Friday, 13 February 2009

Question: How safe is Japan?

I was reading this artice at Japan Times and found it to be very interesting. It answers the question of "How safe is Japan?" in some details.

I will post some of that article here and the rest is here.

In Japan, paper advertisements hang from the ceilings of train cars. In how many other countries would that be a viable advertising option? Certainly not in my hometown of Melbourne. Back in Australia, the majority of those ads would not survive any given Saturday night.

The buttons that train guards push to play those pre-departure jingles: They are fully exposed! Anyone can walk up and push them. And yet nobody does. They would back home in Melbourne.

The fire extinguishers frequently found sitting out by the sidewalk: No one rolls them down the hill at 3 a.m. Amazing!

Fish tanks that are less than fully secured: Oh my! Back home, the occupants of those tanks would greet the Sunday sunrise floating on their backs in a murky goo.

Valuables: When you lose your wallet in Japan, chances are you'll get it back — cash intact and cards untouched.

Salarymen asleep on the train: They are woken at the terminus with a sympathetic prod by railway staff. Inevitably, the bag containing both laptop and wallet is still resting on the overhead rack.

The last train: Hundreds of drunken people sardined into carriages and not a hint of aggression. Back home, guys would be squaring off on every second platform.

Violent crime: The average victim of violent crime in Japan is attacked by someone they know. Random violence is rare. Perhaps this explains why it is so common to see solitary girls and women wandering home on narrow, dimly lit streets — even in the wee hours in the entertainment areas of big cities.

Police apprehension: It has become apparent in the last couple of years that the average member of the Japanese constabulary is not exactly fleet of foot. Could the extraordinary number of wanted criminals who simply walk into police boxes and give themselves up be one of the reasons why?

The incarceration rate: The prison population of Japan tends to hover around the 60 out of 100,000 mark. For most Western nations it is at least twice that number. For America, more than 700.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

iKnow.. Do you know?

After hitting my head against the wall for several days for not knowing about this before, here I am carrying to you one of the best news ever for Japanese language students.

iKnow is a free Japanese language teaching website that provides great tools and techniques to help you improve your Japanese. iKnow will help you increase your vocabulary not only for conversation purposes but also gives you a good helping hand in memorizing Kanji and building complete sentences. iKnow is suitable for beginners, intermediates and advanced students as well.

iKnow is divided into three main sections:

1. iKnow study:

iKnow study helps you in studying new vocabulary and memorizing them. iKnow gives you a chance to select your current level in Japanese and starts with you from the point where you think suits you best. This section will help you memorize around 6000 words and phrases along with their kanjis.

As shown in the pictures below, this section first starts by introducing the new word along with its Kanji, voice pronounciation, type and meaning. Then, the program puts this word in a useful sentence, along with the sentence's pronounciation and meaning while being pronounced in voice with fluent Japanese. After you memorize a couple of words, the program will start testing you and checking if you really memorized the previous words, or not. I can no more explain this, you have to see for yourself.

2. iKnow dictation:

This section improves your listening skills along with your writing skills. A sentence, which you already have learned in the previous section, is introduced and you are asked to fill in some blanks. To do so, you have to listen to the sentence a couple of times. The picture below shows iKnow dictation.

3. iKnow BrainSpeed:

This section is like a test or a quiz for all information you have learned in the previous two sections. Its fun and can help you realize how much this learning was useful to you.

After knowing about this program, I have been using it and it totally helped me improve my Japanese and Kanji collection. You have to try it too. Try it, and post your comments about it here.