One of the things I like about Japanese animation is that it always opens your mind to new cultural concepts, and even something like how names work in Japanese can be gleaned from anime. Names function quite differently in politeness-sensitive Japan than in the U.S., and it's common for people to use keigo (polite speech) when addressing others in a school or work setting, or if the person is older than you, e.g. "Fujita-san" or "Tomo-san" (fairy formal) rather than just "Tomo" (very informal). Lately I've been on an Orange Road kick, watching the second movie, the novel for which I translated and put on the net a decade ago (link on J-List site). In the movie, the main character Kyosuke gets "time-slipped" to three years into the future, which causes some challenges when his "younger" sister starts talking differently to him because she's technically older now. Another plot point revolves around when he started calling his girlfriend Madoka by her first name (as informal as you can get in Japan -- one guess when that was). Another old-school fave of mine is Maison Ikkoku, the Rumiko Takahashi classic that tells the story of college student Godai's attempts to woo the manager of the apartment he lives in, the recently widowed Kyoko. Because she's older than him, he calls her "Kyoko-san" during their courtship, and only at their wedding reception, after he's become her husband and thus on the same level as her, can be bring himself to drop the formal -san ending and call her by her name, Kyoko.
Every year in December, thousands of foreigners take the Japanese Language Proficiency Test, the primary way of testing your Japanese language skills. Once upon a time I disliked Japan's test-based approach to learning, yet after using the JLPT to help improve my own language ability, I can recommend it as a good way to make yourself study -- there's nothing like having a clear goal in front of you to motivate yourself. There are four levels to the test, set up so that you can try a new level each year. Level four is the easiest, testing hiragana, katakana and a hundred or so kanji, while level one is super hard, being the goal you need to clear if you want to attend a Japanese university. By happy coincidence, J-List happens to have some good study tools for the JLPT, including previous year's tests you can use for practice. The test is given at various cities around Japan and the world, and the deadline for applying is coming up within a few weeks -- so this is your official wake-up call if you'd like to challenge the test this year. If you'd like information on how you can sign up for the test, this siteis a good page to start (although I apologize if things aren't as clear as they could be).
Announcing the newest line of product offerings: kanji hats with our famous wacky Japanese messages on them! Our new professionally embroidered hats are a great way to wear a unique Japanese message on your head and show off your uniqueness to everyone. Manufactured by Alternative Apparel, the stylish Vintage Twill baseball caps are great, enzyme-washed for extra softness and featuring a sturdy brass buckle for "set and forget" head sizing. Enjoy our first two hats, our best-selling "Looking for a Japanese Girlfriend" design and a favorite of mine, our "Otaku" Oakley logo parody.
Remember that J-List has plenty of cool "back to school" items for you or your young ones, from unique pens, pencils and notebooks to pencil casesthat will make study fun, and more. We've got "fude pens" that let you write as if you were using a Chinese writing brush, cool erasers that are the best you can find anywhere in the world. We've also got study aids that can help you improve in any subject, such as Japanese flashcard blanks (quiz yourself to learn more), and the very cool Zebra Check Set, which lets you highlight information with a special pen then "magically" make it disappear with a red overlay while you test yourself on the answers.
My son is a meticulous little guy, and when he decided that he was going to take a picture of lightning (which flashed constantly while we were there), nothing could disuade him.
The sunset was really beautiful there.
This little guy strung us along for all kinds of food. When he went into the canyon, my son dove after him, as in, dove over the wall part, with only a little embankment from keeping him from going all the way over.
For the record, Americans get Japanese wrong too. They meant 検定 not 限定 on this sign.