Tag Archives: Japanese

Second meeting

Last Sunday(October 7th), we went to the Pyynikki observation tower. The reason why we chose there to meet is that I really wanted to eat the famous donuts of the cafe on the side of the tower! We enjoyed the very sweet donuts and a cup of coffee.

Also, we talked about each other country’s education. I was very surprised to hear that Chinese students go to school early in the morning and go back home at 12am!

Then, we had a great view of Tampere from top of the tower. But it’s so cold, so we couldn’t stay there so long.

Random bus took us to Tohloppi lake

This time our plan was to meet at a bus stop, take the first bus which comes and see where it would take us. We ended up on bus number 17 which took us to Kalkku. I taught Meguru seasons in Finnish while we were on the bus. We saw Tohloppi lake from the bus window and decided to go there. So once the bus reached it’s final stop at Kalkku we switched to another one in front of it to go back.  The bus drivers were a bit amused at us doing that…

We reviewed nature vocabulary which we had taught each other at the previous meeting and taught some new words. There were signs around the lake which I helped Meguru to translate.  There was one which we both thought was funny: “Making horses swim in the moorings (places for boats) is forbidden”.

After we had walked around the lake, we went to a nearby bakery to eat pulla and practice Finnish. We’ve both noticed that if I tell Meguru what some word is in Finnish and instantly give a Japanese translation, it’s not a very efficient way for memorizing the words. So for a while we talked only in Finnish. I taught new words – kuppi, kello, matto – by pointing at the items around us and talking about them. Then we talked about the items together.

A walk in Kauppi

For the 6th meeting, Meguru and I went walking in the Kauppi forest. Because there’s also a sports park in Kauppi, we saw people playing pesäpallo (Finnish baseball) and compared the differences between Finnish and Japanese baseball. Then we talked about sports classes in Finland and Japan.  Until high school, my class would go to Kauppi several times a year, to play baseball, to ski or to do orienteering in the forest. In Japan it’s not common to go to a forest during PE class, but they’d go mountain climbing once a year.

When we were standing next to a small spruce, I asked Meguru if he remembered what number 6 is in Finnish. He remembered it’s “kuusi”, and I taught him that spruce is also “kuusi” in Finnish.

I taught Meguru other nature related vocabulary, such as koivu (birch), käpy (cone) and aurinko (sun) and Meguru taught me them in Japanese. He remembered names of animals which I’d taught earlier, but unfortunately we couldn’t see any.  We saw some Finnish people picking mushrooms, though. The forest was a refreshing place for language exchange, but it was difficult to write things down for later.

Autumn food and scenery

For this meeting Meguru and I had planned to have Finnish lunch at Kauppahalli (Market Hall), but we ended up doing a lot of other things.

We met at Metso library and started with Finnish study. We tend to talk in Japanese a lot of the time, so we agreed not to use Japanese during this meeting, only Finnish and English. We’ve met quite many times in a short while, so I thought I wouldn’t teach that many new words. Instead, we practiced making sentences and conversation with the vocabulary Meguru already knows. One of us asked a question and the other replied, for example “Missä sinä olet?” (Where are you?) “Olen kirjastossa” (I’m at the library). I also taught how to change the same sentences into past tense.

Then we went to Kauppahalli and walked around looking at different foods and signs. We gave up on not talking in Japanese, since it’s easier to communicate using it. I pointed at different foods and asked Meguru if he has tasted them yet or if he knows the word in Finnish.

The lunch options were pretty expensive for a student budget, so eventually we just bought some Finnish style cakes and had lunch at University of Tampere. After that we went to Ratina shopping centre because Meguru wanted to buy a coat, and finally to Pispala to enjoy autumn scenery.

This time I learned to be more careful about my word choices in Japanese, because Meguru often pointed out when I said something weird. I used some words which are dialect from one region in Japan, and those words sound funny or even rude to people from other regions.

Meeting at a department store

We had our first Japanese-Chinese meeting at a  department store RATINA on September  14th. My pair Huang had known that RATINA was on sale, so we decided to meet there.

First, we looked around the entire RATINA. There were a lot of shops and we talked a lot while walking around. For example, about the difference in uniform. Most Japanese high school students go to school wearing uniforms like jackets and skirts, or shirts and pants, but according to Huang, Chinese high school students go to school wearing jersey. I was surprised to see the actual picture because the Chinese uniforms was like gym clothes to wear in physical education class in Japan.

Then we sat on the bench and taught the name of countries each other. Although there are kanji (Chinese character) in Japan, it is difficult for me because the pronunciation is quite different from that of Chinese.

After all we just bought a snack at a grocery store despite sale, but it was a really good time talking with Haung!


Cute animals, ice hockey and civil war at Vapriikki museum

This time we met up at Vapriikki, which is a huge museum centre. I thought a visit to Vapriikki could be an interesting way to learn about Finland, since there are exhibitions on various topics such as Finnish nature, viking age history of Tampere region, Finnish civil war, video games and ice hockey. Also, you can get a free entrance to the museum with a coupon from students’ ”supervihko” or through student discounts in the Pivo-app.

We visited all of the exhibitions and mainly talked in Japanese. I taught Meguru Finnish words from signs in the exhibitions, mostly in the Natural history museum. Before going to the museum I’d written a list in Japanese of some animals which I remembered were in the exhibition. When we entered the exhibition, I gave Meguru the list and asked him to find out what those animals are called in Finnish.

I believe this was a good way for teaching new words. Meguru also taught me new words in Japanese, such as

キツツキ = woodpecker = tikka
スズラン = lily of the valley = kielo
モモンガ = flying squirrel = liito-orava

In the other exhibitions I wasn’t able to teach Finnish so well, because the vocabulary used in them was quite specific and I hadn’t prepared for them. Especially the exhibition on Finnish civil war was difficult for me to explain in Japanese. I think all of the exhibitons were still useful for learning a bit about Finnish history and culture. We even got to practice ice hockey with a virtual goal keeper.

Sushi and nightmares

On Thursday 20th Meguru and I met at Maruseki, which is the oldest Japanese restaurant in Tampere. It’s my favorite restaurant for sushi in Tampere, and I wanted to hear Meguru’s opinion on how it compares to sushi restaurants in Japan. We ordered sushi and talked in Japanese about how our week was going.

I asked Meguru about the proper way of eating sushi. There are many websites and videos on the internet which claim to teach the correct way, saying for example that using chopsticks is wrong and you should eat with your hands, or that soy sauce should be used in some specific way.  Meguru told me that sushi can be eaten with chopsticks or hands, it depends on the restaurant and the way you prefer to eat. In Japan you’ll be given a hand towel or tissue at restaurants, so eating with hands is completely ok.

Meguru taught me how to count sushi in Japanese (since the language has different counters for different objects). Unfortunately I forgot to write it down and can’t remember anymore…

After eating we went to the nearby library Metso and switched to Finnish study. Meguru had bought Finnish nightmares comic book earlier, so we read it together.  On each page, first Meguru read the text and I corrected his pronunciation, or I read the text and Meguru repeated.

Then I translated the contents into Japanese or English, or Meguru translated and guessed the meaning based on the pictures. Quite many times Meguru was faster than me, because I started thinking of exact translations for the Finnish words instead of the meaning.

It was fun to talk about how we would react in the situations shown in the comics, and how common they are in Finland and Japan. There were quite many Finnish “nightmares” which are shared by Japanese people: touching strangers, public embarrassment and somebody not obeying the traffic lights, for example.

Shopping and making fun of Finnish

Meguru and I met for the second time at Prisma on Saturday 15th. We went there looking for a raincoat for Meguru and talked about the items we saw around us in Japanese. Meguru taught me words I didn’t know before, such as カボチャ (kabocha, pumpkin) and 砂糖税金 (satou zeikin, sugar tax).

I’d expected the price tags at the store to be useful for teaching Finnish, but it wasn’t exactly so. Many of them had brand names, really specific Finnish vocabulary or abbreviations on them.

When we met for the first time, Meguru gave me Japanese miso-soup, so this time I bought him Finnish porridge. Both are instant meals prepared by adding hot water, so they’re an easy way to try foreign cuisine.

After shopping we went to the restaurant Oksa at Prisma to have a cup of coffee. There was a menu in the table so I taught Meguru some food vocabulary from it. The menu was a lot easier to use for teaching compared to the price tags which I had been planning to use. I also taught more numbers and we practiced greetings.

Then Meguru showed a blog post which had funny photos and memes about Finnish people and language, and we talked about them. We agreed that some of them are  accurate, for example the way Finnish people wait for a bus, and some are pretty exaggerated but still fun 😀

Some of the images made fun of how two different words can sound the same in Finnish. The same applies to Japanese: when we were talking and Meguru asked if I know the word “akita”, I was confused why he would talk about Akita-prefecture (a region in Japan), and also remembered Akita Inu -dog breed. Meguru taught me that “akiru” is a verb, and akita means “got tired of, lost interest in”.

First meeting & fluffy doughnuts

We had our first Japanese-Finnish meeting at Pyynikin Munkkikahvila on September 10th. My pair Meguru had heard about fluffy doughnuts sold in Tampere, and I figured out those meant Pyynikki’s.

First I tried to teach Meguru how to order a doughnut in Finnish. By some weird chance the cafe clerk was also Japanese and started talking to us in Japanese. Meguru ordered a doughnut in Finnish anyway and it went well.

Then we talked about our lives and practiced Finnish greetings while munching donuts. I gave Meguru a notebook where I’d already written some phrases and numbers before the meeting – which was a good idea because after eating the doughnuts our hands were full of sugar. We’d agreed to focus more on spoken language and pronunciation in both languages, but I think it’s still useful to have some notes to look at later on.

Learning Finnish pronunciation seems fairly easy for a Japanese speaking person, since the languages have mostly similar sounds, except for Ä and Ö. Some Finnish words even sound like a Japanese word with completely different meaning and vice versa, so it can get quite funny!

Two major differences stood out between life in Japan and Finland during our conversation. One is that politeness is very important in speech in Japan, but not so much in Finland. It’s possible to talk to your teacher in the same way you talk to your friends in Finnish, but definitely not in Japanese.

Another is that there often are disasters (災害, saigai) in Japan, such as typhoons and earthquakes, but in Finland those are rare. To someone like me who has never experienced an earthquake, Meguru’s story of waking up to one at night was scary. In Finland, the worst that can happen is just a power outage (停電, teiden) due to an autumn storm or heavy snow.

To test my Japanese, Meguru pointed at various things in the café and I had to say in Japanese what each item was. I highly recommend this type of exercise to other EOTO students who are on intermediate level, since it reveals your weak points fast. You can also learn words that sound more natural in a specific situation. For example, an old Finnish coffee pot looks more like やかん (yakan, a tea kettle) than コーヒポット (koohiipotto, a coffee pot).

I had a really fun time talking with Meguru at the café, and hopefully we can visit the Pyynikki observation tower when the weather is better! I learned a useful word for explaining why Tampere is full of construction sites when we left the café: 路面電車 (romen densha) = a tram.

Books, Movies & Music!

We (me, Mutsumi and Tero) met on Thursday at Sokos Cafe. It is located at the top floor of Sokos department store. On the evenings you can also offer salad and pasta dishes there on a very affordable price (~10 €).

The theme of our meeting was to discuss about our favorite books, movies & music. I had checked some words and phrases in Japanese beforehand but I was not sure whether Japanese people really use those expressions when describing movies etc. But Mutsumi was there to point out what expressions and words are actually used. For example, here are the genres when talking about movies in Japanese:

saiensu fikushon = scifi

booken = adventure

komedii = comedy

dorama = drama

fantajii = fantasy

akushon = action

rabusutoorii = love story

romansu = romance

misuterii = mystery

sasupensu = suspense

suriraa = thriller

horaa = horror

From the word list above you can see how Japanese really like to borrow English words with minor modifications.

I brought some books by Alastair Reynolds and Philip K. Dick with me to show what kind of literature I like (scifi). We noticed that we like quite different kind of things. For example, I like music of Tori Amos but when I played “Caught a Lite Sneeze” from Youtube, Mutsumi found it to be haunting/intimidating:)

But we also found some things in common that we like. For example Mutsumi likes Studio Ghibli movies like I do and Tero and me both value Christian Bale‘s acting & Appleseed franchise (some nice fanart below).

Appleseed fanart

Overall we had interesting discussions and 2 hours went by really quickly.