Thursday, 30 April 2015

第五: J-CULT THURSJAY!


ゲスの極み乙女
Gesu no Kiwami Otome
"Girl at the height of rudeness"

One of my good friends, who is still living in Japan, has just sent me a link to an awesome song by this band. The song, 私以外私じゃない "Not a me other than me", was released this month (I think), and I have not been able to stop listening to it. You know, it's one of those songs that is just as good as the very first time you heard it. A real banger! Well, more of a real bopper.

I love all aspects of the song, especially how the song gets all jazzy at the end. The music video, accompanies it perfectly, once again incorporating the image of old traditional Japan with images of Japan today - oh, and there's a slightly 70s disco look thrown in there as well. AND some coke bottles on the stage. From having a look and a listen at their other tracks, it seems like a lot of their songs have this interesting mix of musical styles.


Each of the band members, including Enon Kawatani from Indigo la End, enjoyed having a jam together, so they formed Gesu no Kiwami Otome in 2012. Here is their latest song: 私以外私じゃない.Once you've checked that out, have a look at the music video to one of their earlier songs ドレスの脱ぎ方 ("How to take off a dress").




Sunday, 26 April 2015

My JLPT | 僕の日本語能力試験

As I have mentioned in some previous posts, I have been wanting to sit for the JLPT exam for a long time - in fact, I have wanted to sit for it ever since I studied Japanese at university. I remember after first year, some of my teachers said it would be a great exam for us to do to test our Japanese and also to gain a certificate. When my classmates sat for it and passed, I felt a little upset with myself that I hadn't also, but in those early days, my Japanese was quite weak compared to my classmates, so I probably would have failed. 


What is the JLPT, you may ask? It's the Japanese Language Proficiency Test - an exam which anyone can do to check ones level of Japanese proficiency and to gain an internationally recognised certificate which may help when finding work in and out of Japan.

My main reason for wanting to sit the test was to prove to myself what level I had achieved since my time at university. After uni, I took a break from studying Japanese as I felt it was too hard and that I wasn't getting anywhere with it. I would study so hard, and then at the end of the day, I would get so upset that I could barely string a proper sentence together. 

Little by little, my enthusiasm for learning Japanese increased. I became re-inspired by watching Japanese films, by listening to Japanese music, and also by watching YouTube videos of other people practicing their Japanese. Some of the vloggers were so good at Japanese, I felt as though improving my fluency was actually a possibility.

After deciding that I might be able to sit for the N3 exam, I bought the nihongo no somatome text books and spent one year studying. Nothing was sticking in my memory as I desperately tried to hold on to the week-by-week structure of the textbooks. I almost gave up, thinking that N3 may have been too advanced for me.


Then, I stumbled across the JET Programme on the net, and realising I may actually be eligible to apply, I got my papers together, sent them off, and WHAM! I was asked to an interview. Off I went - a year's adventure in Japan began - not just for me, but for my Japanese! 

I knuckled down before I left, revising and studying Japanese as much as I could. I noticed I had improved a little, until I arrived in Japan and realised how much of a learning curve was awaiting me. When people spoke to me, I found it so hard to understand them. It was like I had been thrown into a forest of foreign words. 

A few weeks later, something clicked. I could understand quite a lot of what was being said. I could read more than I thought I would be able to. I could pick up words and phrases quite quickly. However, I could barely speak with others, and my frustration continued to grow. This frustration made me want to stop studying altogether.

I decided I needed to push myself. Me and some of my friends decided we should all sit for the JLPT. Before we could get out of it, we sent off our money - 6,000 yen - or something like that. From that moment on, I spent whatever free time I had studying Japanese.

On the day of the test, I was so nervous. I wasn't sure if I had studied enough. I remember feeling as though I had concentrated mostly on vocabulary and kanji and had neglected grammar and listening practice. 


I sat down at my desk. My test sheet arrived. The clock started. I recognised most of the kanji! I knew or figured out the vocabulary questions! I understood the majority of the listening section - or so I thought... Then, grammar and reading came. The last three sections were so difficult. 

As I left the exam room, I was not so confident that I had passed. I had studied so hard and spent such a long time believing that I would be able to pass N3. Had I studied in vain? You find out if I passed if you read a previous entry.

What would I do if I could go back?
I would buy the practice test to find out which sections I needed to work on. I thought I had studied vocabulary too much, but it turns out my vocabulary was still lacking somewhat. I also really should have focussed more on reading practice.

Has the JLPT exam helped me? 
I needed to know what level I was at, and once I knew, I felt much better. Studying a language on your own is great, but after a while, you need some kind of proof that you have learned things and improved your knowledge of the language. I am so glad I did the JLPT to give myself some closure.

I wrote this to remind myself of my experience. If anyone reading this finds it interesting, or wants to know more about my experience, let me know. :) 

第四: J-CULT THURSJAY!



Some J Soul Brothers? Anyone? Yes, please! 







Here is their new track Storm Riders feat. Slash which was released this April! I have been waiting for some new Jpop tunes for my iPod, so I am super happy right now, and also really excited to do the ironing (I iron as I listen to music)...

I love it - I think J Soul Brothers (and Exile), are defs my favourite Japanese boy band. Actually, I know so! I can't think of any others that I like more. I tend to prefer Korean boy bands to Japanese ones, and it is often hard to beat Korean boy bands because they all dance and sing so well. The music videos are also so creative. Enough about Kpop.

So, I have heard that they are releasing another song this month called Starting Over - but I haven't been able to find it sadly. If you find a link, please send it to me. I think it might be a ballad, which is usually not my cup of tea. Then again, I think they could convince me otherwise somehow. Very easily...

Well, here's the new one for your enjoyment. I added some older ones that I love to the bottom too. Hey, who is Slash, by the way? 


STORM RIDERS feat. Slash:


O.R.I.O.N:

R.Y.U.S.E.I:


FUYU MONOGATARI: (My favourite!)




Wednesday, 10 December 2014

第三: J-CULT THURSJAY!

I love サカナクション (Sakanaction), and for those of you who don't know them yet but like Japan and electro music, BANG! Sakanaction is a beautiful union of the two and you should have a really good listen to all of their stuff. Their lyrics are equally as beautiful.

After my time in Japan, Sakanaction holds an even more special place in my heart than it did beforehand. I got on very well with one of the ladies at my school and one day it snowed and snowed and snowed, so much that there was no way I could ride back home on my bicycle. She kindly offered to drive me home, and as the car started, Sakanaction started playing loudly from her car stereo. As she turned it down, she frantically apologised for having it so loud, but I told her to turn it back up because she was playing a song I loved! We both laughed hysterically as she couldn't believe I liked Sakanaction, and also because I had unfairly expected her not to be into such music! It was a great moment and one I will always remember. In fact, I have just finished writing a letter to her by hand and in Japanese! (I haven't written in Japanese since I left almost four months ago!)

So, here are my personal favourites which you should go and look up on youtube:

- 夜の踊り子
- ミュージック(Have a look at the lyrics for this one!)
- Ame(B) 
- minnanouta 
- ユリイカ

The reason I am posting about Sakanaction is because they have recently released two new songs, さよならはエモション (Goodbye Emotion) and 蓮の花 (Lotus Flower) which has a really awesome music clip as you will see below. One thing I love about Sakanaction is the dreamlike nature of their music and videos. As you watch, it is as though the imagery leads you toward a place where you are closer to the music, and that in turn sets your mind off on a beautiful adventure! 


On a different topic, have you ever heard of Rabbit Island? ウサギ島 (Usagijima) or 大久野島(Ōkunoshima)? Well, neither had I! It's a little island located near 竹原 (Takehara) in Hiroshima Prefecture.


Originally a home to Japanese fishermen, the island was used in WWII as a place for producing poison gas for chemical warfare. After WWII, the poison gas factory became a museum and hotels, a golf course and camp sites were built. Now the island is home to hundreds of rabbits which are tame and can be fed. I am so sad I never visited the island when I was in Japan, but as I love rabbits, I will add it to the list of places to go.

I found a lovely little video of the rabbits which you can see here (click me!), or have a look here at the following video by David Tang on his adventure to the island! After seeing it, I really want to go there and have rabbits jump all over me! 


I hope you enjoyed the THIRD J-CULT THURSJAY! Here are some links that might interest you: