Clubhouse: Great tool for Japanese learners looking to improve fast

You can learn Japaense on Clubhouse!

Clubhouse can be a great tool for language learners. You can find clubs where people are casually speaking your target language, and you can find rooms that are set up to actively help people learn the language. Here are some Japanese-language clubs that I have found to be entertaining and useful.

Note, Clubhouse is still invite only, but most people have tons of invites. If you want to join and need an invite let me know your Twitter handle and I will hook you up.

朗読【日本昔ばなし】クラブ

朗読【日本昔ばなし】クラブ / Reading Japan Folk Tales Out-loud Club

This club has talented native Japanese speakers reading traditional Japanese folk tales. As many Japanese Folk Tales are very old, thus in the public domain, if you look you can probably find the text online to read along yourself.

J-E Translator’s Club

J-E Translator’s Club

The J-E Translator’s Club is just a bunch of people in the J-E translation industry chatting about translation. Most of the people who join are native Japanese speakers. They discuss interesting things on occasion. One time I heard that apparently in Japanese when you make a good shot in basketball someone may say ナイスシュート but in golf they would say ナイスショット. In English, we say “nice shot” for both.

にほんごではなそう

Nihongo de Hanasou / Let’s speak Japanese

This club is a bunch of Japanese, many of whom are Japanese teachers, who gather to speak about teaching Japanese online, and invite Japanese learners to practice their Japanese with them. They are all very generous and patient.

ENJOY 日本語発音 CLUB

Enjoy Nihongo Hatsuon Club / Enjoy Japanese Pronunciation Club

The title of this club is to enjoy Japanese pronunciation. In reality, sometimes the teacher does a reading from a text. Sometimes the “students” in the room talk about some topic in Japanese. Something that alway happens though, is that the host goes around the room and asks everyone to contribute something.

ARIGATO CLUB

Arigato Club

This club is a straight up teacher-led Japanese lesson. The teacher is @mrmonaka and he speaks carefully and slowly the first time through the lessons. He really is a professional, and sometimes I wonder why people take the time to run these lessons. I guess it’s for the love of the game. He works from a textbook, and will ask the audience to read along with him. Probably the most structured Clubhouse-based Japanese lesson I have mentioned on this page.

関西弁 話さへんか?!

関西弁 話さへんか?! / Won’t you speak Kansai-ben with us?

From what I have gathered, this club is just a bunch of people speaking Kansai-ben together. They love it when others from western Japan join and chat with them, and they welcome foreigners who are interested in Kansai dialect for any reason. I enjoy listening in on this one, even though they do not discuss any topic in particular.

That’s a wrap! Clubhouse really is a great too for language learners. You can pop into a room of people discussing whatever in your target language, and just hang out. It’s good stuff. Try it out, might be fun!

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Japanese Lesson from Games: てんやわや

The Nintendo Switch is region free, and many (not all) games, including Monster Hunter Rise, have the full Japanese text and audio available in the U.S. release of the game. No need to import from Japan! This is an amazing resource for gamers who are learning Japanese. Here’s my latest grab!

もう周辺はてんやわんや!

Japanese: もう周辺はてんやわんや!

Hiragana: もうしゅうへんはてんやわんや!

Romaji: mou shuuhen wa tenya wanya!

てんやわんや is a very fun, sort of old sounding expression that means that everything is topsy-turvy, chaotic, upside down and hectic. The word 周辺 just means this area, or “around here,” and もう technically means “already.” The friendly dango seller is just saying that “things are so crazy and hectic around here! (Because a Osaizuchi has appeared around the shrine ruins .)

Another note on Monster Hunter Rise, in this version of Monster Hunter you can play with anyone worldwide. The previous Nintendo release of Monster Hunter, MH Generations and MH XX, were separate games so if you bought your game in the US it was only English and you couldn’t play with players in Japan. In Monster Hunter Rise lobby creators have an option to restrict their lobbies to people from the same “language” — which seems to really mean which country’s Nintendo Online subscription the person is on. Oh Japan… linking language with country again as if it is a worldwide phenomenon… But I digress. Enjoy playing international Monster Hunter!

Let’s find some tenyawanya in the wild!

Here is a movie from the 1950s called Tenyawanya.

てんやわんや」from 1950
Shizuko Kasagi – Listen at 0:25 「今日は朝から 私のお家はてんやわんやの 大騒ぎ」

Japanese Lesson from Games: Pearl Before Pig

Time for another language pick up from a Nintendo Switch game! This time it’s from GNOSIA, the single-player social deduction game modeled after the popular social game Werewolf.

豚に真珠ってことにならなきゃいいけどね

Japanese: 豚に真珠ってことにならなきゃいいけどね

Hiragana: ぶたにしんじゅうってことにならなきゃいいけどね

Romaji: buta ni shinjyu tte yatsu ni naranakya ii kedo ne

豚に真珠 (buta ni shinjyu) might be one of the first Japanese proverbs that a student of the Japanese language will learn. However, to see it in the wild is a rare treat so I made sure to grab this screen shot.

The expression is often translated as “pearl before pig,” and means to give a pearl to a pig. The meaning comes from the thought, what would a pig do with something as valuable as a pearl even if you gave it to it? The pearl is such a great thing, but in the pig’s hands it becomes useless — the pig does not understand its value. Kind of like if you gave me the greatest sashimi knife ever created… I don’t know how to prepare sushi, I don’t know anything about the value or quality of knives, so what would I do with it?

The later half of the sentence, ってことにならなきゃいいけどね can be broken down as… ってことis referring to the preceding 豚に真珠 pointing to it as the topic. にならなきゃ is short form of にならなければwhich is “if it doesn’t become that.” And finally, いいけどね “would be good.” So, the character is saying something like, “well it would be great if this doesn’t become a pearl before pig sort of situation…” The previous sentence is talking about how one of the other characters has a special ability of being an engineer in the game… and the character speaking is doubting their ability. That’s too much game mechanics to explain here though.

Good stuff! I really enjoyed this game. If you’re looking for a classically structured JRPG to play on your Switch, I can confidently recommend this one. It’s not a game you’re likely to sit down and play for an hour in one sitting, but it’s great in short bursts!

Remember, if you want to play this game in Japanese you have to get it on the Japanese eShop. The US eShop version of Gnosia does NOT have the Japanese text available, so if you want to play this in Japanese you’ll need to get the Japanese version. A lot of games for the Switch are truly region free and will switch languages based on your system settings, but Gnosia, unfortunately, isn’t one of them.

Check my Twitter account @Japannewbie for more occasional Japanese language tidbits from games.

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Japanese Lesson from Games: One or two habits

The Nintendo Switch is region free, and many (not all) games, including Octopath Traveler, have the full Japanese text and audio available in the U.S. release of the game. No need to import from Japan! This is an amazing resource for gamers who are learning Japanese. Here’s my latest grab!

Octopath Traveler - hitokuse futakuse
hoka mo hito kuse futa kuse aru renchuu da!

Japanese: 一癖二癖ある

Hiragana: ひとくせふたくせある

Romaji: hito kuse futa kuse aru

It seems this is usually 一癖も二癖もある hito kuse mo futa kuse mo aru and means a person with a very unusual and quirky personality, normally used in a negative context.

There’s actually a lot of good Japanese in this screenshot. You’ll see the speaker is labeled as 客引き kyakuhiki which is often translated as a ‘tout’ but is basically someone who works to attract customers to buy their products, usually by calling out to them.

突如 totsujyo means ‘suddenly’, and isn’t a phrase I was familiar with.

連中 renchuu is a somewhat casual way to refer to a person or a group of people. It’s often used in a slightly negative context, but not always.

Good stuff! I really enjoyed this game. If you’re looking for a classically structured JRPG to play on your Switch, I can confidently recommend this one.

Check my Twitter account @Japannewbie for more occasional Japanese language tidbits from games.

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Japanese Lesson from Games: 図太い bold

Fire Emblem Three Houses - Zubutoi
sasuga wa sensei, zubutoi ne

Japanese: 流石は先生、図太いね。

Hiragana:さすがはせんせい、ずぶといね。

Romaji: sasuga wa sensei, zubutoi ne.

Meaning: Bold, shameless, cheeky, brash.

I did not know the term zubutoi before encountering it here. This term can be used to both praise and criticize. It refers to someone who is bold and self-confident in their actions, not caring too much about what others may think of them. This person remains calm, cool, and collected, thus you’ll often see the word 平然 (heizen) used in the definition of zubutoi. You can probably understand why this could be taken in a negative sense in Japan, where society often drives individuals to think about how their actions might be taken by the entire group.

Fire Emblem Three Houses is FILLED with advanced Japanese phrases and vocabulary. The game is entirely voiced, and you can replay any dialog you want as long as you don’t leave the dialog sequence. The Nintendo Switch is region free, and many (not all) games, including Fire Emblem, have the full Japanese text and audio available in the U.S. release of the game. No need to import from Japan! This is an amazing resource for gamers who are learning Japanese. Look forward to more. This game is the gift that keeps on giving.

Japanese Lesson from Games: 顔が真っ青だ

The Nintendo Switch is region free, and many (not all) games, including the demo for Project Triangle Strategy, have the full Japanese text and audio available in the U.S. release of the game. This is an amazing resource for gamers who are learning Japanese. Here’s my latest grab!

Triangle Strategy - Kao ga Massao
doushita. kao ga massao dazo, Benedict.

Japanese: どうした。顔が真っ青だぞ、ベネディクト。

Romaji: doushita. kao ga massao dazo, benedikuto.

English: What’s wrong? Benedict, Your face is completely pale!

This is pretty self explanatory, but the interesting phrase I wanted to highlight is 顔が真っ青だぞ. 顔 (kao) is face. 真っ青 (massao) means “completely blue” literally. だぞ is for emphasis. Translated, 顔が真っ青だ is used to describe someone’s face when all the blood has drained from it.

Why blue? I don’t have a good answer. But if you think about it… In English we may someone looks “white as a sheet.” But, do people really look that color when the blood has drained from their face when they are sick or suddenly surprised? If you look closely, it’s probably more of a pale blue color. This is where the Japanese term comes from.

And while we’re on the Project Triangle Strategy subject. Did everyone try this demo? Tactics Ogre was one of the first Famicom games I imported, so this is nostalgia right up my alley. I also like Fire Emblem, SMT: Devil Survivor, and Advance Wars in terms of turn-based strategy games. Right up my alley. The demo had far too much dialog, especially after it opened with a warning from the publisher that it may be difficult to follow the story as they are dropping you in partway though… But the game mechanics appear to be solid. Spell effects that change the terrain properties, bonus damage based on positioning, support attacks from nearby teammates — excite! And so much Japanese voice acting!

I sure hope this game is great when it is finally release!

Here’s a random scene on topic!

ほたるんの顔が真っ青で汗がだらだら流れるシーン【のんのんびよりのんすとっぷ5話
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Japanese Lesson from Games: 難攻不落

Fire Emblem Three Houses - Nankou Furaku
ima ya ano yousai wa nankoufuraku da

Japanese: 難攻不落

Hiragana: なんこうふらく

Romaji: nankou furaku

Literal Meaning: Difficult to attack, won’t fall.

The entire sentence here is 今やあの要塞は難攻不落だ。

要塞 (ようさい) means fortress.

今や well, 今 (いま) means now. The extra particle や is for emphasis, and a smaller nuance that I won’t get into here.

So here Claude is saying, “Now that fortress is impenetrable.” Tough to attack, impossible to topple.

Initial searches for this term online mostly resulted in websites explaining what the term means… I did find this Japanese manga that has the term right in the title though. It’s called 難攻不落の魔王城へようこそ and it’s on Amazon.jp.

Fire Emblem Three Houses is FILLED with advanced Japanese phrases and vocabulary. The game is entirely voiced, and you can replay any dialog you want as long as you don’t leave the dialog sequence. The Nintendo Switch is region free, and many (not all) games, including Fire Emblem, have the full Japanese text and audio available in the U.S. release of the game. No need to import from Japan! This is an amazing resource for gamers who are learning Japanese. Look forward to more. This game is the gift that keeps on giving.

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Dajyare. Japanese Jokes. Oyaji-gag. Learn them, but use with caution.

That’s right. Japanese jokes. Japanese jokes are pretty interesting. There is a whole category of them that is entirely based on word play. Dajyare are made mainly of words that can have multiple meanings when pronounced..

The jokes don’t always involve two ‘words’ that can have double meanings, they occasionally use the grammar in the middle of a sentence can sound like a word as well. The closest cultural translation is probably “dad jokes,” however dad jokes to not always include the same wordplay as Japanese dajyare.

Dajyare is 駄洒落。駄、which is the ‘da’ used in ‘dame 駄目’, which means, bad, more or less. 洒落 (しゃれ)、means joke. So, together dajyare is a type of bad, or failed joke. Sometimes they are also called oyajigyagu. Where oyaji is old man, and gyagu, is… gag. The proper response when you hear a bad joke in Japan is to say ‘samui’ 寒い, which means cold.

Warning: Though they can be clever, dajyare, or oyaji gags, are universally considered to be groaners. They are so horrible that if used incorrectly the joke teller may be shunned by their peers. The younger generation will undoubtedly label the frequent wielder of oyaji gags to be someone who is awkward and completely out of touch. This is because the true dajyare master can work the jokes into any serious conversation without missing a beat. The dajyare master is always listening. Listening to every word in a conversation while simultaneously searching their expansive database of dajyare to retrieve and execute one at the appropriate time. Timing is everything. The best dajyare isn’t lazily delivered out of nowhere as a standalone gag, it is stealthily worked into innocuous conversation, forcing the listeners to acknowledge the joke, while suppressing their disgust.

Here’s a famous example.

Japanese: monoreru mo noreru. モノレールも乗れる。
English: You can also ride the monorail.
Humor: Try saying the Japanese aloud. You say monoreru twice, the first monoreru is ‘monorail’, the second ‘mo’ is also, and ‘noreru’, is can ride.

If you can manage to work that into a regular sentence… you’ll be the talk of the town!

For example:

A: Hey, getting to Tokyo Disney Land is easy! You can just take the train!
A: 東京ディズニーランドは行きやすいよ。電車で行ける!

B: You can even take the monorail!
B: モノレールも乗れる!

A: So… So cold…
A: さ、さむい。

Here is my personal dajyare creation.

A: How do you say sidewalk in Japanese?
B: hodou (歩道)
A: naruhodo! (なるほど!)

Now that’s comedy.

Want more? Here’s 100 Japanese Oyaji Gags you can use… Who are these kids? I want to hang out with them.

100 Dajyare in Rapid Succession!!! Oh the Humanity!

Need help? Here’s an explanation of the first five jokes to get your mind in the right space so that you can work out the rest.

赤色はあかん aka wa akan

赤色はあかん。

赤色 (akairo) means “red.” あかん (akan) is kansai dialect for “that’s won’t do” or “that’s bad,” it’s basically the same as だめ in standard Japanese. So, this is funny because they are saying “Red is no good!” but, the あか sound repeats.

イカいかすねぇ ika ikasu ne!

イカ(ika) means squid. いかす (ikasu) is slang for “cool.” so this is just the squid is cool. Forms of this joke appear frequently in the awesome game, Splatoon and Splatoon 2.

牛を飼う ushi wo kau

牛を飼う (ushi wo kau) simply means to keep a cow as a pet. This joke is absolutely bonkers hilarious (in an oyaji gag way) because the verb 飼うis pronounced (kau) and sounds just like “cow.” And, “cow,” is 牛 (ushi) in Japanese!

エイでえいっ!ei de ei!

エイでえいっ!An エイis a stingray. The kind that swims in the ocean. えい! Is something you might shout when you would say “Yeah!” or “Let’s goooooo!” in English. So you can kinda imagine someone riding on the back of a ray shouting yeah! Maybe it’s Aquaman.

女が立ちあがーる onnna ga tachi agaaru

女が立ちあがーる (onna ga tachiagaaru) means the girl stands up. The “a” sound in “tachi agaru” has been artificially lengthened to make the joke work. The joke, is that tachi a gaaru sounds like “girl” ガール in romanized Japanese. Get it?

Learn all 100 of these dajyare and then start writing your own. Might be fun!

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Japanese Lesson from Games: 損切り

The Nintendo Switch is region free, and many (not all) games, including Octopath Traveler, have the full Japanese text and audio available in the U.S. release of the game. No need to import from Japan! This is an amazing resource for gamers who are learning Japanese. Here’s my latest grab!

Octopath Traveler - Songiri
songiri tte yatsu yo. shitteru yone?

Kanji: 損切り

Hiragana: そんぎり

Romaji: songiri

English: To cut your losses.

Teresa scolds, 「損切りってやつよ、知ってるよね?」songiri tte yatsu yo. shitteru yone? This phrase means, “It’s about cutting your loses, you know that right?”

They key phrase itself should be somewhat easy to internalize, even though I don’t think I had heard it before seeing it in this game. The first character means 損 (そん) “loss.” 損する is the verb form and literally means to “lose” in the sense of profit and loss, not to lose a competition (負ける) and not in the sense of misplacing and object (なくす). The second character means “cut,” so the characters point to the “cut loss” meaning directly.

The grammar immediately following is very informal, as is the entire speech bubble. Our hero says, 損切りってやつよ.

ってやつ is a very informal way of saying ということ. She’s saying, that she’s talking about the thing called “cutting your losses.” She then follows by saying, 知ってるよね, you know that right? It should be a snarky tone, translated something like… “It’s called ‘cutting your losses.’ You have heard of that concept… right?” So sassy!

I tweeted this as well! Check my Twitter account @Japannewbie for more occasional Japanese language tidbits from games.

Japanese Lesson from Games: たまげた

The Nintendo Switch is region free, and many (not all) games, including Octopath Traveler, have the full Japanese text and audio available in the U.S. release of the game. No need to import from Japan! This is an amazing resource for gamers who are learning Japanese. Here’s my latest grab!

Octopath Traveler Screenshot - Tamageta
tamageta… koitsu wa shourai, oomono ni naru zo

Kanji: 魂消た (The kanji doesn’t seem to be that commonly used, and it wasn’t in the game.)

Hiragana: たまげた

Romaji: tamageta

English: To be astonished, startled.

I don’t think I had learned the phrase たまげた before… It’s funny. I like it. The Kanji doesn’t seem to be commonly used, but it literally means that your spirit vanished or disappeared.

The Japanese website GOGEN explains that the expression has been around since the Meiji Era and means to have such a surprising experience that your spirit disappears. It also says that now there is also another expression, 魂切る (tamagiru), which currently has the same meaning, but wasn’t always that way.

I tweeted this as well! Check my Twitter account @Japannewbie for more occasional Japanese language tidbits from games.