Learn Japanese by Listening to an Old Folk Tale

Posted on 23. Oct, 2014 by in Culture, Grammar

Hi everyone. I have not covered the Japanese old folk tale recently.  This one is a simple and short, but very funny story that you can enjoy.  Listen to the Youtube video first and see if you can understand the story as to what this is all about. You might recognize the Japanese words here and there. I have also provided the Hiragana, Transliteration, and English translation below. Enjoy!

葉っぱの手紙 -A Leaf Letter

Reference Site :http://hukumusume.com/douwa/English/index.html

YouTube Preview Image

Original Story in Hiragana ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

たいへん、けちんぼう な だんな が おりました。

あるとき、てがみ を だそう と おもいました が、きゅう に かみ に かくのが もったいなく なりました。

「ひと に やるもの に、かみ は もったいない。あれ に かこう」

だんな は にわ の かき の き の はっぱ を に・さん まい とる と、それ に てがみ を かいて つかい の もの に もたせました。

さて、それ を もらった あいて の だんな も、てがみ を だした だんな に まけず けちんぼう です。

「ほほう。かき の はっぱ の てがみ とは、あいつ も なかなか やるな。では」

こちら の だんな は、てがみ を もってきた つかい の もの に いいました。

「すまない が うわぎ を ぬいで、せなか を だしなさい」

いわれたとおり に すると、その せなか へ さらさら と てがみ の へんじ を かきました。

しばらくたって つかい の もの が かえってきます と、だんな が ききました。

「ごくろうだった。して、てがみ の へんじ は もらったかい?」

「はい。へんじ は、ここ に あります」

つかい の もの が せなか を みせる と、けちんぼう の だんな は ざんねん に いいました。

「なんと、その て が あったか。さっき の かき の はっぱ は、おしい こと を したわい」



Taihen kechinbou na danna ga orimashita.

Arutoki, tegami o dasou to omoimashitaga, kyuni kamini kakunoga mottainaku narimashita.

“hitoni yarumono ni kamiwa mottainai. areni kakou”

Danna wa niwano kakino ki no happa o ni,sanmai toruto,soreni tegami o kaite tsukai no mono ni motasemashita.

Sate, sore o moratta aiteno danna mo, tegami o dashita dannani makezu kechinbou desu.

“hohou. kakino happano tegami to wa, aitsumo nakanaka yaruna. dewa”

kochira no danna wa, tegami o mottekita tsukaino mono ni iimashita.

“sumanaiga uwagi o nuide, senaka o dashinasai”

iwaretatourini suruto, sono senaka e sarasara to tegamino henji o kakimashita.

Shibarakutatte tsukaino monoga kaettekimasuto, dannaga kikimashita.

“Gokuroudatta. shite, tegamino henjiwa morattakai?”

“Hai, henji wa koko ni arimasu.”

Tsukaino monoga senaka o miseruto, kechinbou no danna wa zannenni iimashita.

“nanto, sonotega attaka. sakkino kakino happa wa oshiikoto o shitawai”.


English Translation

There lived a very stingy man.

One day, the man thought about writing a letter but didn’t want to use his paper.

“I don’t want to waste my paper on something I will give to others. Why don’t I write on that?”

So he picked a few leaves from a persimmon tree in his yard. He then wrote on the leaves and had a messenger deliver it.

The man who received the letter was no less stingier than the one who sent it.

“Oh my! It’s clever of him writing on persimmon leaves.”

Then this man told the messenger who had delivered the letter,

“I’m sorry but take off your clothe and show me your back.”

When the messenger did as he was told, the man started writing his response on the messenger’s back.

Upon the messenger’s return after a while, the stingy man asked him,

“Good work. So, did you bring his response to my letter?”

“Sure. It is here.”

As the messenger showed his back, the stingy man said regretfully,

“What a clever idea! I should never have wasted the persimmon leaves on him…”

The end.


Learning Simple Math in Japanese

Posted on 22. Oct, 2014 by in Grammar

Hi there. I thought I would talk about a bit unusual topic this time. Learning Math in Japanese. When expressing mathematics in Japanese, here are the things you would notice. To make things easier, I have used only Hiragana’s below rather than using Kanji’s.


Picture from tkamenick on flickr.com

I will start with the simple ones below, but first let’s review the numbers 1 through 10 in Japanese.

1 – ichi (いち)

2 – ni (に)

3 – san (さん)

4 – yon or shi (よん、し)

5 – go (ご)

6 – roku (ろく)

7 – nana or shichi (なな、しち)

8 – hachi (はち)

9 – kyu (きゅう)

10- jyu (じゅう)


Plus ==> +   tasu (たす)

Minus==> –  hiku (ひく)

Multiply ==> x kakeru (かける)

Divide ==> / waru (わる)

Equal ==> = wa (は* please note this letter is pronounced as “wa”)

With this said, how would you read the following in Japanese?


1+ 2 = 3

It is:

ichi tasu ni wa san  (いち たす に は さん)

How about this one?

2 * 3 = 6

It is:

ni kakeru san wa roku (に かける さん は ろく)


will be

jyu hiku ni wa hachi. (じゅう ひく に は はち)

10 / 5 = 2

will be

jyu waru go wa ni (じゅう わる ご は に)


While we are at the number topic, let’s review some of the higher numbers as well:

20 – ni jyu (にじゅう)

30 – san jyu  (さんじゅう)

40 – yon jyu or shi ju (よんじゅう、しじゅう)

50- go jyu (ごじゅう)

60 – roku jyu (ろくじゅう)

70 – nana jyu (ななじゅう)

80 – hachi jyu (はちじゅう)

90 – kyu jyu (きゅうじゅう)

100 – hyaku (ひゃく)

1000 – sen (せん)

10,000 – ichi man (いちまん)

100,000 – jyu man (じゅうまん)

1,000,000 – hyaku man (ひゃくまん)

10,000,000 – sen man (せんまん)

100,000,000 – ichi oku  (いちおく)


Let’s try reading the following equations in Japanese:

26 / 2 = 13

58 – 28 = 30

20 * 30 = 600

45 + 55 = 100

Were you able to read them?

Here are the answers:

26 / 2 = 13

nijyu roku waru ni wa jyu san (にじゅうろく わる に は じゅうさん)

58 – 28 = 30

gojyu hachi hiku nijyu hachi wa sanjyu (ごじゅうはち ひく にじゅうはち は さんじゅう)

20 * 30 = 600

nijyu kakeru sanjyu wa rohhyaku (にじゅう かける さんじゅう は ろっひゃく)

45 + 55 = 100

yonjyu go tasu gojyu go wa hyaku (よんじゅうご たす ごじゅうご は ひゃく)


This was a simple math in Japanese, but if you have any other related topic that you would like to know, just let me know!

All about Japanese Katakana

Posted on 17. Oct, 2014 by in Grammar


photo from tiseb from flickr.com


So, you might already know that there are three styles of writing in Japanese. Basic writing is done using what we call, Hiragana (平仮名、ひらがな). We have two other forms of writing called, Katakana (カタカナ、かたかな) & Kanji (漢字、かんじ).

In today’s article, I would like to give you an overview of what is Japanese Katakana is all about. Read on!

Japanese Katakana:

Each syllable in the Japanese language is represented by one character, or kana, in each system.

The following Katakana’s are the ones you need to know.

Source: Wikipedia


Gojūon – Katakana characters with nucleus
a i u e o

There are 4 main rules about using Katakana in Japanese.

1) Sound of Animals:

When expressing sounds of animals, we use Katakana to express it.

For example:

A dog is barking Wan-Wan.

Wan- Wan is a sound expression in Japanese. (In English, for example,  “woof,  woof” is common to use.)

To write this in Japanese,

Inu ga wan wan hoeteimasu. -犬がワンワン吠えています。(いぬが ワンワン ほえています。)

Notice that barking sound “wan wan” is expressed as “ワンワン″ in Katakana.

Besides the sound of dog bark, we also use:

Chun Chun (チュンチュン) for bird sound

Nya Nya (ニャー ニャー) for cats

Bu- Bu- (ブー ブー) for pigs

Mo- (モー) for cows

This is an interesting video showing you how we express animal sounds in Japanese.

YouTube Preview Image


2) Any Type of Sounds

The sound of rain drop, bells, and trains, they are all expressed in Katakana in Japanese.

For example:

Gata goto (ガタゴト) – sound of train running

bochan (ボチャン) – sound of drops, when you drop something into a water

bari-n (バリーン) – sound of breaking, when you break a glasses or mirror

gahan (ガチャン) – sound of closing doors


3) Foreign words

When we use the words that are foreign origin, we use Katakana rather than Hiragana.

for example:

Mafura- (マフラー) – scarf

Pan (パン) – bread

pasocon (パソコン) – Personal computer

sofa-(ソファ) – sofa

orugan (オルガン) – organ

piano (ピアノ) – piano


4) Name of foreign country, landmarks. Names of foreign people

Name of countries and names of foreigners are all expressed using Katakana.

for example:

Mikeru Jackson (マイケル ジャクソン) – Michael Jackson

Indo (インド) – India

piramiddo (ピラミッド)- Pyramid

grand canion (グランド キャニオン) – Grand Canyon

rasubegasu (ラスベガス) – Las Vegas


So there are the major rules you need to know when using Katakana’s. Hope you got to learn more about Katakana today.