Amezaiku Candies

By Katie Nguyen

Amezaiku is a Japanese candy craft artistry made from a sugar that is made from rice or potato starch. It is heated to about 90 degrees Celsius or 200 degrees Fahrenheit. The artist must then put their hands in the mixture, the mixture must not be too soft or too hard, and the artist must bear the heat it gives off. The artist then shapes the mixture onto a stick and can use tools such as traditional Japanese scissors, called “Wa-Basami” or “Nigiri-Basami,” paint brushes, and food coloring to shape and paint the candy into a figure. Amezaiku candies are usually formed into an animal so that they can appeal to children.

Here are some people making Amezaiku:

https://youtu.be/g6FosltlFoo

https://youtu.be/SfyBMG0XSk0

https://youtu.be/wkLKb2Ebvdw

Amezaiku was first introduced during the Heian period as an offering for temples in Kyoto; in the Edo period, it became widely available. However, although it has been passed down for many generations, it has started to be in decline. One of the artists, Shinri Tezuka, at 27 years old, is one of the youngest people still practicing making amezaiku. He was self-taught and makes lots of animal amezaikus, like gold fishes, frogs, octopuses, and many more, hoping to inspire the next generation of candy crafter to keep the tradition alive. This makes me feel really disappointed that such a beautiful piece of artwork is in decline, because not a lot of people want to make amezaiku, although they are so fascinated about it. If you are ever in Japan and want some amezaiku, please go to his store in Tokyo, Japan. You can also do workshops that teach you how to make amezaiku.

If you want some more information about this go to the website http://www.ame-shin.com/en/.

Hiragana

By Jazmin Angel-Guzman

It’s the time of year where we switched alphabet gears and moved on to Hiragana. Hiragana is the Japanese writing system for non-foreign words. As a class, we have mastered Katakana, the Japanese writing system for foreign loan words. Since we learned Katakana first, which is written with straight lines and is more angular, learning Hiragana now is a little bit more difficult for me. The reason being is that the Hiragana alphabet is more curvy, not really straight, and some of the characters look like Katakana characters which sometimes can be tricky to differentiate. For example, the Katakana character for “se” is セ but the Hiragana character for it is せ.

The ways that help me learn Hiragana is through quizlet, because it allows me to review the characters and it helps me get familiar with them. Another thing that helps me learn Hiragana is the amazing packet my Japanese teacher, Eshita Sensei, provides for us. Not only does it have a whole table of all of the Hiragana characters, but also it has sentences and exceptions within the Hiragana alphabet system that should be taken into consideration. I need to use more of my Katakana and Hiragana pink book as a resource, because I’m not exploiting its use. The book is called Japanese Hiragana & Katakana for Beginners by Timothy G. Stout. Hopefully, I’m really looking forward to mastering Hiragana as well, if I study more and practice writing them. But again, it is all about the process of learning it!

Learning Hiragana


By Kenny Nguyen

After mastering Katakana, one of the three writing systems Japan uses along with Hiragana and Kanji, we jumped straight into learning Hiragana. At first I was struggling with memorizing the characters, because I was still used to the Katakana characters, and Hiragana seems to have a lot of characters that resembles each other. For example A (あ) O (お) Wa (わ) are just examples of some of the characters that resembles each other. But thankfully, Sally and Eshita-sensei provided us with a Hiragana and Katakana book that provided us with extra practice writing Hiragana and Katakana at home. Along with a quizlet that my fellow classmate, Lucca Bey, created, so that we can have an extra way of studying.

Once we master Hiragana and Katakana, there is going to be a karuta competition on March 3rd which hopefully I will be able to attend once I have memorized the new Hiragana characters. Another advantage of mastering Hiragana is that we will finally be able to write and read anything in Japanese, since Katakana are used to represent loanwords and Hiragana for everything else. So I am very excited to master both Katakana and Hiragana, even though it is very challenging. If you ever decide to learn these writing systems, I would recommend writing the characters over and over so that you can get the feel of doing the strokes and your hand will get used to it. But also after mastering hiragana, we will move into Kanji, which I am very excited for. But in the meantime, I will continue to practice my Katakana and Hiragana.

Free Lunch

By Theo Greiff

Last weekend my group finally went out for ramen with Sally and Eshita-sensei after we got the greatest combined score last Unit and, overall, it was a very fun experience. We had initially planned to go to Daikaya, which I am told is the best ramen in town, but due to the hour long wait, we went to the nearby Bantam King. It was the first time I had eaten ramen so I was excited and the Shoyu Ramen I tried definitely delivered on that excitement as it was absolutely delicious. Unfortunately, my lack of an appetite meant that I couldn’t eat the whole thing so they gave me the remainders to go. We then had dessert which was also delicious (I had some vanilla soft serve ice cream served with honeydew soda) and left, only for me to realize that I had forgotten my leftovers at the restaurant. It was too bad that I wasn’t in time to get them back, but it didn’t diminish the experience in the slightest and I went home very much satisfied.

New Alphabet: Hiragana

By Maria Garcia

Lately in class we have been busy, but what else is new? Every day we learn something, and well after our midterm, a break was needed. I love the class and the energy from my new group. (Oh yeah, I forgot to mention we have new groups!) This group is funny and stays on track with everything, so getting work done won’t be difficult. Either way, a couple of classes ago, we started this new alphabet called Hiragana.

Hiragana is composed of forty-six characters, just like in katakana. The only difference would be in the appearance of the characters, and when they are used. From my understandings, it is used as particles in the typical sentence structure. Katakana is used to make foreign words legible for Japanese people, while Hiragana is used as the standard form of writing system. Children first learn Hiragana and then move on to Katakana and Kanji. Unlike Katakana, I think this alphabet will be a little more difficult for me to grasp. Hiragana is commonly used with kanji to make words. Studying will be crucial if I want to stay on track with the program and my new group. But it will be fun learning alongside new people and friends.

Hiragana

By Angel Njoku

Recently, we took our mastery test for hiragana and I didn’t pass it the first time but I will try my best to pass when I take it again. I can honestly say that learning katakana was easier for me than hiragana. Hiragana is harder for me, because I can easily get confused with some of the symbols and, unlike others, I don’t really learn exactly from sound like say ka ki ku ke ko, but instead I learn it by the order that I put it in. I feel like katakana was easier for me, because it was the first system we learned, but mostly because the characters aren’t similar to each other so I didn’t get confused a lot.

Hiragana, for me, takes more studying, because now I can say that I studied more hiragana than I studied for katakana. I feel like learning both systems in the language is fun, but it can be hard at times, especially when there are things that I don’t understand. The harder things for me would also be writing out the romanji of the hiragana, because I can easily confuse characters, but there are some characters that I don’t know enough.

Katakana vs. Hiragana

By Jonah Nguyen-Conyers

In my Japanese Plus class, I was able to learn both of the alphabets that would allow me to read and decipher a lot of words I was not able to before. However learning katakana was easier than hiragana. When I was first placed in this Japanese class, I would be studying katakana, the alphabet that would be used for English loan words. Learning this first alphabet was easier than anticipated, probably because I was able to find a way to memorize in my own manner that allowed me to efficiently store the characters in my head. Also there was no knowledge of Japanese characters in my head that would confuse me, like when I was studying hiragana.

When it came to learning hiragana it proved to be a more difficult task than I expected, as hiragana was quite easy. However, we were taught in a different manner than before which made it harder for me to study and try to retain the information being shared in class. This first method of teaching that I learned to study with was going in alphabetical order, and when we did not do the same for hiragana, but rather went into it by learning of the more important characters first, this would pose difficulty for my already established study method. Also having the katakana characters in my head made things harder, as I would often confuse the characters from that alphabet with the ones I saw in hiragana. I did not really have a proper approach to study hiragana, and so a lot of the time it fell to the wayside and did not get done, and this would make my process of learning hiragana a lot harder than I expected.

Recognizing the difference helped me progress in hiragana learning, and I currently know all of the characters that are in both hiragana and katakana.

J-Live in Retrospect

By Gabe Mogzec

J-Live was an event that I attended November 11th, 2018. J-Live is a speech competition for college students to showcase their proficiency in the language. For me, only studying Japanese for a little over a month, I was left with an extreme language gap between me and the contestants presenting. I was very surprised at how much I did pick up. I could pick out certain phrases and certain words, and though not able to understand completely, I was able to pick up what the subject of their speech was. J-Live also had many other ways of experiencing Japanese culture, all of them being captivating in their own way.

From when I’m writing this, it has been just under two months since J-Live has happened, and during that time, my progress in learning Japanese has advanced. I’m proficient in Katakana and I’ve learned many new phrases and words. I know for a fact that if I went to J-Live now, I would be able to pick up much more. As, I continue to learn and study Japanese, I’m curious in attending J-Live 2019.

Beyond The Wall

By Lucca Bey

Recently, through Japanese Plus, I got an amazing opportunity to see the opportunities that learning a different language can bring someone. We attended a community screening of the documentary, Beyond the Wall, at Roosevelt Senior High School. The film is about a group of kids learning Chinese who got to experience Chinese Culture and a language immersion environment firsthand.

In truth, I wasn’t terribly excited to sit in a theatre for an hour, watching a film after a school day and lessons, but it turned out to be one of the most eye-opening experiences that I’ve had in Japanese Plus. The film was around an hour long, and it was crazy inspiring in my eyes. I’d have to say, some of my favorite parts were that the four main kids inside of the documentary were so open to new experiences, really embodying the concept of a global thinker.

I, myself have been learning Chinese for around 9 years now, and so, understandably, this film struck a chord with me. I saw a lot of some of the things I wanted to go on to do in the kids in the film. They were all high school students, just like us, who sought out language learning activities, which again, made me think of our Japanese Plus class.

This also led me to dwell about the different pathways that learning Japanese will have on my career later on, and how it’ll open many doors in life for just about anything that I choose to pursue. A prime example is the addition of cultures you’re familiar with, people you get to meet, and language specific experiences that you can relate to. Language, as I’ve realized in this class, is intricately tied to culture. You can’t separate one from the other, which is why it’s so very important to learn and understand both.

While it can seem a bit overdramatic to say that the film we watched caused me to have some sort of life changing revelation, seeing other high schoolers my age using language to participate in a foreign culture was definitely key to some of the aforementioned introspective thinking. With the school year unfortunately coming to a close, I’m excited for what else this class has in store.