犬を飼っています

So earlier this year, my wife showed me that tickets to Hong Kong were less than $1,000/person round trip. This got me thinking that I wanted us to take a trip to Asia within the next few years… And with both of us being Disney fans, we talked about maybe doing Hong Kong or Tokyo or Shang-hi…

And with being a little disappointed in our trip to San Francisco, we talked about doing a LEGO event outside the US, maybe in Asia… There’s been a LEGO fan event in Japan I’ve been following via Facebook for awhile, and a new fan event in Korea. I’ve always been impressed with the LEGO builders in Hong Kong (HKLUG) since the 2008 Olympics, so that gives us a few possible dates for travel (after Golden Week, before the hottest time of the year) and possible people to try to meet up with…

I can almost read what’s written in hiragana!

I’ve been a bit of a Japanophile/Otaku. Wrote a high school thesis paper on the Japanese educational system. I took a Japanese culture class in college. Dropped out of a Japanese language class — too much on my plate at the time. Probably watch too much anime. So it’s no surprise that I’d like to go to Japan first.

With that in mind, I’ve been listening to a podcast about learning Japanese; I started with the 30 day challenge from 2 years ago… Each episode is about 4-5 minutes long, covering a variety of topics. After about the 4th or 5th episode, it reminded me of why I dropped out of the class; and reminded me of the horrors of taking 3 years of Spanish — with verb conjugation, vocabulary words, etc. It reminded me that some 20ish years ago, I meet with a tutor, a gentleman from Japan to learn Japanese for a brief time; and talks of making flash cards, and advice that I should get a Japanese girlfriend if I really wanted to learn Japanese… But this time, I ended up sticking with it with a new determination, continuing listening to the lessons, with a plan to go back over the 30 days once I learned hiragana/katakana and some kanji. I would try to soak in some of the context, with out stressing out over memorization… I think I’m up to episode 57, some 20ish episodes past the 30 day challenge.

Given that I tried this before the advent of podcasts and smart phones, I feel like I’m a little further along than I expected. I haven’t started with vocabulary words, or sentence construction, I’m just focusing on learning hiragana. I’ve found 3 apps that have been very useful, the first one teaches me how to draw the kana/symbol properly with the correct brush stroke order and say it, then it shows me a romanji version of the kana, and I have to pick out the correct kana from a list of 4. Finally, it shows me a blank screen to draw on, with the romanji version of the kana (and sound), and I’m to draw it with the correct brush strokes. Multiple times a day, I review what I learned, until I get it right — it’s a little frustrating when (especially with ‘ね’) where my brush strokes are slightly off. The 2nd app is just a simple quiz/flashcard app. It either shows me the romanji version of the kana, and I have to pick out the right now, or it says the kana or a word in Japanese, and I have to pick it out from a list. The final app is more of a speed quiz, same as the second app, but I can choose what kana I’ve learned and it will drill me on those only… the goal is to get 100% each time, in the 20ish seconds I get to pick the correct symbol… the 3rd app is a little more nerve-racking, but by not being able to adjust the guessing time, I’ve gotten quicker.

… I don’t know where this will take me. I’m hoping by a year or two of study, I might be able to read signs and maybe have a basic grasp of conversation — maybe end up being JLPT 4 with a stretch goal of JLPT 3.

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