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    (Original post by green.tea)
    Its difficult. I'm just approaching the end of my first simester and am having to work really hard. I spend most of my time just reading the vocab list over and over.
    There's your problem. Working hard is good - there's nothing more valuable in language learning - but just rereading a list of words is bad. Use flashcards to actively study the vocab. Active learning is more worthwhile than passive learning. Then space your learning out, and find example sentences for your vocab to help put the words into context.
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    (Original post by Mani Katti)
    You can do - it stands for the School of Oriental and African Studies and it's a university in the UK where you can do pretty much most major Asian, Middle Eastern and African languages/cultures. So I'm a Japanese student and I do a module of Japanese culture/history yup but I have friends doing all sorts - Chinese, Korean, Thai, Swahili, Arabic, Hebrew, Turkish, Hindi, you name it.

    I know bits and pieces of Shintoism - so the basics about what it is, how it works etc. but I don't know it in depth.
    In other words SOAS is a school on which you can learn a range of cultures, histories and languages, not only about Japan. That sounds interesting.

    And what are the basics of shintoism? I would love to know about this Japanese religion, so would you be kind enough to give me an answer?
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    (Original post by Kallisto)
    In other words SOAS is a school on which you can learn a range of cultures, histories and languages, not only about Japan. That sounds interesting.

    And what are the basics of shintoism? I would love to know about this Japanese religion, so would you be kind enough to give me an answer?
    Essentially, yes. It's really interesting indeed!

    Shintoism is an indigenous religion to Japan. The main thing to bear in mind is that there are lots of Gods called "Kami" whose essences are contained in everything. Communication with Kami occurs primarily through natural means (so inspiring natural occurences like waterfalls), or through shrines (jinja). Kami worship is an important part of Shintoism. There is a notion of purity/impurity and stories of improperly treated humans becoming vengeful, evil Kami after death. Shintoism and Buddhism are often both simultaneously practiced in Japan - it's not an exclusive religion. For example, Shintoism tends not to be associated with funerals and death, which Buddhism tends to deal with.

    At least that's what I understand from my notes from my Japanese culture lecture.
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    (Original post by Kallisto)
    In other words SOAS is a school on which you can learn a range of cultures, histories and languages, not only about Japan. That sounds interesting.

    And what are the basics of shintoism? I would love to know about this Japanese religion, so would you be kind enough to give me an answer?
    Why would you ask on a forum instead of just going to Wikipedia?
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    Shintoism is a Western construct. The -ism suffix is supposed to denote the word refers to a system. So if you want to be pedantic, maybe using Shinto is a more correct way because Shinto is anything but a system.

    Shinto is not a religion, but rather a set of beliefs. There are several arguments to support this, including the fact that beliefs and practices depend considerably on the area and other factors. I won't go into the details (because frankly I don't remember them all) but there should be lots of scholarly papers available online if one is keen on learning more on the subject. I'd recommend some but they're in French.

    Buddhism is similar in the sense it may be incorrect to call it a religion, though the question whether it is a religion or not is more debated upon I think.

    The mix between Shinto and Buddhism is called the Shinto-buddhist syncretism. It's true most Japanese believe in both, as each has their own "area of expertise" in a way (like how Buddhism manages events related to death as was mentioned above). However, they don't feel like this is a religion. Actually, the word religion in Japanese was a word made up when they encountered Western people (required to correctly transcript some documents from English if I recall right) - Shinto and Buddhism were never, and are still not called religions in Japan. People follow (more or less zealously) the Shinto and Buddhist practices but they won't tell you they're religious. To them, religion is what we have : Christianity, Islam, etc.
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    (Original post by Azimuth)
    Why would you ask on a forum instead of just going to Wikipedia?
    Because I like the discussion about Japan. I know its a stupid reason, but who cares?

    (Original post by Xurvi)
    (...) Shintoism is a Western construct. The -ism suffix is supposed to denote the word refers to a system. So if you want to be pedantic, maybe using Shinto is a more correct way because Shinto is anything but a system. (...)
    Very interesting. Thanks for explanation. I will not use the suffix anymore to be more correct.

    After I have read the comments I think that buddhism and shinto are not religions, they are just ways which people go. Nevertheless gods are contain in shinto, called kami. But as far as I understand they are not gods which are above people as in Christianity. After the explanations I think kamis are elements of nature. That sounds very interesting.
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    Indeed, when reading some myths, you may come to realize that kami are not considered superior to humans but just different. One example is how in Shinto-buddhist syncretism kami suffer from their status because they can't achieve the Buddhist Awakening while humans can (or as easily as; it may be slightly incorrect, but that's the gist of it as I remember it). Kami may be worshipped, but they're not considered perfect or truly superior to humans.
    As a matter of fact, kami can be long-deceased ancestors' spirits as well as world-creating God-like entities.
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    Is there anyone who is familiar with Japanese history in 20th century? I would love to know why Japan begins an alliance with German Reich in 30's and vice versa.
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    (Original post by Kallisto)
    Is there anyone who is familiar with Japanese history in 20th century? I would love to know why Japan begins an alliance with German Reich in 30's and vice versa.
    The alliance formally began in 1936 when the Anti-Comitern Pact was signed. Essentially, the pact was an anti-communist pact. They also agreed to discuss matters to protect their won interests and not to sign any treaties with the Soviet Union. Of course, Germany broke that part of the pact when they signed the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact with the Soviet Union. The alliance between Germany and Japan would later take on a more militaristic dimension when they signed the Tripartite Pact with Italy in 1940.

    I'm by no means an expert but I believe that is the basics of how the alliance started. Perhaps someone else can add more detail.
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    (Original post by Xurvi)
    (...)
    As a matter of fact, kami can be long-deceased ancestors' spirits as well as world-creating God-like entities.
    In other words: there are people who view shinto as faith like Christianity while there are also people who view shinto as mysterious spiritual power. That is to say that shinto has not a precisely definition. In the one hand it is a myth, but in the other hand it is a religion. That sounds strange a little.

    (Original post by TheMagicRat)
    x
    As far as I understand Hitler forged an alliance with Japan, as Japan attempted to attack soviet Union which was Hitler's plan too. The Molotov-Rippentrop pact which you told was a secret one, so Japan couldn't know anything about that. The pact guaranteed the neutralization of Soviet Union in terms of western powers and Poland which was Hitler's goal. The one was breach after the agreement between Japan and German Reich and the attack of Soviet Union by German Reich in the following time.
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    (Original post by Kallisto)
    In other words: there are people who view shinto as faith like Christianity while there are also people who view shinto as mysterious spiritual power. That is to say that shinto has not a precisely definition. In the one hand it is a myth, but in the other hand it is a religion. That sounds strange a little.
    I would say very few (if any) view Shinto as a faith like Christianity. The way 'traditional' Japanese beliefs are viewed by Japanese (Shinto and Buddhism) is quite different from how we perceive and interact with our national faiths (Christianity, Islam, Hinduism etc.).

    For Japanese people it's about spirituality, akin to the same kind of indescribable spiritual feeling you might get when you spend time in some area of great natural beauty. Whereas other major religions are, essentially, about rules and guidelines for how to live a just and righteous life - Shinto is more like a kind of feeling and a series of rituals which are observed. Just through my own observation, I feel like the ritualistic side of it is more important to Japanese than a genuine belief that these things are truly real.

    For other religions, people with strong faith believe that their God(s) are truly listening to them when they pray and that their God really has the potential to effect their life based on their prayers. In Shinto, if you pushed most Japanese, they would probably acknowledge that saying a prayer won't REALLY make a difference. Furthermore, in Christianity for example, there are people who are openly hostile and don't believe what scientific consensus says in favor of what their belief system states. I don't think such a strong feeling exists in Japan. Shinto is a feeling of togetherness and a thread connecting people with nature and all that has past -- not an absolute truth.
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    I'm Japanese and currently I live in Japan.
    Yes, it is true that Japanese people regard Shinto and Buddhism as traditional custom rather than religions.
    Furthermore, we rarely think of them. We think of the custom especially on New Year's Day(People go to shrine and pray for their good luck in the year), in the middle of August, which is called "obon"(People go to braves an pray or think of their ancestors.) and when people marry or people die.
    However we live in the mixture of different religions, for example people enjoy Christmas or even celebrate St. Valentine's day, and thus I think Japanese people tend to take not only Shinto and Buddhism but also other religions for granted.
    This is not to say that all Japanese people think so, and some people believe in Shinto, Buddhism and some other religions firmly.
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    (Original post by ukut428)
    (...) We think of the custom especially on New Year's Day(People go to shrine and pray for their good luck in the year), in the middle of August, which is called "obon"(People go to braves an pray or think of their ancestors.) and when people marry or people die.
    (...)
    I can remember me to see this customs in an Anime. Nevertheless I would love to know if there are holidays which have something to do with their beliefs, like christmas days for Christians. Is this new-years-tradition one of them? for some people at least?
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    (Original post by Kallisto)
    I can remember me to see this customs in an Anime. Nevertheless I would love to know if there are holidays which have something to do with their beliefs, like christmas days for Christians. Is this new-years-tradition one of them? for some people at least?
    Well, for Japanese national holidays themselves, none of them have something to do with certain religions since the purpose of such holidays are for people to relax or to respect other people and so on. However, as I stated above, certain holidays have also religious meanings. For example, on New Year's day not only people who firmly believe in Shinto but also most of Japanese people go to shrine to pray (though the holiday was designated to simply celebrate the coming of a new year) and in this point I can say that New Year's day do have something to do with our belief.
    If your question is whether tradition to go to shrine on New Year's day have something to do with our beliefs, the answer is yes because the fact that we go to shrine clearly shows that this tradition comes from Shinto. (We say shrine 神社(じんじゃ) in Japanese, and it can be interpreted as 神(かみ)の社(やしろ), which means the home of god, and therefore shrine is very sacred place for people who believe in Shinto. Shrine has nothing to do with Buddhism and other religions. Actually shrine cannot clearly be translated into the home of god because where god lives is depend on many complex factors and there many stories.)

    Although Japanese traditional culture and beliefs of Shinto and Buddhism cannot be completely separated, and the beliefs may have influenced the foundation of traditional Japanese culture, I don't think there are more customs which clearly shows the connection with the beliefs.
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    Oh! I found two customs!

    Japanese festival such as 夏祭り(なつまつり) is mainly Shinto event though it is not holiday.

    We go to braves to pray or think of the ancestors on a certain day, which is called 彼岸(ひがん) in Spring and in Autumn as well, and the days are national holidays whose purpose may have something to do with Buddhism.
    Let me tell you one famous proverb:暑さ寒さも彼岸ま で(あつさ さむさも ひがん まで), which means low temperature in winter or high temperature in summer will no longer continue after the 彼岸.
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    (Original post by ukut428)
    (...)(We say shrine 神社(じんじゃ) in Japanese, and it can be interpreted as 神(かみ)の社(やしろ), which means the home of god, and therefore shrine is very sacred place for people who believe in Shinto. (...)
    As I'm living in Europe, I have no computers which are able to receive Japanese letters. That's why it would be better, if you write the words down in Latin letters next time. Thanks!

    (Original post by ukut428)
    x
    Shortly: the two festivals in Spring and Autumn are customs of Japanese people which have to do with their belief, as they think of the ancestors or pray of them to these seasons.
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    (Original post by Kallisto)
    As I'm living in Europe, I have no computers which are able to receive Japanese letters. That's why it would be better, if you write the words down in Latin letters next time. Thanks!
    You can set your computer to show Japanese characters in the language settings. I think for other people watching this thread, it's better to have the Japanese there too.
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    (Original post by green.tea)
    Its difficult. I'm just approaching the end of my first simester and am having to work really hard. I spend most of my time just reading the vocab list over and over. I think as far as retention goes you just have to keep going over it. I'm planning on working through the christmas break which should give me a little breathing space. I'm enjoying the challenge tho. Its good. Next semester I'm gonna join the language exchange club thingy at uni so i'll actually be using it. Hopefully the wonderful 'revising by watching films' phase should come shortly after that. Good luck.
    (Late reply, sorry!).

    Same here. I was rushing so much on one of my essays that I'm pretty sure I messed up big time and might not pass. So worried!! =O So stressful. Holidays are here though, so I have more time to concentrate on my Japanese language abilities rather than... things that take up all my time that do nothing for my language~.

    Ha ha, yeah! I joined a language club, but get sooooo nervous when somebody speaks Japanese to me and such that I think people feel so sorry for me that they just stick with English. I'm often like, "Phew!", but really I should try more at that.

    Have you been doing much Japanese study over the holidays then?

    I've been keeping up with my blog. It's going pretty well, I think. Getting there anyways. A lot of work, but it's getting me actively reading and listening, etc, so - even though I don't feel it at all - I think it's perhaps being absorbed and, hopefully, I'm improving through it.

    And saying that, wondered if you might have any tips? So far, I have the regular grammar points, readings, conversations, audio (with questions) and some kanji work from the book "中級の日本語" that I work from at Uni., but am trying to add other kind of content like, I have news (in simple Japanese), manga, adding videos (narrations of stories), a radio drama I post everyday... But I actually want more. =P

    So if you have anything you think would be good to share with people, let me know! x.
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    (Original post by Jazmine)
    (Late reply, sorry!).

    Same here. I was rushing so much on one of my essays that I'm pretty sure I messed up big time and might not pass. So worried!! =O So stressful. Holidays are here though, so I have more time to concentrate on my Japanese language abilities rather than... things that take up all my time that do nothing for my language~.

    Ha ha, yeah! I joined a language club, but get sooooo nervous when somebody speaks Japanese to me and such that I think people feel so sorry for me that they just stick with English. I'm often like, "Phew!", but really I should try more at that.

    Have you been doing much Japanese study over the holidays then?

    I've been keeping up with my blog. It's going pretty well, I think. Getting there anyways. A lot of work, but it's getting me actively reading and listening, etc, so - even though I don't feel it at all - I think it's perhaps being absorbed and, hopefully, I'm improving through it.

    And saying that, wondered if you might have any tips? So far, I have the regular grammar points, readings, conversations, audio (with questions) and some kanji work from the book "中級の日本語" that I work from at Uni., but am trying to add other kind of content like, I have news (in simple Japanese), manga, adding videos (narrations of stories), a radio drama I post everyday... But I actually want more. =P

    So if you have anything you think would be good to share with people, let me know! x.
    I've not really being doing it long enough to give tips. Brookes points people in the direction of http://www.shop.kanjikreativ.com/demo.php which seems to help some people a lot.

    I'm working loads over the holidays. I want to learn everything from last semester perfect and then get started on next semesters vocab. I'm learning much more effectively now I can focus solely on the language. As you say during term time other things take up time. It seems the more I memorise the more I'm able to memorise.

    For me I've found its just a case of seeing how your memory works and working with it. For example I can never remember similar words like up/down or long/short etc together so I just remember one of them and go back to another and remember it separately. But that's probably totally different for other people. I personally find learning methods more complicated than memorising whats on a bit of paper distracting and have found that you figure out tricks to help yourself by doing that and so it becomes a practiced skill in itself.

    Interestingly I'm finding that during this period of intensive memorisation that thing where some pointless thing like an actors name wont quite come to mind and its really annoying until it pops back to mind after 5 mins happens more often.
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    (Original post by green.tea)
    I've not really being doing it long enough to give tips. Brookes points people in the direction of http://www.shop.kanjikreativ.com/demo.php which seems to help some people a lot.
    Ahh, you go to Brookes too! What Universities did you pick for your year abroad?

    I only hear people complain about that site though!! I looked at it, but I don't think it'd be much use to me, personally. But I can definitely see how it might be good for others.

    I'm working loads over the holidays. I want to learn everything from last semester perfect and then get started on next semesters vocab. I'm learning much more effectively now I can focus solely on the language. As you say during term time other things take up time. It seems the more I memorise the more I'm able to memorise.
    Heh, that's exactly what I'm doing. I'm slowing down on it a bit though, as I've been so intense about it until a few days ago. Need to do ALL the Reading & Writing work from last semester, as well as the winter work. Think I'll go to the library to start printing it all off and doing it tomorrow.

    For me I've found its just a case of seeing how your memory works and working with it. For example I can never remember similar words like up/down or long/short etc together so I just remember one of them and go back to another and remember it separately. But that's probably totally different for other people. I personally find learning methods more complicated than memorising whats on a bit of paper distracting and have found that you figure out tricks to help yourself by doing that and so it becomes a practiced skill in itself.
    Hmm, true. I'm the same, regarding the up/down thing! But I haven't quite worked out how my memory works yet. Particularly as I'm really bad with vocabulary in my own language too. I mean, I trace back vocabulary I've come across via my memory of verbal conversations I've had or songs I've listened to, I realised. I think I am also one of these people who learns by practice and things... but, alas, my vocabulary is poor in English, so it is definitely not going to be any good in Japanese.

    Interestingly I'm finding that during this period of intensive memorisation that thing where some pointless thing like an actors name wont quite come to mind and its really annoying until it pops back to mind after 5 mins happens more often.
    Ha ha! I never remember people's names from films or TV shows anyways (I often name them something myself so that I can call them something), yet I can remember the names of those I meet very well.

    I do think some of my memory is being pushed out though, and I'm not even sure it's being replaced with anything! Ha ha, I haven't really been able to test it. However, by doing all the stuff I've been getting on with over this holiday, I've seen more and more where my faults lie. So I suppose that's good! =)
 
 
 
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