Friday, November 20, 2009
Beginning Japanese: Lesson One
Many years ago, I used to teach beginning Japanese to my colleagues during our lunch break. I’m not a language teacher, but I wrote one simple instruction for you as below.
Write the first five hiragana letters. Practice 10 times.
1. あいうえお あ a い i う u え e おo
Write the second five hiragana as follows. Practice 10 times.
2. かきくけこ かka きki くku けke こko
Have you practiced 10 times each? If not, go back to item 1 and start again. You cannot cheat my lesson. But you can ask me questions. I’ll answer when I can. So when you feel comfortable with あいうえお and かきくけこ, you can read the following. Okay? Now read it. Go ahead.
Did you figure it out? Good.
Now you’ve learned how to write my name in Japanese. You gained the important concept of Japanese beats. You pronounce each beat evenly. けいこ。It takes three beats. Since you’ve learned 10 hiragana, you can also read a Japanese haiku written in hiragana only. Haiku is the beats of 5-7-5.
a-ka-i-ka-ki-ku-u (akai=red, kaki= persimmon, kuu=eat )
Haiku is formal, so the above haiku is called senryu. Kuu for “eat” is used by men, not by women. But I just wanted you to see how we can play with Japanese words. In my next blog, I’ll talk more about beats.
The above photo is a heron in the river near my place. He or she just caught a fish and ate it. I saw it. I also took the photo below to show you the color of the soil here. The sign says "Watch Your Foot" because of the roots of Cherry trees.