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Friends and Trains

I had better write an article today. The pressure from the family is mounting and we're about to take a mammoth train trip that will probably leave us internetless for a few days.

We got our train passes and immediately headed out on our pilgrimage to Shikoku. It was awesome. We'd never seen rural Japan before, but it was beautiful. There was a constant wind, which was the only thing you could hear once the train left. It sounded like a ghost town.

Some of the houses were built in such a traditional style that I mistook them for temples on more than one occasion.

Japanese: Learning One of the World's Toughest Languages

On Ideas in the Making

Every time someone sees me studying Japanese Kanji(漢字), characters the Japanese borrowed from the Chinese, and then used to represent Japanese ideas and pronunciation, I always get one or both of the following responses

1. Are you studying Chinese?

2. Is it hard?

In response to the first I always teach them and let them know that Chinese is significantly different than Japanese because Japanese people use three "alphabets" (they are in fact more like syllabaries), katakana, hiragana, and kanji, and because the grammar is substantially different.

The second though, is always a mixed bag. The U.S. Government states That Japanese, along with Arabic, and Chinese (and some other languages I forgot) are the languages that require the most time to learn for English speakers. But in my opinion, after having spent years studying on and off, Japanese is definitely one of the the World's toughest languages (at least considering it is actually spoken by over 100 million people) to become really fluent at (watch comedians, read adult-level literature, understand and differentiate slang and homonyms),but one of the easier languages to learn the basics to ( denoting location, modifiers, people, adjectives)

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