A Visit to Kyoto! And Anime Zombies?
Hello from beautiful-but-freezing Kyoto, Japan’s ancient capital for 1200 years. I’ve taken the Shinkansen for a visit to Kyoto, for sightseeing with the J-List staff that makes our Facebook, Twitter, and new YouTube channels possible. While here we’ll be taking in some of the most famous sites in Japan, which should be all the more beautiful because they’ll be covered with snow. We also plan on getting a little geeky, visiting anime “holy land” sites like the K-On! school and various places from the Suzumiya Haruhi anime, if the snow situation allows.
I do my best to offer advice to anyone planning a visit to Japan, and have a (very limited) blog post with random advice on things to do here. One piece of advice I have for anyone planning a visit to Kyoto is, why not pass on a ryokan inn or Western hotel and stay at a Machiya instead? These are old-timey Kyoto townhouses which have been renovated for visitors, and which promise to let you “live like a local” here. They’re totally fun and are cheaper than other options, especially if you have a group of 4-6 people. Here’s the website of the company we’re using on this trip. Have fun if you stay in one!
I’m interested in languages, to the point that I actually have to stop myself from writing about them here too much, because I don’t believe the subject is as interesting to everyone as it is to me. But it is fun to understand the features of languages — for example, the way Romance languages like Spanish and French have unique features like noun genders. Let’s look at some features of Japanese!
- As I’ve written about before, the subject and even the objects are regularly left off Japanese sentences, if they are clear from the context. As a result, it’s not uncommon for foreigners to not understand what is being said around them.
- Japanese is phonetically quite simple, with just five vowels and none of the insane intonation found in Chinese or Vietnamese. The vowels are the same as Spanish, Portuguese and Italian, allowing native speakers of these languages to potentially speak with very little accent.
- You express “to be [in a place]” with the verb aru / arimasu for inanimate objects like a house or a car, and with the verb iru / imasu for anything that’s alive, like a dog or a human. Naturally every student of Japanese is required to torment his or her Japanese teacher with questions like, which word do we use for a zombie who was moving but not alive? A plant that moves like a Venus Fly Trap? Robots like C3P0 and R2D2?
- In no way is Japanese “harder” than other languages, although learning to write kanji characters would obviously be a challenge. Smart students will find a way to study without writing learning kanji writing at all. In the electronic age we live in, no one needs to write kanji characters by hand, and you can save time by focusing on reading, listening and vocabulary and skip on writing.
Want to learn Japanese, either casually or seriously? Browse J-List’s Japanese study and culture books now!
Remember, we’re having an awesome 5x J-List Point sale on all chocolate products, plus onaholes, from now through the end of February. (Plus you get one of those spiffy new Megumi stickers with your order.) In order to help everyone out, our staff posted lots of amazing new “ecchi” toys for men to the site. See them all in stock now!