- 教員コラム / Blog
Every week throughout the year, a blog written by a Ritsumeikan language facilitator will be posted here. These blogs cover a wide range of topics: language learning tips, stories from daily life, travel recommendations, and more.
By clicking on the ‘CATEGORY↓’ tab on the right, you can search for subjects you’d like to read about. Whatever your tastes, we are sure there will be something here for you!
コラム一覧 / Blog List
12 .06Living in a Clean Room (1)
Photo Credit: Pixabay @Pexels.com
Keeping a room tidy seems to be a common challenge for people in the world. The world is full of information for aiming for a tidy room. For example, minimalism and elimination (Danshari, 断捨離 in Japanese) are famous keywords for decluttering. It is true that fewer things make a room easier to tidy up and therefore easier to clean. But not everyone can live as a minimalist right away. Some people feel things are so precious that they can't throw them away, and others are still in the process of getting rid of things (for years!). Even so, however, we can keep our rooms clean. That's why I want to write here about the importance of choosing the right cleaning tools. Cleaning tools are your important partners in getting your ideal room. Cleaning tools don't have to be branded or trendy. The important thing is to find a cleaning tool that suits you.
I used to hate vacuum cleaners. You cannot imagine the melancholy I had when carrying that loud, heavy machine and banging its blunt head all over the place! But one day my life changed when I got a small cordless cyclone vacuum cleaner.
It turns out that I didn't hate vacuum cleaners, but I just didn’t like that it was noisy, heavy, and that I often had to squat down to plug and unplug the cord. (But I have to admit the last point comes from my personal laziness.) The new vacuum is made of cheap plastic and underpowered. But it soon became one of my best friends. It's quiet and light, and cleans the room as if I were taking a walk with it. Moreover, I can see the garbage that it collects in its cylinder every time I use it. And I quickly throw the collected garbage into the trash can. I got a perfect partner to clean my room!
Thanks to my new vacuum cleaner, I also gained confidence. It's not that I'm too lazy to clean. As long as I have the right tools, I can enjoy cleaning and keep my room tidy. Perhaps the previous vacuum cleaner was more expensive and had more power. But it didn't suit me. In order to continue cleaning without difficulty, you need a tool that suits you. It will be an important partner and will work with you to provide a clean and tidy room.
Q1. Minimalism and elimination are famous keywords for ...
Q2. The author liked the new vacuum cleaner because it was
B. powerful and gorgeous
C. quiet and light
Q3. The new vacuum cleaner gave the author
B. a chance to get a job
C. a break to think
Scroll down ↓ for the answers
A3. ABBP Staff
12 .04Get Plants on Your Balcony
Photo Credit: Gotta Be Worth It @Pexels.com
You may have started living alone this spring. Once things settle down a bit, how about putting some plants on your balcony? Here are a few tips for those who want to spice up your balcony with beautiful greenery. First, take a good look at your balcony. Is it south or north? Is the next building close to yours? Even if it is north facing or even if the next building makes shade, there are many beautiful plants that can live healthily as long as it is bright enough. Also, is your balcony fenced or walled? If it is fenced it may get a lot of sun, or it may get too much sun. Additional fences may be needed to provide shade if the sun is too strong. If it is enclosed by a wall, the amount of sunlight varies greatly depending on the location on the balcony: some parts will get enough light, but others will get almost no light. For a walled balcony, you may need to buy a stand to put your plants on, or hang the plant on the wall.
Once you have analyzed your balcony, you can look for plants that can thrive there. In fact, this step takes the longest. Just because a plant meets your balcony’s conditions doesn't mean you will like it. Even if you have a plant that you think might be okay, it may not be available at your local garden center, or it may not be the season to plant it. This stage may take six months to a year, but don't give up. Take a walk around the neighborhood and enjoy looking at the gardens. You will find ones that are close to the conditions of your balcony and discover your favorite plants.
Finally, think about your life. If you want to hang your laundry out on the balcony, where is the best place for your plants to keep them out of the way? Also, make sure you can water them when needed. And if you are away for a long time in summer, you also need to choose plants that finish before summer. (No one wants to find a dead plant on the balcony at the beginning of the new semester). It is said it takes at least three years to grow plants successfully. In other words, for the first three years or so, it is a series of failures. But after that, you'll find the best relationship between your place, your plants, and your life, and you'll be an excellent gardener.
Q1. If your adjacent building makes shade, ...
A. there are no plants that survive.
B. you need to choose plants that can survive.
C. you need to buy a fence.
Q2. What do you need if the sun is too strong?
A. Additional fences
B. A stand
C. Plants that finish before summer
Q3. Maybe you need to look for your plants ...
A. for a month
B. for six months to a year
C. for three years
Scroll down ↓ for the answers
A3. BBBP Staff
11 .27The Joy of Exercising with My Friends
Photo Credit: Pixabay @Pexels.com
I have been going jogging regularly with two of my friends for the past twelve years. These friends of mine are often referred to as 'mom-friends.' We met when our children attended the same nursery school in Kyoto, and that is where we got to know each other. I became friends with several mothers there, and we formed a group of five friends. Despite our busy schedules with young toddlers, we managed to spend time together. It was a pleasure for me because we shared similar concerns, such as taking care of our children, managing household chores, and balancing work responsibilities.
I still remember how it all started. The five of us gathered at my place, sipping on glasses of wine and venting out our stress. Out of the blue, one of them began talking about her newfound habit of early morning jogging, as early as six o'clock. She explained how invigorating it felt to exercise when the day was just beginning. Curiously, she invited us to join her. Initially, I declined the offer, as it seemed impossible for me. I struggled with managing everyday life and was constantly fatigued. However, another friend in our group expressed interest in joining her. As they started discussing potential dates, the other two friends and I thought it sounded insane. But suddenly, it appeared to be a wonderful idea, and I felt a surge of motivation to make a change. Consequently, I ended up joining them.
That was 12 years ago, and to this day, three of us still regularly gather for morning jogs on weekends. Over time, our circumstances shifted. One of my friends relocated to Osaka, while I moved to a different area of Kyoto. Throughout the years, we experienced some interruptions. One friend sustained a shoulder injury, while the other friend and I both tragically lost our respective parents, temporarily preventing us from having our morning runs. However, we made a point of maintaining our commitment to meet for our jogging sessions along the Kamo River in Kyoto, which serves as the most accessible meeting point for the three of us. Despite losing contact with our other mom-friends, the three of us have managed to maintain a strong connection. We not only meet for our exercise sessions but also gather for lunches and dinners, providing us with additional opportunities to spend time together.
Through this experience, I have learned that maintaining positive habits becomes easier when we feel connected to the people around us. Friendships endure when we engage in meaningful activities together, such as our morning jogs. Making friends as an adult can be challenging, but the bond I share with my jogging companions extends far beyond exercise. We actively create cherished moments during these shared experiences. Moreover, the consistent practice of jogging has not only contributed to my physical health but has also played a vital role in sustaining my mental well-being. Together with my friends, I have found a source of strength and support that positively impacts my overall wellness.
Q1. With how many friends have I regularly jogged?
Q2. Where do I jog on weekends?
Q3. How many years have we managed to get together for jogs?
Scroll down ↓ for the answers
A2. Along the Kamo River in Kyoto
A3. 12 yearsKanae Ohashi
11 .20Experience of Japanese Martial Arts in Europe
Photo Credit: Olia Danilevich @Pexels.com
In general, I like playing and/or watching sports such as tennis, volleyball, basketball, baseball, football, and so on. I enjoy playing with teams and it is a lot of fun to communicate with people while playing sports. When playing such sports, I need quick responses and instinctive reactions and I get really excited when I play.
When it comes to sports like Japanese martial arts, they are too sophisticated for me to enjoy. They seem to require the student to follow a detailed process as well as practice and effort to even understand the logic of what you are doing. They also include a lot of mental preparation that occurs through the movement and process. Therefore, I did not practice arts like kendo or kyudo while in Japan. Despite that, I was interested in the deeper meaning of such activities.
I wrote in a previous blog that I lived in Belgium for nearly 12 years. During that period, I tried kyudo for some time. My sensei and almost all the students at the dojo were Belgian. I had a chance to learn and practice all the procedures, movements and techniques in French. It was a very good experience as I needed to understand not only the process of kyudo but also some of the philosophy of Kyudo using a language other than Japanese in a different cultural situation. I remember I was often told by the senior students at the dojo that “Mato (的) is not the target/goal but the result of all the process of our movement”. This kind of idea is different from other sports that require competition with others as I mentioned at the beginning of this essay. Since I was curious how people in Europe perceive martial arts from Japan, I asked one of my friends who was from France and had practiced Aikido and Karate. It seems that at the beginning, it was the esthetic interest in things such as costumes and kata that attracted him. However, later he started to understand and focus on mastering himself in terms of training his own mental and physical balance through the martial arts.
Through these experiences across sports, culture and language, I could understand some of the deeper meaning of Japanese culture and sports. I really appreciate these experiences. I stopped doing kyudo for many years after I returned to Japan. However, I am thinking to restart by trying to remember the instructions I received in French in Belgium.
Q1. According to the author, what did she feel about Japanese martial arts before starting?
Q2. Where did the author learn and practice kyudo?
Q3. What did she find good about the experience doing Japanese martial arts abroad?
Scroll down ↓ for the answers
A1. She thought that they were difficult to understand (they require following a detailed process as well as practice and effort to even understand the logic of what you are doing) and needed mental preparation through the movement and process.
A2. She learned in Belgium
A3. It was a very positive experience as she needed to understand not only the process of kyudo but also some of its philosophy using a language other than Japanese in a different cultural situation.Emi Shibuya
11 .13Gran Snow Okuibuki: A Popular Ski Resort at Shiga
Photo Credit: Artem Podrez @pexels.com
Did you know that Shiga Prefecture gets a lot of snow? This stunning region in Japan receives abundant snowfall in the winter due to its unique climate and geographical location. Nestled in the central part of Honshu, Japan's main island, Shiga offers a mix of both coastal and inland areas, making it a true winter wonderland.
During the winter season, Shiga is characterized by cold temperatures and frequent precipitation, often falling as snow due to its location in a mountainous region. Cold air from the continent flows over the Sea of Japan and picks up moisture, resulting in a snowfall paradise. Additionally, Lake Biwa, the largest freshwater lake in Japan, is located in Shiga Prefecture and contributes to the prefecture's climate. During the winter, the lake's temperature is warmer than the surrounding air, leading to the formation of lake-effect snow when cold air passes over the warmer water. This can result in heavier snowfall in the areas around the lake, creating a breathtaking winter wonderland.
If you're looking for a place to embrace the snow, Gran Snow Okuibuki is a must-visit ski resort in Shiga. It is situated on the slopes of Mount Ibuki and offers a variety of skiing and snowboarding terrain for all levels of experience. With 18 runs ranging from beginner to advanced level, you'll find the perfect slope for your skill level. The resort also features a wide range of facilities, including ski and snowboard rentals, ski schools, and several restaurants and cafes.
One of the unique features of Gran Snow Okuibuki is its powder snow, which is highly sought after by skiers and snowboarders. The region receives abundant snowfall and is known for its light, dry powder snow that makes for excellent skiing and snowboarding conditions. Besides skiing and snowboarding, Gran Snow Okuibuki also offers a stunning view of Mount Ibuki and the surrounding natural scenery, making it a popular destination for sightseeing as well as winter sports.
If you're planning a trip to Gran Snow Okuibuki, there are several ways to get there from Kyoto. You can rent a car and drive to the resort, take a direct bus from Kyoto Station, or take the train to Maibara Station and then a bus or taxi to the resort. The journey is approximately two hours and will take you through some of the most breathtaking winter scenery you've ever seen.
Overall, Gran Snow Okuibuki is a highly regarded ski resort in Shiga Prefecture that offers a wide range of winter activities, excellent skiing and snowboarding conditions, and stunning natural scenery. We can't wait to see you there next winter!
Q1. What makes Shiga Prefecture in Japan unique when it comes to snowfall?
Q2. What are some of the winter activities available at Gran Snow Okuibuki?
Q3. What are the different ways to get to Gran Snow Okuibuki from Kyoto?
Scroll down ↓ for the answers
A1. Its climate and geographical location.
A2. They are skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, and sledding.
A3. One option is to rent a car and drive to the resort. Another option is to take a direct bus from Kyoto Station. Also, you can take the train from Kyoto Station to Maibara Station and take a bus or taxi to Gran Snow Okuibuki. i.e., by car, bus, train, train and bus, or train and taxi.Akiko Watanabe
11 .06Appealing Aspects of a Voice Actor
Photo Credit: Karolina Grabowska @pexels.com
Anime are one of the most popular aspects of Japanese culture, and have attracted a wide audience not only within Japan but also in foreign countries. Why are Japanese anime so popular? There are several reasons, such as high-quality artwork, great music, and a wide variety of stories. Additionally, one cannot overlook the crucial role of voice actors who greatly contribute to anime.
A voice actor’s main duty is to read and record scripts for TV programmes, but they also work on anime, films, radio shows, commercials, audiobooks, video games, and more. While they primarily work behind the scenes, voice actors have gradually gained recognition. These days, becoming a voice actor is considered a dream job, particularly for younger people.
What are some appealing aspects of this profession? First and foremost, a voice actor brings anime characters to life. For example, when an original manga or a comic book is adapted into anime, the character becomes more vibrant and lively, as additional details like breathing and laughter are portrayed. While some people may have their own image of a character, passionate performances can strongly captivate the audience, and even enhance the original story. Another appealing aspect is that a voice actor can provide a relaxing effect through their voice, potentially offering encouragement to those feeling down.
However, being a voice actor comes with its own set of challenges and difficulties. For instance, some voice actors mention the inconsistency of job offers. Moreover, it requires endurance and a strong mindset to persistently audition for roles. Those who have overcome these challenges and difficulties cultivate professionalism, which ultimately contributes to the production of better anime.
As the roles of voice actors gain prominence, their popularity has been steadily growing overseas as well, both among the audience and foreign voice actors. For example, there is a story of an American voice actor expressing admiration for a Japanese voice actor. When a Japanese anime is dubbed in English, the American voice actor pays homage to the Japanese voice actor by copying aspects of the style to ensure that the anime’s essence remains intact.
Overall, voice actors play a pivotal role in supporting anime. Their tireless efforts have remained largely hidden behind the popularity of Japanese anime, which bring joy and entertainment to numerous people.
Questions: Read the blog and decide if each sentence is T (true) or F (false).
Q1. Spending a lot of money on creating anime is one of the reasons for the popularity of Japanese anime.
Q2. Voice actors can cheer people up by their voice.
Q3. Voice actors have gradually become popular only in Japan.
Scroll down ↓ for the answers
A3. FBBP Staff
10 .30Is Studying Abroad for Two Years Worth It?
Photo Credit: Keira Burton @Pexels.com
I was recently talking to a student who is going to study abroad in Australia. He told me he originally wanted to study abroad for two years and in two different countries, the Philippines and Canada. However, the two-year program was too expensive for him, so he was settling for a one-year program.
Our conversation was brief, and the subject changed quickly since other students were involved in the Communication Room discussion. Later on, I wished I had spent more time encouraging the student to reconsider his original plan. He might not realize it, but I think he is going to miss out on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
If anyone reading this is thinking of studying abroad, I hope you will seriously consider studying abroad for two years, not just one. Why?
I think the biggest reason is that you will have a life experience that very, very few people ever have. Most people live their entire lives in their native country, and many never leave that country, except for a one or two-week vacation. They know their own culture only.
A very small minority of people, ex-patriots, leave their native country to live in another culture. I am one of these people. I am from the United States, but I have been living in Japan for more than twenty years now and am a permanent resident. Of all the people I grew up with and met in the United States, I am the only person I know of who has left America to live in another country. And I have only lived in one other country, Japan.
How many of the billions of people on Earth get the chance to live not only in one other country besides their native land like I have, but two other countries?
This is an extremely small group of people, and a very fortunate one. Think of the new experiences you could have if you lived in two different countries in two years! How much would you learn, about yourself, about your native culture, about English, and about the two other cultures you would live in?
You can learn a lot at a university, but you would learn even more at two different universities in two different countries. This is a chance you will most likely get only when you are a college student, when you are young enough and flexible enough to adapt to changes more easily.
And when it is time to look for a job, you will have experiences that set you apart from literally everyone else who is applying for the same job. How much is that worth?
Yes, studying abroad for two years is expensive, but you will be rewarded for the rest of your life by being able to travel a road that few have travelled.
I hope you will keep these things in mind as you contemplate studying abroad. You have a chance to truly change your life. Don’t miss it!
Q1. Why did the student decide to study in only one country abroad?
Q2. What are “ex-patriots”?
Q3. What is the main reason the writer gives for studying in more than one country?
Scroll down ↓ for the answers
A1. Studying in two countries was too expensive.
A2. People who leave their native country to live in another country.
A3. You will have a very rare life experience/This is something that very few people ever do.BBP Staff
10 .23Chasing the Mop
Photo Credit: Ketut Subiyanto @pexels.com
My twin boys really love to mop. My wife and I got them the same toy mops and they will often mop the floor of our home with them. This is not a pretend mopping—we will stick wet wipes to the mops, and they will very deliberately start mopping everything: while mostly the floor, sometimes the “floor” becomes the top of select items of furniture, stuffed animals, or dinner plates. We usually stop them before it goes too far, but they genuinely want to try and clean.
The main reason for them doing that is because they have seen me do it. Even though I do not feel deserving of such modeling, they notice it and try to do the same. Perhaps the thing they want to do more than mop like me is to mop with me. It is when I enter the mop arena that their kindly mopping activity turns into a competition.
To clarify, it is not just that they want to map with me—they want my mop. They could care less if I use their mop—they want my mop at the same time. That is when there is fussing, fighting, and gnashing of teeth. That is when we are done mopping.
For that reason, I had previously taken apart my mop and kept it out of reach . . . until this morning. One of my sons was very, very persistent in wanting my mop, so I decided to give him a piece of it. Then the other son saw what was happening and then he wanted a piece of the mop. I then realized I could either let this spin out of control, or see if they could work together.
I gave each son a three-minute time limit with my reassembled mini-mop. After that time, the receiver needed to give it to his brother. One of my sons regularly did that, but the other simply refused and the mop needed to be given to his brother by force. He didn’t really want to mop the floor like his brother—he just wanted what his brother had, even if he didn’t know what he’d do once he got it. Eventually he let it go and moved on, as is normal.
In many ways, that seems to be how people act once they enter adulthood. They never quite leave that place of knowing what they want. They are not young children who will eventually find what interests them (as I am keen on doing with both of my kids). It can be easy to chase after someone else’s mop when you don’t intend to clean the floor, but it seems much more difficult to give up chasing after others if that’s all you’re used to doing. Eventually, you need to set down the mop, and pick up something you want to do.
Q1. Why do the kids like to mop?
Q2. According to the author, one son wants to mop the floor. Why does the other one want to use the mop?
Q3. What is the article about?
Scroll down ↓ for the answers
A1. Because they have seen their father do it.
A2. Because he wants what his brother has.
A3. Choosing what interests you; not just copying what others do.Jessie Patterson
10 .16The Importance of Setting Goals
Photo Credit: The Sunday Collection @pexels.com
The importance of goal setting for university students cannot be overstated. Without clear goals, individuals will lack a clear direction and lack motivation.
Goals can (and should) change throughout your life. The goals you have as a 20-year-old university student are probably different from the goals you had when you were a junior high school student. The goals you have when you are 40 years old will be different from when you are 20.
There are several reasons goals are important. Research shows that dopamine (the chemical in the brain that makes us feel happy and motivated) is directly connected to movement towards a goal. So, if you do not have strong, clear goals, that means dopamine will be lower in the brain. To put it simply:
Movement towards goals = more dopamine = greater happiness! :)
No goals = lower dopamine = sadness/ depression :(
It is interesting to note that after the achievement of a big goal, individuals often suffer from depression (again, caused by lack of dopamine). This is shown in such examples as astronauts when they return from space, and professional athletes when they retire. Therefore, it is also important to think about (and write down!) some goals that you want to aim for after you achieve your primary goal. This will allow you to avoid the “post-goal blues” (a feeling of depression that occurs when you finally achieve a longed-for goal).
Goals can also act as benchmarks for measuring progress and celebrating achievements. By setting specific, measurable goals, we can measure our growth and development. Each milestone reached becomes a cause for celebration and can help spur us to create and reach new peaks. This sense of accomplishment reinforces our belief in our abilities and motivates us to continue pushing forward, becoming better and stronger individuals.
Most importantly, the simple act of setting (and writing down) goals actually increases motivation. When we have a clear target in mind, our determination is bolstered, and our commitment deepens. Goals provide us with a sense of purpose and urgency, fueling our drive to overcome obstacles and persevere through challenges. Goals serve as a constant reminder of what we are striving for and help us push beyond our comfort zones and unlock our full potential.
Setting goals plays a pivotal role in shaping our lives and shaping who we become. By providing clarity, motivation, and a sense of purpose, goals enable us to navigate life and give us the strength to carry on when things get hard. Goals can guide us towards personal growth, fulfillment, and success. They can also make us feel happier. With each step taken towards our goals, we embark on a journey of personal growth. Who knows what we can become, and the levels we can reach?
Q1. What does the author suggest doing to foster personal growth?
Q2. What is the chemical in the brain that is associated with goal setting / movement towards goals?
Q3. Why is it important to create secondary goals?
Scroll down ↓ for the answers
A1. Setting goals
A3. Avoiding post-goal blues /avoiding a dopamine crash / preventing depression after achieving a goal.BBP Staff
10 .09Create Your English Environment
Photo Credit: Andrea Piacquadio @pexels.com
It's probably true that successful language learners make the most of opportunities to interact with the target language they want to master. This means seeking out meaningful practice in the language outside of the traditional classroom. One practical way of doing this is to join the BBP 'Communication Room' at the various campuses of Ritsumeikan University. You might also book a one-to-one study skills session with an experienced instructor via the same BBP program. But what are some other ways to expand your language learning opportunities away from the classroom? How can you create your 'English Environment'?
The concept of an English Environment (EE) refers to the language learning 'space' you make for yourself where exposure to English* (or French, Spanish, Chinese, etc.) is the goal. This 'space' might refer to an hour or more concentrated on your favourite western series on Netflix with the sound AND subtitles switched to English; it might be the hour of your commute to campus where you only listen to English language podcasts; or it might be a daily language practice task on a popular application like English Central, Duolingo or Speakly. What is the point of thinking of this as an 'environment'?
Immersion is the key feature. It is only you and the language. There are no other distractions. To this end, it is better that you choose the habitual daily moments where you are alone in which to create the ideal environment for exposure to English. As mentioned before, the commute to school, a Netflix binge in your bedroom, or opening an app on your smartphone while waiting for the bus are all times when you can watch, listen, read, and absorb the target language at your own pace and to your own amusement. And that's key...
An ideal EE is immersive and absorbing. It's a podcast series you cannot live without; it's a drama series you're hooked on; it's a language learning application that gives you just the right tasks in the right amount of time to keep you motivated to use it more and more. In your regular English class at university, your teacher chooses most of the material to be studied. In the EE you create, you are in charge, so try out all kinds of podcasts, series, and applications until you find some that motivate you to come back again and again.
It might feel to some language learners that studying abroad or having a partner from another culture is the only way to properly immerse yourself in your target language. In fact, it's easy to create an environment to rival these opportunities by devoting a little time in your everyday habitual movements (commuting, waiting, relaxing) to exposing yourself to the language you desire to master. Your EE will make you, in time, a better reader, speaker and listener. Get started today!
Q1. 'Immersion' is a noun. What is the adjective form? What is the verb form? Search the text for the answers.
Q2. Can you guess the meaning of 'binge' in terms of 'a Netflix binge'?
a. to buy a Netflix series and watch it
b. to watch one episode and stop
c. to watch many episodes in a row
Q3. Do you need to study abroad to create your English Environment?
Scroll down ↓ for the answers
A1. 'Immersive' is the adjective form; 'immerse' is the verb form.
A3. No. You can create an immersive and absorbing exposure to the target language in your daily life.BBP Staff