Tag Archives: Japanese

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.

Sheriff of Nottingham

Yesterday we gathered together to play a game called Sheriff of Nottingham. It was the English version of the game and Tero brought it. Sheriff of Nottingham is a smuggling game where you have to bluff and take risks to be victorious. It’s a fun and intriguing game so I recommend other groups to try it out as well!

Our meeting place was a restaurant/bar called Living Room. It is very laid back place so we could even eat our own snacks which I brought. I ordered meat tacos, and I was given a pretty exotic version of that. But it was delicious.

During this meeting we mostly discussed in English. As so as, we each have a different skill level in Japanese so discussion in a group while playing the game is a bit difficult. But I was attending Japanese lessons right before our meeting so I definitely got my daily dose of language studies. We have a good group and it is fun to hang out together, so I’m happy that I chose to attend to this course!

Playing High Tower at Cafe Europa

Yesterday evening we (me, Mutsumi and Tero) visited Cafe Europa. Cafe Europa is a bar offering some foreign drinks/beers, snacks and laid-back atmosphere. They also have a selection on board etc. games that can be played for free (you need to pay 10€ deposit, but you will get it back when you return the game). At first we tried to play a game called Munchkin which is some kind of fantasy card game. However, that game was way too difficult for us to learn in short time so we decided to play High Tower instead. I don’t remember whether that’s the official name of the game or not but you can see what I mean from the pic below.

Unfortunately, I lost in the game so I need to bring snacks for our next session:) But the game itself was a lot of fun.

Our language studies/discussions this time were related to cold winter and trips/travel plans. As so as, Mutsumi visited St. Petersburg on last week and I have also visited there twice this year. I told that on December I’m going with my family to Lanzarote which will be the first long-distance trip abroad for my children (they have already visited Sweden). I also learned a new concept in Japanese language, a verb called deshou which can be used with other verbs and adjectives. This site explains how to use it.

Our plan is to have another gaming session on Thursday because this first one was so much fun!

Sky Bar

Yesterday I met Mutsumi at Moro Sky Bar. We had a great time as we enjoyed the night view (yakei) of Tampere and practised Japanese/Finnish. Mutsumi was kind to help me with my Japanese homework (shukudai) about Japanese national holidays. We also discussed the cultural differences of celebrating Christmas and New Year in Japan/Finland.

It seems Japanese culture has many holidays/celebrations reIated to reaching certain age, respecting the elders, nature and nation and of course also following buddhist/shinto traditions. I learned new words and concepts such as keshiki (scenery), otoshidama (money given to children on New Year’s day), seijinshiki (coming of age ceremony), oni (demon, which is heard in anime often:),  Odairi-sama and Ohina-sama (dolls presented during Hinamatsuri see pic below), hina-arare (rice crackers for Hinamatsuri), koi (carp), koinobori (carp-shaped wind sock) and kaaneeshon (carnation).

Time just flew by when we talked about various things in that amazing scenery. I definitely think that sky bar is a must visit to all foreign students in Tampere (the entrance is free of charge)!


Visiting Flea Market

On Monday we decided to visit flea market called Radiokirppis which is located at Laukontori.

When we were looking at various stuff on the flea market, I learned some new words. For example when we saw comic books, we discussed that Donald Duck is ドナルド and Mickey  Mouse is ミッキー in Japanese. We are also discussing about prices a lot, because some of the items were quite expensive (like 30€ for a Moomin mug) and some were cheap. Finally I bought this キティちゃん frisbee for my daughters.

After flea market we still visited asian food shop and Kauppahalli. I recommended a restaurant called Neljä vuodenaikaa (which is located inside Kauppahalli) to Mutsumi and others. It is definitely one of the best lunch restaurants in Tampere.


I met up with Mutsumi at TAMK for our first private lesson at monday evening. We had agreed that she will teach me very basics of Japanese and I’ll help her understand the Finnish pronunciation.

We started by her teaching me Hiragana-alphabets and some basic grammar. Learning the rules how to use the Hiragana didn’t appear to be that hard. The hardest part will be memorizing the entire alphabet because of two reasons. First being the obvious one, it is entirely alien to me and secondly I’m not good at memorizing raw data without any logic involved in it. Luckily (and fortunately for me) the two rules of grammar we went through were extremely easy to remember. If you want to turn a sentence into a question you simply add “ka” at the end of the sentence. Another rule she taught me was how to say someone’s nationality. That simply involves adding “jin” suffix to the name of the country the person is from. For example, Finland in Japanese is Finlando, so a Finn is Finlando-jin.

For the first Finnish lesson with Mutsumi I had decided to focus on one of two hardest parts of Finnish language foreigners have problems with: pronunciation. I noticed, during the street food fiesta meeting, when I was writing couple of Japanese sentences down in Roman alphabet, or Romaji in Japanese, that Mutsumi corrected me when I made mistakes despite the fact I was writing them down the way they sounded like in Finnish. It gave me an idea that if she isn’t able to pronounce Finnish the correct way, then maybe Japanese will help her speak it easier.

I started by giving her short and simple words to pronounce just to see how she would pronounce Finnish in different situations, such as the cases of double letters. Pronunciation proved to be off, as I suspected, and the simple word “tee” (which is “tea” in English) finalized the pattern she was using; she was reading them as if they were English. As we discussed this for short while, Mutsumi mentioned that she was feeling abandoning her attempts trying to speak Finnish. She was so revitalized after she learned she should not try to say the words with English pronunciation, but instead in Japanese. With this new realization, her Finnish was at par with the native Finns! Both of us were extremely happy about the situation. Only letters she had problems with are U, Ä and Ö, but with practice she managed to pronounce them the correct way. Now she only needs to keep up practicing so those sounds come out naturally.

I’d say it was lesson well spent for both of us!

Fiesta with friends 15.9.2017

I went to visit the street food fiesta at Hämeenpuisto with Rami and
Mutsumi. Mutsumi’s roommate Gabriela and her friend Mia also joined
us for the experience. Theme of the meeting was mainly to see the
different kinds of food and possibly enjoy some, and learn little
bit about languages on the side. Of course situation
also gave ample opportunity to learn more about each other as well.

In my opinion there was very little being taught regarding the languages
during the meeting. I learned couple of basic sentences how to introduce
myself and we taught little bit about shopping to Mutsumi. However I
think it is understandable as there was quite alot things happening around
us and everyone wanted to check different kind of food selections available.
Mutsumi also had to divide her attention between three students so it left
very little to be taught for each one. It was sort of a relaxed start for
further studies in the future.

Help with Homework

Today I met Mutsumi at Tamk and she was able to help me with my homework for Japanese classes. I had a tricky news article to translate from Japanese to Finnish.

But we worked on that together and I will shine on my Japanese class as I understand the article well now:) Thank u Mutsumi!

We were also showing each other pictures of our family. It was fun and I realized many important things. For example I thought that “kanojo” always means a girlfriend but the meaning of the word is actually wider and I can use it on other occasions also. We also had good cultural discussions because I learned that the name “Mutsumi” actually comes from the verb “mutsumu” which means getting along with others:)

For the Finnish part we used Mutsumi’s Finnish textbook and practised the basic expressions, pronunciation, stating months and dates. I also told Mutsumi some short phrases that people use in daily life because some of the phrases on the textbook are not so handy. And because we are in Tampere, I needed to mention “moro” and “morjens” (both mean hi/bye) because u cannot avoid hearing those in some occasions. Time really flew by quickly but we were able to discuss many things. A great session!