End of the Year Party Season – 忘年会!

In Japan it is common for Companies and social groups to hold parties called 忘年会 (ボウネンカイ/bounenkai). These forget the year parties are good opportunity for all members of organizations to mingle casually. Check out this Japan Talk article to read more about this unique aspect of Japanese culture.

bonenkai wow

The kanji in this word are all read with onyomi. 忘 (ボウ/bou) means to forget, the second kanji 年 (ネン/nen) means year, an the final kanji 会 means (カイ/kai) means meeting or party.

11/10/2017 Word of The Week 必需品

hitsujuuhin foa

Friends of Aomori presents 必需品 (ひつじゅひん/hitsujyuhin) which means essential item. This word is especially important as we enter the winter months, there are many 必需品 specifically helpful when dealing with cold weather! 

The first kanji that makes up this word is, 必 (kunyomi: かならず/kanarazu onyomi: ヒツ/hitsu) which means inevitable and certain. The second is, 需 (onyomi: ジュ/jyu)  which means request or need, and the final kanji is 品 (kunyomi: しな/shina onyomi: ヒン or ホン/hin or hon) which means article or goods. 

Hokkaido Releases Instructional Manga, About Recent Missiles.

Aomori’s neighboring prefecture Hokkaido has released a four page Manga entitledミサイルが飛んできたときには (When a Missile Flew) by Manabu Yamamoto, instructing citizens on what to do incase of another Missile launch from North Korea. Click Here to read more in an article from Japan times.

foa missle

The full four-page Manga is available on the Hokkaido Government website, which can be found Here.

9/20/17 Word of the Week

This week’s long awaited word is 真面目 (まじめ/majime) which means diligent and serious. This word is a na-adjective and is commonly used to describe personality.

An example sentence could be: 彼は真面目な学生です。(かれはまじめながくせいです。/kare wa majimena gakusei desu.) Which in english reads, “He is a diligent student.”


Rice Paddy Art in Inakadate, Aomori, Japan

Did you know growing rice could be a form of fine art!?

In Inakadate Village, in Aomori prefecture you can visit enormous images constructed from different kinds of  rice. The images reference Japanese culture by evoking mythologies and sometimes even popular culture!

Visit the link below for more information on the imagery, how they are constructed, and tourism information.

Rice Paddy Art Info.tanbo art

There are new Rice Paddy images every year, so include these magnificent creations in your future Aomori travel plans.

8/23/17 Word of the Week!

This weeks Word of the Week is 勇気 (ゆうき/yuuki) which means courage. This word also means bravery, nerve, and boldness. This word is especially relevant to students beginning a new school year in the coming weeks!! The first kanji 勇 indicates bravery, and high spirits. The second kanji 気, which is most commonly read as き/ki, means feelings and moods.

How will having courage help you in the coming months?

yuki wow

8/15/17 Word of the Week!

This week Friends of Aomori is excited to share the second Word of the Week. This week’s word is 挑戦 (ちょうせん/chosen) which means challenge! This word, in certain contexts, can also mean defiance, dare, and attempt. The first kanji (Chinese character) is 挑 which can be read as either ちょう or いど(む) which alone means ‘to challenge’. The second kanji 戦 can be read as せん along with many other readings, and means war, battle and match. When combined the two kanji form a powerful and inspiring word!


Ryota Nakagawa

This week Friends of Aomori interviewed Ryota Nakagawa, an exchange student at the University of Maine from Hirosaki University. Read Below for an interesting take on life in Maine!

1) Tell us about yourself!
My name is Ryota Nakagawa. I’m from Japan. My major is English Education. I was born in a rural area of the north part of Japan where there is tons of snow in the winter. However, the places of my university and Maine are also covered with snow in winter as well. Therefore, I’ve been living in severe cold place for all my life so far. That why I hate snow. A bunch of the time, before I enter a university, I spent practicing baseball, not studying at all. Through these experiences, I could understand how interesting baseball is and how difficult and troublesome studying are.

2) What motivated you to study abroad?
The reason why I decided to study abroad is that I wanted to experience authentic American culture and English before I become an English teacher. I thought if I could teach these things though my experiences to students, they would become interested in my class. All of things I’ve undergone here were quite new things for me. For instance, how to order food in a restaurant, how to contract an apartment and how to quarrel with my roommate in English! It isn’t a secret that I sometimes struggle with the difference of culture and the difficulty of English, but I don’t let it bother me though. My dream that I want to be an English teacher also motivates me a lot.

3) What’s the best experience that you’ve had so far in your host country?
I made use of summer vacation, and I traveled all around The United Sates with my friend by train. We traveled from east to west. I would say that that was my best experience here so far. No wonder America is called Melting Pot, there were various kind of people in various places. In addition, each place has a different culture, which we Japanese definitely could not experience in Japan. Japan is kind of a small country in terms of race. But because we are just students, we so wanted to save money that we underwent some troubles during the travel. For instance, we could not take showers for 10 days and we could not book a hotel! But all of things were my good memory.

4) What were some of your expectation how were your expectations different than reality?
I expected, before I came America, that I could communicate with anyone in English and understand their English well. However, that fact was totally different. I could not even order a cheeseburger in McDonald’s! I felt shocked, but I realized how important correct pronunciation and speaking loudly were because of the experience. The classes which I took in Japan did not focus on these points. If I become an English teacher, I’m going to teach pronunciations to students through experience!

5) What are some of the biggest cultural differences that you’ve experienced so far?
When I walked to the university, a guy said hello and smiled at me somehow. I thought that the guy was a strange person and I did not want to meet him again at the time. However, I realized one thing as time goes by. That is almost all of Americans say hello to me, although we have never met. This is the biggest cultural difference. If I do that in Japan, I mean if I say hello with simile to a young kid, I’m likely to have the police called on me.

6) Have you eaten a lobster yet? How do you feel Maine seafood?
I have eaten lobster once or twice so far. It was really expensive but very tasty. It was so delicious that I thought I wanted to eat lobster every day. But if I do that, I could not go back to Japan because that costs a lot.

ryota image