Improved JLPT Registration Process

Registration for all levels of the JLPT has finally moved into the 21st century. Beginning now, you can register online for the test, and new forms of payment–credit card, convenience store payment or furikomi–are available. Of course, if you like wasting your nenkyu at the the post office, the old system of mail application is still in place.

Test registration for the July 1, 2012 test won’t open until April, but I decided to give the new MyJLPT system a try. See my screenshots and explanations of the system below the cut.

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December 2011 JLPT Applications Imminently Due

If you’re thinking about testing your Japanese language skill and standardized testing mettle this December 4, don’t forget to pick up a JLPT Application Guide, available at most major bookstores (the Utsunomiya Katamachi and Kanazawa Station branches definitely carry it).

Taking the test will run you ¥6,000 for application fees* and a few minutes at the post office during working hours to complete the certified mail process. Applications must be postmarked by September 30 October 3.

*I actually ended up paying ¥500 for the Application Guide, ¥5620 for the application fee, ¥240 for registered mailing and ¥700 for a new set of ID photos, totaling ¥7,060.

UPDATE: Due to an error with the ATM machines the JLPT application deadline has been EXTENDED to Oct. 3, 2011. All applications must be postmarked by then.

Joanna Clark is a 2nd year ALT in Kahoku currently studying for the N2.

Read the Kanji: Boredom-buster, study resource

Whether you’re bored at work or are an enterprising Japanese learner, “Read the Kanji” may be just the website you’ve been looking for.

Read the Kanji ( is a a bright, graphic quiz aimed at Japanese learners of all levels. With decks available for hiragana, katakana and kanji (decks are aimed at the old JLPT levels), you can set your difficulty—no worries, you can change it any time!—and go. The program has built-in hiragana assistance (i.e., even if you type in romaji, your text will appear in hiragana. No need for Japanese input capability!). Make sure to turn off Rikaichan or any other dictionary apps; the target kanji are presented in plain text.

The quiz format is customizable; show what you want, hide what you don't.

The preferences allow you to show or hide a variety of hints, such as English definitions, Japanese sentences and English sentences (all are shown in the screencap above). See your progress in colorful visuals and statistics.

"The Grid" shows your kanji (or word) proficiency in colors.

Feel the ego boost as more of your grid turns green over time. Each answer contributes to the algorithm’s calculation of your proficiency. (Tip: Don’t type too fast! Stupid mistakes are still counted in the calculation.) If the grid doesn’t enhance your experience, check out more detailed statistics about your progress (screencap below).

For the statistically-minded, check detailed information about your progress.

Unless you signed up for an account years ago and forgot about it like I did, you can “get your feet wet” with free access to the hiragana, katakana and JLPT 4 decks before buying. Once you’re convinced that this is one of the best time-wasters/study aids ever created, a yearly subscription is available for $20 (USD).


Joanna Clark is a 2nd year ALT in Kahoku City and a fan of technology, time-wasting and sometimes studying.

Zero Focus (『ゼロの焦点』): Intrigue, Murder, and Mystery in 1950s Ishikawa

Nothing says summer to me like a good mystery or horror film, and what better to kick off summer than one set in Ishikawa?

From the official Toho website.

Zero Focus, or 『ゼロの焦点』, is based on Matsumoto Seichô’s novel of the same name. Directed by Inudô Isshin, the 2009 film is a remake of the 1961 version. In the film, newlywed Uhara Teiko’s husband, a native of Ishikawa, travels to Kanazawa on a business trip and never returns. Teiko then travels to Ishikawa and finds herself caught up in a web of political intrigue.

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Why (some of you) SHOULD buy a denshi jisho

Electronic dictionaries are a great tool whether they be the free one on your iPod or a standalone 電子辞書. A couple months ago I finally took the plunge and bought a new electronic dictionary.  Compared to the one I bought more than seven years ago, I can say the quality of Japanese electronic dictionaries has gone up exponentially. And while free and readily available translation options will suit most foreign residents’ needs, there are many who can benefit from investing in a full-service electronic dictionary. Continue reading

Sign Up for the 2011-1 JLPT!

Sign up for the 2011-1 JLPT!

The 2011-1 Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) (日本語能力試験) will be held on 3 July 2011 and will cover all levels from N1 to N5.
Why take the test?
Setting a goal: Whether you’re a beginner or a semi-pro, having a goal will motivate you to study—and you’ll definitely learn more Japanese, which is always good!

Learning the test style: Taking the lower levels of the test will help you learn how to take the test.

Professional investment: The upper levels of the test (N1 and N2) are extremely useful for job applications in Japan-related fields. Certification will look good on your grad school applications, as well.

How to Apply
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Advanced Japanese: Suntory Saturday Waiting Bar Avanti


Watching TV and films either with Japanese subtitles or without subtitles is great for learning Japanese, but what do you do if you want to practice listening with no visual context, a la the JLPT?

I already listen to Japanese Pod 101’s audio blogs and lower/upper-intermediate lessons, but I wanted something with a higher quantity of advanced content. I searched Japanese iTunes for some language-learning podcasts, but, さすが、they were all for learning English! So I thought that perhaps I’d just listen to a regular Japanese podcast.

There’s a radio program broadcast by Tokyo FM on Saturday evenings called Suntory Saturday Waiting Bar Avanti (『サントリー・サタデー・ウェイティング・バーAVANTI』), the premise of which is an hour of conversations on a theme at the standing bar. The podcast version of the show is much shorter and starts with host DAN Shinya ordering a drink, usually a high ball, from Stan, the American bartender. He and the bartender begin chatting about something—the weather, the drink, or the news—and then he remembers a conversation he had with someone. The podcast turns to an interview/conversation with a novelist, actor, musician, academic, or other interesting person.

The AVANTI podcast is great for listening to short natural conversations in Japanese. The topics are quite varied—bicycle racing, coral reefs, Proust and memory, the Abrahamic religions, American food. This podcast will be most useful for those studying for the N1 level of the JLPT. It might be handy to have a dictionary on hand for your second listen in case you get one of the more intellectual or scientific ones, but most of them are directed at your average listener.

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2010-2 JLPT Results Are Coming!

It’s that time again, JETs! The Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT; 日本語能力試験) results will be mailed out on 10 Feb. 2011. If you do not receive your results by the 18th, contact the JLPT Information Service at  03-5454-5577.

If you took the N4 or N5, the official JLPT website published the scoring breakdown for the test on 31 January. (This link includes the breakdown for N1-N3 as well, but the passing scores have not changed since the 2010-1 test. Japanese version here.) Remember, you need both the overall passing score AND  the minimum passing score in each section to pass the test. (Read: you must pass all sections to pass the whole test. See this article for an explanation.)

The next exam (2011-1) will be held on Sunday, 3 July 2011 with check-in starting at noon. (Tests end around 16:00-16:30, depending on level). Details from JEES are linked here: (Japanese) (English). All levels will be offered. Registration by mail is from 24 March – 28 April and costs 5,500 yen. Look for a separate post about how to register in Ishikawa in March!

Leah Zoller is a second-year CIR in Anamizu and the editor of this blog. 能力試験に合格するように!