8th Meeting: Honorifics (19/04/18)

こんにちは みなさん!

Konnichiwa Mina-san! (Now you know what two of those words mean. I really hope so.)

So, today we did honorifics, the usual hiragana recap and ate matcha KitKats. Or, at least we tried to do honorifics, though I had to scramble through sensei, senpai and kouhai, because I spent too much time talking – hey, it’s a really interesting subject!

Anyway, because of this insufferable heat, the matcha (green tea) KitKats were slightly melted, but I don’t think that changed their normal taste of unusualness. I think the general reaction is initially ‘urgh, by Jove, what is this?’, but then you get used to them and they taste fine. They’re not unpleasant, but rather strange. I could make analogies between matcha KitKats and JapanSoc, but it’s far too hot to be doing anything of the sort.

The planned hiragana recap was interrupted by the fact that two members had no clue what hiragana was so of course I launched into an explanation of what hiragana were, how them came about and the introduction of writing into Japan. And for some reason, there were Chinese monks saying words that sounded like Spanish – because the only Chinese one of the monks knew was ‘Hello Kitty’. This is JapanSoc for goodness sake! That certain Chinese monk is henceforth awarded the quiche of the week award. At least the Japanese peasants could speak some Japanese… I feel this is why we ran out of time.

Finally, the actual honorifics were reached, and we did san and sama, and kun and chan, complete with pictures, the Karate Kid and orange-coloured clouds. (See the slides for the information, if you were too distracted by the carrot.) I threw in a puzzle as well, asking what 赤ちゃん (red-chan) meant. There were some worthy guesses of strawberry and tomato (I guess, they are cute and red), but the answer that eluded them was that 赤ちゃん means baby! Babies are red. (Baby can also be written 赤ん坊ぼう, or red-monk, because they are red, and bald like monks. This is why I love Japanese.) Next came sensei, and senpai and kouhai, which I had to do in a rather rushed manner, although hopefully you understood!

See you next week!

M7-san (I apologise for all the in-jokes.)

Slides: Honorifics

7th Meeting: Princess Mononoke! (29/3/18)

As it’s the last session of term, we celebrated by watching as much of Princess Mononoke (もののけ姫, Mononoke-hime) as we could! This consisted of the start, then a skip to the forest spirits, and then to the ending (because I misunderstood what Ella meant by transformation). Everyone enjoyed it, even if someone had to compare a dead big to her sister, and it was actually our busiest meeting so far.

(I swear it’s a PG.)

There were melon-bread flavoured biscuits, yes, melon-bread flavoured biscuits because we like confusing people and can’t exactly eat fresh meron pan. Although I have no clue what anyone actually thought about them, the whole packet was eaten, bar the one I’m saving for myself until the end of Lent, which suggests they were nice.

Biscuits, Ghibli, the chance to hear some actual Japanese (with subtitles in English), and loads of people – the best meeting yet!

Happy Easter (復活祭/イースター) everyone!

See you the first week back for honorifics and mochi.

(this is real meronpan for anyone who was wondering)

6th Meeting Summary: Personal Pronouns (15/3/18)

After a week’s absence, JapanSoc returned with a session on personal pronouns. Whilst not one of the more … crowded meetings, that didn’t mean it wasn’t enjoyable. We looked at all that current personal pronouns that are used, from the omnipresent watashi, to common regional variations, to slang used by young women.  We even featured antiquated versions since they are still commonly used in anime and manga, by ninja, samurai, or daimyō.

This was far from as serious as it sounds, as I meant about I could ramble on about the pronouns used by fictional characters, to Light’s ‘boku ぼく’ and Sebastian’s ‘watashi わたし’, to the ‘ora おら’ in Dragon Ball. Bowser (from Mario Bros) even uses  ‘wagahai’ an archaic version that was used by men of high class.

And then there’s how pets ‘use’ oira, because, well, why not?

The food was matcha pocky, but that didn’t even get opened. Maybe was talk was so inspiring, or maybe it was simply that everyone there was either on Lent or didn’t like yoghurt.

As always, here’s the Powerpoint: Personal Pronouns

JapanSoc won’t be on next week because I’m very regretfully going to Scarborough, but I’ll see you in two weeks for or last meeting of term – complete with a Ghibli film, and meronpan biscuits!

5th Meeting Summary: Hina Matsuri (and the Hiragana vowel column) (1/3/18)

A happy, albeit belated 雛祭り(hinamatsuri) to everyone! It was on the 3rd of March, so two days after the meeting.

Resultado de imagen de hinamatsuri

There was a change of schedule to what I had planned, and since none of the original members bar me attended, I went back to the original and essential hiragana powerpoint, and then did a rather rushed run-through of the hinamatsuri slides.

I’ve already written about the hiragana vowel column, but they included a brief history and description of the three Japanese syllabaries, the kana themselves with weird pictures that might help you remember them and then a high-speed quiz to scare everyone. The hinamasuri section talked about the name, main features of the festival, history, the alter and each layer of dolls, modern adaptations, typically food (I really want to try sakuramochi) and even a song! And of course, there were loads of pictures because the dolls are beautiful and practically the whole reason why I chose this topic in the first place. Have another one of an Empress:

Resultado de imagen de hinamatsuri

An unexpected highlight was that Bobby went to JapanCentre in London on the Chemistry in Action trip, so he brought back some really … interesting food. There were: black bean rice crackers I think, similar to the soy sauce ones I brought the meeting before last; lots of different sweets that I couldn’t eat being vegetarian; and some really scary fish things. There were literally little fish in this packet, with other things made out of fish and a really strong smell. Apparently they weren’t that bad, but I decided to stick to the other side of the room. As for my Matcha Kitkats, they produced the usual response of ‘orhh! – hmm, actually these are decent.’

As a side note: preparing this powerpoint was actually really useful for me since I managed to mention it in my EPQ.

Here are the very picture-heavy hinamatsuri slides for anyone who wants them: Hinamatsuri slides

And here are the vowel column hiragana slides as well.


3rd Meeting Summary (1/2/18) Studio Ghibli


For the third meeting, the topic was Studio Ghibli! We looked at how to pronounce the name (ji-blee for those of you who didn’t come) timelines, key people, common features, the Studio Ghibli Musuem and future theme park, as well as the upcoming film ‘How do you live?’ (Even though there’s practically no information on it.) At the very beginning, we also had a hiragana catch up, and I was impressed by the amount everyone remembered – without (obvious) cheat sheets this time! There was even some extra time so we watched the trailer for ‘The Cat Returns’.

Perhaps the main outcome of the session is that we’re disappointed that we will never have any funding for a JapanSoc trip to the Studio Ghibli Museum, given that it’s in Mitaka in Tōkyō. We can console ourselves with how we wouldn’t be able to understand any of the books chosen by Miyazaki in the Reading Room, anyway. We’re also too old to go on the Catbus… On another note, Miyazaki can’t pronounce the name of an aeroplane he liked so much that he named his company after it.

On the edible side of the session, there was sushi, which was less disliked than usual! A certain late arrival was very fond of it.

For next week, I was planning to do the second hiragana column, the ‘k’s, and then look at dakuten and the ‘g’s if we had enough time, however, I’ve been messaged that said late person can’t come next week.

Instead, we’ll look at something more cultural that she wouldn’t be interested in (anime genres and popular examples, maybe?), so she doesn’t miss out on anything major. Comment if you are actually reading this and have another idea, or just pop me an email.

Food will probably be matcha pocky as that’s all I have left at the moment, or possibly anything else I can get my hands on in the meantime. Sorry, Ella.


Link to the PowerPoint: Studio Ghibli

1st Meeting Summary (18/1/18)

1st Meeting Summary (18/1/18)


Who else was terrified about the first session of JapanSoc? Well, probably no one else because I was the only one presenting it.

Today’s topic was Introductions and New Year, so we looked at how to say what your name is in Japanese, and then went into how the New Year is celebrated in Japan. This included the date of the New Year, traditional food (osechi-ryouri, 御節料理), kagami-mochi (鏡餅), bell ringing, and  the obligatory tangent off into the Meiji Restoration. And of course, the… unusually flavoured Japanese KitKats mustn’t be forgotten, although for some reason all the members do seem to be terrified of them…

Here’s a link to the slides is here for anyone who would like them:   https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1wkhNZTY5q-rwEtr4ahvUklQP0g_06f6-M40X93tmzUg/edit?usp=sharing

Never mind, I’ll bring something less strange next week. (Matcha Pocky, anyone?) Following opinions from the people who came we’ll be looking at hiragana next week!

The first session had upsides, and downsides. It didn’t go too badly and I think everyone learnt something, but then again I had to track down most of the members, my PowerPoint was far too long and Miss Hopper probably thinks I am the only person who was there. On the bright side, it can only improve from here!

Thank you to James for organising websites for the societies. (No, I wasn’t told to say that.)

Let’s hope this isn’t too informal.