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Japanese-Games-Shop.com News keeps you updated on the latest offers and developments at Hirohurl's Japanese Goods shop, http://www.japanese-games-shop.com





Friday, October 12, 2007

Foiled By Foil... A Trip to Nagasaki... Japanese Study Dictionaries & a 3 + 1 Free Autumn Offer!

Foiled By a Sudden Lack of Foil

It never ceases to amaze me how many spanners get thrown into the works of a one-man-show such as Japanese-Games-Shop.com!

Sudden shortages of what are usually plentifully available products is just one headache.

Fitting visits to my key supplier into a busy weekly schedule is another - and then arriving to find the lights on, the premises apparently open for business, but the door locked and the gaffer gone AWOL without even leaving a "back in ten minutes" note on the door!

Last month I was foiled by a completely unlooked for double-whammy...

I had the morning schedule sorted: Drop the daughter off at her nursery school and head back home via our local hardware mega-store (a chain that used to glory in the name of "DIK" - pronounced "dick" - but recently sought to, er, "raise its profile" by switching to DAIKI - pronounced "dykie", which flopped, but stuck).

Anyway, my beautifully uncomplicated and seemingly foil-proof plan was to buy a new supply of brown foil - i.e. bog-standard wrapping paper - then whip back home, pack and ship a small backlog of orders in the couple of hours I had free, and "Bob would be your uncle"... Or so I thought, until I came up against a notice and the entrance to Daiki that utterly foiled my plans:

"Stock renewal - shut for 3 days."

Three days later I went back to Daiki to find the layout of the shop completely altered. Several circuits later I felt I was getting warmer when I found the bubble wrap... Brown foil is ALWAYS next to the bubble wrap... But the shelf was empty! I turned to a shop assistant, who disappeared for ten minutes. When she came back it was to tell me:

"There is no excuse for it, but we don't stock brown foil anymore. I'm terribly sorry."

Foiled again!

Brown foil is not used so widely for packaging in Japan as it is in the UK. Suddenly, I began to doubt that I would ever be able to find any foil ever again... Two more days went by before I was able to track down a supply - a wonderful source of TWO different strengths of brown foil!

I now have a plentiful supply of the stuff and offer my apologies to those customers who were kept waiting by such an absurd turn of events!

Late Summer in Nagasaki Prefecture

Here's a photo I took from the balcony of the former Mitsubishi second dock house in Glover Garden, Nagasaki. Thomas Blake Glover (1838-1911) was a British trader who contributed to the modernization of Japanese shipbuilding, coal mining and other fields, including the establishment of the Kirin Beer company. He actively encouraged the forces opposed to the Tokugawa Shogunate and his house, still preserved in Glover Garden today, was the venue of various secret meetings supportive of the forces that eventually brought about the Meiji Restoration, which catapulted Japan into the modern world.

Nagasaki is TOTALLY different from Hiroshima.

OK, not "totally" - they are both port-cities in Japan that were a-bombed at the end of WWII, but that is where the similarity ends...

Check out my other weblog for my Nagasaki blogs and photos. The reports cover our time in Nagasaki city, Huis Ten Bosch (a theme park recreation of a Dutch township - a sort of Dutch "utopia"), and our trip to one of the Goto Islands (where many "hidden Christian" communities practised their faith - or a garbled version of it - for three centuries when Christianity was officially outlawed in Japan).

Japanese Study Dictionaries

Learning to read Japanese is a complex procedure to say the least. Because of the complexities of the language, standard dictionaries and textbooks often fail to cover all the bases even for native Japanese students of the language, let alone for foreign students...

For a long time Japanese-Games-Shop.com has carried a range of convenient and economical all-Japanese language dictionaries that cover various areas of the language, such as Kanji reading, Katakana (see pic, right), Proverbs, 4-kanji words, daily usage and so on.

These dictionaries are perfectly accessible to the serious student of Japanese. Indeed, making the effort to study Japanese IN Japanese and only referring to standard dual language dictionaries when necessary is an excellent study strategy.

The key information in the dictionaries comes with "furigana" to assist comprehension. (It is assumed that the reader has already mastered the hiragana syllabary.) The explanations are short and clear and make for excellent reading practice in themselves.

New Editions, Expanded Range

The Japanese Study page had become one of the more neglected pages on Japanese-Games-Shop.com - YES, Nihongo Benkyo IS a game!

I finally got around to updating the page earlier this week. There is a whole new range of dictionaries, many of them very recent editions (June 2007 in some cases).

Every dictionary is priced at just $3.50, plus $4.75 Shipping and Handling for 1 item, and a lower rate when you order more copies).

Japanese Homophone Dictionary

One new title is the Japanese Homophone Dictionary (see photo, above right, for a detail of a page of the dictionary).

The Japanese language is stuffed to the gills with confusing homophones. You know, two or three words that sound exactly the same but that are all written with different kanji characters. Even the Japanese get confused by homophones, especially nowadays when kanji WRITING skill is declining due to the prevalence of word-processing over writing by hand.

Using homophones as a study aid to acquiring Japanese vocabulary faster than usual is an excellent strategy. As you can see from the page detail, the homophone word is given in red hiragana, and the two or three examples are given in their respective kanji readings, with explanations of meaning, usage and examples provided beneath. The explanations are short and clear and as such they offer Japanese language students excellent reading practice.

Study Tip

It is by reading small chunks of "real Japanese" (i.e. Japanese texts written for Japanese readers) such as the definitions in these dictionaries that one gets a feeling for natural Japanese UNMEDIATED by English or the native language of the student. It is an excellent thing to work on your ability to read Japanese unaided - as much as possible - by mother-tongue explanations.

Practise reading Japanese text out loud, and practise transcribing it; read it out loud as you write it. Record yourself reading it, and play the recording back - get several different compartments of your brain working at the same time.

An Obstacle to Fluency

Incidentally, one reason why the Japanese may have so many problems attaining fluency in English is that they like to stuff their English study books with JAPANESE explanations that go into long, tedious, minute detail about EVERYTHING. It sometimes seems to me that the Japanese will do anything to study English except actually to use it!

Gross generalization.

Apologies to all you Japanese "Eikaiwa" (English conversation) students who are gung-ho about speaking English! That's the way to be - gung-ho about communicating and don't worry about making mistakes - every mistake, if noted and corrected, becomes a step on the ladder to fluency...

Autumn 3 + 1 FREE Offer

Just to make the economical pricing of the dictionaries even sweeter, I will send you a FREE dictionary of your choice, for no extra shipping or handling etc, every time you order any THREE dictionaries, hiragana card decks, or vocabulary cards from my Japanese Language Study Resources page, provided you order via Paypal.

The offer gets even better if you are on my mailing list - but to find out about that you need to fill in the "Don't Miss A Thing" form on my site, or, if you are already on my mailing list, check your inbox for an even better FREE offer.

Enjoy your in-season "matsutake" mushrooms, folks!

David Hurley
Japanese-Games-Shop.com
Japanese-Mahjong.com
Grasp-the-Nettle.com
100-Word-Book-Reviews.com

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