tweeting, studying and all things japanese

People mention regularly that it must be the rainy season. Early. Otherwise known as 梅雨、(つゆ、tsuyu). Although, coming from Seattle, I don't consider the rainy season an actual rainy season. The rain comes and goes, but it's the humidity that kills you. Even after taking a shower, no matter how much you try to dry off, the moisture is thick and sticky and clings to you throughout the day. The air feels as if trying to breathe in a sauna. And hair... that's the time I don't bother wearing my hair down anymore. It frizzes and curls and does whatever it wants. Yes, the rainy season.
Except that, this is April! Almost May... it isn't really the rainy season. Yet the rains come, and never go. Every few days there will be a sunny day, maybe warm, but not very likely. Last Saturday was supposed to be one of those days... My husband and I wanted to bike to a nice park, paddle around a lake, and enjoy the day. But no, those plans were ruined with freak rain showers that left us soaked. We didn't get to the park, we just stopped at a department store along the way. As we were admiring the nice selection of Kettle chips, (sometimes difficult to find) my husband pointed to the window. The glass appeared liquid, as rain pelted against it. No going to the park that day.

After a brief rain shower this morning, the sun is out and appears that it may stay for a week or so. We'll see how long this lasts... and the rainy season isn't that far off.

I realize it has been much too long between posting, and I have a list of things to write about, but  need to gather some pictures for them. If anything crosses your mind that you are curious about, feel free to leave a comment about it.

For now though, I want to recommend a few great tools that have increased my motivation to study (and remember) Japanese ten-fold.

First of all, Twitter. I was a skeptic at first, but now that I've seen what good it can do, how easy it is to network with people, how to find resources, news and practice Japanese, among other things, I am convinced. So if you aren't using it, well, you should. I strongly recommend it.

Second, They have some great lists such as Japanese Core 2000 and Intermediate 6000 for studying vocabulary (and kanji). Of course, there are many other things you can study, but the interface is so interactive and useful that I can't help but study every day. Before, I was in a bit of a slump, and having a hard time pushing to the next level, but is quite motivating.

Check 'em out, if anything they'll help improve your Japanese.

Oh, and there's a great site I discovered not long ago that goes much more in depth concerning learning Japanese (and has some great pictures of Japan!) zonjineko

Now, time to take advantage of the sun - while it's here!

traveling in Hakone

This past weekend I traveled with a friend to Hakone (箱根、はこね). Though views of Mt. Fuji are spectacular from various points around Hakone, the weather didn't cooperate with me to get any pictures of Fujisan. Though the cloud cover and mist still provided plenty of photographic opportunities.

Though this isn't a travel blog of any kind, I thought I might mention my thoughts from our experience in Hakone for anyone planning to visit (and offer a brief photo tour below).

where to find bulk, inexpensive nuts, seeds, spices and dried fruits

As I prepare for my weekend trip to Hakone (Kanagawa Prefecture), I thought I would leave with a brief post, before updating about Hakone sometime next week. (And yes, it is finally cherry blossom season! Note picture.)

In a post last week, I mentioned an online retailer for nuts and seeds, though I omitted the name until I received the products and could give it a proper review. My box from Ohtsuya arrived within a few days, as per the wonderful norm of shipping in Japan. True to size, I pulled out one kilogram bags of raw almonds and walnuts, and 500 gram bags of kabocha (pumpkin/squash) seeds, coconut slices and raisins. All the goods were in great condition and delicious in the homemade granola. Being that I'm quite satisfied with this purchase, I will be ordering more - soon. So, if you have a hankering for nuts, but don't wish to spend a fortune on them, or want them raw so you can roast them yourself, I would recommend checking out Ohtsuya. I also discovered that they carry a wide selection of dried spices and herbs, on tops of the dried fruits, seeds and nuts. Ordering spices in bulk? Easier on the wallet, and the environment.

So, a few tips concerning Japanese for using Ohtsuya (aside using your trusty dictionary and Google translate of course).

ナッツ (nattsu) - nuts
スパイス (supaisu) - spices
ハーブ (haabu) - herbs
ドライフルーツ (dorai furuutsu) - dry fruits
シー ド (shiido) - seeds
実 (み, mi) - seeds

Another thing to keep in mind when looking up spices or some of the other products: though most names will be taken from English and thus sound similar, some will have completely different names. So, for example, almonds are アーモンド (aamondo) in Japanese. They sound similar. However, bay leaf or leaves, are actually ローリエ (roorie) or ローレル (rooreru)  in Japanese.

And now, I must finish packing. Hakone adventures start bright and early in the morning!