Katakana Japanese Reading Practice #25: Coca-Cola Poster

Coca-Cola Japan sign in katakana Japanese alphabetグレートテイストゼロシュガー

If you’re studying katakana, try reading this  sign.

Use the rikaichan popup dictionary or your favorite reference tool with my transcription below the photo if you need help.

JapanesePod101.com – Learn Japanese with Free Daily Podcasts

Originally posted 2012-11-16 23:15:30.

車庫 Before going to the second paragraph, try

車庫

Before going to the second paragraph, try reading the characters on these old doors, and use the rikaichan popup dictionary or your favorite reference tool on the kanji I’ve transcribed just below the photo if you need help.

These are both常用漢字 (general use kanji) and they make an interesting pair visually,  with the one on the left becoming an element in the other, where it’s partially enclosed by a component that’s referred to as a まだれ,  or sometimes as a ‘dotted cliff’ in English.

The first character is one of the first that beginning kanji students often learn,  but this reading is different from the one used when it stands alone.

Originally posted 2012-09-16 01:44:07.

Katakana Japanese Reading Practice #31: Craft Store’s Sign

アート&クラフト

If you’re learning katakana, try reading this shop sign that I saw in Kyoto and you’ll discover what kind of store it is. Kyoto is written in Kanji at the bottom along with the name of this branch, taken from the name of the street that it’s on.

Use the rikaichan popup dictionary or your favorite reference tool on the text I’ve transcribed just below the photo if you need help.

Originally posted 2012-08-21 04:13:18.

Safe summer cycling in Japan

携帯や音楽を聞きながらの歩行、夜間無火、ノーブレーキ。。。。

危ない自転車になっていませんか?

交通事故防止のためには、まず基本的なルール、マナーから!

夏の交通事故防止市民運動

If you’d like some reading practice, for starters click on this photo of a Kyoto city summer safe cycling campaign poster to see an enlarged version that will let you see the text more clearly.  Then, use the rikaichan popup dictionary or your favorite reference tool on the text I’ve transcribed just below the photo if you need some help with it.

This poster caught my eye because of its visual impact and the number of common kanji compounds featured here in the context of a very topical issue in Japan that police and lawmakers are struggling to address.

Not needing a car is one of the biggest benefits of living in Kyoto, but with the number of inattentive cyclists and pedestrians increasing, the chances of an accident are also more likely.  As well as no lights at night and common distractions like cellular phones and headphones, the racing bikes without brakes fad is also addressed in the text with katakana, along with a couple other  English words that are often used in Japanese.

Originally posted 2012-08-11 10:08:03.

Rikaichan

Rikaichan is a popup dictionary.  If I had to give up all but one of my printed and online Japanese learning resources, rikaichan would be the keeper. And it happens to be free!  You can download it and get more info here.

One of the joys of living in Kyoto is that I get to indulge my love of learning kanji all the time,  by just looking at the signs that surround me in my daily life.  I’d like to give you a sense of that feeling, that satisfaction that comes from reading authentic Japanese, in fun, short bursts.

 The photo below is of a used bicycle shop’s sign in my neighborhood.  An obvious limitation of rikaichan’s is that you can’t simply hover your browser on kanji in a photo, because it’s not directly transmitted text on your screen, and can’t be recognized.  In the same way, rikaichan won’t be of use with scanned documents.

With this in mind, I transcribe what’s written on signs, etc, so that you can use rikaichan at your own discretion. And while you don’t need to enable rikaichan to enjoy and learn from the posts,  using it with the characters  I transcribe just below photos as I have below will allow you to actively interact with the topics, which in itself is a key to retention and motivation.

Try to read the signs in the photos in this blog without any help, and see how far you get with that.  Use your rikaichan on the text I transcribe below the photos to help with unfamiliar readings and meanings.  In the photo  just below, I hovered over the second part of the sign that’s visible in this pic, and rikaichan has identified the word and given the details.  If you want to see more detail about the individual characters, just gradually move your mouse to the right.

I see the same characters and appeals again and again,  and this varied repetition of dynamic content makes for natural, engaging reinforcement. It can also be more than a little overwhelming at times!  From the countless messages that surround me, I’ll choose subjects that offer the chance to see common characters and words in succinct, visually appealing ways,   and you’ll find yourself relying less on rikaichan and more on your own ability as you go along.  Give it a try!

Rikaichan has changed the way I study Japanese, in that it enables me to read articles and other authentic Japanese text online that otherwise would be over my head.  I’ve been able to develop my own study routine, using it only when I am really stuck, and focusing on retaining the information it gives me about definitions and kanji readings.

In addition to writing the characters that appear in signs in photos, I will sometimes include Japanese words in my posts without  adding  hiragana after the kanji, to allow you to decode them for yourself or with the help of rikaichan or your favorite reference tool as you see fit.

As I got into the habit of using rikaichan to help me decipher things online, I started going to my tool bar to enable it as a matter of routine whenever I turn on my computer.  It’s invaluable for a variety of text from emails from Japanese friends, to online articles.

The photo just below is typical of how I use it most of the time, to help me read newspaper articles online.  Click on the photo to see an enlarged version and to view the characters clearly.

In this case,  I couldn’t read a word in the headline, ふくさよう that I use in conversation.  I hadn’t seen it written before, and I was surprised to realize that what seemed at first glance to be a totally unfamiliar word is actually one that I know the meaning of and recognize when I hear it.  I also know the readings of the three kanji that comprise it,  so as it turns out,  a quick rikaichan check is enough for me to recognize it on my own in the future, and efficiently build on my knowledge base.

Once you install rikaichan, all you have to do is enable it when you turn on your computer and hover your mouse over the characters you want readings and/or definitions for.  If you hover over the first character of a word, you’ll get the reading and definition for the word, not just the reading for the individual character.  This is really a big part of what makes it so valuable for me.

In  certain situations you might not be especially focused on retaining what rikaichan shows you, such as when you get an email in Japanese and need to fill in some gaps in your knowledge and understand it. In a case like this you can use it without much thought, and let it help you to rapidly understand the material in the moment.

But when improving your reading skills is your main goal, it’s worth developing a learning strategy as you go along that caters to your level and learning style.  This will help you to improve more quickly, and it will also keep you motivated by giving you a real feeling of satisfaction that comes from stretching yourself and seeing noticeable improvement in your ability to read and understand more and more characters, and do it with greater speed as you go along.

Rikai also has an optional toolbar that lets you manually type in a word you want to look up, as you’ll see in the screenshot below.  Click on it to see it in detail.  Here I entered the Japanese term for ‘cold war’ in kanji to get a deeper understanding of the characters’ components.

I use this as a handy dictionary when I want to clarify the meaning of a word I recently heard in conversation, etc.   I also use it along with the popup dictionary feature as an occasional supplement when I want to get more detailed info on the kanji that make up a word.  It also has the number of the character given in various dictionaries and kanji learning systems, so you can easily use online readings to reinforce what you’ve been exposed to in those texts.  It really helps to bring your studies alive.

I used to study kanji using James Heisig’s Remembering the Kanji I and II and I bought a set of compatible flash cards that I used a lot.  You can buy a set like I did, but if you have a printer, rikaichan can be of service there as well, as it offers printable cards on PDF.

I’ve donated to the rikaichan project through the handy button on their site because I’ve gotten so much benefit from it, and I’m betting that if you add this great resource to your arsenal of study aids and take the time to try it out with different texts in various ways,   you’ll quickly discover how to adapt it to your level and learning style.

Let me know if you have any suggestions for written content that you’d like to see here with transcriptions, and please pass along your own tips on how to get the most out of rikaichan!

Originally posted 2012-07-29 11:30:56.

Kanji Kanban #273-Fushimi Inari Shrine Torii Gates

learn-kanji-fushimi-inari-gates-2

learn-kanji-fushimi-inari-gates-1

learn-kanji-fushimi-inari-gates-3

奉納

ペンキぬりたて

Use the rikaichan popup dictionary or your favorite reference tool with my transcription below the photos if you need help reading the characters on this torii (shrine gate) and the plastic cone.  They were part of the scenery when we paid a visit to Kyoto’s Fushimi Inari Shrine in May.

The two characters on the torii are read from right to left and carry the meaning of an offering, especially in religious contexts.

The thousands of torii that make Fushimi Inari  so unforgettable are vivid examples of such donations, paid for by companies that receive the right to have their names inscribed on the torii in return.

I was struck by how dynamic the atmosphere is, with torii new and old and in between,  some clearly on their last legs.  In stark contrast, the vermilion paint on others was still wet, as the sign on the cone in one photo warns.  The closeup shows another newborn torii, its kanji yet to be painted black.

As we strolled along the path, we looked up and saw a gentleman  perched above us on a ladder. When I asked him how long they usually hold up before succumbing to the elements,  he kindly took a break from his painting duties to report that 10-15 years is a typical torii lifespan. There’s a constant cycle of renewal here, which seems to echo the timeless natural processes at work in the surrounding forest.

What a magical place!

The numbers below refer to the kanji I’ve transcribed below the photo, and correspond to their order of appearance in both Heisig’s Remembering the Kanji and Kanji in Context.

To learn more about how this information can help you learn kanji, please read this.

Heisig(H1573, H1356)

Kanji In Context(KIC1678, KIC733)

Originally posted 2014-06-21 05:20:01.

Kanji Kanban Japanese Sign #262-Women’s Help Line

learn-kanji-Japanese-sign-hotline-262

 

ひとりで

悩まず

電話して

ください。

職場でのいじめ

セクシュアルハラスメント

ストーカー

夫 パートナーからの暴力

女性の人権ホットライン

Use the rikaichan popup dictionary or your favorite reference tool with my transcription below the photo if you need help reading this poster for a hotline that specializes in helping women.  Click on the photo to enlarge it and see the characters more clearly, including those in the yellow circles, which note some of the issues that women might need help with.

The prevalence of English loan words in katakana here speaks to the fact that many of these issues are being openly discussed much more than in the past, and such recently popularized words facilitate expressing these topics.

The numbers below refer to the kanji I’ve transcribed below the photo, and correspond to their order of appearance in both Heisig’s Remembering the Kanji and Kanji in Context.

To learn more about how this information can help you learn kanji, please read this.

Heisig(H935, H535, H344, H824, H545, H838, H1801, H858, H98, H1558, H951, H571)

Kanji In Context(KIC1110, KIC61, KIC178, KIC513, KIC335, KIC595, KIC1043, KIC173, KIC68, KIC421, KIC15, KIC804)

Originally posted 2014-03-03 00:36:17.

Kanji Kanban Japanese Sign #261-Kyoto Eyeglass Store Noren

learn-kanji-Japanese-sign-eyeglasses-261

 

眼鏡研究社

Use the rikaichan popup dictionary or your favorite reference tool with my transcription below the photo if you need help reading this noren shop curtain.

The numbers below refer to the kanji I’ve transcribed below the photo, and correspond to their order of appearance in both Heisig’s Remembering the Kanji and Kanji in Context.

To learn more about how this information can help you learn kanji, please read this.

Heisig(H1467, H483, H675, H1320, H1092)

Kanji In Context(KIC978, KIC1034, KIC297, KIC298, KIC60)

Originally posted 2014-02-10 08:23:59.

Kanji Kanban Japanese Sign #254-Pig Sculpture

learn-kanji-Japanese-sign-pig-254

 

Use the rikaichan popup dictionary or your favorite reference tool with my transcription below the photo if you need help reading this character.

Our porcine friend is holding a hyotan, a dried gourd.  ひょうたん like this were traditionally used as sake flasks, and you might well notice one being used as decor if you go to a Japanese restaurant or watering hole.

The numbers below refer to the kanji I’ve transcribed below the photo, and correspond to its order of appearance in both Heisig’s Remembering the Kanji and Kanji in Context.

To learn more about how this information can help you learn kanji, please read this.

Heisig(H538)

Kanji In Context(KIC1089)

Originally posted 2013-12-09 00:21:39.

Kanji Kanban Japanese Sign #251-Tokyo Meat Shop

-7

-4

お肉を食べて元気になろう!!

ハッピーにくやさん

おいしいお肉でたのしい食卓

いただきます!!

おかわり!

Use the rikaichan popup dictionary or your favorite reference tool with my transcription below the photos if you need help reading this Tokyo butcher’s signs.

The numbers below refer to the kanji I’ve transcribed below the photo, and correspond to their order of appearance in both Heisig’s Remembering the Kanji and Kanji in Context.

To learn more about how this information can help you learn kanji, please read this.

Heisig(H1022, H1472, H59, H1885, H1022, H1472, H51)

Kanji In Context(KIC561, KIC131, KIC245, KIC246, KIC561, KIC131, KIC1030)

Originally posted 2013-11-12 00:28:50.