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New JF website: Hirogaru, get more of Japan and Japanese

We are delighted to announce the launch of Hirogaru, get more of Japan and Japanese, a Japanese learning website where you can enjoy studying Japanese through learning all about Japan. It is aimed at Japanese language learners with a proficiency level of A1 or A2 (Starter to Elementary) in the JF Standard for Japanese-Language Education.

Free and smartphone-responsive, Hirogaru enables Japanese learners of all kinds to:

  • Personally experience understanding and using basic Japanese

  • Engage with various aspects about Japan and the Japanese language through reading articles and watching movies related to 12 topics about Japan

  • Through user comments, learn more about not only Japan but also your own culture and the culture of places where other learners live.

Try it now at

New Resource ‘JF Japanese e-Learning Minato’ released!

The Japan Foundation London is delighted to announce the launch of a brand new e-learning platform for Japanese!

The Japan Foundation Japanese-Language Institute, Kansai  has released the Japanese language learning platform, JF Japanese e-Learning Minato ( ), in order to provide an opportunity to study Japanese for all those people in the world who may wish to begin learning, but cannot attend an actual Japanese language school.

The main course of Minato is the Marugoto Japanese Online Course, which we recommend for those who wish to comprehensively learn about the Japanese language and culture. With this course you can have an integrated learning experience by using interactive e-learning materials to study the language skills needed for communication (listening, speaking, reading, and writing).

Currently only the A1 Marugoto Course is available, but more levels will be released in the future. There are also Hiragana and Katakana self-study courses available.

Find out more here, and try it for yourself for free!

Yookoso (Welcome) Ukai-san!

Japan Foundation London are delighted to welcome the newest member of staff, Kanako Ukai, to the Japanese Language team as Assistant Japanese Language Advisor! Here is a message from Ukai-san:

「はじめまして。国際交流基金ロンドン日本文化センターに日本語教育指導助手として参りました、鵜飼香奈子です。今までアメリカ、タイ、モルドバ、日本で日本語教育に携わってきました。特に興味のあるテーマは社会言語学、多文化共生、教師の成長です。ロンドンは昨年UCL IOEで1年間応用言語学を学んでいたこともあり、2度目となりますがまだまだ知らないことも多く、これからも色々な事を学んでいきたいと思いますので、どうぞよろしくお願いいたします。」

"My name is Kanako Ukai and I am Assistant Japanese Language Advisor at the Japan Foundation, London. I have taught Japanese in America, Thailand, Moldova and Japan. I am particularly interested in sociolinguistics, multiculturalism and teachers development within Japanese language education. I studied MA Applied linguistics at UCL IOE last year, so I am very happy to come back and be able to work in the UK. Thank you very much." 

New & improved directory of establishments teaching Japanese in the United Kingdom

Japan Foundation London has launched a new directory of establishments teaching Japanese in the UK, based on the basic, public information provided by all establishments that contributed to our Japan Foundation Survey on Japanese Language Education in the UK 2015.

This directory includes all schools, universities, colleges and other establishments that our records show are teaching Japanese language. Those looking to learn Japanese can use the list to find the right course for them, while teachers of Japanese and other members of Japanese teaching establishments can use the list to build stronger links with this network.

You can read more about this directory and download it yourself here

Nihongo Cup Japanese Speech Contest for Secondary School Students 2016

The ideal school, Japanese food and Japanese literature were some of the topics explored in the outstanding speeches given by the finalists of the Nihongo Cup Japanese Speech Contest for Secondary School Students 2016, which was held on 18th June at Conway Hall in London.

The 18 finalists, who had been selected from 147 applicants from 20 different schools across the UK, all demonstrated great creativity, thoughtfulness and incredible ability in Japanese in performing their speeches – not to mention extraordinary courage to present their ideas in a foreign language to an audience of over 100 people!

Between each of the three categories of speeches, the audience had the opportunity to watch a performance of a Japanese story featuring music and song by some very talented school students, and have a go at “radio taisō” exercises!

Due to the extremely high level of Japanese and the thought-provoking content of the speeches delivered by all finalists, the judges had extremely difficult decisions to make when choosing the final winners of the 2015 Nihongo Cup. In the end, Shanara Atukorala of Greenford High School came first in the Key Stage 4 and 5 Post-GCSE for her review of the Japanese story “Ooi, Detekooi ,” winning the top prize of a trip to Japan courtesy of JOBA’s Japanese Speech Awards! In the pre-GCSE category, Taranpreet Kalra (also from Greenford High School) won first prize for her speech about racial discrimination, while Krishanth Dilrukshan came first in the Key Stage 3 category.

Many congratulations and a big thank-you to everyone who came together to make the day such a success. The full results of the contest are as follows:

Key Stage 4 and 5 Post-GCSE Category
Shanara Atukorala (Greenford High School, Year 13) Speech title: “Ooi, Detekooi  Review”
2nd Prize:  Amy Watson (Wolfreton School and Sixth form College, Year 12) Speech title: “Literature and Women”
3rd Prize:  Alex Wang (Eton College, Year 12) Speech title:  “Nattō”

Cameron Thater (Aquinas College, Year 13)  Speech title:  “The Importance of Language”
Hei Tung Cheng   (Wolverhampton Girls' High School , Year 12) Speech title:  “Proverbs”
Joy Chu (Wycliffe College , Year 13) Speech title: “Hidden Secrets in Films”

Key Stage 4 and 5 Pre-GCSE Category
Taranpreet Kalra (Greenford High School, Year 11 )  Speech title:  “Is There Racial Discrimination?”
2nd Prize:  Joseph Wang (Eton College, Year 11) Speech title: “The Differences in Societies Between Japan and the West”
3rd Prize: Joseph Barber (Whitgift School, Year 10) Speech title: “Japanese Packed Lunch”

Tahsin Ali (Tile Hill Wood School, Year 10)  Speech title: “My Country and Religion”
Anastaseia Talalakina (St Helen’s School, Year 11)  Speech title: “My Exchange School”
Da-Young Kim (St Helen’s School,  Year 11) Speech title: “My Favourite Video Game”

Key Stage 3 Category (Speech theme: “My Ideal School”)
Krishanth Dilrukshan (Dartford Grammar School, Year 9)
2nd Prize: Alex Quinlan (Campion School, Year 9)
3rd Prize: Oliver Tolson Boxall (Aylesbury Grammar School, Year 8)

Maryam Jaama (Greenford High School , Year 9)
Theo Hall (Hockerill Anglo-European College, Year 9)  
Olivia Boutell (Hockerill Anglo-European College, Year 8)

The event was organised by the Japanese Language Committee of the Association for Language Learning, in association with the Japan Foundation London.

We are very grateful to Japan Centre, JOBA, JP Books, LinguaLift, Oxford Brookes University, Ricoh UK and Toshiba of Europe Limited donating prizes, to the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation and Sumisho Computer Systems for their generous sponsorship, and to the Embassy of Japan for their support.

More photos from the contest can be viewed on our Facebook page here.

You can download the event programme with details of all the speeches and judges below.

Download Attachment

Japanese for ALTs - Exclusive beginner’s Japanese class for 2016 JET participants

Basic language skills in Japanese are crucial for getting the most out of your time in Japan, but learning Japanese can be daunting at first. For this reason, the Japan Foundation are delighted to offer this exclusive beginner’s Japanese language course and accompanying textbook for Assistant Language Teachers (ALTs) embarking on the JET Programme in 2016. This course will give participants the opportunity to learn and practice essential Japanese for daily life and meaningful communication in Japan, including:

  • How to introduce yourself

  • Food, likes and dislikes

  • Useful expressions for working in schools

  • Valuable cultural tips and insights

Date: 17th July 2016 (Sun)   Time: 13:30 – 16:30 
Royal Asiatic Society, 14 Stephenson Way, London. NW1 2HD
Participation Fee: £20.00 The course fee includes a copy of Marugoto Coursebook for Activities, published by the Japan Foundation.


DEADLINE FOR APPLICATIONS: Monday July 11th 2016, 12:00pm

Invitation to Tender 2016

The Japan Foundation London is inviting travel agents based in the UK to submit their offer for the service of coordinating an organised group tour to Japan in this autumn. The necessarily procedures and specifications can be downloaded below.

Because of the nature of the tour (i.e. most of the arrangements will occur within Japan), all the information as well as communication concerning this procedure is either provided or conducted only in Japanese.

Download Attachment

New Japan Foundation website: "Listen Together : The Songs of Japan" 「みんなで聞こう 日本の歌」

We are very excited to announce the release of a brand new online resource for learners and teachers of Japanese!

"Listen Together : The Songs of Japan" 「みんなで聞こう 日本の歌」 is a site where you can search for and listen to Japanese songs that suit your interests and the level of your Japanese language ability. Aimed at students of Japanese language and people from around the world who are interested in Japanese songs, language, and culture, this website features a collection of Japanese songs catalogued according to genre, theme, level of Japanese language difficulty, title, view ranking, and so forth.

The videos include lyrics that can be displayed in hiragana, katakana, or romaji. You can also download printable lyric sheets. The site is fully compatible with smartphones and tablets as well as standard desktop browsers.

The songs featured on “Listen Together” are traditional or independently produced.

We hope teachers and learners alike will enjoy using this resource! If you have any feedback, or even videos of you or your students singing these songs, please do share them with us! Take a look for yourself at

A Japanese press release for “Listen Together: The Songs of Japan” can be found here.

Japanese for Juniors – All About Japanese Dolls!

On May 28th 2016, more than 40 children and grown-ups came along to the “Japanese for Juniors” workshop held at Conway Hall by the Japan Foundation London, in which they learned a little Japanese language and culture while making origami Japanese dolls!

The workshop instructor, Mio Tsunematsu, introduced the meanings of different kinds of traditional Japanese dolls, and explained the culture associated with them. She also taught words in Japanese for describing dolls and toys, such as kawaii (cute) and kakkoii (cool), in addition to words and expressions that would help the participants when making origami, like different colours in Japanese.

Tsunematsu-sensei then explained how to make three types of Japanese doll through origami – hina ningyou, daruma and kokeshi. She explained this in Japanese with English interpretation, allowing participants to hear native Japanese language spoken naturally. Towards the end, all participants enjoyed watching a video to see how wooden kokeshi dolls are hand-crafted in Japan.

Although it was quite a challenge to make origami dolls, the children (and their accompanying grown-ups!) worked very hard and everyone did a fantastic job of making beautiful, kawaii dolls to take home with them. Many children were delighted with their achievements and said “yatta!” and “dekita!” (“I did it!”), Japanese words which they had just learned!

Some of the participants’ feedback included:

“Very well organised, staffed and resourced. Knowledgeable and kind (and patient!) staff who were excellent with the children. A lovely way to bring language and culture together.”
“Very, very good! My boys had fun and learned some Japanese. I could practise some Japanese too!”
“It was amazing to learn about Japanese culture through doll making!”

We would like to thank everyone who came to our workshop – ARIGATOU GOZAIMASHITA!

You can view photos from this event at the Japan Foundation Facebook page here.

Marugoto Teacher survey

JFロンドンでは、JFスタンダード準拠教材『まるごと 日本のことばと文化』を使っている英国の先生方に対するサポートを企画しています。現在使用されている、または使用を検討している先生方は、かんたんなアンケートへのご協力をお願いいたします。 


If you teach Japanese using Marugoto text books with your students OR if you are considering using Marugoto in the future we would love to hear from you. We are thinking about setting up more support for teachers in the UK, so we'd like to find out who actually uses these textbooks, and what kind of support you might need.

If you teach using Marugoto please fill in our short questionnaire here.

If you would like to find out more about Marugoto, please take a look at the Marugoto Introduction page

Japanese Show and Tell - Online Resource Workshop

On the 26th and 28th of April 2016 two groups of independent learners of Japanese joined Mio Tsunematsu, the assistant Japanese language advisor at the Japan Foundation London, to find out more about online resources available for Japanese language learning.

The event took place in King’s College London’s Language Resource Centre, so each attendee had access to a computer and the chance to try out resources for themselves. The workshop included an in-depth explanation of Marugoto Plus A2, a free website created by the Japan Foundation designed to help people study Japanese in their own time. Participants also had the chance to try out some of their new Japanese language skills in conversations with each other. The event finished with time for people to exchange ideas and tips about supporting Japanese language learning.

One participant commented, “I was aware of the website but it was interesting to be shown how to use it effectively.” Another told us the following: “The event looked very well organised with professional, enthusiastic and warm people helping out, which is very much appreciated when you are a complete starter like myself. I felt welcomed from the moment I walked in. Arigatou.”

We'd like to thank all the participants, and of course all the staff at King's College London, for making this event such a success!

We hope all participants will be able to continue Japanese with the resources introduced during these events. 

Japan Conference for Schools 2016

On March 7th 2016 nearly 100 participants joined the Japan Conference for Schools, held at the British Council in London.  Co-organised by the British Council, the Japan Foundation and the Japan Society, the event was an opportunity for teachers to network and share practical ideas about projects for introducing Japanese into their schools or to enhance their existing Japan-related activities.

The event started with a welcome message from Mr Mark Herbert, the Head of Schools at the British Council and Minister Motohiko Kato, Minister Plenipotentiary from the Embassy of Japan. Next Baroness Jean Coussins, Co-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Modern Languages in the House of Lords spoke about language education in the UK and how important it is to maintain less-widely taught languages like Japanese. Alan Greaves, from the Wavell School mentioned that it was “fascinating to hear insight into the workings of government by Baroness Coussins.” Participants were then transported to Japan with a performance from Hibiki Shamisen, who can visit schools to show off the beautiful sound of their Tsugaru shamisen.

This was followed by a full day of workshops and group discussions. There were cultural-related workshops teaching sushi, origami, kamishibai (Japanese storytelling), and calligraphy. In addition to this teachers could hear from Pearson about the new Japanese GCSEs, or learn about flipped learning resources or resources for primary level Japanese. Severine Mizeret from Gunton Academy told us the “calligraphy and sushi were fantastic workshops.” Mary-Grace Browning from County Upper School said that the “flipped learning was excellent- Just what I need!”

There were also group discussions on a wide range of topics from school linking and science exchanges to how to introduce Japanese into schools, how to prepare students for speaking exams, and an introduction to Online Resource for Japanese Archaeology and Cultural Heritage (ORJAC). There was lots of good feedback for each session.  One teacher commented , “This was a really great event. As someone who knows a little (and not a lot!) of Japanese, I feel much more confident to teach the language.”

This year the conference had a fantastic turnout and included diverse mix of both primary and secondary schools, and was also a mix of schools that teach Japanese already, schools that are hoping to start as well as schools that run Japan related activities as clubs or as cross-curricular activities. Thank you to all the participants, speakers and the other organisers for making the conference such a success. We hope to see you again next year!

*Handouts from the conference are available to download below.*
**Photos supplied by the Japan Foundation London. More are available on our facebook page here

Download Attachment

Japan Foundation at the Language Show Live Scotland 2016

A big thank you to everyone who visited the Japan Foundation’s stand at the Language Show Live Scotland on March 10th and 11th at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre (SECC).

The Japan Foundation’s stand gave visitors a chance to experience Japanese language and culture, including having a go at origami and contributing to our research into Japanese language education in the UK by taking part in our survey.

On Saturday, we were very lucky to be joined by Mihoko Pooley, Japanese language teacher at the University of Edinburgh, who held a Japanese Language Taster session. It was one of the most popular language tasters at the show, attended by enthusiastic language learners of all ages who learned some basic Japanese including greetings, self introductions and the writing system.

We would like to thank Pooley-sensei  and all visitors for sharing in our Language Show experience.  Doumo arigatou gozaimashita!

Japan Foundation will also be attending the 2016 Language Show Live in London on October 14th – 16th. We hope to see you there!

The Eleventh Japanese Speech Contest for University Students Finals Day

Chinese culture and society, gender roles in Japan and the drinking culture of Britain were some of the fascinating topics explored by finalists in the Eleventh Japanese Speech Contest for University Students, which was held on February 27th 2016 at SOAS University of London.

The day began with the Individual Presentation category finalists, all of whom are studying Japanese at post-beginner level. The presentations were all of a very high standard and it was very difficult for the judges to decide the winner. However, the first prize eventually went to Dennis Sun, a 1st year student from SOAS, for his powerful and enlightening presentation on “The Internet in China.” In second place was Danny Wray, a 2nd year student at the University of Bristol, for his highly entertaining and animated presentation entitled “Guinness: Ireland's National Drink.”

Speaking about his success, Dennis said, “I decided to enter the contest to give myself a challenge. Having been to Japan on exchange visits, I’d become more or less comfortable speaking Japanese casually among friends, so I wanted to take that a step further and practice my formal public speaking skills...On the day I was impressed not just by everyone’s level of Japanese but also by the genuinely fascinating contents of their various speeches and presentations.”

The Individual Presentation Category was followed by the Speech Category. All six finalists demonstrated not only exceptional Japanese ability, but also a great degree of insight and knowledge of their chosen subjects. After much deliberation, first prize was awarded to Laura Onciu, a 3rd  year student at Newcastle University who was a finalist in the Individual Presentation Category at the Ninth Japanese Speech Contest, for her thought-provoking speech on “"Norms" that create reverse discrimination - Adverse effects of conventional wisdom in Japan.” Laura's prizes included prize money, a Japan rail pass and a plane ticket to Japan! The second prize was awarded to Joseph McElhill, a 3rd year at the University of Leeds, for his engaging speech on the theme of “The Importance of Non-Verbal Communication when learning Languages”. The third prize was awarded to Wanming Ding, who gave a fascinating insight into “Japanese anime: the reasons for its success and problems with further development.”

On explaining why she decided to enter the contest, one of the finalists in the Speech Category, Rosanna Jackson, commented, “There aren't many opportunities to have an audience of Japanese speakers who you can directly tell how you feel about an aspect of their society or your own society. It's an opportunity to start dialogue, no matter how small and that's why I entered the contest.”

This year’s Group Presentation Category gave beginner-level students the chance to give presentations on a topic of their choice. The four outstanding groups that made it through to Saturday’s finals were chosen from an initial 17 groups that applied, and represented University College London, SOAS University of London, Aston University and Imperial College London. They gave talks on “Traditional Chinese Festivals,” “Anime in our countries,” “Differences between England and China” and “South Kensington's Museum.” These groups were not placed individually, but instead received special prizes based on their chosen topics.

We would like to thank all participants, their teachers and supporters, the judges, audience members and BATJ for making the contest such a success. In addition, special thanks must go to the generous sponsors: Baker & McKenzie LLP, Bloomberg L.P., Central Japan Railway Company, Gendai Travel Limited, The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation, Japan Airlines, Japan Centre, Job Tessio Inc., JP BOOKS, NHK World, Nikkei Europe Ltd., Oxford Brookes University, Ricoh UK Ltd, SOAS University of London, and Toshiba of Europe Ltd.

We would like to encourage as many undergraduate students of Japanese language as possible to apply for next year’s contest! Finally, students still at school may be interesting in applying for the Nihongo Cup Japanese Speech Contest for Secondary Schools, the deadline for which is March 31st 2016.

You can download the full results of the contest below.

All photos from the contest can be viewed at our Facebook page here.

Download Attachment

Japanese Tasters for Schools (JTS) Sessions in 2016
JTS taster at Hunton Church of England Primary School JTS taster at Hunton Church of England Primary School

These are some of the Japanese taster sessions that our volunteers in the Japanese Tasters for Schools (JTS) Programme have held in schools around the UK this year so far. We would like to thank all the volunteers for their extremely hard work on the programme!

If you would like to arrange a Japanese Taster Session at your school, or if you speak good Japanese and you would like to become a JTS volunteer yourself, click here to find out more about the JTS Programme.

Longsands Academy, July 15th 2016
Secondary Academy Converter in Cambridgeshire
Aims of taster: Part of the school Arts Week with a focus on Internationalism
Activities in taster: Japanese numbers, Japanese greetings, writing names in Japanese
Feedback: "[The volunteer] was extremely helpful on the day and interacted really well with our students. We are very grateful to her for coming to deliver such a varied session covering aspects of Japanese language and culture which engaged our students."
After the taster...The school has been awarded funding through our Japanese Language Local Project Support Programme to help them launch Japanese classes.

Chaddesley Corbett Endowed Primary School, July 14th 2016
Voluntary Aided Primary School in Worcestershire
Aims of taster: The school intends  to replace French with Japanese throughout Key Stage 2.
Activities in taster: Greetings in Japanese, learning about Japanese school life, “Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” in Japanese, making origami cats, learning Japanese numbers
Feedback: "Today's lessons were excellent. They were very well planned and included a lot of practical activity which really got the children engaged. [The volunteer] taught them interesting aspects of Japanese life and showed relevant photographs and props. The children were really interested and behaved very well. The quality of the questions they asked..showed the level of their interest. [The volunteer] was extremely positive and engaging. We were all really impressed." (Mrs James, Headteacher)
After the taster...The school has been awarded funding through our Japanese Language Local Project Support Programme to help them launch Japanese classes.

St Anthony's Catholic Primary School, June 24th 2016
Voluntary Aided Primary School in Southwark
Aims of taster: The class is learning about Japan for a whole half-term as a cross-curricular project.
Activities in taster: Greetings with bowing, learning about the Tanabata “Star Festival” and making Tanabata wishes, learning Japanese numbers, self-introductions in Japanese
Feedback: "I would like to sincerely thank Kyoko for a wonderful session- the children loved it and learned so much! She was a fantastic teacher who had the children engaged and interested throughout. The children were all asking whether she would be coming back to teach them next week!”
After the taster... The taster was featured on the class blog here.

Ilford County High School March 21st 2016

Community Secondary School in Redbridge
Aims of taster: To promote language learning and exposure to different cultures, preceding the school’s international day celebrations later in the year.
Activities in taster: Greetings, self-introductions,  numbers 1-100 in Japanese with kanji characters, saying age in Japanese, colours in Japanese, making bookmarks, introduction to Japanese writing
Feedback: "It was an insightful experience for the students and they enjoyed every aspect of it." (Mr Ababio, Head of Department)

Laureate Community Primary School and Nursery  March 21st 2016
Community Primary School in Suffolk
Aims of taster: Part of the school’s 'Japan Day', following on from having read the book Kensuke's Kingdom by Michael Morpurgo throughout the term.
Activities in taster: Greetings, classroom expressions and self-introductions in Japanese, numbers 1-10 in Japanese with kanji characters, practising words from Kensuke’s Kingdom.
Feedback: "An excellent, fun and enjoyable morning" (Mr Wayland, Class Teacher)
After the taster...The school has enquired about resources for teaching primary Japanese.

Abbey Court Community Special School   March 9th 2016
Community Special School in Medway
Aims of taster: Part of the school’s Japan Day for Key Stage 3 students
Activities in taster: Greetings in Japanese, counting numbers 1-10, singing a Japanese song, introduction to kanji.
Feedback: " I would very much like to commend the Japan Foundation on what they aim to do. It was an amazing experience you facilitated to allow our special pupils the opportunity to learn some basic Japanese in their own safe and fun environment. [The volunteer] was brilliant and settled very well to delivering each session that fit our pupils perfectly." (Mrs Bright, Class Teacher)
After the taster...The visit was featured in the school newsletter, which you can download here (visit report with photos on p.9). You can view more photos from the visit here.

Hunton Church of England Primary School   February 26th 2016
Voluntary Aided Primary School in Kent
Aims of taster: Part of the school’s “International Day” and to support the school’s newly-launched Japanese classes
Activities in taster: Introduction to Japan, Japan Quiz, learning greetings in Japanese to the tune of “Frere Jacques,” learning Japanese numbers, origami
Feedback: "Very well planned, exciting, interesting, fun and most importantly appropriate for the ages and the ability of the children taught. The children now excited to learn more about the language and the culture." (Mrs Gibbs-Naguar, Headteacher)
A report, including photos and a videos, from the visit can be found on the school’s website here.
After the taster...This school now teaches Japanese lessons, funded by the Japan Foundation’s Local Project Support Programme.

Baylis Court School  February 4th 2016
Secondary Academy in Slough
Aims of taster: Part of the school’s PSHE day which involved learning about the wider community, combining Geography with MFL  to get students to think about the importance of learning a language.
Activities in taster: Self introduction in Japanese (including bowing and Japanese sign language), learning the numbers 1-10 in Japanese, introduction to the Japanese film “My Neighbour Totoro”
Feedback: " "Fantastic, very fun and enthusiastic and interesting"

After the taster...The school is interested in finding a teacher to run Japanese classes.

The Wyvern School (Buxford)   January 29th 2016
Foundation Special Secondary School in Kent
Aims of taster: Part of an art project looking at Japanese ceramics
Activities in taster: Greetings in Japanese, Japanese numbers, singing a Japanese song, writing Japanese characters
Feedback: "Very well planned and appropriate for the ages and the ability of the children taught. The children were very excited and talked about it for a long time after. It added an extra dimension to our topic on Japan." (Mrs Copeland, Art Teacher)

Riverside School, January 22nd 2016
Secondary Free School in Barking
Activities in taster: Greetings in Japanese, quiz about Japan, numbers 1-100 in Japanese, learning names in Japanese katakana characters
Feedback: "The students loved the taster. The delivery was very professional and the volunteers exceptional." (Miss Moseley, Head of Languages)
After the taster...The school now wants to set up an extra-curricular Japanese club

Carden Primary School   January 22nd 2016
Community Primary School in Brighton
Aims of taster: Part of a “Japan Day.” The school was also interested in teaching Japanese.
Activities in taster: Self-introductions in Japanese, making origami samurai helmets, writing names in Japanese
Feedback: "Both [volunteers] delivered a lovely activity that all that engaged all the children.”  (Mr McEwen, Head of KS2)
After the taster...The volunteer who ran the JTS taster now teaches a regular Japanese club at the school

Maria Fidelis Roman Catholic Convent School FCJ   January 11th 2016
Voluntary Aided Secondary School in Camden
Aims of taster: To explore the possibility of launching extra-curricular Japanese classes
Activities in taster: Introduction to Japan, introducing numbers 1-10 in Japanese, Japanese kanji characters, Japanese self-introductions with bowing, telling the Japanese story of Tanabata.
Feedback: "The lesson was very well received and as a result, [the volunteer] has come back to deliver more lessons for our pupils.”  (Mr Anthony, Deputy Headteacher)
After the taster...The volunteer who ran the JTS taster now teaches a regular Japanese club at the school

Husborne Crawley Lower School   January 6th 2016
Community Primary School in Central Bedfordshire
Aims of taster: The school are interested in all things Japanese, and are interested in teaching Japanese
Activities in taster: Greetings in Japanese, Japanese numbers, singing a Japanese song, writing Japanese characters
Feedback: "Very well planned and appropriate for the ages and the ability of the children taught. The children now want to learn Japanese and find out more about Japan" (Mrs Isaacs, Headteacher)
After the taster...The school has since expressed an interested in offering Japanese language classes.

JFL Japanese Scheme of Work for primary schools - Units 7-8

We are delighted to share the latest two units of the JFL Scheme of Work for primary schools, written by Mr Makoto Netsu, the Chief Language Advisor for the Japan Foundation London as well as Dr Seiji Fukushima, former Chief Language Advisor and Dr Norifumi Hida, a specialist in drama education. You can download these units below. These resources include lesson plans, interactive whiteboard files, activites and more!

Unit 7: Trip to Japan
Unit 8: Red Demon Cried (Japanese story)

We will add these resources to the JFL Japanese Scheme of Work for primary schools page in the new year in 2016.

Download Attachment

A Japan Adventure of a Lifetime on the Japanese-Language Programme for Outstanding Students of JF Japanese-Language Courses 2015

The Japan Foundation are delighted to say okaerinasai (welcome back!) to Kelvin Liu, the UK participant of the Japanese-Language Programme for Outstanding Students of JF Japanese-Language Courses 2015. In this programme, a participant of the Japan Foundation’s Marugoto Japanese Language & Culture  was selected to visit the Japan Foundation Japanese Language Institute, Kansai in Japan and to take part in activities to deepen their knowledge of Japanese language, society, and culture.

We interviewed Kelvin to find out what he thought about the programme and to hear all about his exciting experiences....


What did you like most about the Programme?

“The programme had exceeded all expectations by far. I was looked after from even before I flew from the UK to the minute of departure. My stay at Kansai Centre was great as the facilities at the centre was very good and all staff were very friendly and helpful. The location of the centre was conveniently sited, being next to Kansai Airport and within easy reach from Osaka. The location itself, Rinku Town was brilliant too as it offered a variety of shops and entertainment options. Each day was exceptionally great both during official hours as well as after hours. There was not a single day which I felt was average. Although this was mainly a study trip, there was still time in the evenings to do some of things I wanted to do like riding the Rinku Town Ferris wheel with others.

I was with 28 other participants from various countries and had the chance to practice speaking Japanese on a daily bases with someone who is also a learner. Although I was probably the weakest one in the group in terms of language ability being Elementary and not even done JLPT N5 and at times had difficulties understanding, nevertheless I still had great fun speaking the language and testing my language abilities to the limit. In the end, I made a lot of international friends and we still keep in contact via the Facebook group which I had created and through an instant messaging chat room. 

The time when the programme took place was ideal. Being in autumn, I had the exclusive opportunity to see for myself what momiji (the red autumn leaves) is all about and learn why Japanese people appreciate the season so much. Furthermore, the Osaka Orienteering task took place on the 31st October which conveniently placed me in the city to witness how Japanese people do Halloween, which is very different to what we see here. It was 100 times better and the costumes varied hugely from being super kawaii (cute) to super kowai (scary).

The day which particularly touched me was the day when we visited the elementary school. The children were very well behaved, friendly and "genki" (lively). I have only ever witnessed a Japanese school in anime and films of which school settings are very popular. This visit has allowed me to experience what a typical school day for a young Japanese person is and see how a school is ran. Next time I watch something, I can better understand the scene setting and surroundings.”

How did the Programme help you to learn about Japanese and Japan?

“I returned to the UK knowing much more about Japan than I had before I left. I learnt about school and the Japanese education system. I gained keeper knowledge about religions in Japan and its shrine/temple culture and how Japanese people worship their kami-sama (gods).

By undertaking the two cultural activities, I gained a deeper knowledge into ikebana (flower arranging) and sadou (tea ceremony), for example, I never realised that conducting a tea ceremony involves so much work and such there are three year courses available just to learn how to serve tea! In the two hours I was there, I must have only had a brief glimpse of the art of sadou.

I had definitely improved on my conversational Japanese especially the usage of informal words, which wasn't taught in the Marugoto course or in past self-study text books.”

Do you have any advice for Japanese language learners thinking of going to Japan to study?

“My advice is just to go for it. It is very different between reading up about something to actually being there to experience it and speaking the language on a daily basis. Lots of knowledge to be gained, lots of fun, laughter and potentially friends for life.” 


We may be offering the chance to participate in the Japanese-Language Programme for Outstanding Students of JF Japanese-Language Courses 2015 to participants of our Marugoto courses in the future. If you would like to receive updates about enrolment on the Marugoto courses and all our other activities, please sign up for our e-bulletin here.

Japanese Plus: Let’s Speak Kansai Dialect!

Yayakoshii (difficult), chau (different) and akan (no good) were some of the words of Kansai-ben (the dialect of Osaka and the surrounding Kansai region) that participants learned at the Japan Foundation’s Japanese Plus course for advanced learners of Japanese, which ran 11th – 19th November.

The course, attended by 36 participants in total over the course of two weeks, was led by the Japan Foundation’s Assistant Japanese Language Advisor, Mio Tsunematsu – who is also a native speaker of Kansai-ben. First, Tsunematsu-sensei introduced the Kansai region of Japan, and the image that Japanese people have of Kansai’s culture. She then taught participants the characteristic pronunciation, grammar and vocabulary that distinguishes Kansai-ben from standard Japanese. Participants had plenty of opportunities to have fun practising listening, speaking, reading and writing skills using Kansai-ben while learning more about Kansai culture: They listened to songs sung in Kansai-ben, read manga written in Kansai-ben, watched manzai (double-act comedy originating from Osaka) and even had a go at Osakan comedic art of nori-tsukkomi (playing along with a joke) by pretending to use bananas and chopsticks as phones and pens!

The participants had a lot of fun learning Kansai-ben, with many describing the course as “omorokatta” (“fun” in Kansai-ben)

We’d like to thank all participants for taking part in Japanese Plus, and we hope to see more people take part in our next course!

To learn more about Japanese Plus, please click here.

Photos from this event can be found on our Facebook page here.

Japanese Taster for Schools (JTS) Programme Volunteer Training Day November 2015

On November 16th 2015, 24 current and prospective volunteers attended a Training Day for the Japan Foundation’s Japanese Taster for Schools (JTS) Programme, in which native and fluent Japanese speakers conduct free Japanese taster sessions in UK schools. The Training Day was held at Conway Hall in London.

After an overview for new volunteers about the Japan Foundation and the JTS programme itself, the participants heard reports from volunteers who had held Japanese tasters at schools via the JTS Programme. Miss Lisa Barrett reported on her visit to The Priory School, which was an unusual taster as not only students, but also the teachers, took part as part of a staff training session. Next, Dr Eunmi Pearson talked about her visit to Reading School, which had been a complex visit involving 4 volunteers but had gone really well.

This was followed by workshops held by two of the JTS Programme’s most experienced volunteers. Mrs Kyoko Delaforce, who has been volunteering for JTS for over 2 years and has visited 8 schools, presented some of the ways to teach Japanese in Primary Schools, including the use of song. She was followed by Ms Emi Yabe, who has been a JTS volunteer for over 5 years and has visited 19 schools, and she presented on teaching activities for Secondary School pupils.

At the end, the Japan Foundation announced that we would now be issuing certificates and prizes to volunteers  according to the number of schools they had visited, and presented volunteers present at the training day with a Silver or Gold certificate plus prizes.

All the volunteers enjoyed the training day and said that they found it useful. Miss Sarah Dopierala, who was attending the training day for the first time, said, “I was glad to meet people in our taster community and to get such wonderful ideas for sessions.”

We would like to thank all participants for coming, especially our guest speakers!

Photos from the event can be found here.

If you are interested in taking part in the JTS programme as a volunteer, please click here for more information.

D.I.Y. Japanese Club! Extra-Curricular Japanese Resources & Ideas Sharing Workshop

On the 29th  October, 26 teachers came to Conway Hall to share ideas about how to teach Japanese as a club activity in schools. The event involved presentations by school teachers about their Japanese club activities, followed by discussion time to allow all the participants to share their own experiences and ideas.

First Alan Greaves from The Wavell School spoke about how students can experience Japan without ever leaving the UK. He shared ideas for excursions, such as visiting Club Taishikan, various museums, Japanese schools, Hyper Japan, a taiko drumming concert and Chiddingstone Castle. He also shared his school procedures and tips for ensuring excursions are fun, rewarding and safe. You can view videos of what Alan’s students thought about their trips here.

Next Yoko Leedham, from Thomas Hardye School, shared her ideas to help teach basic sentences in Japanese. She showed how she builds up students’ vocabulary at the same time as teaching hiragana, then how she teaches basic sentence structures to allow students to be able to say quite a lot, even with limited contact time. 

This was followed by Dr Marina Sereda-Linley who introduced several te-asobi songs, including the original Japanese, the romaji versions, and their English translations. These would be excellent examples of authentic texts that could be fun to teach to children along with their hand gestures.  

Lastly the Japan Foundation’s Assistant Japanese Language Advisor, Mio Tsunematsu, introduced her interactive lesson to teach about Japanese bento boxes. The participants then all had a go speaking to each other in Japanese to discover their food preferences so they could design each other a perfect bento box.

One participant, Tiki Ebun-Cole, commented that it was “great to come to these events as it’s a way of feeling connected to Japan and others working in promoting Japanese language and culture.” Another mentioned that there were “so many great ideas to take back to school!” The Japan Foundation would like to thank all the fantastic teachers that were willing to share their ideas.

If you are interested in the ideas and resources shared during this event, they are all available to download below.

Download Attachment

Japan Foundation at Japan Matsuri 2015

Japan Matsuri returned to Trafalgar Square in London on Saturday 19th September 2015. This popular annual festival brings members of the Japanese community and Londoners together to enjoy the many aspects of Japan with Japanese food, music, dance and other activities.

The Japan Foundation ran a stall at the festival providing information about studying Japanese in the UK, useful handouts about our support for schools and details about all of our upcoming events.  In addition, we held a Japan Quiz, which 700 people entered.

The answers to the quiz were as follows:

1. What colour is the Japanese flag?

a) Red and yellow     b) Red and white       c) Pink and white

ANSWER b) The Japanese flag is a red circle on a white background

2. What is the Japanese art of artistic paper folding called?

a) Origami             b) Kendo              c) Karaoke

ANSWER a) Origami literally means “folding paper”

3. The kanji (Japanese character) (hana) means “flower” and the kanji  (hi) means “fire.” What do you think their combination, 花火(hanabi) means?

a) Daisy   b) Explosion   c) Firework

ANSWER c) “Hanabi” means “firework” in Japanese.

Out of those who answered the quiz correctly, we picked three at random to send our Japan Foundation Goody Bag. Congratulations to the winners Holly from Hertfordshire, Ann from Hampshire and Sarah from Hertfordshire, who have now been sent their good bags!

Japan Foundation will also be at Bristol Anime Con on October 3rd, and the Language Show Live in London on October 16 - 18. We hope to see you there!

Primary Japanese Resource Sharing workshop

On the 8th of September, approximately 17 teachers came to the Institute of Education to share ideas about teaching Japanese in their primary schools and then hear about the new Japan Foundation Japanese Scheme of Work for Primary Schools. The event started with presentations from primary school teachers to share how they have used the scheme of work along with showing useful resources that they have tried in their classes.

First Catherine Duke, from Holbrook Primary School, in Trowbridge, introduced how to make animations with the children while they learn Japanese. She showed how her class had used an ipad and their own drawings to create an animation for “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt” which the children had narrated in Japanese. Catherine also showed lots of other ways this could be adapted to use kamishibai or other stories in Japanese.

Then, Helen Morris, from Madley Primary School in Herefordshire, showed how she used and adapted the Japan Foundation’s scheme of work for her classes. Her lesson plans extended the scheme of work to include shopping dialogues. Her pupils acted out shopping for cute erasers using animal vocabulary, colours and prices and then researched about Japanese erasers online. It was great to see how her classes loved learning and performing dialogues, especially when they could vary the vocabulary themselves.

Next , Yoko Leedham shared her lesson plans and ideas for her Japanese Enrichment classes at St Osmund's school in Dorchester. Yoko teaches a set of 7 weeks of Japanese classes including activities ranging from teaching basic greetings to making hanko stamps, and writing their names using Japanese calligraphy.

This was followed by a talk by Dr Marina Sereda-Linley who spoke about differentiation in Primary Japanese Lessons, giving several examples of how it is possible to give slightly different activities to children within the same class, depending on their competencies. Dr Sereda-Linley gave lots of concrete examples of using materials with different levels of support and different levels of challenge. She showed how it is possible to present ideas through auditory, visual and kinesthetic means, to help children’s varied learning styles.

Lastly the Japan Foundation’s Chief Language Advisor, Makoto Netsu, introduced the new resources for the Japan Foundation Japanese Scheme of Work for Primary Schools. These teaching materials have been tested with two classes of Year 4 pupils at Southfield Primary School so  Mr Netsu gave explanations about how he has used them, and how they might be adapted for other primary Japanese classes. The resources themselves include worksheets, plans, activities, games etc.

One participant, Emily Mellor, commented “I feel very inspired to get started in school and have loads of ideas." Another mentioned  that “It was very interesting to see what other teachers are doing in their classes." The Japan Foundation would like to thank all the fantastic teachers that were willing to share their ideas. If you are interested in the ideas and resources shared during this event, some of them are available to download below. 

Download Attachment

A taste of Japanese at “Japanese from Scratch: All About Bento!”

24 people had a chance to learn all about bento – Japanese boxed meals – as well as some basic Japanese  at the Japan Foundation London’s Japanese from Scratch workshop for absolute beginners of Japanese language, which was held on September 8th and 9th.

Led by Mio Tsunematsu, Assistant Japanese Language Advisor at the Japan Foundation London, the workshop began with an introduction to the concept of bento in Japan, and the basics of what a good bento should contain. The introduction to bento also explored looking at what bento mean to Japanese people and the role bento play in Japanese culture.

This was followed by learning useful Japanese language, including vocabulary for common food found in bento and how to express likes and dislikes in Japanese. This vocabulary, and other useful words and phrases to do with eating in Japan, can be found in the Japan Foundation’s Marugoto A1 textbook and website.

Finally, participants enjoyed practising their new Japanese language skills by making partners their ideal bento using stickers!

Some of the comments from participants included:

“I enjoyed how interactive it was.”
“It’s been interesting and fun.”
“It was a great introduction to Japanese language and culture.”
“Everything was really nice! Thank you!”

We would like to thank all the participants for coming, and hope that this session has inspired them to learn more about Japanese and Japan!

You can view more photos from the event on our Facebook page here.

Suggested free resources for learning Japanese writing

Whether you are about to start a Japanese degree course and need to learn the kana (the two basic Japanese scripts of hiragana and katakana) in advance, or are simply studying Japanese on your own and need a little help, here’s some helpful free resources that can give you  hand in learning hiragana and katakana.

  • Marugoto Plus (A1) – This has a fantastic Basic Training section for learning how to read and write hiragana and katakana. You can hear their pronunciation, see animations for how they are written, and even test yourself.

  • Hiragana Memory Hint - Study hiragana the fun way using mnemonic pictures with this fun app from the Japan Foundation Japanese Language Institute Kansai! It includes mnemonic memory hints, quizzes and a hiragana table in which you can listen to how each hiragana is pronounced. It can be downloaded for free from iTunes, Google Play and Amazon.

  • “Everything you ever wanted to know about the GCSE-Level Japanese Course” – Unit 1 – Pages 2-28 are all about how to read and write hiragana  and katakana, and even include in-text links to the relevant tutorials on YouTube that will teach you how to write the kana, including very helpful mnemonics!  This document is part of , which has a lot of other very useful resources for beginner learners of Japanese.

  • Nihongo ena – Beginner Kana Sites – The Nihongo e na  Web Portal has a large list of carefully selected websites that can help you to learn the kana (hiragana and katakana) from scratch, complete with screenshots and descriptions so you can select the best resources for you

  • Japan Foundation London’s Writing Resource Section – This section of our Japanese language teaching & learning resources page includes printable practise mats to help you learn how to write the kana, hiragana and katakana charts, and even a downloadable free “hand written” Japanese font so you can make your own learning resources!

2015 Refresher Course for Teachers of Japanese

From July 28th to July 30th, 15 intermediate and advanced speakers of Japanese came to the annual Japanese Refresher Course for Teachers to refresh their Japanese to get ready for the new school year. This year’s attendees were non-native Japanese language teachers from a wide range of teaching backgrounds, including private tutors as well and primary and secondary school teachers.

The theme for this course was 「日本の最新事情」- "The Latest from Japan." This was a chance for participants to update their knowledge about Japanese society and culture, while brushing up their Japanese language ability.  Lead by the Japan Foundation’s Japanese Language Advisors, Mr Makoto Netsu, Ms Hiroko Tanaka and Ms Mio Tsunematsu, the course gave participants the opportunity to explore various classroom activities and ideas for teaching Japanese.

The course began with a look at some Japanese TV adverts, showing how these can be used to teach Japanese and spark interest in students. This was followed with a video from the Japan Foundation’s Marugoto Plus website and collaborative reading (appropriate for various levels) about the changing roles of Japanese families. Next there was an introduction to some recent Japanese apps that provide an insight into Japanese culture. These included “Henshin camera” app that allows people to take interesting photos of themselves, an “amazing choir” app that makes your singing voice sound like a whole choir, “naki pita” app which is designed to play sounds to help stop babies from crying and a “sumimasen” app that will call out sumimasen in various different ways when someone is too shy to call out themselves. Finally, participants presented their own lesson plans for teaching Japanese using ideas related to one of these topics.

All participants enjoyed learning about new trends in Japan and exploring teaching methods. Several teachers also mentioned that it was great to have the opportunity to network and practice their Japanese with fellow Japanese teachers. Some of the comments we received from participants included:

-        “The Refresher is always a much needed “injection” of new ideas for the Japanese classroom! ありがとうございます!(Thank you!) ” Kornelia Mund
-        “I really enjoyed the CM and technology sessions. Mainly, it was great to meet other non-Japanese Japanese teachers.”
-        “It was very good for networking and lesson planning ideas.” Jordan Cascoe

You can see photos of this event on the Japan Foundation’s facebook page. We would like to thank all participants for coming to the Refresher Course, and really hope to see them again at future events. お疲れ様でした!

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