Tagged With japanese


Before my recent visit to Japan, I did the same obsessive research I always do before things like doctor visits or job interviews. Unfortunately, this usually means I walk into every doctor visit and job interview convinced I have a disease that affects one per cent of the population.


Learning a language for a trip is different from learning it on a large scale; Duolingo is way too comprehensive, as is anything that tries to build up from fundamentals of grammar. You need a few phrases, like “please” and “thank you,” “What does this mean?” and “Where is the bathroom?”

But most of the time, I needed just one word to feel less like an ugly tourist. I needed to say I’m sorry. Which is more complicated than it sounds.


On the fourth Sunday in April, Japanese parents descend on the shrines of Tokyo with their bundles of joy, which they promptly hand over to a sumo.

The two rikishi, babe in hand and weighing over 150 kilograms each, step into the ring. In a normal bout, they'd collide, trying to push each other out of the ring, but on this afternoon, it's the two infants that are the competitors.

This competition is all about seeing which infant can cry the loudest.