Escape Games FTW!

I’m hooked and I can’t stop!

The Japanese キッズ@nifty site has a set of puzzles, categorized as “脱出 games. (Escape games.)

The basic premise is that you are trapped somewhere and need to escape the building/area.  You must rely on your intelligence, uncanny detective abilities, and Japanese skillz, to get out.


Don't let the childish look fool you, this game is challenging!

Search rooms, find hidden objects and clues, and interact with the environments to get out…or not, muahahaha!

Don’t let the ”キッズ” in the title fool you, these are pretty tough!  (I think, anyways.  Maybe you’ll think they’re cake.  Just don’t tell me, or I will be a saaaad panda.)

They require a good chunk of reading, great for immersing and not so much that you’re overwhelmed.  (And if you’re into it, it really motivates you to want to understand!)

Whatcha waiting for?  Check them out and see what you think!  I recommend starting with the easiest one (エコナライ・スケープ!) first, to get the hang of it!)

The キッズ@nifty site has lots of other great games for kids that happen to be great for immersion and learning, too!  Check ’em out!

Got any favorite online games?  Share them in the comments!


Flickr, 日本語で

Here’s one more way to get some 日本語 into your day!

Make the most of your photo-sharing on Flickr (or any other site you upload photos on) by writing in Japanese for all your photo content: Titles, Descriptions, Notes, Tags, etc.

日本語 it up on your Flickr account: Titles, captions, and notes in Japanese!

Once you’re done uploading, it’s easy to tweet your photos for your Japanese-speaking and learning Tweeps to check out!

You don’t have to isolate your English-speaking friends with this, either.  Tag them and put their names in katakana.  Unless they’ve got a pole far up a place it shouldn’t be, they’ll probably think seeing their name in Japanese is at leeeast a little interesting.

I juuust started doing this, it’s fun!  Knowing people will see what you’ve written is motivation to try your best, too.

Click here to check out my Flickr.  (Just a wee one, but it’ll grow!)

J.K. Rowling’s page in Japanese is Srsly Awesome

J.K.'s wesite is a playground, and it's full of things to do and read- in Japanese!

There are different objects on this desk, which is the main page, that are “Portkeys” and will take you to different areas. There are lots of clickable/draggable things that will unlock secret goodies if you figure them out.  (Goodies = stuff like original pages from HP drafts and drawings of the characters by the author.)

It’s great immersion because it’s so interactive, there’s lots to read, and it’s damn fun.

If you’ve read “Harry Potter”, “The Tales of Beedle the Bard”, or have any interest in J.K. Rowling, you need to visit her website.

I was planning on writing a post for this link and a few others last night, buuuut I ended up playing and reading on the site until I couldn’t keep my eyes open.

Happy clicking!

Top 3 Must-Do Computer Settings for Japanese Learners: #3

This is the final of my top 3 must-do computer settings for Japanese learners.

All of the settings are ones I super-extra-highly recommend Japanese learners of all levels try out.

#3: Use Rikaichan like it’s your job (and accept that it’s not cheating….unless you use the English)

Rikaichan being used on the blog of あずまきよひこ,, author of よつばと!

Rikaichan is a Firefox add-on that allows you to hover your cursor over Japanese text to see the reading(s), parts of speech, and translations.  You can now surf the web in Japanese with no fear or frustration! And you can also copy and paste things not online into your browser to Rikaichan that text, too!  (So yes, you’ll need to use Firefox as a browser if you’re not already.  Fear not, Firefox is pretty awesome, and it’s free.)

Wait, Liz, isn’t this cheating?  It’s too easy, I won’t learn if I don’t look things up myself the old-fashioned way!

No, I promise it’s not cheating.  And it’s likely you’ll learn just as much, if not more, by using Rikaichan than by looking each unknown word/kanji up in a dictionary (online or otherwise). Why?  Rikaichan makes it easy to get the info you need fast. No opening a new tab, going to a new page, or flipping through anything.  Move the mouse a few inches, and bam, you’re good.  Done.

Less time looking up stuff = More time spent engaging with material + Longer studying stamina + Increased likelihood that you’ll be willing to look stuff up!

That's right, no English! Srsly. Turn it off, you'll be better for it.

For maximum benifit, download the beta version.  Why the beta?  You can easily turn off the English definitions. This helps a TON.  Your native-English (assuming that’s the case) brain wants to do things easily, and the English is riiiight there.  If you’re not careful, your brain will take full advantage of that and it’ll slow your learning.  (If you reallllly need to, you can easily toggle it back on.)  Give it a try for a week and see if you don’t learn your readings faster and faster.

I’ve heard there are other similar programs out there, but I love Rikaichan and I’m sticking to it.  (Especially now that I can turn the English off.)  Have you used another and really liked it?  Preferred it to Rikaichan?  Share in the comments!

And that wraps up my top 3 Must-Do Settings!  Of course, these settings are all just important in my own humble opinion, and you should do what you find works best for you!

The Results Are In….


I apologize, it’s been a good while since I posted.  I’ve been busy finding a new job and a new place to live, and moving in!  No worries, though, I’ll be posting and tweeting regularly again!  Now where were we…

My last post was a poll, asking you what two Japanese-learning-related websites you would recommend to a fellow learner.  (With a think-fast element!)  This was based on a true story and happened to me just as I described it.

The Results

The majority of you (as well as  myself) picked All Japanese All the Time as one of your recommendations!   AJATT is super-comprehensive, providing a very unique self-study guide (that often clashes entirely with traditional methods) as well as blog articles, hardcore inspiration, and study tools.  With it’s breadth and unique recommendations and ideas, it’s undoubtedly a popular site to recommend to another learner.

The second most popular pick in the poll was Reviewing the Kanji.  It’s a site for reviewing kanji readings, writing, and meanings, as introduced in James Heisig’s “Remembering the Kanji” series.  It was a bit surprising that this came out as the #2 most recommended, as RTK has a narrow niche in terms of what it covers.  Must be because so many learners find it such an effective tool for what can be one of the  most difficult parts of learning Japanese.  (I started using this site a couple months ago, and I must concur that it is indeed super-awesome.  I have NEVER learned kanji so efficiently.)

So besides AJATT, my second real-life recommendation to the gentleman who approached me was EduFire!  I’ve gotten so much out of the classes, being a student, being a teacher, and connecting with other learners through EduFire that I thought it would be a great place to send another learner.

But really…

Everybody learns differently and thrives off of different techniques.  I love sites that some of my friends think are ineffective, and vice versa.  Lucky for us, there are lots of awesome and unique sites and people to help us on our way!  Here are links to all the other sites I listed on our poll.  I chose them because I really believe they are all absolutely fantastic and effective sites.  Check them out and see if !

Read the Kanji

Rainbowhill Language Lab



JimBreen’s WWWJDIC

Tae Kim’s Guide to Learning Japanese




Your Top Two?

So you’re chillin’ in your favorite 喫茶店 (きっさてん), minding your own business, immersed in Japanese, when a gentleman approaches your table.  He points to your textbook…

“Hello! Sorry to bother you, but I’m taking a Japanese class and we’re using the same book as you are.  Are you taking a class around here?”

“Oh, no, I’m actually self-studying.” you say.

After a somewhat rushed conversation, you find out he’s  interested in self-study and wants to know about all the awesome websites you’ve told him you’re using to learn.  His wife, however, does not want to know about them and wants to leave, very soon.  She is not afraid to make this known. 

You figure you have about 30 seconds to recommend websites to this guy. (You can write them down, so don’t take ease of remembering into account.)  Quick…

This really happened to me a couple weeks ago.  I scribbled down two websites on Post-It tabs for the guy.  (I’ll tell you which ones and why in the next post.)  Afterwards, I got really curious as to what sites others would have recommended.

Thanks to my fellow Japanese-learning Tweeps for making suggestions!  I used them to help compile the poll list.  Of course, I’m sure I’ve left out many awesome sites, so please feel free to add more in the “Other” section!

I’ll leave the poll up for a week or so, then we’ll have a post with the results!  I’ll also provide links to all the sites in the poll, because they are all valuable tools to language learners! 🙂

YouTube Japan is Srsly Awesome

I visit and use websites in Japanese like it’s my job.  I’m constantly trying to interact with the language as much as possible.  More interaction time = more learning!

One of my favorite ways to do this is YouTube.

No, not looking up Japanese-learning videos.  I mean YouTube the way you’d see it if you were logging in from Japan: Set in Japanese with Japan’s featured content.  (Each country has its own featured videos, categories, popular videos, etc.  The videos that display on the US homepage are different from the ones on the Japan homepage and from the ones on the Korea homepage, etc.)

Here's what the homepage looks like when I log in. I'll let you know how to do this with your account (And why you should!) later in the post!

YouTube opens up a whole new portal to Japan and Japanese for language learners! Music PV’s, concerts, how-to’s, cooking ideas, personal vlogs, game shows, news, cute animal videos, you name it.  There is literally something for everybody, and nearly endless content to explore!  What an awesome way to have fun and immerse yourself in the language!

Especially awesome are the various videos (mostly music and TV shows) you can find that have captions (captions, not subtitles, naughty naughty!).  Woo hoo!  Makes listening a whole lot easier when you can read along, too.

You can use YouTube to find different movies, musical artists, animes, dramas, etc. that you really enjoy and then hunt down the DVD/CD/manga/etc. at stores or online!  This is one of my favorite things to do, and I can’t wait until my BookOff/Kinokuniya trip next week to hunt down the ones on my lists.

How To Set YouTube to Japanese interface with Japan’s content

This is pretty easy, and perhaps more important than how to do it is why to do it. We’ll start with how to do it…

Scroll alllll the way to the bottom of the page.  You’ll see two categories on the lower left-hand side: Current Location and Current Language.  Click “Show locations” and “Show languages” to change them to 日本 and 日本語 respectively, and you’re good to go!  Easy, right?

You might be tempted to set the location to Japan so you can get Japan’s content, but keep the language in English (or your native language if it’s different).  Resist the urge!  Setting the interface to Japanese adds way more Japanese-learning and reinforcement time!  If you don’t know what おすすめ、音楽、動画、人気、or お気に入り mean, I bet you will after a few times visiting the site like this!  And if you already know how to use YouTube in your language, a lot of it is very intuitive.  (Plus, you can always turn on your Rikaichan to help you if you need it.)  You’ll likely see a lot of stuff you recognize too, which is super encouraging and exciting!

If you want, you can get some ideas by finding me on YouTube (veganlizz) and checking out my favorites and playlists.

Here’s a cute commercial that’s been popular lately.  It was the first commercial I ever fully understood, so I tweaked out about it!

Ideas for Making the Most of YouTube

  • Find and favorite whatever you’re into.  Trust me, it’s on there.  Great way to learn vocab for your areas of interest, too!
  • Find new stuff to be into! Check out the related videos on the right hand side of the page after you’re done watching a video.  This will often lead you on a trail of videos where you find great new stuff you dig!
  • Explore the most popular videos and most favorited videos. (In the box 人気の動画)  See what’s popular in Japan right now, get some more cultural knowledge, be in on the “in” things in Japan!
  • Make playlists. These’ll help you sort all those favorites on your ever-growing list.
  • Share with friends.  Send fellow learners/friends links to your favorite videos!  Challenge them to make and trade a playlist with a theme with you.  You both make your own playlist of  “Best/Weirdest Commercials” or “Favorite Japanese Disney songs” or “Top 10 Moments in J-Dramas”, or something less corny… and then share with eachother and enjoy!
  • Have fun! All of this is assuming you enjoy perusing the site, as there’s no use trying to learn by doing something you dislike!  But with the vast expanse of Japanese goodness offered to you by YouTube, there really is no reason not to head over to the site, Japan-ify it, and get exploring!
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