Gaijin Smash

1-Kyuu

Posted in Blog by gaijinsmashnet on June 28, 2007

So I can speak Japanese.
This was by no means an easy task. Much like many other deer-in-the-headlights of my generation, it started off with a foolishly simple thought. “Hey, I like Dragonball and Sailor Moon. I know that “sentou ryoku wa ku-sen ijou!” means “his power level is OVER NINE-THOUSAAAAAAND!” and “inochi o kakete mo kurisutaru oukoku o mamoranakereba naranai!” means “I must protect the Crystal Kingdom, even at the cost of my own life!” How hard can it be?”
Eight years later, and the tears still haven’t stopped.
I spent four years learning Japanese in university. Then I came to Japan and found that those four years were a nice starter. Like a solitary Ritz cracker before a viking buffet. It gets the party started but doesn’t really prepare you for the real thing that much. Especially coming to the Kansai region, where everybody speaks with a heavy dialect. I found it was especially hard to understand the kids.
Me: Ah, konnichi wa!
Student: Oh, omae nan ya. Doko ikun?
Me: Anno…nani desu ka?
Student: …Wakarahen?
Me: Etto…mou ichido itte kudasai?
Student: Mou kai yun? Nani yo?
Me: Umm…kyou wa atsui desu ne!
Student: Yappari gaijin wakarahen wa. Yameteoku.
Me: Anou…tokoro de, anata no sentou ryoku was ku-sen ijou desu ka?
Student: …Omae, aho chau?
And, of course, for the Japanese-impaired…
Me: Oh, good afternoon!
Student: Oh, it’s you. Where’re you goin’?
Me: Um…what?
Student: You don’t understand?
Me: Um…could you say that again please?
Student: Say what again?
Me: Ehh…today’s pretty hot, isn’t it!
Student: Yep, Gaijin don’t understand Japanese. Eh, screw it.
Me: Um, by the way, would you happen to have a power lever OVER NINE THOUSAAAAAND?
Student: …What the fuck is wrong with you?


Living here for almost four years though has helped to round out my Japanese a lot better though, including the Kansai dialect. For those who want to measure their Japanese language abilities, or just have documented proof of their abilities, you can take the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT), which is held every December. There are four levels, with 4-kyuu being the basic, and 1-kyuu being the highest. I don’t know why, but there seems to be a HUGE disparity in between all the levels, especially the leap from 3-kyuu to 2-kyuu. A sample 4-kyuu question might go something like this…
Gaijin: Hey, what’s that in the sky?
Japanese: Ah, you mean this tori?
Gaijin: Tori?
Japanese: Yes, this thing flying in the sky, with wings and feathers.
Gaijin: Oh, you mean this bird.
Japanese: Yes, this tori.
Question: What is bird in Japanese?
Whereas 3-kyuu is…
(All in Japanese)
Man: Hey, let’s do something today.
Woman: What will we do?
Man: How about baseball?
Woman: I don’t like sports.
Man: Okay. How about shopping?
Woman: Ordinarily I’d love to, but today I have no money.
Man: Well then, I guess we could just have empty, meaningless sex.
Woman: Sure, why not.
Question: What will the man and woman do?
Then 2-kyuu becomes…
(All in Japanese)
Woman 1: So I had to break up with Taro.
Woman 2: What? Why?
Woman 1: He was cheating on me. But it’s okay, I’m dating his best friend Shinichi now.
Woman 2: Oh? I dated him before. He was nice, but always seemed to forget important occasions.
Woman 1: I know what you mean! We had a date last Saturday, and he totally forgot! I called him up, and he was at home playing Nintendo DS!
Woman 2: That sounds just like Shinichi. Say, what would you like to do today?
Woman 1: How about we go re-calculate the GNP at a cafe somewhere, just for shits and giggles?
Woman 2: Sounds great, let’s go!
Question: Which one of these women is pregnant?
And then a sample 1-kyuu question is…
(All in Japanese)
Woman 1: How is your project coming along?
Woman 2: Just terrible. I can’t accelerate my tachyon particles any faster than 17 on the Cochran Scale.
Woman 3: Have you remembered to apply the quantum bias?
Woman 2: Ah, I totally forgot! That also explains why my neutrinos were all out of wack.
Woman 4: Good evening ladies.
Woman 1: Oh, hello Junko! How are you today?
Woman 4: Doing okay. I finally won the Nobel Price for my work in molecular bioengineering, but I’d only just gotten the grant when all of my bio-peptides fell apart! How embarrassing!
Woman 2: I know exactly how you feel. I can’t tell you how many times my bio-peptides have failed me during a crucial moment.
Question: Which one of these women is pregnant?
I took the 2-kyuu last year and passed! I figured I’d skip out on the 1-kyuu this year as I still had a long way to go before I could talk about tachyon particles in Japanese. But a friend on mine (who goaded me into taking the 2-kyuu last year) was taking it, and he asked me to take it with him for support. Not to mention that, in my unemployed state, having 1-kyuu credentials would look GREAT on a job application. So I bit the bullet and submitted my application.
Back when I was teaching, I used my free periods between classes to try and study for the test. A note to current ALTs–there’s NOTHING better you can do than study Japanese in the teacher’s room. It shows the teachers and the students that you’re making an effort to learn their language and better integrate yourself into their society. I found it was also a wonderful counter for any time any of my students tried to pull the old “English is too hard!” card.
Student: Man, English is difficult!
Me: No it’s not! C’mere, check this out. (writes an “e” on my chalkboard) You see this? It’s an “e”. Took me, what, half a second to write that? Look how simple and sexy that is. “e”. And it looks like what it sounds like too, you just look at it, and you think, “okay, that’s ‘e.'” Now, look at this (pulls out my 1-kyuu study book). Look at this -> 藍 What the fuck is this? You know what this is? “Indigo.” How the fuck is any of that squiggly line shit “indigo”? What’s going on here–you’ve got the number two, a dish, a retainer, and sagebrush all having sex with each other, and somehow this is supposed to represent “indigo”? And THEN I’m supposed to also remember that this can sound like “ai,” OR “ran”? What the hell? I wanna write out all the colors in a rainbow, look how easy this shit is in English. ROYGBIV. See, I’m done! I wanna write it out in Japanese, I can’t, cause it’ll take me 20 fucking minutes just to write out “indigo”! Don’t give me that “English is difficult!” shit.
Student: Um, I’m going over there now.
It also didn’t help when I showed my study book to students, and they’d casually flip through the pages while saying “I don’t know this…I don’t know this…I don’t know this…is this even Japanese?”
IF YOU DON’T KNOW, THEN HOW/WHY AM I SUPPOSED TO KNOW?!
Ahem.
Anyway, December crept up on me, and before I knew it, I found myself at Kyoto University to take the 1-kyuu. My very first thought upon arriving with my friend was, “Man, why are there so many Japanese people taking the test?” I soon realized though that as it makes no sense for Japanese people to be taking the test (they’d probably fail it anyway), that it had to be Chinese/Korean nationals. I had no idea there were so many, the entire campus was packed with non-Japanese Asians. I’m usually pretty good at telling the races apart, but most of these people just looked like regular, everyday Japanese. Gaijin in Disguise I guess.
After registering, I headed to the classroom where I’d been assigned to take the test. Though I’d be in the same building as my friend, we would both be in separate rooms. I entered my room, and found it already full of Chinabots and Koreaticons. They all looked up at me, and the sentiment seemed to be universal–“This is the 1-kyuu room son, are you lost? What the FUCK are you doing here?” It was a new kind of weird. I mean, I’ve been the only Gaijin in a sea of Japanese people countless times, but this was the first time I was in a room of Gaijin, except they all looked Japanese, and I still stood out. Eventually, another western guy came into the room, a white guy, and I was relieved. “Finally! A brother!” I thought to myself. You see how special Japan is? This was probably the first and only time in human history a black dude sees a white dude and thinks, “Finally, someone like me!”
Before the test begins, the proctors (who actually are Japanese) explain the rules and the various different ways you can be disqualified from the test. For a minor offense, you get yellow-carded, which is simply a warning. Getting a red card means disqualification from the test, and insta-fail. Things that can get you red-carded is obvious cheating, if your cell phone goes off during the test (vibrate or otherwise), or headbutting an Italian mid-fielder.
The cell phone thing is pretty big. Last year during the 2-kyuu, one dumbass came into the test room talking on his phone, and had about three separate conversations with three different people on his phone before the test began. I knew this idiot’s phone was going to go off at some point during the test–sure enough, it did, but luckily for him, it happened during the pre-test explanation and not the actual test, which only got him a yellow-card.
As you can be ringed up for the sound of your cell phone’s vibration I not only turned off my phone, but took out the battery as well. Can’t be too careful. Upon restoring my phone after the test, I found that my girlfriend had sent me a “good luck!” message during the test. Later, I explained the rules of the exam to her, and had I forgotten to turn off my phone, her well-wishes would have resulted in my disqualification. This year, I made sure to repeat the warning–if my phone goes off for whatever reason during the test, I fail. I’m going to turn the phone off, but still for whatever reason don’t call or email me. Sure enough, she sent another “good luck!” message this year as well. While I appreciate her support and all, I had to ask about this when I met up with her after the test…
Me: So. You sent an email.
Her: Yeah. Is that bad?
Me: Well, if I’d forgotten to turn off the phone, it would have made me fail the test.
Her: But you turned off your phone, right?
Me: Yes, I did.
Her: See, I knew you’d turn off the phone, and therefore it was okay to send you an email. You’d see it when you were finished.
Me: Yes. If I turned off the phone. But what if, in my nervousness and anxiety before the test, I forgot to do so?
Her: ….Um….well….you would have been screwed?
Me: Thank you.
The test is divided into three parts. The first part is kanji/vocabulary. Now, occasionally the test will give us English speakers a freebie. They’ll have something like, “What is the meaning of ? – ‘kurejitto kaado'” written in katakana–so of course, us English speakers get to laugh, knowing that it’s just English for “credit card.” Meanwhile, the Asiaformers scratch their heads over what the what the funny looking scratch marks mean. Really though, we only get that one bone, while all the Chinabots breeze though this portion of the test. They get to look at 藍 and be like, “Oh snap, that’s indigo!” while the rest of us are like, “Did a drunk hamster spill ink on his feet and then walk around on the test paper, or what?”
The second part is listening. Listening actually isn’t all that bad. Especially for those who are living in Japan, because every waking minute of every day is sort of like a listening test. Although, the test does try to throw us curveballs…
Clerk: Hello, how may I help you?
Woman: Well, I’d like to buy a necklace. What’s in fashion this season?
Clerk: Well, this leaf design is pretty popular. How about this one with a single leaf?
Woman: Oh, that’s nice. But I like lots of leaves. How about this one with four leaves?
Clerk: Oh, that’s a good choice. If you like leaves, how about this one with leaves in a circular pattern?
Woman: That’s attractive…but I still like the other one better.
Clerk: Okay. Oh! But how about this necklace, that’s completely different from the leaf bullshit we’ve been talking about so far?
Woman: Oh, I like that one! I’ll take it!
Me: You bitch.
The final part is grammar. I don’t even know English grammar, and I’m expected to be an ace at Japanese grammar? Not only that, but the 1-kyuu has us studying some archaic shit. Japanese people would look at my grammar books and be like, “Whoa, nobody says that anymore!” Great, so if I want to talk to 90 year-old grannies about how the downfall of the bubble economy is still being felt in present times, I can. Wonderful.
As we get a break before the grammar part for lunch, I met up with my friend. He pretty much summed up the grammar portion of the test perfectly–Hhere’s where they’re going to hurt us. It’s like, everything up until now has been foreplay. The vocab was some light caressing…the listening was a few gentle kisses…and now the grammar is like a big, black, barbed-wired Cock of Destruction, right up our asses. Without lube.”
And that’s pretty much how it was, too.
I finished the exam, not at all expecting to pass. I went into the exam not expecting to pass. Neither did my friend, but his reasons for taking the test were to give us something to study for and to see in what areas we were weak in. In February, the test results came in, and as I expected, I didn’t pass. I aced the listening, and I actually did pass the grammar part, but I bombed the kanji. Not too surprising. I called my friend to commiserate, only to found that he’d actually passed it! You complete piece of shit. No, no, what I mean to say is, I’m totally happy for him and he did a great job. That complete piece of shit.
I’m not too surprised though, I mean, I would have passed if not for the kanji, and seeing how he’s a total kanji freak (I think he studies kanji for fun, the masochist), it makes sense. He tells me that ever since getting 1-kyuu, the attitudes of Japanese people around him have completely changed. Now, they treat him like a human. Other teachers at his school, not just English, are now willing to engage him in real, actual conversations now. He says that his VP once introduced him to a guest, and the first thing out of her mouth was, “Oh, and this is our ALT. He has 1-kyuu. Incidentally, his name is…”
Since I failed, I guess I’ll be back at Kyoto Univ. come December, giving it another shot. Would be nice if I could pass this time around. It’d be kinda cool to be a human again.

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122 Responses

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  1. Brandon said, on June 28, 2007 at 5:33 am

    Wow. Those tests seem well above my skill level. However I am not in Japan and don’t plan to be for quite some time. I’ll just hit the books hard and early. Thanks for the heads up.

  2. Andrea said, on June 28, 2007 at 5:36 am

    Yes, kanji ruin lives. Honestly. Everytime I see one that`s more than 14 strokes I want to run and hide in a corner and cry.

  3. Kohaku said, on June 28, 2007 at 5:38 am

    Ouch….I’m going to attempt the 3-kyuu in December….I’ve only been here a year….I KNOW I’m not ready for the 2-kyuu or 1-kyuu (if ever for the 1-kyuu*shudders*) At least my friends are helping me study….
    kudos to you for even TRYING the 1-kyuu. Wow…human again…what’s that like?

  4. Barry said, on June 28, 2007 at 5:48 am

    Your sample 1-kyuu question is a trick question. None of those four women is pregnant. You can tell this because they’re all at work.

  5. Gordon said, on June 28, 2007 at 6:12 am

    Sounds like fun!

  6. wanna speak japanese said, on June 28, 2007 at 6:12 am

    Nice Az, I’m jealous of your skillz.
    So, with 5 hours of studying a week, starting with just books and eventually moving on to private lessons where I can actually speak with someone….how long do you think it’s going to take me to learn Japanese to the point of being able to converse decently with non-English speaking Japanese? I’m pretty smart and I learn fast. I’m just wondering how long has it taken people you’ve all known.

  7. Misty said, on June 28, 2007 at 6:18 am

    Aw, I have faith in you. The extent of my Japanese is just random words from Dragonball Z sites back when I was a freak. And the only time I actually took a foreign language class was in Middle School and that was an utter disaster.
    But…I don’t think learning how to say “the sky is blue” in Spanish would’ve been a “real life situation anyways.

  8. Trenien said, on June 28, 2007 at 6:18 am

    I very much doubt you don’t know it, but what the hell…
    If you’ve never tried it, do take a look at “Remembering the Kanjis” and its follow up from James Heisig.
    http://www.nanzan-u.ac.jp//SHUBUNKEN/contact/ordering_books_special.htm

  9. Matt.T.911 said, on June 28, 2007 at 6:32 am

    Don’t worry Az, I’m confident that you will pass next time around. In the meantime, enjoy being treated as something less than a human without a power level of OVER NINE THOUSAAAAAAAND. πŸ˜›

  10. MissKris said, on June 28, 2007 at 7:18 am

    Hallo!
    Kudos for trying, as everyone else has said. I did 2kyuu in 2005 when I was on exchange and passed from luck (lots of the grammar was “hmm, I haven’t chosen option ‘C’ in a while…”) – I want to do 1kyuu but think I’d probably need another 4 years in Japan to make up for the 2 years “off” (finishing the non-language part of the degree).
    And yes, Kanji SUCKS.
    Thanks for the great editorials, I think you have saved me from signing up for JET πŸ™‚
    Kris (in Australia)

  11. Ramchip said, on June 28, 2007 at 7:30 am

    Second that, the book is awesome. It makes the process much easier than just memorizing scribbles. Try it with ‘Reviewing the kanji’ http://kanji.koohii.com for a combo strike blaster.

  12. Kyle said, on June 28, 2007 at 7:43 am

    HAHAHA, your rant about the “indigo” kanji is exactly what I’ve been wanting to scream to the entire nation of Japan for years!! I have the 3-kyuu under my belt, but after having attempted the 2-kyuu (before the 3-kyuu, incidentally, because of pressure from my deranged professor who thought I would “definitely pass”… needless to say I didn’t and took 3-kyuu the following year) I realize I have a lot of studying yet before 2-kyuu, probably 15 years away from 1-kyuu. Congrats nonetheless!

  13. Nidoking said, on June 28, 2007 at 8:38 am

    I thought the Kansai dialect conversation, Japanese version, was pretty funny, but I had the luxury of being able to read it and still didn’t recognize all of the dialectic expressions. I only took two years of Japanese in college, and have been relying on anime for all my listening practice needs ever since. Kanji would be my Achilles’ heel as well, but I don’t expect to have the opportunity to take these tests anyway… I might make 3-kyuu.
    So, is it a red card offense or just a yellow card to respond “Douitashimashite” when someone says “3-kyuu”?

  14. Anonymous said, on June 28, 2007 at 8:50 am

    Four leaves huh.
    I like it.
    I like it a lot.

  15. Livre said, on June 28, 2007 at 9:25 am

    Gah! My sensei did that to me for our final exam in April. It was three days long, one for speaking, one for listening and essay writing, and one more grammar. On the listening day, it went something like this:
    TA1: I like organges!
    TA2: Me too, but I also like apples
    TA1: Which one do you like best?
    TA2: Well, oranges are pretty and apples are delicious, so I think I like strawberries the best.
    Me: WTF?

  16. Dirty Dan said, on June 28, 2007 at 11:22 am

    “So, is it a red card offense or just a yellow card to respond “Douitashimashite” when someone says “3-kyuu”?”
    …booo~
    But seriously, I love you description of kanji, Az. Alas, they’re my bane as well. I feel like I’m almost qualified for the 3-kyuu if it weren’t for those blasted kanji.
    daga… ware no sentouryoku wa juuman ijou da zo!

  17. Kosetsu said, on June 28, 2007 at 11:35 am

    HAHAHAHA. This is probably one of your better spiels to date – as a fellow studier of Asian language, I appreciate your pains and your forewarnings of the 1-kyuu test. Given a bit more kanji and vocabulary practice, I think I can tackle the 3-kyuu, and I look forward to the day where I can be so proficient as to pass 2/3 of the 1-kyuu like you.
    By the way: Why do KOREANS have to be the Decepticons?
    (Az’s Note: Chinaticons didn’t sound as good.
    Hey, the Decepticons were cooler anyway.)

  18. Anonymous said, on June 28, 2007 at 11:57 am

    Maybe you should have gone to Germany instead. Much easier language to learn for English speakers than any Asian tongue. What baffles me about Japanese is the sentence structure. Its all jumbled and backwards compared to English. How do they get their point across quickly enough?

  19. Anonymous said, on June 28, 2007 at 11:57 am

    Maybe you should have gone to Germany instead. Much easier language to learn for English speakers than any Asian tongue. What baffles me about Japanese is the sentence structure. Its all jumbled and backwards compared to English. How do they get their point across quickly enough?

  20. Ryan Layman said, on June 28, 2007 at 12:14 pm

    Just thought I’d send you a little trick that’s making kanji a breeze.
    Look up a software called Mnemosyne, download that mother-fucker like God himself will come down and slap you silly if you don’t, and then join the Remembering the Kanji Yahoo group.
    When you get in, they’ll have a file available for everyone in the group that you can just upload into your new program, and boom, just like that, 2,043 kanji to review.
    Not only that, this shit actually forces you to review the old stuff based on how well you said you remember it. Stuff that’s hard gets reviewed often, stuff that’s easy rarely.
    I kid you not, I’m on vacation, of course, which explains this, but I’m learning 50 kanji a day and have just hit 800 kanji. I expect to be done somewhere in the next 25 days with all 2,043 kanji. After that, it’s just review every day. Poof, kanji problem solved.
    God, then I can finally be literate in my other language.

  21. RecurveHawk said, on June 28, 2007 at 12:32 pm

    Is there any logic in the Japanese characters? At least the Korean characters (not that I read at all) make sense with different pieces representing different sounds, but Japanese just looks outright chaotic no matter what people say.
    I think I’m just going to stay with my comfy little European languages like Gaelic, Finnish, Russian, and the Germanic and Romance languages…

  22. Mayhem said, on June 28, 2007 at 12:35 pm

    Was waiting for the cunning Transformers parody to emerge heh… good luck for taking it again this December Az. And this is a perfect indication of why I decided I would never be able to understand more Japanese than just katakana and a few well chosen words and phrases…

  23. George said, on June 28, 2007 at 12:49 pm

    Stick to it, Mr. Azrael!
    But, what do you want to get good at Japanese for?
    Who do you think can won the 1st grade among TV entertainers of foreigner in Japan?
    By the way, I cited a few posts from JAPANPROBE in ‘A Straw Most Final: Not Another Teen Postscript – June 15, 2007’.
    Are you frustrated with current situation?

  24. Gomez said, on June 28, 2007 at 1:16 pm

    Nice rant about the indigo thing. Too bad about the test, well better luck next time.
    December huh? That’s a long ways away, also with your luck I’d bet that they’d create some level above 1-kyuu just to dehumanize you some more…

  25. Beowulf Lee said, on June 28, 2007 at 1:24 pm

    Incidentally, one of my favorite bloggers did pass the JLPT.
    http://www.darkmirage.com/2007/02/27/no-more-jlpt/
    He’s a Chinese English speaking otaku living in Singapore who’s been studying Japanese for four years. I suspect it’s because of the tremendous amount of eroge he plays.

  26. ShortWoman said, on June 28, 2007 at 2:26 pm

    Any tips for studying for the test? I’m planning on taking the 4-kyuu this year (watakushi wa yon-kyuu shiken wo suru tsumori desu yo).

  27. Amanda said, on June 28, 2007 at 2:41 pm

    I took 2-kyuu at the end of my last semester of college before graduating. Didn’t pass. Most of those kanji we never even WENT over in my classes!! I think Az is on the mark when he says four years of it in university is just a warm-up. Gag.
    Of course, I must be a sucker for stupidly hard tests, as I’m taking the GRE next month. At least I’ll understand what’s going on there! …I think.

  28. Dex said, on June 28, 2007 at 2:49 pm

    Hey, sometimes the Japanese get screwed up on Kanji, too. Don’t know if it’s popped up on your radar, but they’re changing the (spoken) name of Iwo Jima, to Iwo Tou. See http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,284834,00.html for the news article.
    Apparently, “Jima” or “Shima” is the kunyomi for that particular kanji, and “Tou” or “Dou” is the onyomi. Both of ’em mean “Island”, so no biggie-da. It’s gotten a bunch of Americans’ knickers in a bunch, though.

  29. Anonymous said, on June 28, 2007 at 3:08 pm

    Well is there any good textbook or dictionary whatever for learning kanji?

  30. Anonymous said, on June 28, 2007 at 3:08 pm

    Well is there any good textbook or dictionary whatever for learning kanji?

  31. Frenchy said, on June 28, 2007 at 3:35 pm

    You DO know that you have equivalent tests for foreign national about English speaking, right?
    The TOEFL (Test of English as Foreign Language) in the US and the Cambridge levels in England. Those are somewhat similar to what you describe (especially the Cambridge, as you pass a certain level and get it for life. TOEFL is giving you a grade and is valid for 3 years only).
    If you are surprised that native speakers cannot follow the level you are studying (and I bet that even some of the faculty, excepting the teachers of japanese proper, would not know either), you should be shocked to see the level of english displayed on the internet.
    Same situation everywhere: litteracy is not for the faint of heart πŸ˜‰

  32. SP said, on June 28, 2007 at 4:15 pm

    Its a good thing Zinedine Zidane wasnt taking the test…

  33. JesterGod said, on June 28, 2007 at 4:18 pm

    i want to wish you luck on passing the 1-kyuu. living safely in california, i’m lucky enough to understand a good chunk of spanish, i can’t even begin to think how mind boggling it would be to learn japanese. my friend is trying to teach himself and is doing a fairly good job of it so far, but i’ll stick to speaking english for the most part πŸ™‚

  34. Anonymous said, on June 28, 2007 at 4:31 pm

    a star trek, transformers, AND a chan referrance in one post… Az you astound me XD

  35. Prodigal Priest said, on June 28, 2007 at 4:59 pm

    ^_^
    [After registering, I headed to the classroom where I’d been assigned to take the test. Though I’d be in the same building as my friend, we would both be in separate rooms. I entered my room, and found it already full of Chinabots and Koreaticons. They all looked up at me, and the sentiment seemed to be universal – “this is the 1-kyuu room son, are you lost? What the FUCK are you doing here?” It was a new kind of weird. I mean, I’ve been the only Gaijin in a sea of Japanese people countless times, but this was the first time I was in a room of Gaijin, except they all looked Japanese and I still stood out. Eventually, another western guy came into the room, a white guy, and I was relieved. “Finally! A brother!” I thought to myself. …You see how special Japan is? This was probably the first and only time in human history an black dude sees a white dude and thinks “finally, someone like me!”]
    *dies laughing*
    I wouldn’t mind learning to speak Japanese, but if I had to deal with learning Kanji at the same time, the only strokes I’d really have to worry about would be the ones putting my ass in the hospital trying to memorize all of it xD .
    Having 1-kyuu means you’re human? Hmmmm…
    Take care, Az. I’ll be over there playing fling-the-poo with the other primates πŸ˜‰ .

  36. Anonymous said, on June 28, 2007 at 5:32 pm

    having trouble telling between chinese, korean, and japanese RACES? az, they’re oriental. you just confused their nationalities with ethnicity. it’s like calling anyone that’s white AMERICAN… (filipinos tend to do this all the time – it annoys me!)
    or how hispanics (puerto ricans, dominicans, etc.) in america all say they’re spanish, when that is supposed to mean they actually came from spain, right?
    yup, english is definitely a hard language to master…

  37. Anonymous said, on June 28, 2007 at 5:32 pm

    having trouble telling between chinese, korean, and japanese RACES? az, they’re oriental. you just confused their nationalities with ethnicity. it’s like calling anyone that’s white AMERICAN… (filipinos tend to do this all the time – it annoys me!)
    or how hispanics (puerto ricans, dominicans, etc.) in america all say they’re spanish, when that is supposed to mean they actually came from spain, right?
    yup, english is definitely a hard language to master…

  38. JT0104 said, on June 28, 2007 at 5:48 pm

    I like the little rant about English not being hard. After being stressed at speaking Japanese for a few weeks straight with no English I once lashed out on a poor high school student who said to me “eigo ha totemo muzukashii ne” I completely lost it. and he was close to tears after I had finished!

  39. Patrick said, on June 28, 2007 at 7:30 pm

    Wow… Maybe I’ll never pick up Japanese. I didn’t do so well in my one semester class in college, and that was years ago. Perhaps I shall give up my fevered dream of teaching sexy Japanese college co-eds conversational English..
    Not that I could afford it anyway….

  40. Liam said, on June 28, 2007 at 7:40 pm

    AZ- This is in no way related to you article but I just went to another very interesting site when I mistyped your sitename with a .com. Nice pics hahahaah
    Hope ur well been reading your stuff for a long assed time. I have my japanese gf cracking up with retelling her some of the stuff I read here.
    Take care
    Liam

  41. Meg said, on June 28, 2007 at 7:54 pm

    Reminds me of taking the GRE…and that was in English…

  42. Courtneyjean said, on June 28, 2007 at 8:51 pm

    I’ve been a longterm reader but this is the first time I ever really felt like commenting.
    For shits and giggles, my sensei in my 4th semester Japanese class had us take part of an old.. I think it was 3-kyuu test. Yeah. I think I got 1/5 of the questions right, and I’m in the top part of the class. (You know, one of the people that does pretty well but not SUPERICHIBAN because I don’t study all the time?) It was just as bad taking the placement test for going to Senshu this fall. It went from easy, easy, easy to wait hold on, I’ve never even seen this before. I must’ve left half of it blank. Why can’t the tests have some semblance of a graduating degree of difficulty? I hope my exams aren’t this way.

  43. Citizen said, on June 28, 2007 at 8:59 pm

    Is there a reason why Japan can’t… er… drop all them squiggly line thingies… in favor of some sort of romanization? Hey. If you have to dream, dream big. =P
    I say “is there” but I’m sure there are reasons why they can’t just drop a well-established system at the drop of a hat.
    (Az’s Note: Though I may gripe about it, Japanese would be really hard to read without kanji.)

  44. Schnubelhopper said, on June 28, 2007 at 10:03 pm

    I totally took the TOEFL and it went pretty well. I booched the speaking part because I don’t really have anyone to talk to, so I just can’t do the higher level speech needed for academics. (I kept repeating “like” every 4 to 6 words)
    I wish I could take the Cambridge one though, that’d be pretty swell.

  45. ch0b1ts said, on June 28, 2007 at 10:16 pm

    I’m taking the 3-kyuu this year. I just finished an a Intensive 6 week Kanji class. 250 Kanji + a bajillion compounds and new vocab to go along with them all in 6 weeks. Had the final exam tonight. I got an A but my head is about to explode.

  46. Tirade said, on June 28, 2007 at 10:34 pm

    If you were so concerned about your cell phone going off, why didn’t you just leave it at hhome?
    (Az’s Note: That’s what my friend did. However, as any good Japanese, my cell has now become an extension of my own soul.)

  47. Colin said, on June 28, 2007 at 10:40 pm

    Forgive me if this seems an obvious question, but I’ve only been taking Japanese for four weeks now…why are the tests named “3-Nine” or “2-Nine?” Unless I’m far more retarded than I had thought, doesn’t “kyuu” mean “nine?”

  48. Colin said, on June 28, 2007 at 10:41 pm

    Also, related to my last post: in the Kansai area, “Wakarimasen” becomes “Wakarahen?” What the fuck?
    (Az’s Note: Yep. Or, “wakaran”. Japanese is fun, whee!
    And the “kyuu” for the tests is a completely different kyuu. 級)

  49. Jason said, on June 28, 2007 at 11:56 pm

    Boy, this makes me thankful that my interest in Japan is purely from a spectator point of view. I’ll stick with English, thanks.

  50. Anonymous said, on June 29, 2007 at 12:25 am

    Posted by: Ryan Layman at June 28, 2007 12:14
    Is there any logic in the Japanese characters? At least the Korean characters (not that I read at all) make sense with different pieces representing different sounds, but Japanese just looks outright chaotic no matter what people say.
    Yes, but not for the Kanji script like his squiggly “indigo” example. Since most kanji are borrowed Chinese characters, some of which are slightly modified but retaining the same semantics, representing whole or root words, you just have to use rote memorization.
    Native Japanese script, hiragana and katana (which you can easily recognize among the kanji as they contain much less strokes with hiragana being more cursive in style) on the other hand are purely pheonetic with each character representing a single syllable. The nice thing about the kanas is that there’s a 1:1 mapping between how something sounds and how it’s spelled.
    Given that you can write everything in kana, I think the Japanese should’ve just dropped kanji after the development of kana (about 800 A.D.). I assume it was retained for elitist reasons–the more educated you were, the more kanji you use.

  51. Anonymous said, on June 29, 2007 at 12:25 am

    Posted by: Ryan Layman at June 28, 2007 12:14
    Is there any logic in the Japanese characters? At least the Korean characters (not that I read at all) make sense with different pieces representing different sounds, but Japanese just looks outright chaotic no matter what people say.
    Yes, but not for the Kanji script like his squiggly “indigo” example. Since most kanji are borrowed Chinese characters, some of which are slightly modified but retaining the same semantics, representing whole or root words, you just have to use rote memorization.
    Native Japanese script, hiragana and katana (which you can easily recognize among the kanji as they contain much less strokes with hiragana being more cursive in style) on the other hand are purely pheonetic with each character representing a single syllable. The nice thing about the kanas is that there’s a 1:1 mapping between how something sounds and how it’s spelled.
    Given that you can write everything in kana, I think the Japanese should’ve just dropped kanji after the development of kana (about 800 A.D.). I assume it was retained for elitist reasons–the more educated you were, the more kanji you use.

  52. Shen said, on June 29, 2007 at 12:54 am

    That’s what you get for dissing “blue”… or “indigo” as you put it, though I’m pretty sure the Chinese is only used to mean blue when used alone, but we’re talking about Kanji… Damn Japanese have to borrow Chinese and then add complexity upon the complexity.
    Good luck next time, Az.
    (Az’s Note:
    Blue in Japanese: 青
    Indigo in Japanese: 藍)

  53. shinraunit said, on June 29, 2007 at 2:18 am

    Today I went to Taco Bell for my lunchbreak, and made the unfortunate error of reading this website in public. When I got the the “NINE THOUSAAAAAND” part, I found it so funny that I made the wierdest fucking laughing noise I’d ever heard. It was so rapid and high pitched, I sounded like a damn teletubby or something. Being a fairly deep-voiced, 21-year-old male, this was not natural. A young-looking skinny guy next to me says “funny stuff huh?” Figuring he was just making fun of me (as he should), I just smiled and turned away. Then he looks at me and says again, in a most serious tone, “I like your laugh,” giving me a googly-eyed gaze that lasted a lot longer than made me comfortable.
    Damn you, Az.

  54. Balana said, on June 29, 2007 at 3:14 am

    And here I read the title expecting some sort of joke by Ernie and Bert involving counting up to 10-kyuu with the punchline of “You’re welcome!”

  55. Corey said, on June 29, 2007 at 5:30 am

    Ahhhhh, the main thing I’ve been dreading about going to Japan. The language. I seem to be pretty well at learning languages, 85% in German with a teacher saying I should have been over 90% but I started to slack off, but thats German, which has a good bit of similarities with English. Japanese on the other hand is… complicated. Or at least it seems like it to me. I remember when I bought a magazine which had a bit of a guide to Nihongo. It took me at least 30 minutes to figure out my entire name. Still not sure if it’s right though. But Nihongo seems/is a whole lot easier then kanji.

  56. Cs said, on June 29, 2007 at 8:34 am

    I found this haliarious! Specially the descriptions about the difference in the kyuus, so very very true. Brief back story, Im an exchange student for a year living in Matsuyama and studied Japanese at highschool level.
    I was going to go for go level 2, but the kanji has scared me away. Id been studying for level 3, but its too easy and costs too much to take in Japan when no one gives a damn about level 3. Moved up a step to level two and it was just a big w.t.f. Screw it. But reading this it kinda makes me want to study harder and go for level 2. Being treated human would be nice but it doesnt stop the stairs on the train.

  57. Saben said, on June 29, 2007 at 8:44 am

    Loved the bit about Kansai-ben.
    I never had any problems with it, though. Every single Kansai person made it their personal duty to go through every bit of Kansai dialect when I mentioned I spoke some Japanese. I ended up knowing Kansai-ben more fluently than standard Japanese.
    Even now, back in Australia I struggle not say to “wakarahen” to my Japanese sensei.

  58. AutumnFire said, on June 29, 2007 at 11:21 am

    …the entire campus was packed with non-Japanese Asians. I’m usually pretty good at telling the races apart, but most of these people just looked like regular, everyday Japanese.
    One day, I thought it would be nice if I could find some sort of anthropologic-pathology study to clue me in as to what nationality an Asian would be. We have a huge Asian population in North Texas (Korean, Cambodian, Thai, Taiwanese, Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese) and I thought it would be helpful to have some clue. Being a librarian, I tried a Google search with search terms of ‘Asian’ ‘faces’ and ‘pics’.
    Now Az, I’ve been married for 25 years now. Being an over-hormoned, middle-aged woman I have plenty of raunchy ‘Romance’ books that are much better described as VampireSmut, WerewolfSmut, or ParanormalSmut (with an occasional smattering of AlienSmut). None of that prepared me for what came up on that search.
    I had NO idea that so many guys apparently fantasize about leaving their ‘mark’ on the faces of Asian females.
    Needless to say, I gave up.
    (Az’s Note: …WerewolfSmut? Seriously?
    I knew I liked older women for a reason.
    …But still, WerewolfSmut?)

  59. Anonymous said, on June 29, 2007 at 12:25 pm

    Well…that was inspiring, Azrael. Not. Do you think that two years of study in the Beginners HSC course (Australian here) would sufficiently prepare oneself for 4-kyuu? How much harder is 3-kyuu?

  60. Anonymous said, on June 29, 2007 at 1:20 pm

    I’ve always heard that language is incredibly difficult. I’ve got an uncle who’s lived in Japan for 13 years and still can only speak a smattering of Japanese.
    And hell yes, Werewolfsmut! Laurell Hamilton, Susan Krinard, lots of others…their stuff is loaded with werewolf smut. Hamilton’s is especially smutty and has tons of Vampsmut as well.

  61. Anonymous said, on June 29, 2007 at 1:20 pm

    I’ve always heard that language is incredibly difficult. I’ve got an uncle who’s lived in Japan for 13 years and still can only speak a smattering of Japanese.
    And hell yes, Werewolfsmut! Laurell Hamilton, Susan Krinard, lots of others…their stuff is loaded with werewolf smut. Hamilton’s is especially smutty and has tons of Vampsmut as well.

  62. Anonymous said, on June 29, 2007 at 1:30 pm

    Dude, I want to see this famous ‘indigo’ character now. Does anyone know of a graphic of it? I don’t have the Japanese language font.

  63. Anonymous said, on June 29, 2007 at 1:30 pm

    Dude, I want to see this famous ‘indigo’ character now. Does anyone know of a graphic of it? I don’t have the Japanese language font.

  64. Tmoo said, on June 29, 2007 at 6:07 pm

    “We have a huge Asian population in North Texas”
    i’d be one of them.

  65. Tmoo said, on June 29, 2007 at 6:07 pm

    “We have a huge Asian population in North Texas”
    i’d be one of them.

  66. Anonymous said, on June 30, 2007 at 1:17 am

    HAHAHA, oh az, you are such a /b/rother, keep up the great work man, I love your stuff. >9000, maby a bit too obvious, but the 4 leaves in a circle was genious. Anyway, see you man, ITTY BITTY BABY

  67. Anonymous said, on June 30, 2007 at 1:17 am

    HAHAHA, oh az, you are such a /b/rother, keep up the great work man, I love your stuff. >9000, maby a bit too obvious, but the 4 leaves in a circle was genious. Anyway, see you man, ITTY BITTY BABY

  68. Pseudopadoz said, on June 30, 2007 at 3:11 am

    Either I’m getting better at English or Az is getting so good at Japanese he’s starting to do his English up as would his Japanese coworkers.
    I’m going to go unlearn some grammar just to be on the safe side. Damned courses, ruining my colloquialism.

  69. Aaml4everFC said, on June 30, 2007 at 3:17 am

    Yo AZ good luck with the kanji on the next test, maybe you should bring some lube with you next time. XP

  70. Ivan the Terrible said, on June 30, 2007 at 3:41 am

    I’m personally involved in the Mandarin Chinese School of Pain….and since I’m going to Taiwan to teach English soon enough, I’ve been studying 繁體字.
    Not a fan of Kanji? Then please, imagine the pain when you remove the soothing phonetics of Hiragana and leave behind nothing but a sordid mass of illegible squiggles, each with about ten or twenty more strokes than the characters typically used in modern Japan.
    *sob*
    But in any case, with all of that Asian language learning behind you, any study or learning tips for the budding young masochists who might want to follow in your footsteps?

  71. Anonymous said, on June 30, 2007 at 4:10 am

    Wow…That both intimidated me and inspired me!
    Your creative juices are flowing again Big A.
    For All the readers…My LJ is sonofshadow just in case.

  72. Anonymous said, on June 30, 2007 at 4:10 am

    Wow…That both intimidated me and inspired me!
    Your creative juices are flowing again Big A.
    For All the readers…My LJ is sonofshadow just in case.

  73. Patsie said, on June 30, 2007 at 4:35 am

    For people interested in the ‘indigo’ kanji, without japanese fonts installed:

  74. PzAz04Maus said, on June 30, 2007 at 10:06 am

    Damn, Insightful, hilarious, AND Wisdom-dispensing. You sir, are epic.

  75. Kiron said, on June 30, 2007 at 11:03 am

    Oh god Kanji.
    Remembered when I did Hiragana, hard but through it in a week or two, then Katakana, a few month’s then saw Kanji, said “Wtfits” and lost all motivation for Japanese, I went from pretty much “fluent” (Gaijin fluent, which isn’t jack crap) to a vocablary of slang, insults and pick up lines.

  76. Hootie said, on June 30, 2007 at 2:17 pm

    DAAAYYYYYY 21!!!!! *pause* …Got milk?
    Love the writings bro. Can’t believe u have so many people reading and the site is very popular. Hope ur stuff gets published as it is very interesting. Heard you were coming back to the states soon, so I’ll see you when you return.
    Holla!

  77. GringoDownSouth said, on June 30, 2007 at 3:00 pm

    Az, nobody has mentioned how OVERDUE a post of this nature was. As you can tell by the huge response, everybody understands the severe pain that is learning another language. I’m still having issues with Spanish and this is an EASY language, compared to Japanese. Sounds like you speak Japanese better than I speak Spanish though, I’m jelous 😦
    I have a favor to ask. Can you re-write this to say you passed the test? When I read you didn’t I was so shocked…it was like watching Luke Skywalker line up his shot on the Death Star and then miss. I was sad.

  78. Nils said, on June 30, 2007 at 4:51 pm

    A few years ago, I really wanted to learn Japanese. It was the damn kanji that stopped me.
    Phonetic systems are much more fun. Even if they only use consonants, like Hebrew.
    Right now, I’m listening to a Japanese singer singing in what is supposed to be German (and I _am_ German). I understand some 2 out of 3 words, but it still doesn’t make much sense to me.
    I spoke to a Japanese student a few years ago, and she spoke both English and German, but with a very thick accent. She said English was easier than German. She should have said, “Englisch ist leichter als Deutsch”, but it sounded more like, “Ehngerish is raikta arus Deutish”…

  79. Dargen said, on June 30, 2007 at 5:54 pm

    I definitely wouldn’t mind having my Japanese language skills at level of yours, i mean hearing a person learning 4 years a language is quite an accomplishment and even though you failed the 1-kyuu test you did manage to succeed overall, a nice hit from the left to that Kanji and its all done.
    I personally know 3 languages, Hebrew,English and Russian but each of them suck as i listed them down. And having talks about grammar just gives me the head ache. As long as the other person understands me and what the hell I want from him its fine by me.

  80. Stormhammer said, on June 30, 2007 at 9:41 pm

    LOL@AZ. yeah, the whole kanji (in fact, any of the written japanese language) left me with multiple levels of damage inside and outside of my brain. right now I’d settle for being able to speak and I’ll worry about writing later. Years later. Good luck on the next test. Keep that power level up!
    -Stormhammer-

  81. Tiffany said, on June 30, 2007 at 10:57 pm

    Chinese is ALL KANJI.
    Taking the 1-kyuu test seems like the only break us Chinese people get. P:

  82. anonymous said, on July 1, 2007 at 3:24 am

    though, even the kanji part isn’t a total breeze for the Chinese, because of kokuji and different meaning/usage. Not to mention the place names with tricky readings, like Mochimune and Kouzu. But of course, they still have an advantage.
    I’ve studied Japanese for 4 years and lived in Japan for 3 weeks (I’m going back to America next week), and I doubt I could even make 2-kyuu. I did pass 3-kyuu, though. Then again, I don’t know how much of what I’ve learned is Shizuoka-ken dialect. Does Shizuoka-ken even have a dialect?

  83. TsukinoDeyanatsu said, on July 1, 2007 at 4:30 am

    I’m studying for 1kyuu this year two. Took 2kyuu in 2003 when I was in Japan, taking 1 while I’m here in Aus (finally will actually apply).
    Since I learn/speak chinese, I’m also a kanji whizz (and know how foreigners can learn it without the bullshit explanations actual asian people give us. Come on, that does NOT look like a hand. Stop telling me it does). Could do with a study buddy though. Let me know if want to pair up long-distance πŸ™‚

  84. Brett said, on July 1, 2007 at 1:05 pm

    When I posted to my blog I was thinking about learning Japanese (girlfriend is half and born in the States but doesn’t know the language thanks to a bad experience in Japanese School as a kid). Your post was sent to me as a warning against learning the language.
    It has definitely helped to lean me towards dropping the idea. =)
    Great post, BTW. Always nice to start the morning off with a chuckle.

  85. Anonymous said, on July 1, 2007 at 8:46 pm

    im planning on taking 1-kyuu this december (watashi no namae wa … desu) do you think ill pass?

  86. Anonymous said, on July 1, 2007 at 8:46 pm

    im planning on taking 1-kyuu this december (watashi no namae wa … desu) do you think ill pass?

  87. Kristian said, on July 1, 2007 at 9:59 pm

    hey az. you must be really good to at least be able to pass 2/3 of the 1-kyuu test. good luck on it next time! i hope you pass so that you will once again feel like a human, not just some gaijin with apparantly uber gaijin strength exceeding 9000. its kind of scary to see your evolution from gaijin teacher who looks at japan like it was just a crazy bomb to gaijin who has accepted japan and is being forcefully changed.
    that might happen to me as well, when i try for jet…but i hope it will be as exciting as your experience…..minus the octopus and evil gf’s…
    good luck with all your home husband free time! and good luck in finding a job thats not god awful…
    -kristian

  88. Danfried said, on July 2, 2007 at 5:44 am

    Does no one teach you guys the radicals that make up kanji? If so, you should try learning them yourself — that’s what I was forced to do when learning Chinese. Far from being “meaningless squiggles”, you can see that a lot of kanji had logical origins, and it makes it much easier to remember how to write them.
    I for one am glad the Japanese still use them — without learning the Japanese language, I can often figure out what a sentence is saying just from looking at the Chinese characters. With a totally phonetic script like Korean, I draw a complete blank.

  89. Martin said, on July 2, 2007 at 7:45 am

    Na. You being big and black mean that you must pass the secret 0-kyuu test before being considered to be human (cultural damage from the “Bob Sapp” incident).
    It is funny to a beginner in the Japanese language to see that a person with your skills still gets hammered by the final language test. I sink every country have a final test where the natives can’t pass.

  90. DunnDeegan said, on July 2, 2007 at 8:51 pm

    Danfried,
    Hangul (Korean) is very easy to learn to read if you are interested. Give it a couple hours of studying (literally)and you can read it.
    I still suck at comprehending most of it, mind you, but a lot of things are written in Konglish so it’s easy to sound it out into an English word. Keeping in mind I’ve never put any effort into the Japanese language, Korean seems easier for me because there are much fewer characters to work with. Is learning to read Japanese time consuming or just understanding it?

  91. Danfried said, on July 3, 2007 at 11:36 am

    DunnDeegan,
    I’m sure it is MUCH easier to learn to read and write Hangul, but that wasn’t my point.
    I guess I wasn’t clear — the cool thing about hanzi/kanji is that they are studied throughout East Asia, so that someone like me — who doesn’t know any Korean and very little Japanese, but does know a lot of Chinese — can still find these characters useful when visiting another country.
    I’ve read about how a Chinese woman and a Japanese man, newly married to each other, would sometimes write words in kanji when the other person couldn’t understand what he or she was saying.
    Unfortunately, the last time I took a train from Osaka to Tokyo, I noticed that all the station signs had changed the place names from the original kanji to hiragana! (I’m talking about the big signs that let you figure out which stop you have arrived at.) Easier for Japanese kids to understand, but not for visiting Chinese or Koreans. (They didn’t have romaji on those signs either, like they do in Tokyo!) I hope this isn’t a trend — to use kanji less because they are “too difficult.”

  92. ktm said, on July 3, 2007 at 7:47 pm

    LMFAO! That was an awesome story. I thought your use of the Dragon ball phrase was H-I-L-A-R-I-O-U-S. I haven’t laughed so hard from reading something in such a long time.

  93. DunnDeegan said, on July 4, 2007 at 3:44 am

    Danfried,
    Yea, I gotcha now. Hopefully they convery those signs back into Kanji…I’m sure it would help out the tourist industry a lot. I think I might be going to Japan this summer for my vacation, so I’m really excited…Although the subways sound like they might be hard to get around on. In Korea, the signs for every station have the Hangul, English, and Chinese writing….so I’m very lucky i guess. I heard Korea has one of the best subway systems in the world. I haven’t used any other system than those through Europe, but Korea’s did seem better…Overall, do you think Japans is easy to navigate? Do they have English?
    PS: I just finished my open lesson. I’m pumped.

  94. Tanuki said, on July 4, 2007 at 1:39 pm

    Az, I can sympathize. I have yet to take the JHellPT, but Kanji is not my friend. In fact, it is by far my least favorite part of the language. I frequently tell my chinese/taiwanese friends “Curse your ancestors for inventing this crap!”. I swear, one of these days, knowing Kanji had better get me some(attractive, I already had to play dumb for some unwanted) ass, because that’s really the only thing I can think of that will compensate for all this pain. And as for those of you bitching about Chinese, while I personally would die learning THAT many kanji, Japanese is widely considered the most complicated writing system on the planet by people in a position to say so.

  95. Uchiha-Ricky said, on July 4, 2007 at 1:49 pm

    Nice kansai-ben comment. I’ve lived in Kansai for 8 months and can’t understand a word anyone’s saying. 3 days ago i studied japanese for 5 hours in my apartment. Was feeling confident and ready to have better converstaions with my japanese friends. Finally i left to do some shopping and got stopped by the police near the supermarket. They took all the details from my gaijin card, my bike number, searched me and my bag and asked me if i could speak Japanese. I told them i could speak a little and they instantly started a high-speed speech in advanced kansai ben. Couldn’t understand a word and i still don’t know what they stopped me for. Damn kansai ben! Damn ito to hell!!!

  96. Anonymous said, on July 4, 2007 at 9:33 pm

    I JUST passed 4-kyuu. After 3 years of really intense studying. Damn I have so far to go.

  97. Anonymous said, on July 4, 2007 at 9:33 pm

    I JUST passed 4-kyuu. After 3 years of really intense studying. Damn I have so far to go.

  98. Nate said, on July 5, 2007 at 2:23 am

    I’ve only taken a year of japanese so far so I could only understand some of your example japanese, but it was awesome πŸ™‚ very funny

  99. Another Anon said, on July 5, 2007 at 11:11 am

    Maybe you should start taking Chinese lessons. =P Will definitely help with knowing the meanings of some kanji, though not so much the pronunciation.

  100. Kyle E said, on July 6, 2007 at 5:43 am

    I actually should just go take 3 kyuu… I’m lazy -_-

  101. Wesley L. Lawrence said, on July 6, 2007 at 9:03 pm

    (Quote)
    Woman: That’s attractive…but I still like the other one better.
    Clerk: Okay. Oh! But how about this necklace, that’s completely different from the leaf bullshit we’ve been talking about so far?
    Woman: Oh, I like that one! I’ll take it!
    Me: You bitch.
    (/Quote)
    LMAO, priceless!

  102. Ivan the Terrible said, on July 9, 2007 at 3:15 am

    “And as for those of you bitching about Chinese, while I personally would die learning THAT many kanji, Japanese is widely considered the most complicated writing system on the planet by people in a position to say so.”
    I snear in contempt at those ‘people in a position to say so’, at least in regards to the traditional characters used in Taiwan and Hong Kong. Frankly, any system with any kind of a (reasonable) phonetic system WHATSOEVER would be bliss right now.

  103. GaijinPunch said, on July 16, 2007 at 9:12 pm

    The secret to passing the 1-kyuu (Got mine in December) is you have to know the reading & grammar inside out. As stupid as it sounds, the grammar part is pure memorization… 90% of what’s in the 1-kyuu grammar books is 90% of what’ll appear on the test. It’s very learnable. The reading? Well, you just have to be good at reading. The kanji? Who can memorize the thousands of words in the books?
    I did absolutely awful on the kanji & listening (67% and 63% respectively — stressful time of my life… hard to properly ‘listen’) but got a whopping 84% on the reading & grammar. As it’s 50% of the test, I finished w/ an overall 74% or so.
    So glad I’m done w/ that thing.

  104. daredesho-? said, on July 17, 2007 at 4:56 am

    meccha sono kimochi wakaruwa!
    the kansai dialect is pretty hard to understand isnt it?
    azrael no posto ittsumo yondete, bakushou shichau kurai omoroiwa (^0^) honnma kaitete arigato. i can always get my daily laughs here.
    maa, azrael mo iroiro ganbattene! ouennshiterukara!
    o(^-^)o

  105. Steeple said, on July 27, 2007 at 6:51 pm

    Funny, I’m actually pretty good at kanji. Maybe because I have Asperger’s, and I’m special like that. =P Or maybe because Chinese is my adopted culture. I pity my brother for taking Mandarin, because he has to memorize so many more characters than I. Plus, to me, kanji are pictures, so I just think about what’s going together, and I sometimes have to think outside the box to associate these things. Hell, I rule that damn box – I friggin’ destroy it.
    Actually, grammar gives me the most problems… Damn, we have the reverse problems. I do agree with the “e” thing though – at least if you misspell in English, most people will know what the hell you’re trying to write. Misspell a kanji, and “I would like to travel to Kyoto this winter” becomes “I would like to fuck your mother, you filthy son of a bitch”.
    Saa, maybe that’s an exaggeration.
    One last thing. My friend speaks really weird kansai-ben. So I have some experience.

  106. Crovie said, on August 17, 2007 at 5:46 am

    The reason the student looked at you funny was probably because in the japanese DBZ, the line was “over eight thousand”.
    Good luck with the 1-kyuu this year!

  107. Anonymous said, on September 3, 2007 at 7:11 am

    it amuses me how everybody’s having such a hard time with Japanese…
    I watched *a lot* of anime for two-three years, and then went to Japan, and could understand most of what people were saying. 7-8 months later, (and the only real studying I did was reading manga, and talking to classmates etc in Japanese) I took 3-kyuu, and passed with… 383/400 points, I think it was. Way easy.
    And kanji is fun! I procrastinate like shit, so I tend not to practice, but when I do, I can easily memorize 50 or more kanji a day. In my honest opinion, French is more difficult than Japanese. But maybe that’s because I’m not studying it on 2kyuu/1kyuu level…. ^_^;

  108. Anonymous said, on September 3, 2007 at 7:11 am

    it amuses me how everybody’s having such a hard time with Japanese…
    I watched *a lot* of anime for two-three years, and then went to Japan, and could understand most of what people were saying. 7-8 months later, (and the only real studying I did was reading manga, and talking to classmates etc in Japanese) I took 3-kyuu, and passed with… 383/400 points, I think it was. Way easy.
    And kanji is fun! I procrastinate like shit, so I tend not to practice, but when I do, I can easily memorize 50 or more kanji a day. In my honest opinion, French is more difficult than Japanese. But maybe that’s because I’m not studying it on 2kyuu/1kyuu level…. ^_^;

  109. Anonymous said, on September 6, 2007 at 2:59 pm

    english and hard what a joke . i m not telling its easy to learn but harder then jap i dont think so anyway i remembered when a lot of my english friends were talking about my vernacular how hard it is to pronounce an R (quite sure they well unable to say it) but this is nothing when you compere to jap and well dont think i will ever make to 2kyuu who knows when i wouldnt be soo lazy and … but if my grilfriend will kick my ass ,maybe then i will have it πŸ˜€ and the last think my mother tongue is czech so if you want to try the R thing

  110. Anonymous said, on September 6, 2007 at 2:59 pm

    english and hard what a joke . i m not telling its easy to learn but harder then jap i dont think so anyway i remembered when a lot of my english friends were talking about my vernacular how hard it is to pronounce an R (quite sure they well unable to say it) but this is nothing when you compere to jap and well dont think i will ever make to 2kyuu who knows when i wouldnt be soo lazy and … but if my grilfriend will kick my ass ,maybe then i will have it πŸ˜€ and the last think my mother tongue is czech so if you want to try the R thing

  111. Ragna said, on September 13, 2007 at 1:25 am

    Yeah, as a beginner student of Japanese, I stay away from kanji. Dyslexia tends to screw over character reading. Trust me, Chinese > Japanese in terms of difficulty, no wonderful hiragana and katakana, just pure unadulterated characters.

  112. refugee said, on December 5, 2007 at 11:46 am

    “I told t[the police] i could speak a little and they instantly started a high-speed speech in advanced kansai ben. Couldn’t understand a word and i still don’t know what they stopped me for.”
    The best piece of traveler’s advice I’ve ever heard is, if you are not a native, you do not speak the language well enough to talk to the police or Customs.
    I mean, hell, here in the States we’ve got a Constitutional clause acknowledging that even native born American citizens don’t speak English well enough to talk to the cops.

  113. John said, on December 17, 2007 at 6:36 pm

    Four leaves? A shoutout to Yotsuba and 4chan methinks.

  114. Linda said, on January 2, 2008 at 3:12 pm

    Ah Kanji.. it’s like you have to learn Chinese as well as Japanese! I am taking Chinese right now, and found that, Chinese Characters are not so bad once you learn Chinese Radicals. (for those who don’t know: ex. ζΉ―, the three dots you see on the left side of the character symbolizes water, so you know that this character has something to do with water. It means, “soup.”) I also began to see a pattern with the Chinese Characters after taking Chinese for a year, and realized that writing Chinese characters are not so bad after all!

  115. DarkAesthir said, on February 5, 2008 at 7:30 pm

    A friend and I had a discussion recently about the insanity of the Chinese/Japanese kanji: if there were no equivalent texts (dictionaries, translators, or already translated texts, etc.), and every person who knew the written Chinese/Japanese kanji disappeared (whisked away by the rapture, or some such excuse), then there would be no way for anyone to decipher the that moonspeak.
    THAT is a horrible (written) language. They’re pretty much hieroglyphics, without the visual connection to the word they’re supposed to represent.
    Oh, and Japanese people always say English is hard because a written language that isn’t masochistic makes their world implode. And if trite memorization isn’t masochism, I don’t know what is.

  116. Sophia said, on March 15, 2008 at 2:00 am

    In regards to the dialects, anime and film can really help in that respect, and it also helps you to recognize when people are speaking casually (which they usually do most of the time), and to pick out dialects.
    Not that I’m advocating learning solely by anime, that’d be social death. ><;

  117. eddie said, on May 31, 2008 at 8:16 pm

    I am convinced that Kanji was invented by eye doctors when business was slow (around the time when those confectionists started White Day)

  118. Jonadab said, on July 2, 2008 at 10:13 am

    > Ah Kanji.. it’s like you have to learn
    > Chinese as well as Japanese!
    Yeah, well, to really be properly fluent in English you need significant amounts of Greek, French, Latin, and German, plus the phonetics for Italian (for arts terminology and whatnot) and Spanish (for names and places and stuff).
    Human languages are large and complex. Learning them is hard.
    As for the Japanese writing system, Kanji really aren’t that bad… individually. It’s the sheer number of them that’s the problem. You can learn several hundred of the things and still be, in practical terms, just getting started. And then you find out that the ones you already learned actually have several additional readings each that you still have to go back and add.
    I’m not worried about Japanese grammar. It can’t be any more different from English than the Hellenistic (ΞΊΞΏΞΉΞ½Ξ·) Greek I took in college. English grammar, especially modern English, is all about word order. In Greek word order is used for emphasis, and the grammar is all based on various inflections: endings, augments, reduplications, formatives, morphemes, changes to the stem, … I learned all that okay, so Japanese grammar doesn’t scare me. How bad can it be? I’m more worried about the vocabulary and the writing system. Thousands of characters, tens of thousands of readings, hundreds of thousands of words, …
    (Although, in terms of the number of words, can any language be as extreme as English?)

  119. Anonymous said, on July 30, 2008 at 3:53 pm

    By the way, Materazzi is a defender, not a midfielder. Still enjoyed the joke though πŸ™‚

  120. Anonymous said, on July 30, 2008 at 3:53 pm

    By the way, Materazzi is a defender, not a midfielder. Still enjoyed the joke though πŸ™‚

  121. Cameron said, on August 9, 2008 at 9:00 pm

    The idea of learning kanji still gives me the chills. I think I’m off to a good start incorporating Kansai dialect, to avoid surprises later, but kanji is still going to kick my ass. Sad thing is that my first motivator wasn’t because of current anime kick, but to be able to read the original Buddhist and bushido texts, long before those anime hit America, and yet I’m not even 1% literate when it comes to kanji in modern useage.
    Hm, after four years of teaching English in Japan, are you qualified to teach Nihongo to Nihonjin? Is there anything in Japan that’s comparable to getting accredited as a Bachelor of the Arts in your own native language in your own native country? Man, if you could do that, it would be a more ultimate Gaijin Smash than you’d heretofore fantasized, well OVER NINE THOUSAND.

  122. Yun said, on March 3, 2009 at 9:38 pm

    Your Kanji rant might have had a bit more truth to it if we didn’t use 26 letters to represent 42 sounds! Kanji may be nuts, but English writing ain’t logical by any stretch.


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