Student Interview: Eleanor

Pictured: Eleanor in a rental kimono at Fushimi-Inari Shrine, Kyoto

Posted: 15th Mar 2023

Welcome to the third post in the Ippo Ippo Japanese Student Interview series!

So far we've heard from Hannah and Gina, both students getting ready for N5 of the JLPT via my Prep for N5 course. Today we're hearing from Eleanor, who was one of my very first Ippo Ippo students, starting lessons back in 2020 during the initial Covid-19 lockdown.

Since 2020, Eleanor has on kept chipping away at her Japanese studies, and is now learning alongside other students as part of one of my online group courses, Pre-Intermediate Japanese Conversation.

I hope you enjoy Eleanor's interview as much as I did!

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Hi Eleanor, thanks for joining me for an interview! First up: what made you want to start learning Japanese?

I got into anime and manga when I was a teenager and thought it'd be fun to read stuff in the original language.

And how long have you been learning?

On and off about 15 years...

Wow! Over all that time, what have you found you enjoy most about the language?

How different it is to English. I also think the scripts are really nice.

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A selfie at Kinkaku-ji, Kyoto

What do you find trickiest about learning Japanese?

Conjugating adjectives. It seems to be a lot harder for my brain than verbs for some reason.

I think a lot of learners can empathise with that. Do you have any funny language anecdotes or mix-ups from when you've visited Japan?

Not of my own mistakes exactly, but I spotted a hilarious misspelling at a Japanese drugstore when I was there [pictured below]. No Japan, L and R are not interchangeable! It’s even correct on the packaging but not the display.

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Pictured: a makeup counter showing a product display with large text reading "PLAY ON MAKE: DAZZLING EYE GROSS".

As someone who's been learning Japanese for a while, what advice do you have for learners just starting out?

Start learning simple kanji as soon as you can read hiragana. When you start learning more complex kanji, you'll find that they're often made up of combinations of simpler ones.

When you visited Japan back in 2018, did you experience any culture shock?

Yes! I visited in autumn and it was very surprising to see places like Starbucks all Halloween themed up until the 31st October, then bam: overnight it went to Christmas themed on the 1st November and it was like Halloween had never existed.

Do you have upcoming plans to visit Japan? Where do you want to visit?

I don't have any upcoming plans, but I would like to take my wife one day. On my last trip I I went with some friends and we went to Tokyo and Kyoto. I'd like to go in the spring next time because it's our birthdays and I want to see the sakura.

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Dressing up in Gothic Lolita for Halloween at Tokyo DisneySea.

Definition of Lolita fashion by blogger Raine Dragon (provided by Eleanor): Lolita Fashion is a street fashion/subculture that originated in Japan in the late 1980s. The style draws inspiration from Victorian and 50s fashion and remixes it with modern elements from other Japanese street fashions, Gothic fashion, punk and Japan’s kawaii (cute) movement. While it shares a name with the classic novel "Lolita", modern fans of the fashion do not identify with the contents of that novel.

エレノアさん、ありがとう!

Erenoa-san, arigatō!

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