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 – 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.

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.

How to Japanese Podcast – S02E09 – Morgan Giles – Reading Japanese, Translation, MEXT Scholarship

Morgan Giles is a Japanese translator based in London. She’s translated a number of different writers, including Kanehara Hitomi, Furukawa Hideo, and the National Book Award-winning Tokyo Ueno Station by Yu Miri. Find Morgan on Twitter here.

How to Japanese Podcast – S02E08 – and のり弁

Living with Japanese roommates in Tokyo was the highlight of my time in Japan. I found those roommates on the website, a great site that I introduce this week. And in Japanese I talk about how I ate のり弁 for nearly an entire year and how I think it’s a useful metaphor for Japanese study.

As promised, here’s the message I posted on that somehow convinced people I would be a decent roommate. Use at your own risk:


And extra bonus content: Check out this blog post to see more about the Rainy Season Yamanote-sen Pub Crawl I mentioned.

How to Japanese Podcast – S02E07 – Jason Coskrey – Immersion, Sports Writing in Japan

Jason Coskrey is a sports writer for The Japan Times. He previously worked at the Birmingham Post Herald and the Marietta Daily Journal before moving to Japan in 2007. We spoke about learning Japanese (and how to do sports writing) through immersion.

How to Japanese Podcast – S02E06 – Performative Adjectives and 系

Adjectives in Japanese are not always what they appear to be! I think part of this is because they function as what I call “performative adjectives.” One of my sixth-grade students helped me finally understand what かわいそう meant. And in Japanese I discuss 系 and how it helped me explain myself.

At the top of the pod I took a minute to thank a few folks for helping me with background for my article for The Japan Times about Jim Breen’s JMDict. That article is here.

How to Japanese Podcast – S02E05 – Paul Snowden – Higher Education Jobs in Japan, The Green Goddess

Paul Snowden worked for over 40 years in universities in Japan. He taught at Tsukuba University, took a tenure faculty position at Waseda University, later served as the Dean of the School of International Liberal Studies at Waseda, and most recently was Vice-President of Kyorin University. He is also one of the three editors-in-chief of the Fifth Edition of Kenkyusha’s New Japanese-English Dictionary, affectionately known as the Green Goddess.

  • Studying Japanese
    • Experience studying other languages
    • Immersion and translation at Tsukuba
    • Using new idioms
  • Arriving in Japan by train via Russia
  • When the language started to click
  • Higher Education in Japan
    • Access to tenure for foreigners in Japan
    • Being determined to communicate in Japanese with colleagues
  •  Waseda School of International Liberal Studies
    • Teaching in a multilingual classroom
    • Reading strategies for foreign languages
  •  The Green Goddess – Kenkyusha’s New Japanese-English Dictionary
    • Dictionary of English Collocations (英和活用大辞典)
    • Fourth Edition
    • Roman alphabet order vs kana order 
    • Revision process
    • “Reverse authenticity”
    • Online version and electronic dictionaries
    • Adding new entries and updating existing entries
    • COVID-19 and Language
    • New paper edition?
  • Karaoke Songs