|Letter||Sound in Japanese|
|b||boy, sometimes is softer sound like the letter v|
|f||frog (very soft)|
|g||go (slightly softer sound though)|
|i||ee sound in street|
|j||judge (softer sound)|
|k||kit but not aspirated (softer sound)|
|q||k sound in kit, always followed by silent u|
|r||combine D and L sounds|
|sh||shoe (also softer sound)|
|u||ou sound in you or too|
Note: There are NO silent vowels. If two vowels occur in a row they are pronounced twice as long, otherwise each vowel is pronounced if one follows another. There are double consonants as well that are pronounced as expected given the above guide.
Climate in Japan
Japan has four seasons which the Japanese are very proud of. Though quite humid, the seasons are distinct.
Japan has four main islands: Hokkaido, Honshu (main island), Kyushu, and Shikoku. There are several thousand small islands, also. All the islands were created by volcanoes, most of which remain active. This short, steep, volcanic mountain setting is a challenge to builders, especially with an artistic history. This isn't solely due to the earthquakes; the rivers flood rapidly due to the steepness of the terrain.
Japanese Sports / Japanese Music / Japanese Art
Sumo wrestling, Gendai Budo, Judo, and other martial arts are a large part of Japans history and culture. Schools continue to teach the traditional martial arts, along with modern sports like baseball, soccer, volleyball, and rugby. The most popular sports today are Sumo, baseball, and soccer.
Native Japanese brush painting (Sumi-e) techniques are used in both art and calligraphy. Typically, the work consists of phrases, poems, stories, or even single kanji characters. Students often make, literally, hundreds of attempts toproduce the desired effect of a single character.
Japan continues to use traditional styes in their modern art and entertainment, including tv, comics, and animation (like anime).
The Emperor of Japan is the "symbol of the state and of the unity of the people". Ceremonial duties are his, while the real power is held by the Prime Minister and other elected members of the government. Emperor Akihito has been emperor since January 1989, and Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda has been in office since September 2007.
The Prime Minister is the chief of the executive branch. The executive branch (Prime Minister and Cabinet of ministers of state) reports to the legislative branch (called the Diet). The publically elected House of Representatives (480 members) and the House of Councillors (242 members) make up the Diet, and they direct the Emperor in the appointment and removal of the Prime Minister and chiefs of the judicial branches. The judicial branch has a Supreme court, but thecourts don't use a jury. Judges are called by the executive cabinet.
Japan has disputes with Russia, South Korea, China, and Taiwan, over various islands. Most of which are over natural resources like fish, oil, and gas.
Religion in Japan
There are two major religions in Japan: Shinto and Buddhism. Both have rituals at birth, weddings, and funerals.
("the Way of the Gods") is Japan's native religion. It does not have a founder, or holy scripture, but their records contain the mythology of Japan and several religious ideas: 1. Everything has a spirit god (kami) and we should be in harmony with them, and this knowledge is to be passed on. It is the duty of the family and society to preserve traditions, specifically birth and marriage. 2. Spirit and nature are related- natural objects contain spirits. Thus, being near nature is being near the spirit. 3. Nature keeps itself clean, and baths are one way to mimic this cleansing or purification. 4. Celebrate the spirit in public festival and worship at public shrines. 5. Show respect for those things that sacrificed to make your food, your life, or your possessions. Killing a living being should be done with reverence for what they are giving in return for their life. 6. There is an afterlife, and the kami of those passed effects usin this life. 7. You can make requests of the kami at shrines with prayer tablets (ema), and once your desire comes true you hang another in gratitude.
started in the 6th century in Japan and is one of the largest religions in the world. Originally, Buddhism came from Siddhartha (or Gautama Buddha), who taught around the 5th century. These philosophies are written as scripture (sutras) and known as the Tripitaka or Tipitaka, and are recorded as laws and consequences (dharma). One belief is that anyone that has been "awakened" without instruction becomes a Buddha (awakened one) when they teach others to attain it. This awakening is known as Bodhi. It is considered to be a state without greed or desire, hate, or delusion. Failing to attempt this state, as reflected in the thoughts, words, and deeds of the person, can be abated by following the moral code, self-mastery, and wisdom of the "Noble Eightfold Path".
Japanese Dress / Japanese Food
The traditional garment of Japan is the Kimono ("something one wears"). The word was used like we use the word "clothing", but came to mean specifically the full-length garment. Kimono come in a variety of styles and sizes, though men typically wear darker, more neutral colors and women tend to wear brighter colors and pastels. Formal kimono are worn in layers. The style is dictated by social status and the occasion for which it is worn.
The Japanese are internationally known for their specific style of cuisine. Most commonly, they are known for rice, miso soup, sushi (raw fish) and a variety of other seafood dishes. Japanese food is known as being low in calories and very healthy.
There are several dialects in Japan due to the difficult terrain and history isolation. Chubu, Hokkaido, Kanto, Tsugaru, and Tohoku are the dialects of the eastern side of Japan. Chugoku, Kansai, Kyushu, Okinawa, and Shikoku are the western dialects. All have their own pronunciation changes, phrases and words off-shooting from standard Japanese. Tokyo is the main, or standard dialect of Japanese.
Ryukyuan is a separate language from Japanese found in the Ryukyu Islands (Okinawa).
Hopefully you have been able to learn a little bit about the Japanese culture. If you are simply looking to learn Japanese, you will soon learn how important culture is when you learn a language. There are plenty of free resources available here to help you to learn Japanese. If you want to talk about love or you are looking for Japanese greetings, you must visit the Japanese phrases page. There are also many Japanese words in many different categories from which you can learn. In addition, you can learn over 350 Japanese verbs and how to conjugate them with free audio flash cards and step-by-step instructions.