Monday, April 04, 2011

Hello Japan! April mini-challenge: Back to School

Hello Japan!
Hello Japan! is a monthly mini-challenge focusing on Japanese literature and culture. Each month there is a new task which relates to some aspect of life in Japan. Anyone is welcome to join in any time. Everyone who completes the task will then be included in the drawing for that month's prize. For more information, just click on the Hello Japan! button above, or if you have any questions please feel free to email me at inspringthedawn AT gmail DOT com.

April's Topic

April 1st is the start of the new fiscal year. As such, it's a time when many recent graduates and young people enter companies to begin their working lives. It's also the beginning of the school year in Japan.

To people outside of Japan, Japan often brings to mind certain things, like sushi, or cherry blossoms. But there is much more to this unique country. The recent disaster along the north-eastern coast of Japan, has made the world perhaps slightly more aware of Japan, and also unnecessarily afraid, so it seems like a good chance to take a closer look and learn a little more about this special country. So for the month of April, it's your chance to go back to school too.

Japanese classroom

April's Task

April's task is to learn something about Japan.

The original idea for this mini-challenge was to encourage you to learn some Japanese, a few words, or greetings, in either the spoken or written language.

A couple places where you can do that online:
There are also different free podcasts if you just do a search in iTunes.

A suggestion from Novroz was also to have everyone learn a kanji (or two) or learn how to write your name in Japanese. For the Japanese food fans, you could learn some Japanese cooking words.

Japanese is a difficult language to learn though, definitely, so there are many other things you could learn.

You could learn more about the area that was affected by the tsunami, or any other part of this diverse country. In terms of culture, geography, or local traditions.

Or you could learn about some event in the history of Japan. The recent instability at the nuclear plant has brought up memories of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. You could learn more about what happened there. Or go further back, to the time of the shoguns and samurai warriors. And so on...

So whether you visit a website, read a book, watch a documentary, listen to a podcast, study a map, or however else you choose ... I hope you'll learn something about Japan this month. It'll be for a good cause too, see below.

April's Prize

Japanese Red Cross

I hope you'll understand, and agree with me, that because of the terrible devastation that took place last month from the earthquake and tsunami, I'd like to forego the prize this month. Instead, I'd like to contribute to a couple of organisations that are doing their best to help those in need. So, for every person that participates in this month's Hello Japan! mini-challenge, I'll give 500yen (approx. US$6) to either the Japanese Red Cross, who are providing much needed support to the survivors, or JEARS (Japan Earthquake Animal Rescue and Support), because it breaks my heart to see pictures of the frightened pets left behind in the aftermath, and equally warms it to hear about the animals that have been rescued by these wonderful volunteers.

Japan Earthquake Animal Rescue and Support

The other day I mentioned some ways you can help Japan as well, if you are so inclined. The Genre for Japan auction has ended but I believe all the other events I mentioned are still ongoing. I've also added buttons to both of the organisations into my right sidebar. But of course you are not required to donate anything yourself to join in the challenge this month. Either way, I do hope you'll join in the mini-challenge this month to learn something about this special country, and in your own way help Japan to recover.

You can complete this month's mini-challenge by writing a blog post, telling us about what you learnt, and adding a link to your post, or leaving a comment with your answers on this post. Or if you prefer, you can also email me at inspringthedawn AT gmail DOT com with your submission. You are welcome to post or comment more than once and add the relevant links below. I love it when you are enthusiastic about a topic! Please let me know if you have any questions.

Once you have completed the task, don't forget to come back here to add your link to the Mr. Linky below. Please submit the link to the actual post, not just to your top page, and please only submit links to posts relating to the Hello Japan! task for this month. Any other links will be deleted. Thank you for your understanding.

Classroom image courtesy of Wikipedia


  1. That is a wonderful prize Nat.
    I'll try to write more than 1 post...but no promise as it is quite difficult topic

  2. I wondered what this theme would be all about. Great choice :) I will do my best! Gambatte!

  3. This topic has reminded me I should learn kana (I've started to learn it few months ago, but I was a quite lazy - shame on me!)... ^^'

    I agree with Navroz, the April's prize is wonderful.

    You know, I was a little bit afraid that because of the situation in Japan you won't be hosting Hello Japan! mini-challenge anymore or at least the challenge would be cancel for few months. I'm really happy it didn't happen!

  4. Wonderful topic and prize! I'll do my submission right now.

    I started to recognize my son's name when he'd write it in kanji and when I told him so in an email, he told me my name was written as テレサ

    I've also learned a lot of school-kid slang from him that he learned from his students. The most popular seems to be 'kimoi,' which means 'gross,' but which they seem to use for anything even remotely silly or goofy, reminding me of how my siblings used the word 'weird' for just about everything when we were younger. His students are quick to tell him they aren't being mean or that they are joking if they use this word to him. :)

  5. What a wonderful mini-challenge! You can count on me to participate and get the word out about it.

  6. This is an awesome post! I like what you are doing here.

  7. Thanks for the links. I have learnt japanese since I was in high school.I have tons of Japanese book for begineer.But I always return to the first chapter since I learn it alone.

    I am going to post something for this meme.

  8. Now that was a struggle this month, but the post is finally up :) It is not as informative as I would have liked, but there wasn't much history to find in English on the subject :S

  9. Hi, Nat!

    I've sent you my submission via e-mail;)

  10. Is it to bold to request that you make the donation for my participation to JEARS? The work of this organisation is close to my heart (I wish I could volunteer!) and I believe plenty of money is going to people already so they won't be in disadvantage.

    Oh, and I've made a pledge :)

  11. Thank you to everyone who participated in this mini-challenge.

    Litera - I'm happy to keep hosting the Hello Japan! mini-challenge and promoting Japan even in this small way. The country needs it now more than ever, I think. :)

    Teresa - I love that you're learning some Japanese and school-kid slang!

    Uniflame - No worries, sharing your efforts is enough. :)

    Gnoe - No problem at all! In fact, I was already planning to donate solely to JEARS this time. :)


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