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.