Saturday, July 16, 2016

Japanese: Top 25 Must-Know Japanese Verbs

You can watch Risa teaching top 25 must-know Japanese verbs from youtube here. In this article, we list those verbs in written forms. So, you can practice them repeatedly or you can copy the phrases from here and paste them to japandict.com or a Japanese language-learning tool for further research.

  • Talk
    • 話す / はなす / hanasu
  • Call
    • 呼ぶ / よぶ / yobu
  • Go
    • 行く / いく / iku
  • Go out
  • See

  • Think
    • 思う / おもう / omou
  • Wait
    • 待つ / まつ / matsu
  • Say
    • 言う / いう / iu
  • Understand
    • 分かる / わかる / wakaru
  • Come
    • 來る / くる / kuru

  • Able to do
    • できる / dekiru
    • Example
      • May I use your toilet?
      • トイレお借りできますか / toire o karidekimasu ka
  • Open
  • Take
  • Make
    • 作る / つくる / tsukuru
  • Read

Verb Conjugation

Below we have provided examples on how to conjugate some verbs provided above:[2,3]

Verb Conjugation 「行(い)く」

Dictionary formStemPositive PresentNegative PresentPositive PastNegative PastMeaning
行(い)き ます
iki masu
行(い)き ません
iki masen
行(い)き ました
iki mashita
行(い)き ませんでした
iki masendeshita
to go
わたし は 行(い)きます。
Watashi wa ikimasu.
I go.
わたしは 学校(がっこう) に 行(い)きます。
Watashi wa gakkou ni ikimasu.
I go to school.
わたし は 会社(かいしゃ) に行(い)きません。
Watashi wa kaisha ni ikimasen.
I don't go to company.

Verb Conjugation 「寝(ね)る」

Dictionary formStemPositive PresentNegative PresentPositive PastNegative PastMeaning
寝(ね) る
ne ru
寝(ね) ます
ne masu
寝(ね) ません
ne masen
寝(ね) ました
ne mashita
寝(ね) ませんでした
ne masendeshita
to sleep
あなた は 寝(ね)ます。
Anata wa nemasu.
You sleep.
あなた は 寝(ね)ません。
Anata wa nemasen.
You don't sleep.


  1. Learn the Top 25 Must-Know Japanese Verbs
  2. Verb Conjugation (Japanese)
  3. Plain Forms of Verb and Their Uses 動詞

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Kansai Airport (KIX)—How to Get Around?

If you will visit Kansai region (関西)and arrive at Kansai International Airport (KIX) the first time, this is the article for you.  Note that KIX is different from Osaka International Airport which handles only domestic flights now.


Before we start, get an orientation of where Osaka International Airport (symbol: KIX) is relative to Osaka (大阪; middle), Kyoto (京都; upper right), and Nara (奈良; middle right) on the map above.

As shown, KIX is located SW to the Central Osaka.  If you will use trains for your transportation, you also want to avoid rush hours if you need to make connections at Central Osaka.

Reaching Kansai Destinations via Osaka

There are multiple ways to reach various destinations in the Kansai region (however, all routes go through Central Osaka first):[12]

  • Bus
    • Direct airport limousine buses from Kansai Airport to various places and hotels in Osaka
      • Osaka Station (60 minutes) and Namba Station (45 minutes)
    • Connects KIX and Kobe directly (there is no direct train service)[15]
    • Connects KIX and Nara directly (there is no direct train service)[16]
  • JR airport rapid train
    • Connects the airport with Tennoji Station (50 minutes) and Osaka Station (70 minutes).
  • Hakura limited express (JR)
    • Connects Kansai Airport with Tennoji (30 minutes) and Shin-Osaka Station (50 minutes)
    • With the Icoca & Haruka ticket, available to foreign tourists only, you can travel by non-reserved seat on the Haruka between the airport and Osaka for only 1100 yen (to Tennoji) or 1300 yen (to Shin-Osaka) 
  • Limited Express from KIX to Namba (なんば ) Station
    • Run by Nankai Electric Railway
      • "Rap:t" limited express trains (35 mins)
      • Express trains (45 mins)
    • Nankai Namba Station 
      • Is different from JR Namba station (see [13] for disambiguation)
    • Also read more information from here
Note that above fees and schedules are subject to change.


ICOCA (イコカ / Ikoka) is a smart card issued by JR West and sold/used mainly in Kansai region.  However, there are other stored-value cards such as Pasmo, Suica, etc. Since March 2013, major 10 different IC cards were standardized and become inter-operable.  For more information, read this article.

Rail Pass

As a foreigner holding Temporary Visitor visa, you are entitled to purchase some rail passes at discounts.  To get familiar with all choices, read [1] or JPRail.com.[2]

If you will travel in Kansai area (say, from KIX to OsakaKyoto and Nara) only and not throughout Japan, you may want to consider:
  • ICOCA and Haruka
    • Is a set containing an "ICOCA" card and a discounted ticket for the Kansai-Airport Express "HARUKA" (operated by JR West)
      • Haruka is a limited express train which directly links KIX with stations in the major cities in Kansai such as Tennoji, Shin-Osaka and Kyoto
      • Check the map here to see where is covered by the HARUKA service
    • If you already have an ICOCA card, you can purchase "HARUKA discount ticket" without buying new ICOCA card
    • You can change ICOCA card of ICOCA & HARUKA to Kansai One Pass which has more benefits
    • See more information here.
  • KANSAI THRU PASS  (or Surutto Kansai Pass) — not a JR offering and has the following characteristics:
      • Benefits
        • Unlimited rides on subway, private railway and bus in Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe, Nara, Wakayama and Shiga. (excludes JR Line)
        • In case you use limited express of Nankai Railway and Kintetsu Railway, you need to purchase a reserved-seat ticket
        • No additional purchase needed for limited express run by other railways
        • Includes discount coupon for 350 major tourist facilities along the railway lines
        • The Pass can be used on unconsecutive days during its period of validity
          • One day is counted as the duration from the first train to the last train in a day. (Not for 24 hours from the time first used)
      • Nankai Kansai-Airport Station Tichet Office
        • You book the ticket online and get a voucher in advance
        • When you arrive at KIX, you then go to the above exchange counter to get the real ticket using the voucher and passport.
      • Valid periods
        • Spring / Summer Edition
          • Sale period 
            • April 1 - September 30 of each year
          • Valid period
            • April 1 - October 31 of each year
        • Autumn / Winter Edition
          • Sale period 
            • October 1 of each year - March 31 of the following year
          • Valid period
            • October 1 of each year -April 30 of the following year
      • See more information here and available area map

    Search Site

    HyperDia is a service offering both route and timetable information for either train or flight travels in Japan. With simple search, HyperDia can provide you the optimal route and fare from one point to another.

    In the diagram above, the following information were entered:
    • From
      • Osaka Airport (note that this is not KANSAI AIRPORT)
    • To
      • Kawachnagano
    • Date / Time
    • Type
      • Departure / Arrival / Average
    Note that it's important to select the "Corp." category.  For example, in the Kansai region, you can get by without using Japan Railway (JR) which normally is faster and more expensive.  However, traveling in Kansai region is mostly covered by a myriad of train services from private railways (not JR) and buses.

    Photo Credits

    • theguardian.com


    1. Rail Passes for the Kansai Region
    2. ICOCA and Haruka and Haruka discount ticket
    3. How to use Kansai Thru Pass. Compare pass and single fare.
    4. What's ICOCA and Hakura?
    5. Osaka: Which Namba Station? (Travel for a Purpose)
    6. Kansai Thru Pass (Surutto Kansai)
      • Also known as Surutto Kansai Pass
    7. Kansai Thru Pass (Official site:  Surutto.com
    8. Kansai Thru Pass (Ticket can be purchased via Internet at Nankai Railways)
    9. Pass Tickets (available for purchased on the Internet here)
    10. 9 Things You Should Never Buy at the Airport
      • Duty-free merchandise, foreign currency, bottled water, souvenirs,  neck pillows, wi-fi, restaurant meals, magazines, a parking spot
      • Buy these online before your trip
    11. JR West Official ICOCA user guide (PDF)
    12. Kansai International Airport
    13. Osaka: Which Namba Station?  (Travel for a Purpose)
    14. Taking the train (important)
      • All types of Japanese trains,are typically classified into the following categories:
        • Local (kakueki-teisha or futsu-densha) 
        • Rapid (kaisoku) 
        • Express (kyuko) 
        • Limited Express (tokkyu) 
        • Super Express (shinkansen) 
    15. Kansai airport limousine bus between Kansai airport and Kobe
    16. Kansai airport limousine bus between Kansai airport and Nara
    17. Nankai Kansai-Airport Station Ticket Office (Exchange Counter)
    18. Living in: The world's safest cities
      • Osaka, Amsterdam, Sydney,  Singapore, Stockholm
    19. How to Get a Suica Card (video)
    20. Best Things to do in Osaka - Overnight City Guide (video)
    21. Weather forecast (Japan Meteorological Agency)
    22. Travel: How to Ride a Train in Japan (Travel for a Purpose)
    23. Japan Travel — How to Ride a Bus in Kyoto Area (Travel for a Purpose)
    24. A Solo Trip Can Be A Disaster If You Forget These 7 Rules

    Thursday, July 7, 2016

    Kyoto Travel: Visiting Southeastern Area

    The top choice of tourist locations in Kyoto, ranked by TripAdvisor, is Fushimi Inari Taisha. The primary reason most foreign visitors come to Fushimi Inari Taisha is to explore the mountain trails. It is also famous for its thousands of vermilion torii gates (鳥居 / とりい).

    In this article, we will cover the traveling details to the Southeastern area of Kyoto.

    Southeastern Kyoto

    • Fushimi Inari Taisha (伏見稲荷大社; video) best of the best[8]
      • Torii gates
        • Straddle a network of trails behind its main buildings.
      • Hiking
        • The hike to the summit of the mountain and back takes about 2-3 hours
        • There are a few restaurants along the way, which offer locally themed dishes such as Inari Sushi and Kitsune Udon ("Fox Udon"), both featuring pieces of aburaage (fried tofu), said to be a favorite food of foxes.
        • At Yotsutsuji intersection (roughly half way up the mountain), you can enjoy some nice views over Kyoto. And, the trail splits into a circular route to the summit from there.
      • Admission: Free
      • Hours: Always open
    • Tofukuji Temple | (東福寺) outstanding
      • Tofukuji is a large Zen temple in southeastern Kyoto that is particularly famous for its spectacular autumn colors.
      • Two paid areas
        • Hojo (the head priest's former living quarters)
          • Gardens are built surrounding the building on all sides.
            • Each garden has a different character, employing pebbles, large rocks, moss, trees and checkered patterns
        • Tsutenkyo Bridge and Kaisando Hall
          • Tsutenkyo Bridge
            • Spans a valley of lush maple trees and is famous for its autumn colors
          • Kaisando Hall
            • The stone path in front of the Kaisando is flanked by contrasting gardens on both sides, a dry rock garden on the left and a lush pond garden on the right.
      • Admission
        • 400 yen for both
          • Tsutenkyo Bridge and Kaisando Hall
          • Hojo and gardens
      • Hours
        • 9 am to 4:30 pm (April to October)
        • 9 am to 4 pm (Early December to March)

    Get There and Get Around

    Fushimi Inari Taisha is located just outside JR Inari Station, the second station from Kyoto Station along the JR Nara Line (5 minutes, 140 yen one way from Kyoto Station, not served by rapid trains). The shrine can also be reached in a short walk from Fushimi Inari Station along the Keihan Main Line.


    Saturday, July 2, 2016

    Japan Travel: Visiting Uji for Its History and Tea

    Uji (宇治) is a small city situated between Kyoto and Nara, two of Japan's most famous historical and cultural centers. Its proximity to these two former capitals resulted in Uji's early development as a cultural center in its own right. At the height of political power of the Fujiwara clan in the Heian Period (794 to 1192), buildings such as Byodoin Temple and Ujigami Shrine, the oldest extant shrine in Japan, were constructed in Uji.

    Uji is also famous for its green tea. While Kozanji Temple in Kyoto is believed to be the original site of tea cultivation in Japan, Uji's tea became better known for its superior quality in the 1100s.


    Due to its striking natural setting, Uji boasts many natural attractions, including its scenic riverside, parks, and gardens.
    • Uji River outstanding
      • The Uji River (宇治川, Ujigawa) flows through town, dividing Uji into two parts. 
      • Its prominent position shapes the beautiful landscape of the town and provides opportunities for relaxation. 
      • Most of the city's attractions are within short walks from the river.
      • Amagase Dam
        • Spans the river and day trippers can walk to its base in about an hour. 
        • The route, which begins directly across from Keihan Uji Station, is a wonderful walk along the river on a paved road 
    • Koshoji Temple (興聖寺)
      • Is well known for its impressive fall colors in the autumn
      • The approach up to Koshoji is lined with maple trees that create a tunnel of color around late November.
    • The Tale of Genji Museum
    • Mimurotoji (三室戸寺)
      • is known as the "flower temple" (see photo below)
        • As its wide temple grounds offer large gardens of some varieties of seasonal flowers. 
        • Visitors can view cherry blossoms here around early April, azalea around early May, hydrangea in June, lotuses around July and August, and autumn colors around late November.
      • Within the temple precincts are a beautiful, three tiered vermilion pagoda
    • Byodoin Temple (平等院) best of Japan
      • Phoenix Hall
        • One of the few original wooden structures to survive from the Heian Period
          • With short guided tours (in Japanese) that start every 20 minutes
        • It houses a statue of the Amida Buddha.
      • Hours
        • Phoenix Hall
          • 8:30 am to 5:30 pm (entry until 5:15 pm) 
        • Treasure house 
          • 9 am to 5 pm (entry until 4:45 pm)
      • Admission: 
        • 600 yen (additional 300 yen for a tour of the Phoenix Hall)
    • Mampukuji (萬福寺) outstanding
      • Mampukuji's temple buildings, statues and gardens are heavily influenced by the architectural style of China's contemporary Ming Dynasty and retain a much more Chinese appearance than other Buddhist temples in Japan. 
      • Although difficult to appreciate by the regular tourist, the temple grounds are laid out in the shape of a dragon when viewed from above.
      • Admission
        • 500 yen
      • Hours
        • 9 am to 5 pm (admission until 4:30 pm)
    • Ujigami Shrine (宇治上神社, Ujigami Jinja) outstanding
    • Tea house and workshop
      • Taihoan, (対鳳庵) a public tea house which offers visitors the opportunity to participate in an authentic tea ceremony at a very reasonable price. 
        • In a traditional tea house setting, guests are served matcha (powdered green tea), and the host gladly shares about the correct tea ceremony etiquette.
      • Fukujuen Ujicha Kobo
        • Is a workshop that offers various tea related hands-on activities such as matcha grinding classes, in which participants can learn how to prepare their own tea. 
          • The experience concludes with a tasting session whereby participants make and drink tea from the powdered tea leaves which they have prepared.
          • Advance reservations are not required. 
          • The building also contains a restaurant which serves tea and tea related meals and snacks.

    Get There and Get Around

    Uji is served by three rail companies: JR West, Keihan, and Kintetsu. The Keihan line which runs primarily between Kyoto and downtown Osaka serves the city via the branch Uji Line running from Chushojima station and ending along the river at Keihan Uji Station beside the Uji Bridge. The station is conveniently close to Uji's Tale of Genji Town, Uji Bridge, and the Byodoin. All trains on this line stop at every station.

    The JR Nara Line runs between Kyoto and Nara. JR Uji station was, until a few years ago, fairly rural but was recently rebuilt to better serve the city. Architecturally it mimics the Byodo-in and is on the opposite side of the Uji river, about 10 minutes' walk from Keihan Uji Station. The clock in front of the station is of special interest and, every hour on the hour, opens to reveal an automated show that celebrates the town's heritage as a center of tea production. Like Keihan Uji Station, JR Uji has easy access to the same sites. The station is served by local and express trains.

    Kintetsu serves West Uji with a line between Kyoto and Nara and does not have a station named for the town. The line is primarily used by commuters and includes Ogura, Iseda, and Okubo. No stations are close to the main tourist sites.

    Photo Credit


    1. What to see in Uji
    2. Uji Travel
    3. Byodoin Temple 
    4. Uji Tea
    5. How to get to Uji
    6. JR Train (Kyoto Station ⇒ Nara)
    7. Utilizing Storage Locker
      • コイン ロッカ (coin locker) — あり (yes) or なし (no)
    8. 京都・宇治 紅葉 宇治川沿いに Uji City in the foliage season(2010-11) (video)
    9. 京都・宇治 紅葉 興聖寺 Uji City in the foliage season(2010-11)  (video)
    10. [Begin Japanology] Season 1 Ep 19 : Matcha 2008-09-07  (video)
    11. Restaurants in Uji (Japanese only)
    12. Sightseeing in Uji (pdf)
    13. Tourist's Map (pdf)
    14. Uji City Tourist Information Center