How to Japanese Podcast – S02E17 – Molly Des Jardin – Japanese the Spoken Language, Meiji Era Writing, 全集

Molly Des Jardin is a language and computer nerd who came to study Japanese, and later book and media history of modern Japan. She quickly got sucked into both for the long term and enjoyed the ‘B-kyu’ adventures she got to have while working or studying in Fukuoka, Yokohama, and the least cool wards of Tokyo.

Courtesy of Molly, this is a photo of Ozaki Kōyō’s four-volume 紅葉集 (Kōyōshū), pub. Shun’yōdō (春陽堂) 1909 and how one who access the original text (in its original binding!).

How to Japanese Podcast – 号外 – Pre-JET Japanese Triage

Extra extra, read- er, hear all about it! Special edition of the How to Japanese Podcast! This is an audio version of a presentation I gave to departing JETs at the Consulate-General of Japan in Chicago. Usually I’m able to drill the JETs to get them speaking a little Japanese. Obviously it’s virtual this year, so I recorded a version to use as reference. This material might be useful for others interested in teaching in Japan. Follow along with the slides, which can be accessed here.

How to Japanese Podcast – S02E15 – Mike Grant – Learning by Ear, Craft Brewing in Japan

Mike Grant is the co-founder of Devil Craft brewing and has been operating in Tokyo for 10 years as of this year. Devil Craft has four locations in the Tokyo area. See Craft Beer Professional’s interview with Mike here.

  • “Learning by ear” + Six months of classroom Japanese after an initial stint in Japan
    • Practicing and “playing around” by imitating accents in English
  • Being able to take criticism of both language skills and brewing skills
  • AQ BevolutionAlbert Kuwano
  • Learning how to homebrew
    • Experimentation
    • Online recipes
    • Homebrew books
  • Developing a familiarity with malt
  • Licensing for brewers
    • Previous experience or apprenticeship at current brewery
    • 6-9 month process for licensure
    • Brewing system must be on-site and ready to go; license goes with the physical location
    • Recipes must be submitted one day in advance
    • All equipment must be registered; limits mobile canning
  • Homebrewing in Japan
    • No political motivation to change the current laws; no constituency
    • Japan = fermentation mecca
  • State of the craft beer market in Japan
    • Daniel’s 2016 article on Japanese craft beer
    • 400+ breweries in Japan
    • Lots of breweries that are 50-500 liters in size that are in the industry to brew beer rather than to make omiyage
    • Demographics are working against craft beer
    • Tanakaya in Mejiro
    • Chuhai’s place in the Japanese market
    • Barrel-aging and mixed culture brewing
    • Yeast in Japan
    • Brewing conferences, collaborations, and associations
  • Breaking into the craft beer market in Japan

How to Japanese Podcast – S02E14 – The Katakana Fallacy and 言語の支え

The Katakana Fallacy is the mistaken belief that katakana are more difficult to learn than hiragana (and maybe even kanji?!). A closer look at what drives this believe helps explain why Japanese is, in fact, the easiest language in the world. And in Japanese, I talk about linguistic crutches and how to avoid them.

I’ve been writing about the ideas behind the Katakana Fallacy since this post in 2008. And this is the Anki deck of katakana words that I mentioned might be helpful.

How to Japanese Podcast – S02E13 – Mercedez Clewis – Intensive Japanese Study, JET Program, Writing/Localizing

Mercedez Clewis is a Japanese to English localization editor and proofreader as well as a pop culture writer and critic with websites like, Anime Feminist, But Why Tho, and the Anime News Network. She also has previous worked with Siliconera, which is where she got her start with Japanese to English translation. After earning her Bachelor’s and Master’s in History, she taught on the JET Program in Fukushima Prefecture for four years and is currently in the process of returning to Japan. See her website here.

How to Japanese Podcast – S02E12 – かもしれない and 食中毒

かもしれない (kamoshirenai, may/might) has subtle nuances, and it can be easy to overuse. I talk about a time when I did, and how many years later that mistake allowed me to become an advice columnist very briefly. And in Japanese, I go into my unfortunate history with 食中毒 (shokuchūdoku, food poisoning) in Japan.

How to Japanese Podcast – S02E11 – Brian Epstein – Patent Law, Working with Japanese Clients, Japanese Emails

Brian Epstein is a patent attorney with Modal Law who has been working with Japanese clients and patent attorneys for his 14-year career. He started his own practice in 2019 and plans to visit Japan again shortly after the borders reopen.

Unwanted Coworkers

I was in the Japan Times twice recently.

The first is an extended look at いい歳 (ii toshi, decent/sensible age), which I initially examined in my May newsletter: “What exactly does it mean when someone tells you to ‘act your age’?

And for the second, I mined a survey from a comedy site and a Quora question about the funniest Japanese words: “‘PPAP,’ ‘golden jewels’ and other words that make the Japanese giggle.”

I’ve been putting off this post because I’ve had my hands full the last month traveling, translating, writing, and catching up on ye olde podcast, but I was inspired to get something in shape after seeing this tweet:

I was a little surprised by how much hate it was generating. Yes, I get that “Zoom harassment” (making fun of someone’s room during a Zoom call) and “blood type harassment” (deciding someone will act a certain way based on their blood type) are ridiculous. They are evidence of annoying coworkers.

But two of the others seemed to have more potential for actual harassment, at least based on the U.S. definition. The “confession harassment” in particular seems to present potential overlap with sexual harassment. A lot of the replies in the thread don’t seem helpful:

“Try it, the worst she can say is no”

“Imagine getting shut down by your crush but then you’re also guilty of harassment”

Even if these are jokes, they aren’t good looks!

Not that you absolutely can’t date someone at work, but unwanted attention can absolutely become harassment.

いい年 makes an appearance under “age harassment,” which isn’t the typical “age discrimination.” I thought I explained convincingly why いい年 likely disproportionately affects those who already face so much harassment at work. The best response when asked any questions like these is often, “What do you mean by that?” Generalizations will generally fall apart under scrutiny like this.

And I’ll briefly mention here something I didn’t have the space to get to in the article about the funniest words: There were a lot of country names included in the list, which made me feel kind of meh. There’s nothing less funny than laughing at “foreign” sounds just because they sound foreign to you.

At any rate, Happy Tanabata, y’all!

How to Japanese Podcast – S02E10 – 車検 and 人生初めてのカラオケ

The dreaded 車検 (shaken, car inspection) is an expat’s worst nightmare, but it’s not a reason to not get a car. Driving in the Japanese countryside is absolutely the best way to get around and make some great memories. I talk about my experience with 車検. I also reminisce in Japanese about the very first time I sang karaoke.

The article I mention about 演歌 (enka) can be found here – lots of good songs to study.