Thursday, June 30, 2016

Rotating Japanese exhibits - 2 miles from AU!

Just a short walk from AU lies the Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens. They currently have a Japanese art deco exhibition, but have a number of events planned in the garden, including a 七夕 (tanabata) festival. Please go and check this out.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Updated self-study page

We have added a great set of kanji links to the "Self-study" page.

Dr. Williams, who very successfully ran the Japanese Program at AU for many years, continues to work tirelessly to help English speaking learners of Japanese. She maintains both a website to supplement her acclaimed book on kanji, as well as a truly interesting blog on the history of kanji.

Please take advantage of these wonderful FREE learning tools. They are truly a reference for a lifetime.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Message from Japan: Marley Taylor

We are excited to share special messages from AU students who are currently studying in Japan. These include insights and observations that you might find especially useful when you arrive in Japan. Please feel free to leave a comment and let us know your thoughts or questions.

Marley Taylor
Ritsumeikan University

Cooking in Japan 日本の料理こと


Japanese grocery stores have different levels of produce freshness, just like stores in the US. In my ward, we have a higher-end Matsumoto and a lower-end Gyomu. Japanese people put a lot of value on the freshness of their produce. At Matsumoto, the produce is brought in fresh every day, and they try to sell as much as they can by the end of the day. If you go about an hour before closing, you can buy a lot of nice produce at discounted prices.

If you’re on a tight budget, you’ll shop at a place like Gyomu. Their produce is noticeably less fresh, but heavily discounted compared to what’s sold at Matsumoto. Lower-end stores also tend to have more frozen foods. For most of the college students in the area, Gyomu is the best option.
At both stores, the prices of produce change per day. For example, if the batch of cucumbers they receive are smaller than usual, the price will be lower, or they’ll put more in a bundle. Even at Gyomu, the vegetable quality is still better than some stores in the US. Most of the food seems to be grown fairly locally and always has a nice taste.

台所用品|Cooking Equipment

In Japan, there is a distinct lack of traditional ovens. There are a few reasons for this but, primarily, I think it is because Japanese cooking traditionally is never done in an oven. For baking, people here often use the oven setting on their microwave, or a toaster oven. This won’t work if you’re thinking of cooking a turkey while in Japan but, does work well for small baked goods like cakes, bread, and sweets.

The 炊飯器(すいはんき)or, rice cooker, is the backbone of cooking in Japan. They come in various sizes, including 1-serving rice cooker, and aren’t too expensive. You’ll never want to cook rice on the stove again!

冷蔵庫で?How to Store Your Food

In the grocery store, you’ll notice that many things which are refrigerated in the US aren’t refrigerated in Japan. This is due mostly to the way produce are handled, and different cleaning processes in different countries. Here is a list of fruits and vegetables that do and do not need to be refrigerated. In Japan, eggs are not, and do not need to be refrigerated. While people aren’t particularly bothered to see carrots out of the fridge, seeing bread and eggs stored in the same place tends to set of warnings for lots of Americans.
卵:In the most basic terms, the way eggs are cleaned in the United States breaks down the protective layer provided by the shell, making it porous – this means bacteria can penetrate the shell – so the eggs have to be refrigerated. The US relies heavily on large scale farms that are harder to keep clean; this is why our eggs undergo a chemical treatment. In Japan (and many European countries) the eggs do not need to undergo this treatment, so it is safe to keep them unrefrigerated. If you’re interested, here is a more detailed explanation. IMPORTANT: Once you refrigerate an egg, you must keep doing so. Once it’s chilled, if you take it out of the fridge, the egg “sweats”, creating an opening for bacteria. Whichever method you choose, just be consistent.

Cooking in Japan is both incredibly frustrating and wonderful. As you learn more about the produce that’s offered and the Japanese style of cooking, you can have a lot of fun and make some tasty dishes.

(originally published at

Message from Japan: Ariqa Herrera

We are excited to share special messages from AU students who are currently studying in Japan. These include insights and observations that you might find especially useful when you arrive in Japan. Please feel free to leave a comment and let us know your thoughts or questions.

Ariqa Herrera
Ritsumeikan University

When people think about studying abroad in Japan, most immediately think to go to Tokyo. I decided to do my study abroad in Kyoto because I wanted the modern Japanese experience without compromising on the traditional aspect of it. Studying in Kyoto has been one of the best things I’ve experienced since I’ve been in college because not only is there a ton to see and do in Kyoto, there are so many nearby cities that you can take day or weekend trips to and see more of the country.

In Kyoto, there is a host of many old and famous temples that you visit like Kinkaku-ji, the Golden Temple, or Kiyomizu Dera, a temple that overlooks all of Kyoto, or you can go to a monthly flea market at Toji Temple. My favorite temple that I’ve visited has been Ginkaku-ji, the Silver Temple, because the history is fascinating and the grounds, beautiful. You also have to walk up a street of vendors before getting to the temple and it has such a fun energy to it. The people here are usually very friendly too, though some will openly gape at me simply because I am a foreigner. Ritsumeikan University is considered to be located in the countryside of Kyoto so the houses are old and traditional and I pass by Ryoanji, a large temple, every day on my commute to school.

Kyoto also has the largest student population in all of Japan so if you visit Kawaramachi in the evening, there is a ton of life and fun things to do.  My friends and I will go down to the river in Kawaramachi to sit and drink while so many other students around us are hanging out or playing live music. You can also wander the streets of Kawaramachi and find parfait shops or purikura, which are Japanese photo booths.

Nara, Osaka, and Kobe are all located very close to Kyoto and you can get there by the Hankyu which is a cheaper alternative to Japan Rails. Nara is famous for its Deer Park which I still haven’t had a chance to visit yet. Osaka is known for its food and Osaka Castle, which is my favorite part of it, or visit Universal Studios Japan. Kobe is probably the furthest city but it’s a great place to visit if you want to try the famous Kobe beef or just see a Japanese port city. The Kansai region, where Kyoto is located, has been one of my favorite places to live simply because of all the incredible things you can do that it’s difficult to grow bored of it.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Can you read the signs?

Thousands of people are protesting the presence of US military bases in Okinawa. Can you read the signs?

As Japanese speakers you are the cultural bridge that both countries need. Hopefully you can understand and appreciate both sides of this type of argument and one day work to resolve conflict.

"We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid." - Benjamin Franklin

Friday, June 17, 2016

Career forums for Japanese and English speakers

Here are three career forums taking place in the near future for Japanese and English speakers. They are intended for:

- International students from Japan
- Students with study abroad experience in Japan
- Students taking Japanese language courses
- Any other students who happen to have Japanese language ability

Los Angeles Career Forum (Oct. 7 & 8, 2016)

Boston Career Forum (Nov. 18 - 20, 2016)

San Francisco Career Forum (Feb. 11 & 12, 2017)
Website available from late August

Friday, June 10, 2016

Individual study abroad at Obirin University

A colleague from Obirin University in Tokyo has informed me that Obirin now offers individual study abroad opportunities. I lived about 5 minutes' walk from Obirin for a year or so and spent an entire summer riding my bike along the local Sakai River to the large Tokyo suburb of Machida. It is an  exceedingly good representation of everyday life in Japan and I think on it fondly with a good bit of nostalgia.

Here is a link to the study abroad program:

New Fukui Prefecture website for Japanese learners

A prominent bank in Fukui Prefecture has set up a website with a number of videos that you might find interesting. The topics are fairly local to the area, but the videos are in Japanese with English subtitles. Here is the link:

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Natsume Soseki International Japanese Essay Contest for JFL Learners

On the 100th anniversary of the death of Natsume Soseki (1867-1916), The Asahi Shimbun and three other organizations will jointly hold an international Japanese essay contest on the influential Japanese author. First prize (1 winner), Second prize (2 winners), Honorable mention (5 winners)

First and second prize winners will be invited to a symposium in Tokyo titled, “How does the  world read Soseki?” held on December 10, 2016      

All 8 prize winners will receive a set of 27 pocket-sized books of Soseki’s work (in a special box).  First and second prize winners will receive an additional set of 3 books with a special binding.

DEADLINE: August 10, 2016

English: Entries sought from foreigners for essay contest on Soseki


Please address any questions to:

Friday, June 3, 2016

Dr. Schiff's shared writings

Dr. Jerald Schiff in the School of International Service is kindly sharing some of his personal writings about some very interesting Japan-related experiences. These are on his blog at Please check it out and make sure to sign up for his classes in SIS, where you can speak with him directly about these fascinating issues!