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Japanese Female Divers – 海女

Here’s word rich in culture that’s quite unusual and yet very memorable. Ama (海女) means ‘woman of the sea’ and is used to describe the free-diving ladies of Japan’s costal regions who plunge down to the shallows in order to gather shellfish and other food.

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Lucky Ears – 福耳

Do you ever secretly worry about the shape of your ears? Perhaps you have larger-than-normal earlobes? Do they droop down in a stretched-out fashion? It may be that you’re one of the lucky owners of ‘fukumimi’!

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Show What You’ve Got – 腕の見せ所

There’s something to do with arms here in Japan that relates to your performance. Beginning students of Japanese will undoubtedly think of 上手 – literally ‘upper hand’, meaning ‘skilled-in’ or ‘clever’. In this lesson however, we’ll be focusing on the expression 腕の見せ所 (うでのみせどころ). Whenever I hear this expression, I always think of the vintage US […]

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Love Key!? 合鍵

Recently while watching a Japanese drama I came across the word 合鍵 (あいかぎ). Given the context in which it was used, I was quite surprised to find out later that my mental image of the Kanji had been quite different to the reality. The word as follows: 合鍵 あいかぎ Spare Key Equally, a ‘copy of […]

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Fairytale Size – 昔話盛り

You’ll often come across varying portion sizes in Japan, especially when you eat out. 小盛り (こもり), 並盛り (なみもり) and 大盛り (おおもり) are regular expressions used to refer to ‘small’, ‘regular’ and ‘large’ helpings of rice and other goodies that can be heaped up. Further to that, as we looked as in The 6 Types of […]

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Old Japanese / Formal Numbers – 大字

Have you ever noticed the Kanji character used on the 10,000 yen Japanese banknote? If you’ve got your basic Japanese numerals down, you know that the character for 10,000 is 万 (まん) – a standard unit in the Japanese counting system. But what about the strange character in front of it? Why does the banknote […]

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