Category Archives: Kawaii

Sanrio Puro Land – Amazingly Cheap Discount Tickets – and review

Sanrio Puro Land is the world capital of kawaii, and you can get super-cheap discount tickets if you know where to look. But are they a good buy?

It’s a departure from our usual Japanese language articles, but anyone interested in Japanese kawaii really needs to visit Sanrio Puro Land.

It’s a little bit pricey but I found a really good deal on tickets. At the time of writing a day passport is ¥3,300 but by going to Voyagin I was able to get a ticket for ¥2,100 – a pretty steep reduction. I was also assured that the ticket was valid for about three months so if you buy it in advance (which you have to, but one day is fine) and then find you can’t make it on the day you planned that’s ok.

You get an E-ticket sent direct to your phone, so you just have to show the QR code on your screen at the gates of Sanrio Puro Land.

My main worry was that in the past some tickets were not full passports and did not include all attractions. However when I got there I was passed in with no trouble and was free to go on all rides, shows, and everything included in the regular passport.

Oh and before you ask, no I am sponsored or paid anything to tell you this. Just something  really good that I want to share with y’all.

If you want to get a feel of what Sanrio Puro Land is really like I think this video really conveys the feel. It is in Japanese but has English subtitles (you need to enable them) and also Japanese subtitles. So if you are practicing watching Japanese with Japanese subtitles, please use those instead.

Notes for Japanese learners

Sometimes the Japanese use of English is more confusing than the Japanese use of Japanese!

ステージ (stage) is a katanana English word but here it does not mean the literal stage, but the show.

ロケット (rocket) Is a term for a spectacular musical finale, especially as found in Takarazuka Review performances. This is why the video calls the Hello Kitty finale (which is based on Takarazuka finales) “Kitty Theater’s Rocket”.

Kurisumasu no ongaku – Japanese Christmas Music

hatsune-miku-christmasIn response to Cure Yasashiku’s small dilemma about not wanting to fill her head with Eigo I am happy to present some Japanese Christmas music.

This video contains nearly half an hour of kurisumasu no ongaku by various vocaloids including the sugoku yuumei Hatsune Miku. If you don’t mind vocaloids this should suit everyone’s purpose. Personally I like to see some songs sung by dolls and not just people but I guess I’m prejudiced.

If you want to extract the sound for your iPod you can use one of the many online youtube to mp3 services, or better (if you do it often) install an instant-mp3-download button via an addon to your browser (more details in the KawaJapa Japanese Resources List).

There are a very few English phrases (like “Jingle Bells”), and White Christmas is sung in (very Japanesey) English. Apart from that it is all Japanese – with translations of several traditional carols. If you do pick up any English, at least it will be with a heavy Japanese accent! (Actually if anyone wants I can do a quick audio-edit and cut out White Christmas).

It also has nice clear subtitles so you can learn the words.

For a llittle bonus, here is a not so traditional but charming Christmas song, all in Japanese (other than the words “Merry Christmas”)

PS – I viewed one Japanese Christmas music kinnie that didn’t quite make the cut – but it had the immortal words: Ichi ni Santa!

What Kind of Japanese do you Want to Learn?

...but why would I want to stop sounding cute?
…but why would I want to stop sounding cute?

I rather unusually spent some time browsing around about-Japanese websites recently, and found some interesting things.

One was that, looking at sites that recommend partial immersion (as we do), there is often quite a strong desire to reach fully-native levels of Japanese and lose all trace of accent.

One prominent blogger, speaking of older Japanese learners, said:

 While [their] Japanese is “good”, their pronunciation still sounds very foreign, they make many mistakes, and they don’t yet have that natural flow. I believe that you, the next generation of Japanese speakers, will be different.  You won’t be satisfied at average.  You will join the ranks of the few and bask in the rewards.

It is a laudable aim, but it caused me to pause and think, what kind of Japanese do I actually want? Do I want to sound completely native? My English doesn’t sound completely native, and it is the only language I currently speak well. I don’t pass as native anywhere – in English-speaking  countries, strangers always ask me what country I come from.

I have spent time on language exchanges, helping Japanese people with their English. Some of them also express a desire to sound completely native. I do not believe they will ever achieve that. They are too far from it and not immersed enough to learn the hundreds of thousands of tiny things that need to become second-nature before you sound native. Heck, I haven’t absorbed them myself (that “heck” was a conscious affectation. I don’t naturally use these native colloquialisms!).

Also – and I am going to get very controversial here in some folks’ eyes – do they really want to lose all the little cute Japanese mannerisms and ways of expressing things that give them such charm?

Now I know a lot of people do. I have seen an English-speaking blogger touch precisely this point (that Japanese people, even if they will correct you sometimes, won’t correct the things they find cute). Well, I can see how some people might not want to sound cute. Personally, I spend a lot of time trying to sound cute in English. Why would I want to throw away my natural cuteness in Japanese?

All this comes down, I guess, to the question of “what are your real aims in learning Japanese?” For some people they are very practical and quantifiable. For others they are less clear. One thing that I think can happen is that having started on a course of improving one’s Japanese (which of course is what you have to do for a long time before you get even remotely competent), that quest becomes endless. Like rich businessmen who have made enough money that there is really nothing they actually want that they can’t buy, but continuing to make more money has become an end in itself.

I am not criticizing this – either for businessmen or language learners. All ends are, in a sense, arbitrary. Wanting to make more money when you don’t need it is no more irrational than wanting to capture the opposing king in chess or wanting to hit a white ball into a hole (actually I can think of metaphysical symbolism in both those acts that is lacking in money-making, but even so…)

What do I want out of Japanese? I am still not sure. But I don’t think it necessarily entails speaking Japanese in such a way that people think I am a native if they have their eyes shut.* As much as anything, I want to enter a new soul-world, and one that to me feels closer to my real native one than the English soul-world does.

In many ways it is a kind of rebirth. Many of my activities have reverted to a more child-like level. If I can’t watch a show in Japanese, I can’t watch it. If I can’t play a game in Japanese, I can’t play it. I don’t do those things in English any more. In certain – quite large – areas of my life I now act as if Japanese was Language per se and there is no “other language” to fall back on.

I want to communicate in Japanese and experience a Japanese way of seeing. All this entails getting a lot better than I am. It does not necessarily entail native level. I am interested to see how Japanese changes my thinking and in some cases how it enables thinking that feels natural to me but is inexpressible in English.

Currently I watch anime for children and read children’s books. In a way the logical progression would be to graduate to adult ones, but frankly – while I certainly want to get to a more sophisticated level than I am at now – I am not interested in adult books and movies in English, so why would I be in Japanese?

I express quite sophisticated thoughts in English, I guess. Do I want to express those same thoughts in Japanese? I am not sure. Maybe they will be different in Japanese. I am interested to see where Japanese leads me. Maybe Japanese will want me to attain native levels in all areas. Maybe it won’t. In Japan I was content to let Mother Japan lead me. I am also content to let Mother Japanese lead me. I am determined to improve my Japanese. I am not particularly determined to lose all trace of accent or even necessarily to read newspapers (which I don’t in English). I might want to keep a level of simplicity in Japanese that I have lost in English.

But in the end it won’t be what I want of Japanese, but what Japanese wants of me, that determines things, I rather fancy.
_____

IMPORTANT NOTE
* I think my regular readers know me better than this, but just in case there was any room for misunderstanding, I am absolutely not saying that it doesn’t matter how you pronounce Japanese. Talking Japanese with English vowels, timing and intonation is horrible. Of course one should be striving for correct pronunciation. What I am saying here is really only addressed to very high-level perfectionism – and not to criticize it, only to give my own – probably quite odd – thoughts.

Easy Japanese Listening Practice – Paboo Project

I am always on the lookout for Japanese listening practice materials. Listening is by far my worst Japanese skill, lagging badly behind the others. Actually I sometimes find English hard to hear too, so this is a general problem for me.

I have just discovered a new resource for easy listening practice in the Paboo Project. This is a series of free anime for young children. As it is intended to be free, it probably won’t be taken down from YouTube the way Anpanman and other favorites continually are.

easy-japanese-listening-practice
Charming characters for Japanese listening practice

The show is actually centered around romaji letters and English words, but don’t let that worry you. The English content is actually tiny – a very brief introduction to today’s moji (English letter in this case) and some letters and a word acting as the dea ex machina near the end,in the manner of Popeye’s spinach or Anpanman’s atarashii kao (new head*). Other than that (and the shop signs) the show is 100% Japanese and excellent for easy Japanese listening practice.

The show features an endearing cast of characters as well as a dastardly couple clearly based on Baikinman and Dokin-chan – but not so villainous and not so regular. They only appear occasionally. The shows deal on the whole with much more everyday situations, so they are good for everyday Japanese listening practice. A little childish of course, but then this site isn’t called Kawaii Japanese for nothing.

Here is a sample to enjoy.

____
* Kao is regularly translated as “face” while atama is “head”. Here is an example of the fact that words are rarely exactly equivalent in nuance across languages. “New face” does not convey what is meant by atarashii kao in Anpanman. In English we need to say “new head” to get the same sense.

The Melonpan song

Melonpanna-chan
Melonpanna-chan

Time for your daily dose of KAWAIIII!

Here is a song in very simple Japanese that kawaii-lovers will adore (well this one does, anyway).

Perhaps partly because I have been watching some Anpanman movies in which Melonpanna-chan plays a prominent role – notably the adorable  夢の猫の国のニャニー (Yume no neko no kuni no Nyanii – Nyanii of the Country of the Dream-Cats) this song really hits the proverbial spot with your devoted dolly.

Even if you are a beginner you should be able to follow this song – it is very simple and subtitled mostly in kana. The lyrics are just inspired. I truly wish I had written this!

Teeny study points:

入ってる (はいってる)means 入っている. It is a very common contraction in spoken Japanese, but the textbooks don’t prepare you for it!

Interesting to note for pronunciation purposes is how, when carefully pronounced (as in this kind of singing) the ん sound is “syllabic” (actually it is a mora, to learn all about this, see my Amenbo no Uta article). It is worth listening to how each kana is pronounced.

For those interested, we also have a much fuller exploration of grammar points in this song.

Have fun!

顔があるの石の所

alien-girl-header

昨日は家族がドリーを素敵な所に連れて行ってくれました。きれいな小町です:

きれえいな小町
きれいな小町

素晴らしいですね!とても暑かったですから、皆が特別の飲み所に喜んでいました。

飲み所
飲み所

すごいですね!きれいな陶芸の湯飲みから水を飲められる飲められる。人々が湯飲みをちゃんと洗います。

飲み所の右にいろいろ小さいい石が見えます。その石は顔があります。ここは何匹か集めています。大きくしてください:

石の友達
石の友達

黒くなくて、人間がない時、石の友達は一緒に歌います。声が小さいいけど、石が多いからそのきれいな所は美しくて不思議な音楽で一杯です。

そんな夜には魔法のことが遅れる。

Hiragana Reading Practice: Kiki Comes to Tea

Pink Squirrel

There is very little hiragana reading practice available on the Web so we thought we would combine this with our love of kawaisa to bring you something really cute in full Japanese and spaced hiragana.

First we have the hiragana version, then the full kana/kanji version and finally a version that includes both, plus vocabulary and translation for each paragraph.

Enjoy your hiragana reading practice and feel free to ask questions or comment!

このお話を楽しんでください。

この おはなし を たのしんで ください。

Please enjoy this story.

KIKI COMES TO TEA

Kinoketta is a walking, talking mushroom who lives in a house-tree. Flifli is her butterfly friend. They have many adventures in the forest.

Hiragana version

ある ひ の こと、ふりふり は きのけった の  き うち に やってきました。 きのけった は おおそうじ を しました。

なに を しています か?」と、ふりるり ききました。

きのけった:「きょう は、この もり に すんで いた ともだち が きます」

ふりふり:「どんな ともだち です か?」

きのけった:「りす の きき です。どんぐり だけ を たべます。」

ふりふり:「そうです か! わたし は どんぐり が たくさん ある ところ を しっています。どんぐり を もってきましょう か?」

きのけった:「なんて しんせつ な ちょうちょう でしょう!どうも ありがとう ございます。」

ふりふり は でかけました。 そして、しばらくて ふりふりは もとってきました。どんぐり を たきさん もって いました。

きのけった は いす を みがいて いました。

ふりふり:「その いす を みた の は はじめて です。

きのけった:「ききちゃん が いつも すわって いた いす です。よろこぶ と おもいます。」

その とき、げんかん の べる が なりました。きのけった は と を  あけました。ふたり の まえ に、ちいさくて ぴんく いる の りす が たって いました。

きき:「きのけったちゃん!ひさしぶり です ね!」

きのけった:「ききちゃん と あえて うれしい です わ!こちら は ともだち の ふりふり です。 まえにち、あそび に やってきました。

さんびき は おちゃ を のみ、そして、ふりふり は さら を もってきました。さら に は おかし と どんぐり が のって いました。

きき は おかし を とりました

きのけった:「どうして おかし を とった の でしょう か?どんぐり は もう すき じゃない の です か?」

きき:「どんぐり が だいすき です。でも おいしい どんぐり を とる の は はずかしい です。みなさん も どんぐり が いちばん すき だ と おもいます。」

ふりふり:「いえいえ、きのけった と わたし は おかし が だいすき です! どんぐり は ききちゃん の ため だけ もってきました。

ききは「とても やさしい ちょうちょう ですよ!」と 言って、どんぐり を たくさん たべました。
___

Kana and kanji version

ある日のこと、フリフリはキノケッタの木の家にやって来ました。

キノケッタは大そうじをしていました。

「何をしていますか?」と、フリフリは聞きました。

キノケッタ:「今日は、この森に住んでいた友達が来ます。」

フリフリ:「どんな 友達ですか?」

キノケッタ:「リスのキキです。キキは、ドングリだけを食べます。」

フリフリ:「そうですか!私はドングリがたくさんある所を知っています。ドングリを持って来ましょうか?」

キノケッタ:「なんて親切なチョウチョウでしょう!どうもありがとうございます。」

フリフリは出かけていきました。そして、しばらくしてフリフリは戻ってきました。ドングリをたくさん持っていました。

キノケッタは椅子を磨いていました。

フリフリ:「その椅子を見たのは初めてです。」

キノケッタ:「キキちゃんがいつも座っていた椅子です。喜ぶと思います。」

その時、玄関のベルが鳴りました。キノケッタは戸を開けました。二人の前に、小さくてピンクいろのリスが立っていました。

キキ:「キノケッタちゃん!久しぶりですね!」

キノケッタ:「キキちゃんと会えてうれしいですわ!こちらは友達のフリフリです。毎日、遊びにやってきます。」

三匹はお茶を飲み、そして、フリフリは皿を持って来ました。皿には、お菓子とドングリがのっていました。

キキはお菓子を取りました。

キノケッタ:「どうしてお菓子をとったのでしょうか?ドングリはもう好きじゃないのですか?」

キキ:「ドングリが大好きです。でもおいしいドングリを取るのは恥ずかしいです。皆さんもドングリが一番好きだと思います。」

フリフリ:「いえいえ、キノケッタと私はお菓子が大好きです!ドングリはキキちゃんのためだけに持って来ました。」

キキは「とても優しいチョウチョウですよ!」と言って、ドングリをたくさん食べました。

Vocabulary and translation version

ある日のこと、フリフリはキノケッタの木の家にやって来ました。キノケッタは大そうっじをしました。

ある ひ の こと、ふりふり は きのけった の  き うち に やってきました。 きのけった は おおそうじ を しました。

Vocabulary:

Aru hi no koto: Traditional phrase, meaning “one day”
Yattekimasu: To come around, turn up
Oosouji: Major clean-up (sometimes Spring cleaning)

Translation:

One day, Flifli came along to Kinoketta’s house- tree. Kinoketta was doing a big clean-up.
___

「何をしていますか?」と、フリフリは聞きました。

なに を しています か?」と、ふりるり ききました。

Vocabulary:

To: quotation particle.
Kiku: hear, listen, ask enquire.

Translation:

“What are you doing?” asked Flifli.
___

キノケッタ:「今日は、この森に住んでいた友達が来ます。」

きのけった:「きょう は、この もり に すんで いた ともだち が きます」

 Grammar:

Kono mori ni sunde ita (in this forest that lived) is a phrase used as an adjective before the noun tomodachi (friend). This is a very common Japanese construction.

Translation:

A friend who used to live in this forest is coming here today.
___

フリフリ:「どんな 友達ですか?」
キノケッタ:「リスのキキです。キキは、ドングリだけを食べます。」

ふりふり:「どんな ともだち です か?」
きのけった:「りす の きき です。どんぐり だけ を たべます。」

Vocabulary:

Donna: What kind of?
Risu: Squirrel
Donguri: Acorn
Dake: Only

Translation:

Flifli: “What kind of friend is she?” (tell me about your friend).
Kinoketta: “She is Kiki the squirrel. She eats nothing but acorns.”
___

フリフリ:「そうですか!私はドングリがたくさんある所を知っています。ドングリを持って来ましょうか?」
キノケッタ:「なんて親切なチョウチョウでしょう!どうもありがとうございます。」

ふりふり:「そうです か! わたし は どんぐり が たくさん ある ところ を しっています。どんぐり を もってきましょう か?」
きのけった:「なんて しんせつ な ちょうちょう でしょう!どうも ありがとう ございます。」

Vocabulary:

Mottekuru: Motsu (have or carry) plus kuru (come) = bring.
Nante: What a
Shinsetsu: kind (na adjective)
Chouchou: Butterfly

[Note the adjectival phrase again “lots-of-acorns-exist place”]

Translation:

Flifli: “Is that so? I know a place where there are lots of acorns. Shall I go fetch some acorns?”
Kinoketta: “What a kind butterfly! Thank you very much.”

フリフリは出かけていきました。そして、しばらくしてフリフリは戻ってきました。ドングリをたくさん持っていました。

ふりふり は でかけました。 そして、じばらくて ふりふりは もとってきました。どんぐり を たきさん もって いました。

Vocabulary:

Dekakeru: Set out, depart
Shibarakute: Shortly, after a short time.
Modoru: Return

Translation:

Flifli set out. After a short time she came back. She was carrying a lot of acorns.
___

キノケッタは椅子を磨いていました。
フリフリ:「その椅子を見たのは初めてです。」
キノケッタ:「キキちゃんがいつも座っていた椅子です。喜ぶと思います。」

きのけった は いす を みがいて いました。
ふりふり:「その いす を みた の は はじめて です。
きのけった:「ききちゃん が いつも すわって いた いす です。よろこぶ と おもいます。」

Vocabulary:

Migaku: To polish
Hajimete: For the first time
Yorokobu: to be pleased, delighted, glad.

Translation:

Kinoketta was polishing a chair.
Flifli: “This is the first time I have seen that chair.” [I haven’t seen that chair before].
Kinoketta: “Kiki always used to sit in this chair. She will be pleased [it will make her happy], I think.”
___

その時、玄関のベルが鳴りました。キノケッタは戸を開けました。二人の前に、小さくてピンクいろのリスが立っていました。

その とき、げんかん の べる が なりました。きのけった は と を  あけました。ふたり の まえ に、ちいさくて ぴんく いる の りす が たって いました。

Vocabulary:

Genkan: The pre-entrance of a Japanese house, where shoes are removed and left.
Naru: To ring, to sound.
To: (Japanese style) door.

Translation:

Just then the genkan-bell rang. Kinoketta opened the door. Before the two [friends] stood a small pink squirrel.
___

キキ:「キノケッタちゃん!久しぶりですね!」
キノケッタ:「キキちゃんと会えてうれしいですわ!こちらは友達のフリフリです。毎日、遊びにやってきます。」

きき:「きのけったちゃん!ひさしぶり です ね!」
きのけった:「ききちゃん と あえて うれしい です わ!こちら は ともだち の ふりふり です。 まえにち、あそび に やってきました。

Vocabulary:

Hisashiburi: It’s been a long time.
Ureshii: Happy
Wa: Feminine emphatic sentence ender.
Kochira: This side (i.e. this person)
Asobu: Play, spend time pleasantly

Translation:

Kiki: “Kinoketta-chan! It’s been a long time, hasn’t it!”
Kinoketta: “Meeting you [again] makes me very happy, Kiki-chan. This is Flifli. She comes around to play every day.”
___

三匹はお茶を飲み、そして、フリフリは皿を持って来ました。皿には、お菓子とドングリがのっていました。
キキはお菓子を取りました。

さんびき は おちゃ を のみ、そして、ふりふり は さら を もってきました。さら に は おかし と どんぐり が のって いました。
きき は おかし を とりました。

Vocabulary:

Sanbiki: San = 3, hiki/biki is the counter for small animals.
Sara: Plate, dish
Okashi: sweets, cakes
Noru: to be placed on

Translation:

The three [friends] drank tea, then Flifli brought a plate. On the plate were cakes and acorns.
Kiki took a cake.
___

キノケッタ:「どうしてお菓子をとったのでしょうか?ドングリはもう好きじゃないのですか?」
キキ:「ドングリが大好きです。でもおいしいドングリを取るのは恥ずかしいです。皆さんもドングリが一番好きだと思います。」

きのけった:「どうして おかし を とった の でしょう か?どんぐり は もう すき じゃない の です か?」
きき:「どんぐり が だいすき です。でも おいしい どんぐり を とる の は はずかしい です。みなさIん も どんぐり が いちばん すき だ と おもいます。」

Vocabulary:

Doushite: Why
Hazukashii, embarrassed, shy, ashamed

Translation:

Kinoketta: “Why did you take a cake? Is it because you don’t like acorns any more?”
Kiki: “I love acorns. But I am embarrassed to take a delicious acorn. Everyone likes acorns best, I think.”
___

フリフリ:「いえいえ、キノケッタと私はお菓子が大好きです!ドングリはキキちゃんのためだけに持って来ました。」

キキは「とても優しいチョウチョウですよ!」と言って、ドングリをたくさん食べました。

ふりふり:「いえいえ、きのけった と わたし は おかし が だいすき です! どんぐり は ききちゃん の ため だけ もってきました。

ききは「とても やさしい ちょうちょう ですよ!」と 言って、どんぐり を たくさん たべました。

Vocabulary:

Ieie: no, not at all
Tame: sake, purpose, benefit
Yasashii: gentle, kind

Translation:

Flifli: “No, not at all, Kinokette and I love cakes. I brought the acorns just for you, Kiki-chan.”

“You are a very kind butterfly!” said Kiki, and ate lots of acorns.