Japanese Goverment Guide drafted for teaching Japanese to Foreign Residents

A government subcommittee has drafted guidelines for the first time on teaching Japanese to foreign residents to make their daily life easier, officials said Thursday.

The draft guidelines compiled by the Cultural Affairs Council subcommittee lists examples of words and phrases that foreigners should be encouraged to learn for smooth communication in 10 main categories, including health care, travel and shopping.

The categories are broken down into 48 subdivisions under which…

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Phonetikana – Nihongo never sounded…I mean read any better.


So what do you do when you can’t read Japanese? Get a dictionary? Nope…create a font that has the phonetics embedded. At least that’s what the people at Johnson Banks are thinking. Driven by trips to Japan and continual frustration at being unable to read the language, Michael Johnson and his team at Johnson Banks have been trying to design a Katakana typeface that has English phonetic sounds embedded: ‘phonetikana’.

Their first forays into it are great proof of concept…In fact this might be used with any language with symbols that aren’t the alphabet. It’s worth exploring more and especially with something trickier — Kanji, but after learning Japanese the hard way I’m sure there will be some that find this cheating. But, how many times have you slightly got something wrong and read it that way only to have to start back over. For those that have studied Japanese the phonetics might throw you off a bit as you may be used to seeing things like “GU” for “GOO” or just “RO” for “ROH”. Though, I think sounding out Japanese this way is awesome as that’s the only way I was ever able to understand any of it. I would love to see it put to use on signs around Tokyo for those of us that would really use it.

Johnson Banks acknowledges this as a work in progress, so apologies to our readers for any linguistic blunders. But. if you’re interested in finding out more about Phonetikana, (or just want to correct their grammar) please email info (at) johnsonbanks (dot) co (dot) uk.


characters from the phonetikana typeface


for example, UNIQLO in japanese is pronounced ‘yoo nee koo roh’
above are the four characters in phonetikana.


‘big apple’




‘doki doki’ (Japanese for the ‘sound of my beating heart’)


‘baa + moo’


‘big in Japan’


‘nee-koh’ – Japanese for ‘smile’

Genki Japan has some hilarious and fun songs to help you learn Japanese

GenkiJapan.net has some hilarious and fun videos, games, and songs to help you learn Japanese. Warning: The songs do get stuck in your head! Ikura, Ikura, Ikura desu ka?

We put our favorite here but there are more and we want to put it up for a vote. So tell us…Which one is your favorite? Leave your vote in the comments below.

To see all the videos follow this link. The Learn Japanese Video List from GenkiJapan.net

iKnow – The social learning platform. Great for Japanese!

So you want to learn Japanese and you’ve bought books and you’ve bought tapes, but nothing to get you motivated. You’ve started and stopped so many times. Every time you’ve had to go back and review and start from scratch just to get frustrated and quit again. You haven’t been keeping up with your progress and you have no idea of what you have learned. You don’t know what to learn first or really how to do it on your own. You need help. You need something to keep you motivated and challenged. You want to ask questions and get answers back. You want it all for free! Ok that’s enough build up – enter iKnow. A great website filled with people, web applications, games and programs for helping you to learn any language. Japanese on this site is great. It’s fun, and it does more for you than keep track of your progress. It gives you that extra bit of interaction with great graphics and something that only friendly competition can bestow.

It’s an amazing site and in less than 6 months its really grown into something with over 350,000 users so far. There are more and more users added every day so go find a partner and get the help you need to get back to studying and kicking nihongo butt.

Start with the list below or try a harder one. You can even go all out and make you own lists and submit them to the site for others.