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Japanese Culture: Gift Giving and Aizuchi + Goals


にほんごのれんしゅう(日本語の練習) 第5週 Japanese Practice Week 5

Hello everyone! Kyuusei here. This will be my last post of the year. With that being said, let’s continue with a few things that I found interesting about Japan this week.

Gift Giving

Now that Christmas is over, I would like to share Japan’s culture on gift giving a bit. In many movies and television and my home during the holidays, I see people tearing away at the Christmas wrapping to get see what they have received. Sometimes, we even use the same wrapping from last year (just using what we have left on the rolls, not picking up the shreds and pasting them back together).

In Japan, things are a bit different. Wrapping is very important in Japan. This dates back to many centuries ago (sometime around the medieval period I believe), where they explained the art of gift giving and how to wrap it. In general, a Japanese person would not reuse the same wrapping.

Furthermore, they usually don’t open gifts in front of the giver until the giver leaves. This may have more to do with how formal their mindset is compared to America. Yes, they are happy that you have given them a gift but, it mostly has to do with being considerate of the giver’s gift and that you (or someone else) worked hard on the gift wrapping.


はい、そうですね、マジ 、なるほど。

These are words or phrases used to show that you are actively listening to the conversation that is going on. They may even nod their head to show body language that they are listening. Furthermore, rephrasing a question to what was already discussed is also apart of this cultural expression of active listening.

For instance:

A: きょう、このかのじょに話していました。

B: かのじょですか?

A: そして、彼女は本当にきれいでした。

B: そうか。

A: So, I was talking to this girl today?

B: A girl you say?

A: And she was really pretty.

B: I see.

This may seem like they aren’t listening to you. However, without aizuchi, the speaker may assume that you aren’t interested in hearing them out or disengaged in the conversation. Without aizuchi, there may even be pauses of awkward silence. Perhaps this was put in place to keep the conversation flowing.

What I learned this week:

から と ので ➔ because


This is used when you want to give a specific reason for something. It is inflexible and is more direct. Politeness is a major key in the Japanese language, so let’s show you another way of giving reasons.


I won’t go to the party because I want to see the new One-Piece movie.


This is usually used if you want to be vaguer when giving a reason. In most cases, there may be more than one reason to give.

For instance, “I don’t want to go outside, because it is hot, it is muggy, I dislike going outside in the heat, and there is nothing to do outside today.”

Instead of saying all of that, we can just give one reason which will indicate that this might not be the only reason we don’t want to go outside.


I am studying because I have a test tomorrow. (may also mean “I want to get a good score or I don’t want to fail this test or this is my worst subject so I have to put more time in studying for this test”)

Using ので with だor です are replaced with な



I will not go outside, because it is cold.



I can read, because it is quiet.

How to (do something/ the way of doing something) Verb + かた

With this new grammar you have to do something special to the verb. You must change the stem to what is called the い-form. The い-form is basically where you replace end of the verb (such as つくる- to cook) to the い-form (つくり). Here are the conjugations for this form:

う→ い

つ→ ち

る→ り

む→ み

ぶ→ び

ぬ→ に

ぐ→ ぎ

く→ き

する→ し

Now let’s see some examples:


I don’t know how to drive.


I know how to write this kanji.

Difficult to do – Verb (-form) + にくい

Now that we know how to use the い-form, let’s take a look at how to say something is difficult to do.


I’ll read that book, because this book is difficult to read.

You could probably use the negative form of にくい to say it is not difficult. However, it would be better to learn how to say something is easy to do instead. That is where we  shall go from here.

Easy to do – Verb (-form) + やすい


Hiragana and katakana are easy to read. However, Kanji is hard to read.

Too much – Verb (-form) + すぎる

This is used to say that you do something too much.


It is easy to write kana (Hiragana and Katakana), because I write kana every day.



A young boy named Takeshi has gotten into trouble. His mother told him to sit at the kitchen table until she returns. His friend comes over and wants to play. However,…








B: ごめんなさい。間違った番号です。失礼します。





A: Hey, Takeshi. Your mother isn’t home anymore. Let’s play.

B: No way. My mother said, “Sit here.”.

A: Forget what your mother says. Besides you look bored.

B: (“This idiot is trying to get me killed but… [he is right that I am bored]”) Let’s go.

A: Alright! Oh, the phone is ringing.

B: Hello. This is Takeshi.

C: Where are you going?

B: Sorry. Wrong number. Excuse me.

A: Who was it?

B: Mom.

A: Seriously?! Wow, it’s ringing again.

To be continued…


A young girl runs into the house asking her mother for water. What has made her look so exhausted?

花ちゃん: た。。。ただいま。見...水をいいぱいちょうだい。


花ちゃん: (水を早く飲んでいます)公園で運動していましたんです。


花ちゃん: まず、プロテインシェイクを飲みました。そのあと、腕立て伏せ100回やりて、上体起こし100回やりて、スクワットを100やりました。そして、ランニング10キロをしました。

お母さん: え?!100回?!プロテインシェイク?!!なぜ?!

花ちゃん: 私はワンパンマンのようになりたい。


Who is One Punch Man?!

Hana-chan: I-I’m home. G-give me a bunch of water.

Mother: Welcome bac- Wow… sure, here you go. Why are you sweating?

Hana-chan: (Drinks water quickly) It’s because I was exercising in the park.

Mother: What kind?

Hana-chan: I drank a protein shake, did 100 push-ups, did 100 sit-ups, and did 100 squats. After that, I ran 10 kilometers.

Mother: What?! 100?! Protein shake?!! Why?!

Hana-chan: I want to be like One Punch Man!

Mother: Who is One Punch Man?!

Since the new year is coming soon, I would like to address goals. Like Hana-chan in this story, we must strive towards a goal and maybe even aim to be like someone we idolize. If you have new year’s resolutions, I think it would be great to start doing them now. We don’t need a new year to change something about ourselves. Even if it is a long-term goal, set small achievable goals to complete it next year. So, don’t wait – start now. Even if it is hard, pace yourself, try meeting your goals, and do your best.

For myself, I have a few goals:

Learning goals:

  • Learn how to use more than 500 kanji. (I’ve been learning how to use grade school kanji – about 200 kanji)
  • Get a green belt in JA Sensei. (I’m on Orange belt 1st kyu)
  • Keep writing this weekly blog.
  • Complete a shogi puzzle book (I have done all the 1 move shogi puzzles. I am now doing 3 move shogi puzzles. This book goes up to more than 7 moves. Good luck future me!)

Physical goals:

Been working on this since October of this year. At first it was tough. Especially the running. I just had to learn to pace myself and get the right shoes.

  • Did this every day:
  • 100 push ups
  • 100 sit ups
  • 100 squats
  • I am jogging three days out of the week:
  • 5 km jog (Had to start somewhere since my stamina is poor. I will work my way up to 10 km. Then I will consider doing this every day. See, pacing. Remember not to push yourself too hard. Learn your current limits. Building upon yourself is all that matters. So, once again pace yourself.)

In conclusion,

I hope that this series is helpful with your journey to learning Japanese and/or taking an interest in the country’s culture. Until then… また来週。。。また来年!


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