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Happy June to all and apologies for missing a few weeks of "Monday Mokuso" postings - the month of May turned out to be a whirlwind for me; it just came and went: boom!

Hopefully my apology has been accepted and let's get on with some Japanese stuff I have been thinking about lately and perusing online.

Did you know you can time travel back to Japan?

A couple of years ago I came across this photo site called, "Old Photos Of Japan" and wow - it has become one of my favorite spots for stepping through the time portal and visiting Japan of years past. The curator of this site has incredible photo's collected and a great skill at writing up history around a particular theme. One of his most recent entries was the story of the survival of Yokohama after the massive 1923 earthquake.

Looking at the picture above and having my eyes go all around from the center, all the way out to the edges, I was left wondering: HOW on earth did anyone possibly survive this catastrophe? Then when my eyes finally let go of the picture, I was somewhat amazed - not amazed - that the author asked the same question. What a horrific picture of devastation that pulled me and had me feeling if I was there. I could almost smell the smoldering ruins of what was a vibrant city.

For the full entry on the bit I have captured above, CLICK HERE to go back in time and visit Yokohama right after this tragedy hit 100 years ago. And while there, visit some other periods in Japan's past and see/experience/learn things like:

Don't get lost and c'mon back to our 21st century.


Black Ships Festival

C'mon back to 2023 as this year mark the 40th anniversary of the Black Ships Festival - being held in Rhode Island, August 11th through the 13th.

For those history buffs reading this, you may recall that Commodore Matthew (no relation!) Perry arrived in Japan in 1853 and shocked the locals with a small fleet of self powered, black smoke billowing ships and he proceeded to force Japan to open up from isolation.

I will be heading to the event as an official "rep" of the New England Chapter and now in communication with the consulate if we will hold a JET program awareness booth on site during the event. Check out the calendar of events - most everything is free and there are several paid entry events that you may want to join.

Here's what you can expect at this year's event:

  • Traditional Taiko drumming

  • Origami folding

  • Martial Arts Demonstrations

  • Meet-and-greets with Superheroes and princesses

  • Cosplay costume contest

  • And much more!

I hope to see you in Rhode Island this August - or maybe we'll meet on a historic street in 19th century Tokyo, Japan!


Interesting Links:

Enjoyed Old Photos Of Japan's website? Please consider donating to support their work

Black Ship photo from Brooklyn Museum digital collection - LINK

Title of blog post captures in Star Wars-like font

Long ago, in a land far far away...

I lived in Japan for about 5 years and I must unfortunately say: I really focused on teaching English - much to my long-term detriment. Yeah, I picked up Japanese along the way and if someone put a katana to my head, demanding me to reveal my skill level, for one who has never taken any official Japanese language placement test, I would still have to say that I am at the "conversational" level (sorta!).

To start...

To be quite transparent, I have started to study Japanese (again) and I am leveraging the app: Duolingo. And to be totally transparent, Duolingo is in no way sponsoring today's Monday Musing! I just like the app, it's fun and I want to write about it and soft-promote it as an easy way to jump in to learn Japanese.

Japanese attracts learners of many language backgrounds

Cartoon image of character from the Duolingo app and the person is stucying Japanese
Studying Duolingo

In addition to being one of the most popular languages to study in the U.S., Japanese is also #2 in China and #4 in Vietnam, and it's even #4 in Japan (!) — due to the tourists and business people from abroad who are motivated to learn Japanese!

Japanese isn't related to the languages spoken in any of these places, showing that Japanese learners aren't deterred by a challenge, like studying the language's 3 writing systems.

The countries with the highest percentage of people studying Japanese are the Philippines, China, and Malaysia. In the last year, interest in learning Japanese has grown the most in Bangladesh, China, and Nepal. I guess Japanese remains a a global phenomenon!

Learners study Japanese to connect with their interests

What makes Japanese so appealing to such a broad audience? Japanese learners are studying

Graph breaking down the differing motivational fators for studying Japanese

for a non-traditional reason: just for fun! Many people studying Japanese do so to connect with Japanese culture and help them understand more of the language they encounter in anime and manga, and 26% of new Japanese learners on Duolingo say "just for fun" is their primary motivation for learning.

The motivations of Japanese learners are unlike those studying the top 2 languages on Duolingo, English and Spanish. English learners cite school as a top motivation, and Spanish learners cite “connect with people” as their #1 motivation. On the other hand, people studying Japanese are doing so to connect with their hobbies and interests!

Young learners are the most excited about Japanese

People studying Japanese tend to be younger on average than those studying other languages: 86% of Japanese learners are under 30, and 70% are between 13 and 22. In fact, Japanese ranked #3 among this age group in the U.S. last year!

Graphic breaking down the age demographics of those studying Japanese

So... are YOU ready to study Japanese?

Are you already studying Japanese?

HOW well do YOU speak Japanese?

Do you want some resources to help you study Japanese (besides my blatant mentioning of Duolingo)?

Let us know as we are here to help you keep the learning going and while you are at it, check back on my progress and keep nudging me to keep going - I need all the support I can get.



Interesting Links:

From Duolingo:

Hi - Matthew Hall here - New England JET Alumni Association president. Hope everyone is doing well!

I'm still somewhat/kinda relatively new in the position and we continue to transition to a new team, we connect when we can and trust me, we are working to get our geta on the ground so we can be running full steam.

The team has had a few meetings and we are closing on the various activities and ideas that we would like to accomplish this year. We hope to have the calendar populated with a handful of Japan / Japanese-related activities in the very near future. If anyone has any specific ideas that they would be interested in seeing organized and even participating with, please feel free to let us know!

Who is the Us/We I am referring to?

You can check out the current board by visiting the OFFICERS page here. You will see that there are a couple of positions open so if you have any interest in getting connected and more involved with this alumni chapter, please feel free to reach out and contact me anytime at!

I will also do my best to keep the "Monday Mokusou" series coming out on each Monday - It will be something random, different each week and who knows...? It might be about some new Japanese trend, language studies or how about this for a 1st entry:

Top 6 Best Onsen in Japan

Surely that is a subjective use of the word "Best" but it comes from a website that I recently came across:

Top 6 Best Onsen in Japan – Relax in These Hot Springs

Check the article out - have you been to any of the onsen's listed on that page? Do you have a personal fave onsen that you recommend - and if "hai" - why? And for the onsen fans out there, and without GooglePeeking:

  • What is the minimal temperature of the water to be officially considered an onsen?

Answer will be in next week's Monday Mokusou / 月曜日の黙想



Full disclosure: I 💘 onsen!

Interesting links:

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