Japan Australia Pages

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Study Japanese with Nihongo Master

I have been studying Japanese for over 20 years now and in my time, I have discovered a lot of helpful books, amazing websites, and useful applications to make that studying process that little bit more fun and engaging.

The biggest challenge for me has always been trying to stay motivated when being bogged down in all the books. I truly believe that one of the best ways to stay motivated is by having fun with the language. After all, you are more likely to remember something and retain it if you are enjoying the study process while having a blast.

I am also a very competitive person and like to test myself by setting goals, whether that be an upcoming Japanese test, or simply beating my friends in Japanese.

One of the best resources that I have found for studying Japanese is Nihongo Master, a fantastic Japanese learning website to help you study Japanese in a fun and easy way.

The fun and easy way to master Japanese!

Here are a few reasons why I like Nihongo Master:

The curriculum has been designed by native Japanese instructors, so you know that you are getting the best Japanese possible. People new to the Japanese language, can start with the introductory lessons to learn the basics of reading, writing and speaking Japanese. There are hundreds of lessons for all levels of language learners from beginners to advanced.

The audio is also produced by native Japanese speakers, which is perfect to get your pronunciation just right and sounding natural. You can listen to the correct pronunciation from the audio, then use the microphone button to record your own pronunciation of the word or sentence and compare it to the native speaker by playing back your voice. It is a really cool way to improve your pronunciation. I found it really useful for nailing those hard to say words or phrases. 

The drill system helps you learn new words and Kanji quickly and simply. The study drills use spaced repetition (SRS), a learning technique that involves reviewing and recalling information at optimal spacing intervals until the information is learned at a sufficient level. This method of learning has been proved to accelerate your mastery of vocabulary. 

The drills allow you to learn in the fastest way possible. As your studying accelerates new drills unlock. The learning is also supported by periodic quizzes, a key to help challenge and motivate your language acquisition. 

One of the best features for me is the Kanji look-up dictionary. This dictionary contains over 150,000 words and 13,000 kanji and is a great tool to look up Japanese words, or English words to find the correct Japanese equivalent.

Users can also print and customize handy character practice sheets and study word lists.

The site is set up like a competition with points and achievements making it challenging as well as highly motivating. As you take the drills and quizzes, you score points based on how well you do. Earn enough points and you will soon move up to the next level.

One of the extra benefits of using Nihongo Master for me is the fantastic community of friendly Japanese language students on the website. There are other Japanese learners there who are always willing to help and answer any questions that you may have.

The website also has a blog, which is useful for anyone looking for how-to articles, Japanese cultural tips, Japanese language lessons and much more.

They have some really interesting articles on learning Japanese such as “How to Shorten the Time to Learn Japanese” and “Top 10 Japanese Animal Noises you should learn right now!”

Nihongo Master also have their own YouTube channel and a popular podcast to help you learn Japanese on the go.

If you are looking to learn Japanese, improve your current Japanese level, or simply just need some extra motivation like me, Nihongo Master is the right tool for you.

The fun and easy way to master Japanese!

Sunday, July 11, 2021

Starbucks Japan 47 Jimoto Frappuccino

We here at Japan Australia are huge fans of Starbucks Frappuccinos. Theses icy cold blended frozen drinks are perfect for the hot summers in Japan.

For a limited time only, Starbucks Coffee Japan will release 47 new Frappuccino drinks, one for each of the 47 prefectures in Japan. The drinks will feature local ingredients to help strengthen its ties with local communities.

The Seattle-based coffee chain come up with the idea to help celebrate the 25th anniversary of its first foray into the Japanese market. The first Starbucks open in the upmarket Ginza district of Tokyo in 1996.

The special lineup is called “47 Jimoto Frappuccino”. Jimoto means hometown in Japanese. Baristas will be drawing on local expertise throughout Japan to bring special flavours and combinations that are the pride of each local area. The Frappuccinos are inspired by the local food and culture of each area. 

Some of the Frappuccinos that instantly catch the eye include:

Miyagi Prefecture, which is famous for zunda (sweet edamame paste). This drink features sweetened mashed edamame paste and matcha green tea.

Tottori Prefecture, which is famous for its sand dunes. Baristas created a creamy caramel drink that resembles the famous sand dunes.

Aichi Prefecture, which is famous for Ogura toast (thickly sliced toast topped with sweet red bean paste). This Nagoya specialty comes to life as a frappuccino with sweet red bean sauce, coffee, chocolate chips, and whipped cream.

Starbucks 47 JImoto Frappuccino will be available from June 30 to August 3, in a tall size only for 682 yen (USD$6.20).

Which flavour would you like to try? Please leave your answer in the comments below. 

Visit the Starbucks Coffee Japan website for more details. 



Saturday, July 3, 2021

Mount Fuji Reopens to Climbers

Japan’s iconic Mount Fuji reopened on Thursday, July 1 to climbers for the summer season after being closed last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Yoshida trail on the Yamanashi Prefecture side of Japan’s highest peak was opened with strict virus countermeasures in place. It is the most popular of the four routes up the 3,776-meter World Heritage Site. 

Japan’s national symbol was officially named a UNESCO World Heritage site on June 22, 2013.

The three other paths are located on the Shizuoka Prefecture side of the mountain, which plans to reopen them on July 10. Mount Fuji will be accessible to visits until September 10.

There are stringent measures in place as part of efforts to reduce the risk of coronavirus infections. Visitors will be asked to fill out health check forms and have their temperature checked before being allowed to climb the mountain.

The Fuji Subaru Line, a tollway running halfway up the mountain is usually open 24 hours but has shortened its operating hours from 3 a.m. to 6 p.m. to reduce the number of climbers who try to make quick overnight ascents.

Mountain lodges along the trail have also taken measures to help prevent the spread of infections. These include installing partitions in sleeping areas and limiting the number of people allowed to stay in order to follow social distancing rules.

Last year in 2020, both Yamanashi and Shizuoka Prefectures closed all four routes for the first time since 1960 in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Friday, May 28, 2021

Sumiyaki Charcoal Roasted Coffee

Most of you already know that I am an Aussie in Japan and hence the name of this blog, Japan Australia. Some of you might also know that I am originally from Melbourne in Australia, one of the coffee capitals of the world.

Melbourne’s love affair with coffee started back in the 1950’s with the arrival of Italian and Greek immigrants. A whole generation of immigrants brought their European-style espresso machines to Melbourne, starting a coffee culture and way of life for Melburnians.

Living in rural Japan, it’s been a lot harder to cure my coffee fix. The Gifu/Aichi area of central Japan, where I live is well known for its coffee shops, but it has been hard to find a good cuppa. 


The Japanese Coffee Company offers premium coffee that is not available anywhere else in the world. Recently they started a new product, Sumiyaki Charcoal Roasted Coffee and being a huge coffee lover, I just had to give it a try.


Sumiyaki means charcoal roasted in English and has been a hidden treasure in Japan since 1933. This unique Japanese method of roasting coffee beans enhances the taste and aroma.  Binchotan charcoal is used to roast the beans due to its high steady heat and long burning time, which produces a unique flavour of coffee. 


The coffee is roasted in Hokkaido by Sapporo Coffee Kan. The low temperatures and humidity in Japan’s northernmost prefecture are perfect for coffee brewing. 


You can purchase a variety of different coffee blends from the Japanese Coffee Company from single origin and blended coffee to certified organic and decaffeinated.

We ordered the Colombia Arabica Caturra Pital Mountain Single Origin Premium Coffee and had the choice of grinding the beans ourselves or having them pre-grinded for us. 


The Taste Test

The coffee has a wonderful rich aroma thanks to the unique sumiyaki roasting method. The coffee has a strong, bold full-bodied taste that is not too powerful and bitter. There is a smooth, smokey aftertaste with no unpleasant bitterness. It was delicious to drink. This is one coffee that certainly has a unique flavour profile and background.

If you are looking to try a truly unique premium coffee that is only available in Japan, check out the Japanese Coffee Company’s Sumiyaki Charcoal Roasted Coffee blends. 


Thursday, April 29, 2021

Cherry Blossoms at Kawaramachi in Gifu

The last spot on my cherry blossom exploring mission in Gifu was the Kawaramachi historic district, which is a short walk from Gifu Park on the south side of the Nagara Bridge. The historic area retains its traditional charm with its wooden townhouses with lattice facades.

Kawaramachi was a thriving merchant town that owed its prosperity to the open-trade policy (rakuichi rakuza) established by samurai warlord Oda Nobunaga (1534-1582). It used to be one of the main river ports in Gifu to transport local materials such as bamboo and washi paper.

Today, it is home to traditional craft stores, art galleries, and up-market restaurants and cafes.

Kawaramachi Park leads into the historic district from Gifu Park and is a large open space that is quite interesting to explore. There are a few cherry blossom trees here which blend in beautifully with the traditional architecture of the old buildings.



You can also take a short walk along a small creek which is lined with cherry blossoms and some interesting animal statues.


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