December 7, 2009

8-bit bars in Tokyo

Japan has a lot of theme bars: starting with maid cafes going to cat cafes (where you can play with real cats). But very interesting is the cafe theme based on 8-bit retro video games where you can actually play these games. They are all in Shinjuku and if you want to check them out, here they are:
  1. 8-Bit Cafe: Q Building 5F, Shinjuku 3-8-9, Shinjuku-ku, tel. 03 2258 0407, closed Tuesdays, table charge ¥500
  2. Bar Plastic Model: Kabukicho 1-1-10-1, Shinjuku-ku, tel. 03 5273 8441, 8pm-late, table charge ¥700 per person
  3. Muteki Mario: Shinjuku 3-11-1, Shinjuku-ku, tel. 03 3354 2139, table charge ¥500 per person
While maybe not exactly an 8-bit bar, it's worth checking out the 16 shots. Their excellent library of videogame music alone is worth having a beer there.

16 Shots: Shinjuku 2-3-8, Shinjuku-ku, tel. 03-6379-4335, closed Sunday, table charge ¥500 per person

December 6, 2009

Back from Japan November 2009 trip

I'm back from my November trip to Tokyo. This time I only visited Tokyo and spent some more time to meet people and visit places like Shibuya, Akihabara etc... But also did two short trips outside Tokyo: Takao-san and Kamakura.

I'm a little too busy with some other exams and organizing some events to sort all my pictures. But I will try to do so by Xmas. I already booked my next trip to Japan. Of course to see the Hanami again. So 25 March till the 17th of April I will be touring Japan.

In the meanwhile, I'll try to make some interesting posts about the things I learned in the meanwhile.

Edit: Above a picture of the stuff I brought back from Japan.

Renaming the blog and the use of Japanese honorifics

I have decided to rename the blog from Benii-San to Benii's Journal. I didn't do it on purpose but you shouldn't refer to yourself with 'San'. Which is quite cocky and maybe a little impolite.

"~ san (~さん)" is a title of respect added to a name. And you shouldn't use it to refer to yourself. There is also "~ kun" and "~ chan", so when do you use these? It's quite important to know the difference because they indicate different levels of politeness.

Have a look on to find out. There are even more suffixes like senpai (先輩). If you want a more detailed list, have a look at this page about Japanese honorifics.

October 28, 2009

5 Tips when you travel to Tokyo for the first time

Spotted these 5 tips on that were not too bad. I'm leaving for Tokyo in a few days and might post a few tips of my own!!!

October 13, 2009

Flea Markets in Japan

A great tip from Steve Nagata:
Flea Markets are becoming quite popular in Japan. In Akihabara, the Mottainai Flea market takes place about once a month outside the UDX building near Akiba station.
Here you can find anything from used clothing to Gun-pura to old computers to figures. Sometimes the prices are kind of high, but usually things are reasonable.
I found more information on this website:
Charity MOTTAINAI fleamarkets, a part of the MOTTAINAI Campaign which is set into motion by Prof. Wangari Maathai who is an environmentalist and the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize Winner, focuse on recycling. Bring your old clothes, books, DVDs or videos which you no longer want, or used frying oil to MOTTAINAI station at the fleamarket site, they will recycle them!
The major sightseeing spot Akihabara has MOTTAINAI Flea market during"Golden Week"* holidays. Apprx 100 venders. Enjoy the market as well as shopping in the electronics quarter. *Consecutive holidays for nearly 10 days from the end of the Apr to the beginning of May.
Might be interesting to visit!

October 12, 2009

53 ways to explore Tokyo on foot

While preparing our trip to Tokyo, I found this resource.

I'm sure I'll try one or two of these routes if the weather is not too bad (or cold).

(Photo under creative commons from jamesjustin's photostream)

October 11, 2009

Japan Spring 2009

Wauw, I'm a bit ashamed of not putting any updates on this blog. This is going to change!

First of all, I finally managed to put all my pictures online of the trip. I put some descriptions in the titels but no details yet. Have a look at the 564 photos I uploaded. I hope to publish more detailed stories about our journey.

So I passed my first year of にほんご and I started my second year. In three weeks, I will be revisiting Tokyo and this time explore this city for a full 10 days!! So expect more news and pictures!!!

March 15, 2009

Picking up where I left off.

It's been 14 September since my last blogpost. I underestimated some projects among other my Japanese class. So this meant I neglected this blog for far too long. What happened?

I struggled through until my midterm exams of January. I wanted to pick up the slack during the xmas period but the flu sabotaged those plans. Luckily after cramming for 2 weekends, I still managed to get a 70% on the exams.

I'm still trying to reserve some time on a weekly basis to study Japanese but it isn't always easy. The good news is that my trip to Japan is in 2 weeks!!! And I will use this blog to keep a travel diary. We will start off in Tokyo and the surrounding area (for example Nikko) and then move on to Osaka. From there we will visit Kyoto and Nara etc....

I'm really excited about my first trip to Japan. Since we will spend some considerable time on planes and trains, I will use the time to study some of my Japanese.

So finally, this blog will finally get some updates.

(Photo under creative commons from zawtowers' photostream)

September 14, 2008

F.A.C.T.S. - A Belgian Anime Convention (and much much more)

The 11th and 12th of October, it's time for F.A.C.T.S. An occasion any anime fan from the Benelux shouldn't miss. It isn't only about Anime but it's the biggest one we got.
The F.A.C.T.S. convention is organized once a year by Con-Fuse bvba, an organisation promoting Science Fiction, Comics, Fantasy and Japanese animation. Con-Fuse bvba creates a forum for all fans of the "fantastic genre", giving them one day during which all of their favourite events are united under one roof. As one of the few convention in the Benelux, the convention had more visitors than the previous edition.

F.A.C.T.S. was originally a convention where every corner of the I.C.C. was filled with merchandise ranging from DVD's, CD's, occasionally a videotape, to model kits, action figures (mint on card, los, vintage, modern, etc.), posters, postcards, books, computer games, comics, manga, magazines, trading cards, card games, etc. etc. We have more that ninety dealers from Belgium, France, Germany, Netherlands, U.K, Luxemburg, Sweden, U.S.A., etc. Every diehard collector finds something to complete his collection.

Since the early beginning F.A.C.T.S. received many comicartists and mangaka: Cam Kennedy (artist from the Star Wars comics) from Scotland, George Pérez (comic book veteran) from the U.S.A., Koichi Ohata (Gunbuster) from Japan, French manga talent Jerome Alquié, Steve Firchow (The Darkness) (US), John Avon (Magic the gathering), Steve KyteRomano Molenaar (Witchblade) from the Netherlands and don't forget our annually cartoonist Lectrr.

At the end of the nineties the first actor popped up at F.A.C.T.S. This was Richard LeparmentierRay Park (Darth Maul in Star Wars : The Phantom Menace), Jeremy Bulloch (Bobba Fett), Dave Prowse (Darth Vader). Another popular film saga is Lord of the Rings, where some of its actors were guests at F.A.C.T.S. : Lawrence Makaore (Lurtz), Paul Norell (King of the Dead) and John Rhys-Davies famous for his unforgettable role as Gimli.

F.A.C.T.S. also had the privilege to received some film legends such as the legendary director Roger Corman, David Carradine (Kung Fu - The Legend, Kill Bill), Dirk Benedict (Battlestar Gallactica, The A-team) as well as the tallest Dutch actor Carel Struycken in Hollywood.

But also television actors can be spotted. At the F.A.C.T.S. 2005 edition, two actors in a leading role in the popular Stargate SG-1 series were present : Don S. Davis en Corin Nemec.

F.A.C.T.S is not only about merchandise and actors. Many activities are organised during the F.A.C.T.S.-weekend ranging from an arcade gallery, card game demonstrations, model kit demonstrations, anime-projections, Q & A's with the actors, swordfights and an extravagant cosplay competition with many costumed visitors.
(Thunderbirds) from the U.K., and was followed afterwards by other Star Wars colleagues like
(Photo under creative commons from ClausM's photostream)

A lot of resources for the Japanese language

The following list of links might help people like me who are starting to learn Japanese.

Character and Writing: iting_system - A Wiki article on historical development of Japanese writing system i - List of kanjis to be learnt in elementary school with the pronunciations and meanings. - List of kanjis to be learnt up until high school with pronunciations and meanings. ml - Kana and kanji - preparation for JLPT. htm - katakana/hiragana and some kanji writing tutor (with stroke order animations) - Kana lessons with sound and animation files ll/index.html - JLPT kanji levels - Another web page that helps you when it comes to kanjis for the JLPT. - Very cool page for kanji beginners, includes writing order, meanings, etc. - kanji stroke orders ukanji.html - printable list of the Jouyou Kanji as well as a some other commonly seen ones, arranged in the order they are learnt in Japanese schools. - printable kanji flashcards /honji.htm - Variant forms of Chinese characters; from China, Taiwan, Japan and Korea. - practice the reading of random characters from your selected list graphy/ - Flickr group to help find out the characters in calligraphy works

Online Lessons/Tutorials: - Easy to follow grammar lessons, some vocabulary. Nice for starters. / - The excellent Daily Yomiuri Online "Pera Pera Penguin" articles. ngo.html – Various tutorials and phrase books in Russian. - Japanese lessons by NHK Radio available in 21 languages over.html - Teach yourself Japanese - Basic Japanese with a linguistics approach. ge.php - One hundred "[w]atered-down, understandable, bite-sized grammar helps". - JPLANG provides e-learning materials for learning Japanese, developed by a TUFS team. .php - for beginners, lots of audio, free but with a registration - 34 free lessons and tools - free-to-use online study materials 1jp/main.html - conversational topics and grammar references

Reading Material: - Collaborative translation project. Usufruct granted by acknowledgement. - Public domain documents including an encyclopaedia, a biographical dictionary and Japanese laws - Collection of copyright-free works. A lot of texts have phonetic guides in hiragana. - listen and read fairy-tales - Oku no Hosomichi by Matsuo Bashō - Japanese classics in text and audio files rary_e.html - text and audio files of early modern Japanese literature s/ja - Japanese reading materials in Project Gutenberg =list〈=jp - Contemporary Japanese opinions with English translations - Recitations including classic literature (texts may be found in Aozora Bunko) - Recitations by a voice actor (texts may be found in Aozora Bunko)

Pronunciation: 2&postcount=9 - IPA explanations and tools, compiled by WR's own timpeac. - sound files for IPA symbols as revised in 1996 - instructions for setting up your computer to display IPA symbols les/index.htm - sound files for Japanese syllabary and verb conjugations. nciation.html - Quick tips of phonemes (aimed at English speakers)
Web Services: - Searches library catalogues in universities and research institutions. - Home page of National Diet Library. - Google Japan with Web services in Japanese. - Yahoo's Japanese portal. - Nascent technology for transcribing and searching podcasts.

Media: - News from NHK, Japan's public service broadcaster. ndex.html - TV Asahi News is another good listening resource with transcripts. Enjoy! - Generates small vocabulary bubbles for Japanese news text. - live streaming of NHK Radio Japan - News site of TBS, a commercial network.

Dictionaries: in/wwwjdic.cgi - Commonly known as Jim Breen's dictionary, supports a verb conjugator. in/wwwjdic.cgi?1R - search for kanjis by combinations of stroke counts and radicals - WWWJDIC spin-off with more user-friendly interface php - French-Japanese / Japanese-French dictionary. - A bidirectional English-Japanese database with a search box for looking up more natural expressions. - Online dictionaries offered from Yahoo! Japan Dictionary. Includes Ja-En, En-Jp and Jp-Jp. - Online dictionaries offered from Goo, another Japanese search engine. Includes Ja-En, En-Jp and Jp-Jp. - Online dictionaries offered from Excite. Includes En-Ja, Ja-En, Jp-Jp, Ch-Ja and Ja-Ch.
http://www.englishjapaneseonlinedictiona A Romaji English <> Japanese dictionary. - Jeffrey's Jp<>En Dict. Kana and Romanji input. Display results in Romanji and Kanji jisearch.php - Kanji-English Dictionary ding.php - Kanji-English Dictionary by romaji input. a/p10.htm - Dictionary of Japan-made kanjis. Entries are provided as image files. .html - Kanji Dictionary, with stroke order, English meaning, On-yomi (phonetic reading), Kun-yomi (native Japanese reading), irregular pronunciations (e.g.一日 = ついたち), example sentences, and audio files. - thematic picture dictionary with audio - Collection of numerous Japanese dictionaries - kanji dictionary and themed lists

Specialised Vocabulary and Phrase Books: book - Survival Japanese for Travellers. i/jinmei.html - A list of kanjis that represent typical morphemes for Japanese given names. ex40.html - Japanese family names, searchable in kanji and half-width katakana. - A database of Japanese place names, searchable in kanji and hiragana. f/old_chara.html - Tables to match old and new kanji forms. - A list of kanjis created in Japan. - Yojijukugo (four-charactered idioms) with definitions, usages and English translations. .html - Pronunciation dictionaries compiled by topics. - Names of chemical substances in Japanese and English; database - Slang with definition and usage. - Glossary of colloquial expressions e - Themed list of conversational phrases g_in=1 - Glossary of loan words and Japanese English g_in=2 - Glossary of yojijukugo or four-character expressions g_in=3 - Glossary of proverbs and clichés g_in=4 - Glossary of onomatopoeias and mimetic words g_in=5 - Glossary of Japanese culture and news html - Proverbs and clichés with synonymous and antonymous expressions. - User-driven database for regional dialects
Grammar: - Very useful web page when studying grammar for the JLPT (from 4kyū to 1kyū). A rather successful all-in-one Japanese site. From very basic dictionary, to grammar through particles. Noteworthy: giongo (giongo defines words usually described as onomatopoeia and then quite a lot more!). l#contents - Japanese grammar reference by constructions.
Particles: s.htm - Particles overview. m - Basic particles overview at home.html - A guide to the functions of structural particles in Japanese. ticles2.html - Verb related particles. /jgr_part.htm - Particles from a linguistic point of view.

Software: - A Firefox add-on to enable easy input of Unicode characters: includes kana shortcuts. - For Firefox users: Rikaichan is a pop-up dictionary - reads Japanese web-pages. / - Kanji flashcard system by Peter Salvi. Uses Tcl/Tk. - freeware that parses Japanese text, in English and Furigana and Romanji (Hepburn) 67.exe - complete download - converts both Kanji and Kana into Romaji (select "Kanji to Romaji" option) .aspx - parses Japanese sites and provides pop-up vocabulary. Also in Chinese and Korean. .htm - Pazuru Alfabet is a learning tool that helps to recognize kanas. /tradkan0.htm - Converts between Chinese and Japanese kanjis, old and new varieties. /readkan0.htm - kaňon (漢音), goon (呉音), MSC and Hanja pronunciations output /zen2hanz.htm - Converts between zenkaku and hankaku scripts. pce.html - Japanese word processor, with a built-in IME for kana input and kanji conversion. Also supports dictionaries. - Online Web-based Japanese Input Method sp - vocabulary flash cards

About Japanese: nguage - Wikipedia's general account of the Japanese language. rb_conjugations - Comprehensive tables for Japanese verb conjugations. onology - Basic topics of Japanese phonology. ammar - An account of Japanese grammar with emphasis on morphology. norifics - Japanese honorifics tracted_words - Japanese abbreviated and contracted words und_symbolism - Japanese sound symbolism aphic_symbols - typographic symbols nctuation - punctuation marks l - Titled "A quick and dirty guide to Japanese". adgtj.html - The quick and dirty guide to Japanese. (kana version) g/ - Blog, lessons and method of learning Japanese ime/japanese/ - tips for common but difficult expressions ing/outline.htm - Outline of the Japanese Writing System ese/index.html - fundamental differences of Japanese from European languages - Translations and grammar for Classical Japanese

Links: esources.html - Melita Rowley's Japanese learning resources. ese.html - Once again Jim Breen's. This time his Japanese related web page. Ugly, but every link in that page is worth gold.

Preparing for the JLPT: - The JLPT Study Page is a resource of study materials for JLPT Levels 2, 3 and 4. - JPLT FAQ from the University from London

(Photo under creative commons from nnnnic's photostream)