Japanese Page



Shortly after I retired in 1992 I began to study Japanese. There were several reasons but the main one was probably that I just like languages. I'm not sure what I expected to learn, but now I can read and write a little, speak very little, and, unfortunately, hear and understand almost nothing at all. What I didn't expect, though, was to become interested in the teaching of Japanese. My enjoyment in seeing how the language is presented helps compensate for my rather spectacular lack of progress in it.

In an attempt to consolidate my very limited knowledge of Japanese grammar, I put together a short summary for my own use. Several of my friends read it and offered many helpful suugestions, and one suggested that I make it available on the Web. I have done so, and give the details below.

At the same time, I thought I might mention a very interesting Web site on things Japanese, make a few remarks on my favourite Japanese textbooks, give a short account in both Japanese and English of my cat, and finally show a few pictures taken by myself and friends on trips to Japan in 1996, 1998 and 2000.


Jim Breen's Web Page

We mention Jim Breen's Japanese Page, a Web site maintained by Jim Breen of the School of Computer Science and Software Engineering at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. It contains a wealth of information on the Japanese language and culture. In the brief introduction the author modestly says that he has "an on-going interest in Japan, its people and language".


Grammar Summary

The summary is entitled Some Notes on Japanese Grammar, is twenty-five pages in length, and has the following abstract:

No claim is made for either originality or completeness in these notes. Most of the examples have been taken from, or have been suggested by, the references given at the end. The topics chosen are those which may benefit a person who is beginning to study Japanese and who would like a quick reference to supplement more complete and authoritative sources.

It may be downloaded as a PDF file. A kanji and kana version has been prepared by Juan Cardona Granda, who has also produced an expanded Spanish- language version, which may be viewed with Jim Breen's Japanese viewer by entering the address
in the box at the top of the Viewer page as directed.



I started my study of Japanese in the Faculty of Extension at the University of Alberta, and took the four-course sequence Japanese I, II, III and IV. (Unfortunately only Japanese I survives today.) The textbook we used in the first three courses is undoubtedly known to many learners of Japanese. It was Japanese for Busy People I (Association for Japanese Language Teaching, Kodansha International, 1984). I found it a most enjoyable text although I would have liked to have seen more hiragana and katakana and less romaji in it. In the last part we used Japanese for Busy People I I which proved to be considerably more difficult and we covered only the first six or seven chapters during the term. Since then I have studied on my own, and, during the last year and a half, with a small group which meets weekly during the academic year with a Japanese graduate student at the University.

My favourite text for independent study is Business Japanese by Michael Jenkins and Lynne Strugnell (NTC Publishing Group, 1993) which is in the well-known English "Teach Yourself Books" series. The Japanese language is taught by means of a continuing account of efforts of the British company Dando Sports to market its sporting equipment and clothing in Japan through the Wajima Trading Company in Tokyo. One of the main characters is Mr. Lloyd, marketing manager for Dando, who visits Japan on two occasions to draw up a contract. We follow Mr. Lloyd as he works with the company and meets the staff socially. Hiragana and katakana are introduced in Chapter 1 and kanji characters are introduced a few at a time very shortly thereafter. Each chapter after the first has the same format: a summary of the story so far (in Japanese beginning in Chapter 12), another installment of the story, in both Japanese characters and in romaji; new vocabulary; grammatical notes; exercises; a short reading exercise; and a one-page essay in English on some aspect of Japanese business.

Lynne Strugnell is also the author of Essential Japanese (Berlitz Publishing Company, Inc., 1994) which I have studied with considerable enjoyment. I often consult it while trying to write Japanese.

A Web page that has several links to Japanese language sites is that of D. C. Pickle.



I have a little cat whom I have named Torako because when she was a kitten I thought she resembled a cat with that name in one of my Japanese books. I have written a short essay about her in Japanese (romaji) with an English translation. A kanji version, which Jim Breen has kindly transcribed from the romaji version, may be either downloaded for viewing with any appropriate Japanese reader or viewed with his Japanese viewer by entering the address
in the box at the top of the Viewer page as directed.

Two of the pictures in the next section show Torako helping me pack before my last trip to Japan and unpack upon my return. There are more pictures of Torako, and also one of my previous cat Patches, on "My Family" page which is linked to my Home Page.


Oxford Japanese Dictionaries

Oxford University Press has recently published two new Japanese dictionaries: Oxford Starter Japanese Dictionary and Oxford Japanese Minidictionary, both edited by Jonathan Bunt and Gillian Hall, and published in 2000 and 2001, respectively. The prices are Can$23.95 and Can$9.95. Both books are characterized by a complete absence of romaji, and have both Japanese-English and English-Japanese dictionaries. The former has an excellent 35-page grammar summary entitled "Usage notes". I find them excellent and wish they had been published years ago.


Some Pictures

Bamboo Grove
Arashiyama, Kyoto


Manhole Cover
Akita Prefecture

Dewaya Inn
Yamagata Prefecture

Getting Ready ...

... In Japan ...
(Miyazaki City)

... Home again

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