Roman Politics in a Nutshell

Lately, I’ve been watching some fascinating videos by Historia Civilis on Youtube (Patreon page here) about politics in the days of the Roman Republic and the transition to an empire. This video is an overview of how the Roman consulship worked: The fact that Rome had two leaders, or consuls, and a Senate is prettyContinue reading “Roman Politics in a Nutshell”

Goodbye to the Heisei Period and Hello to the Reiwa Period

As of today the Heisei (平成) Period in Japan has officially ended, and the Reiwa (令和) Period has officially begun. Personally, having seen the Heisei Emperor on TV and such, I will definitely miss him.  He really seemed like a cool guy, and really cared about people.  I saw one clip on Japanese TV whereContinue reading “Goodbye to the Heisei Period and Hello to the Reiwa Period”

Part Three: Learning Hiragana Ain’t Hard!

In lesson one we covered basic concepts of Japanese hiragana writing and in lesson two we covered some more advanced features.  Today, we’ll focus more on how to learn hiragana. If you’re studying Japanese, hiragana is a “learn once, learn early, use often” feature of the language.  The sooner you make the leap, the better. Continue reading “Part Three: Learning Hiragana Ain’t Hard!”

Spring Drowsiness

Recently, my wife and I were talking about how lately we’ve been feeling extra drowsy and lethargic, and she reminded me of a famous Chinese poem from the Tang Dynasty that is often quoted in Japanese culture as a figure of speech: 春眠暁を覚えず shunmin akatsuki wo oboezu This phrase can be loosely translated as “whileContinue reading “Spring Drowsiness”

Even Cherry Blossoms Get Old

Recently, I found this post on Twitter: The sakura sure have lasted a long time this year😬🌸 there comes a timeeven in blossoming Kyoto…sick of it或時は花の都にも倦にけり Kobayashi Issa (小林 一茶), 1795.Translation by David G. Lanoue.#Kyoto #Sakura #Japan #Chionin #小林一茶 #cherryblossom #知恩院 pic.twitter.com/sOjHZntnb5 — Adventures in Kyoto (@KyotoDailyPhoto) April 14, 2019 The haiku in question, writtenContinue reading “Even Cherry Blossoms Get Old”

Using Tarokka Decks in Dungeons and Dragons

Recently, my daughter’s D&D campaign had concluded a year-long story, and after taking a few weeks off to do other things, we started it back up recently with a new story.  This time I was struggling to decide what kind of story I wanted to do for her, so I decided to let the FatesContinue reading “Using Tarokka Decks in Dungeons and Dragons”

Buddhism and the Parable of the Two Rivers

Since this week is the Japanese-Buddhist holiday of Ohigan (lit. “other shore” お彼岸), I wanted to share a famous parable in the “Pure Land” Buddhist tradition, written by a 7th century Chinese monk named Shan-dao (善導 613-681).  This is usually called the Parable of the Two Rivers and the White Path.  You can find translationsContinue reading “Buddhism and the Parable of the Two Rivers”

Gone Before You Know It

Now that the miserable long winter here in the Pacific Northwest is becoming a faded memory (not to mention unusually persistent this year), Spring is finally here!  At times like these I love to go back and re-read poems from the famous Japanese anthology, the Hyakunin Isshu. In particular, one of my favorite is thisContinue reading “Gone Before You Know It”

Part Two: Learning Hiragana Ain’t Hard!

In part one we covered the basics of how Japanese Hiragana scripts. In this post we’ll cover some of the more advanced concepts. First let’s review the basic hiragana characters: n w r y m h n t s k (blank) ん わ ら や ま は な た さ か あ a り みContinue reading “Part Two: Learning Hiragana Ain’t Hard!”

Part One: Learning Hiragana Ain’t Hard!

Recently a colleague expressed interest in learning Japanese language and asked me for advice.  I’ve been learning Japanese on my own for about 10 years ever since I married my wife, and have reached a point that, while certainly not fluent, I can still read Japanese without too much difficulty. Japanese language seems difficult atContinue reading “Part One: Learning Hiragana Ain’t Hard!”