やった!!!N3合格しました!!! I passed JLPT N3!!

Woohoo!! I passed N3!!! I really really didn’t think I was going to pass, I only just passed by the skin of my teeth, but a pass is a pass, woop woop!! For those of you who don’t know the JLPT stands for the Japanese Language Proficiency Test, and N3 is the intermediate level exam! My goal is to pass N2 and so far I’m on the right track!

I passed!!!
I passed!!!

The N2 advanced level exam has a bit more of a focus on reading, than the tests that precede it, and as my ability has improved I find that naturally I want to read more and more!! 

Both Maruzen in Hakata Station and Junkudo in Tenjin have a good selection of English Language books and Japanese study materials. I find Junkudo has a bigger selection and that is where I found the “ask” Japanese Graded Readers. They are packs of short stories containing 5 books and an audio CD, where all of the language used is at a certain level. I find these have really helped me to increase my reading speed and also learn more about Japanese culture, the books being abridged versions of famous Japanese folk tales, stories and also some non-fiction. These packs of books can also be bought off the white rabbit website – shop.whiterabbitjapan.com

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Also I have just bought a book called, “New Penguin Parallel Text Short Stories in Japanese” , which contains short stories by Japanese authors, with the English translation on the left hand page and the Japanese translation on the right. So far it’s very interesting and I’m looking forward to reading more when I have more time.

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But first . . . I gotta finish reading “Norwegian Wood” by Haruki Murakami! I don’t know why I never picked it up before, but I’m halfway through and it’s brilliant!!! But this one I’m reading in English!  If you have any suggestions for other books by Japanese authors or extra study materials, please let me know in the comments.

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February 1st, has spring arrived??

Today was a beautiful day in Fukuoka/Hakata, 18 degrees, sunny, was gorgeous! It was the first day of the year that I didn’t need to wear my heat-tech leggings and coat! With the start of February comes the ume blossom season. Ume or Japanese Plum are the some of the first plants to bloom in the year, starting around the beginning of February, and signify the start of spring.

Out and about in town today I did come across some Ume flowers on the roof of Hakata station, so that does mean spring has arrived??? If today was anything to go by then, it’s here woop woop!!! But . . . if next week’s weather forecast is to be believed we have a whole week approaching with 90% chance of rain!!! booooooo!!!

Anyway I had a lovely day today, and here are some of my pictures of the first blooms of the year, other places in town to see Ume blossoms include, Maizuru Park, Nokonoshima Island and Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine which apparently has 6000 ume trees on it’s grounds! If I have time I might try and head out there next weekend and check it out, at least I will if this beautiful weather continues!

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Itoshima and Oysters

So oysters (カキ = kaki) are now in season here in Fukuoka, and as my boyfriend loves them, we went on a oyster hunt last weekend in Itoshima.  The chap at the toll on the highway, on discovering we were heading to Itoshima said, “Ah kaki ne”, and thrust a map through the car window.

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We took the exit at Maebaru and proceeded to hunt for kaki signs, we found a popular one but there was a 40 minute wait so we booked a table for later and headed up to Raizan Sennyoji Temple.  This temple is up in the mountains a bit and was very cold, but it really has a lot of atmosphere and is certainly the best temple I’ve been to in the region.

The maple tree in the front of the temple is 400 years old and there are queues getting here in the autumn as people want to see the tree and gardens with their red autumn foliage.  This temple has a lot of nice little features (which you will hopefully see in the pictures).

The best feature is the Buddha statue in the topmost building, that you must take your shoes off to enter. In intervals they will let you into the main room, where the monk plays a drum and sings some chants, then for newcomers they will give you a brief history of the temple.

Was a beautiful place, unfortunately we had to rush it as we had to head back to eat some delicious oysters!! But oysters should come with a warning! So please cook well before eating!!

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Reuse Japan Market

So yesterday I went to a large event called the Reuse Japan Market, which was basically like a large jumble sale or car boot sale held in Fukuoka Dome the local baseball stadium.

The aim of this event was not only to recycle old items you might just be planning to throw away but also reuse items in new ways. I saw an interesting example of this where one stall was making bags out of denim jeans, it’s very original and they looked good! I bought a whole range of stuff some used and some new from local (and international) jewellery designers. So here are some pictures of the event as well as the things I bought.

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Purchases include – 2 books, Patrick by Quentin Blake and Death of a Naturalist by Seamus Heaney. 2 necklaces, 3 brooches, a pair of earrings, a watch, a postcard and a pair of shoes! not bad for under ¥1万!!!

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Hello world! Hello 2014!

2014 is a new year and so far (it’s exceptionally early days!!!) I feel a new level of motivation and creativity and want to make this a year to really get more creative and focus more on the things I enjoy! I know this is a time when everyone is posting New Year’s Resolutions, but after I did a lesson on New Year’s Resolutions at one of my school’s, it actually made me think more about my own plans for this year.  So here goes . . .

  1. Tone up! Last year I started doing TRX, one of my friends is an instructor, and it’s really helped me build my strength! This year I want to take things a step further and do that bit more. 3 times a week is the plan!
  2. Speak Japanese! I took JLPT 3 in December (which I’m pretty sure I failed!!) but it was a really impetus to sit down and study, and because of that my vocab and grammar knowledge has really improved. But this year I need to stop just reading and start actually communicating!!
  3. Read more! I plan to read more books by Japanese authors and continuing from last year, finish reading the N3 Japanese reader library, but I also want to read more from the blogosphere about topics that interest me.
  4. Make friends! I need to meet more people, 2012 was a great year for meeting people and making friends but last year not so much, so I must try to get out there again!
  5. Create! I think practice makes perfect and I’m going to aim for quantity over quality here, until I get better at this!

This year I also hope I can be a better, kinder and more thoughtful, granddaughter, daughter, sister, friend and girlfriend. OK 2014, I’m ready, bring it on!

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2014 is the Chinese Zodiac Year of the Horse and the Kanji for horse is  馬