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Previously we have learned the days of the months and played some fun games to ensure the students can remember them, and in the last lesson we introduced the question "when is your birthday?".

This lesson will focus again on this question and teach how to answer it properly.


Reading all the Japanese characters on a mobile phone menu can be challenging for even the most seasoned of Japanese speakers. But fear not, as many Japanese phones often come with the ability to switch between Japanese and English menus. 


Today I StumbledUpon a video so clear and accurate that there was nothing I could do but post it, unedited, on AccessJ. Many thanks to Derek Sivers for this informative and entertaining creation.

For virtually every test (apart from medical, I guess), the best way to success is a lot of exam-condition practice.

The same applies for the JLPT, and not only can you buy past papers (see below), but you can also download them from various websites.

Let's find out where!!!!

Update (May, 2013): We're in the process of adding several more posts to the site regarding JLPT study material. Be sure to check back frequently to see what's new on the front page and what's listed under the LearningJapanese tag.


I'm doing a series of long-distance runs in Japan this year to raise money for child victims of the tsunami/earthquake.

You know it's the right thing to do, so I won't bore you with a sob-story.

Please go to my page and donate some cash.

Dom is fundraising for GlobalGiving

Nampa is the Japanese term for guys picking up on girls in public locations, usually with the sole aim of getting them into bed. A whole subculture has sprung up around the word, and akin to titles like "How to Talk to Women" and "How to Make Someone Fall in Love With You in 6.7 Seconds" in English bookstores and across English webpages, "How to Nampa" is a term probably every magazine with a 20-something male target audience in Japan has published articles about.


This lesson carries on from my previous post last week. This lesson reviews the months of the year and introduces the question "When is your birthday".

In the next lesson we will look more at answering using "It is in November" and "it is December 4th".


Japan needs you.

I blogged the other day about a competition to visit all 47 prefectures in Japan in 100 days and help with tsunami cleanup.

Just in case you don't win that, here's another chance to visit/help out.

Need a Japan fix? In London this September? Want to get involved in the action?

Japan Matsuri is looking for volunteers for it`s third annual event. Held in the heart of London.

If you are homesick for Japan, or missing the wonderful festivals then look no further. This is designed to feel like a typical Japanese festival: dancing, music, food and shows.

Read below for more information.

The first thing that most people notice about Japanese mobiles is how people use them more as e-mail devices and mini-web browsers than actual phones. Mobile phone mail (携帯メール keitai meru, or simply meru) has been a staple of the Japanese phone market long before the advent of BlackBerries and iPhones. While having a mail address on your phone may seem like a silly novelty, it is actually petty handy for directly contacting people all over the world. 

In today’s installment of our mobile phone super-guide we'll look at Japanese mobile-phone mail.


This Friday 22nd, sees a new photo exhibition opening at 'Olympia two' in London.

It has been four months since the Tsunami devastated towns in the Sendai area and one photographer, Christina Aiton, an Australian living in Shichigahama, has documented 14 families from the area and their lives in the aftermath.


My miracle solution to learning kanji may work for you, so why not give it a go.

There are two things I don't do when learning kanji: spend a lot of time writing them out, or use traditional flashcards.

There are two things I do do: use tool one and tool two below:


Want to visit Japan?
Want to visit all 47 prefectures?
Don't think you can afford it?

Win it!


Lesson 3. When is your Birthday?

I spread this chapter over three lessons; with half the time dedicated to learning and remembering the month names, and the remaining time to asking and answering "When is your birthday?". 

Here's the plan for the first lesson.


Although Japan is well know for its stodgy and, some might say, not exactly customer friendly financial institutions, there are plenty of ways to pay your phone bill without even setting foot in a bank. Just follow our fool-proof guide to paying for your wireless service and you will never have to worry about finding your phone shut down and the debt collectors knocking on your door.


Japanese people are in the tradition of brushing their teeth directly after meals (or at least lunch). This will happen in the workplace, too. After lunch at school, literally everyone will be at a sink brushing away; which is why they have so many long stainless steel sink areas.

Some Westerners, not being in the habit of doing this, have received less-than-polite comments from co-workers.

BUT, there is a general consensus amongst Western dentists that this practice is bad for the enamel of your teeth. Read on before making your own mind up.


Last time on Q&A, we talked about lecherous old men and how they will pay young women to do terrible things like write friendly e-mails for money in this country. Today let's turn the tables a bit and look at a self-help guide for Japanese women hoping to make it with a younger guy.


This is a simple idea for an "I have" activity, also using "And you?"


The most popular phone option by far in Japan is getting a contract plan from a major provider. 

Read all about it.


Most ALTs will be expected to perform demo classes during the year. Some will be just for in-school staff, some for the PTA, and sometimes you'll have to perform in front of a pretty large crowd of teachers from the area. Very occasionally, you'll find TV/radio crews, too.


I don't know about your home country, but in mine (England) postal stamps are the realm of the government. Usually you just stick the queen's face on your post. Sometimes you can use limited edition Christmas trees or Wallace and Gromit stamps, but that's it.

Here in Japan, you can make your own online! Whatever picture you like can become a stamp. Here's how.


Let`s play is a level up from the previous chapter, where students actually use the skills learned in the last lesson (this can be done in the same lesson but I have found it better to spread it over a few as it is a bit much for the students). Read on for my plan...


Well, it's definitely summer, isn't it? In a couple of weeks we'll post about how you can tame that crazy heat in your house. For now, here's what you may have missed on AccessJ this month:

Speaking of the heat, I posted a short while ago about How to Not Sweat Like a Beast. Vital reading to minimise those huge sweat patches.

A very popular post covered the best way to learn the Japanese hiragana and katakana alphabets. More posts on learning Japanese to come in the next couple of weeks.

We brought back the Being an ALT series this month, with entries covering working in multiple schools, getting molested at those schools, and an explanation of why it doesn't have to be so easy to be an ALT. More to come.

We showed all those out there with the Japanese IME or a Japanese computer how you can type some really cool symbols. In fact, you can type so many that it needed a second post.

Let's not forget the inclusion of a brand new writer at AccessJ: Dan has been busy putting together a guide on Japanese cellphones. You can read about The Basics, Important Paperwork and Pre-Paid Phones. Expect a new entry on that each Friday until literally everything has been covered.

And speaking of new writers, Laura has decided to help us out on our Worksheet Sunday series. We've used several of her ideas in the past, and she's now busy writing up a guide to teaching the Eigo Noto textbook series in elementary schools. Her first entry went live this month. Other WSs this month included "Will you...?", "He was, they were" and "Are You From...?" for Junior High.

As always, there's plenty more where that came from, so check the archive pages at the top of this page for other great articles from AccessJ.


In many countries around the world, prepaid (or pay-as-you-go) mobile phones are by far the most popular choice since you can simply buy a prepaid SIM (Subscriber Identity Module, a fancy word for that little plastic card you pop into the back of your phone), put some money on it and call/text away to your heart’s content. 

Unfortunately, in Japan prepaid phones are very much in the minority, although they are popular amongst foreign students, travelers and tourists who plan to be here less than a year. However, there is pretty much only one company left that offers full service prepaid, which is Softbank.The primary competitor is au but the range of services is significantly more limited.

Read on...