretty decent progress but then when lunch rolled around I took a break to surf the net whilst stuffing my face and sort of lost my momentum. One of the things I’ve been meaning to do is update the blog, and so here I am, trying to regain my motivation to churn though the list of things for today. I spent a few minutes trying to think of what to write about, but nothing particular came to my mind. So instead, I decided to clear out a bunch of B&W photos I had laying around from various places in Tokyo. I don’t like to mix them in with colour photos, so they sit and wait for posts like this where I can clear them out in one go.

Capybara Time

ichihara zo no kuni excerpt

I suppose, however, that an update is long overdue, so here then, are a few pictures from my recent visit to the Ichihara Zo no Kuni (“Elephant Kingdom”). Now you may recall that I trekked off to the remote countryside of Saitama prefecture just last month for some Capybara Onsen adventures. So what brings me to the remote countryside of Chiba prefecture? Well, if you guessed Capybaras, then, my friend, you would be just about right :)

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.

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!)