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Welcoming Our New Innovative Language Team Members

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013

Today, we bring you another blog post from Motoko, JapanesePod101.com lesson creator, host and Office Party Planner! Motoko will be sharing more bilingual posts on our blog, so check back often and leave a comment!

Hi everyone, Motoko here!

Today I’d like to tell you about the welcome party we held recently. This spring, we welcomed four new team members: Ice, Gabriella, Paloma, and Raul. To introduce them briefly, Ice is a member of the video team; Gabriella and Paloma work on content creation; and Raul is a member of our IT team.

The welcome party was held at a Japanese shabu-shabu restaurant near our office. The restaurant’s traditional Japanese-style design was quite nice. The great service was also a pleasant surprise for us—waitresses in kimono and a waiter assisted at each table with cooking the shabu-shabu properly.

Shabu-shabu is a type of hot pot cuisine where people cook the vegetables and meat by themselves. So diners usually put the vegetables into the hot water in the pot. Diners also pick up the finely-sliced meat (pork or beef) with their chopsticks, then cook the slices by swishing them in the hot water. The name “shabu-shabu” actually came from this swishing action, and is an onomatopoeia, as the swishing makes the sound “shabu-shabu.” Did you know that?

At the restaurant, we did the “shabu-shabu” by ourselves. After all, that’s the most important part of having a shabu-shabu, right!? But the waiters helped us cook the other ingredients, which was very handy for the shabu-shabu beginners.

Have you ever had shabu-shabu before? If you haven’t, please try it at least once!

(Apr 2013)

Welcome to Innovative Language Headquarters! Listener Visit #4

Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

Today, we bring you another blog post from Motoko, JapanesePod101.com lesson creator, host and Office Party Planner!

Hi everyone, Motoko here!

Today I’d like to tell you about another listener visit we had recently. We had a JapanesePod101.com listener come to visit us in the office. This was the fourth visit for me, but I still felt nervous!

This is Matt. He was visiting from California.

I had heard that he came to Japan for a holiday. But it seems that it was more of a special trip for him, because guess what? He came here to meet his girlfriend’s parents for the first time. His girlfriend is Japanese, and he wanted to meet her parents. It sounded like a big event to me! But Matt kept smiling the whole time and said he was alright. I thought he was brave.

I guess that Peter probably felt more nervous, because he knows that it’s one of the big events for men in Japan to meet their girlfriends’ parents!

I was very happy to receive the souvenir he brought. It was popular Girl Scout cookies from the United States. One packet was chocolate mint flavor, and the other was peanut butter. I liked the peanut butter ones more than the choco mint.  Thanks, Matt! We all enjoyed them.

Matt, did you have a lovely time with your girlfriend and her parents? I hope so.

(May 2013)

Welcome to Innovative Language Headquarters! Listener Visit #3

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013

Today, we bring you another blog post from Motoko, JapanesePod101.com lesson creator, host and Office Party Planner! Motoko will be sharing more bilingual posts on our blog, so check back often and leave a comment!

Hi everyone, Motoko here!

Today I’d like to tell you about another listener meetup we had.

The other day, we had a JapanesePod101.com listener come to visit us from Mitaka, Tokyo. (Yes. From TOKYO!)

Audrius studies at a private university in Tokyo and lives in the dormitories there. He is from Lithuania, in Northern Europe. He is the first Lithuanian I’ve ever met! I was pleasantly surprised by his level of Japanese fluency.

Welcome to Innovative Language Headquarters! Listener Visit #3

Let me talk a little about his Japanese learning journey: he started learning Japanese with JapanesePod101 in Lithuania, before he came to Japan. Then he continued to study it at the university. His energy and efforts towards learning Japanese are awesome, aren’t they?

We welcome anyone traveling to Japan or studying here to visit us! Drop by our office and say Kon’nichiwa!
(Apr, 2013)

Fond Farewells at Innovative Language

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

Today, we bring you another blog post from Motoko, JapanesePod101.com lesson creator, host and Office Party Planner! Motoko will be sharing more bilingual posts on our blog, so check back often and leave a comment! 

Hello everyone! Motoko here. Did you know that March is one of the most important months in Japan? That’s because it’s farewell season.

Schools and companies start new academic and financial years in April. This means their years end in March, and that’s when graduation ceremonies are held in schools. Here, we have interns who are college students, and some of them leave us in March. This March, we said goodbye to two student interns and one full-time staff member.

But we will see them again someday; we didn’t actually say “good bye”, but “see you again” then saw them off.

 

We hope that all three enjoy their new adventures!

 

(March, 2013)  

Giving Thanks and Sweets at Innovative

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

Today, we bring you another blog post from Motoko, JapanesePod101.com lesson creator, host and Office Party Planner! Motoko will be sharing more bilingual posts on our blog, so check back often and leave a comment! 

Hi all! Motoko here. It’s been a while since my last post!

But today, I’d like to talk about one of the most popular events in Japan. It’s the day that we say “I love you” and “thanks” to the people we spend the most time with.

This day is Valentine’s Day, on February 14th. It originally came from European culture, didn’t it? And people usually give presents or flowers to the one they love on that day. I’m guessing that in your country, it’s the men who give presents to their partners. But in Japan, ladies give chocolate to men!

It’s the only chance each year when ladies can declare their love to the men they love. They usually make or buy chocolates and give them to the men.

Recently, however, most people have been giving chocolates to their colleagues and friends. On Valentine’s Day at Innovative Language, the ladies brought sweets they had made or bought to the office. Also, Peter gave boxes of chocolate to each of our team members. The men and ladies in the office all enjoyed these sweets together. Though no one declared their love, it was a day for us to say “thanks for everything!” to each other.

So if Valentine’s Day is for men, did the men of Innovative Language do anything in return? Well, in Japan, this happens on White Day, which falls on March 14th. This is an event that is well known in Japan and also in South Korea. The men who received presents on Valentine’s Day return the favor to the lady they got the chocolate from. Some return the declaration of love to the lady too! And some give sweets and snacks to their friends in return. At the Innovative office, most of the men brought boxes of sweets for the ladies. The boxes said “Happy White Day! Only for Girls!!” (Unlike on Valentine’s Day!) The guys looked sad about this because they love chocolate!      

What happens in your country on Valentine’s Day and White Day?

(Feb - Mar, 2013)

Evil Spirits Out, Good Fortune In at Innovative!

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

Today, we bring you another blog post from Motoko, JapanesePod101.com lesson creator, host and Office Party Planner! Motoko will be sharing more bilingual posts on our blog, so check back often and leave a comment!

Hi all, Motoko here!

Today I’d like to tell you about the Mamemaki (“bean-throwing”) event we held on Setsubun. Setsubun falls on March 3rd. On the Japanese traditional calendar, the day after Setsubun (March 4th) is the beginning of spring.

However, it’s still cold in the modern calendar!

According to the traditional calendar, Setsubun falls on the day between winter and spring. On that day, people hold a ceremony to throw beans – usually roasted soybeans – at their homes.

In ancient times, people believed that oni, a kind of evil spirit, would come to their house between the two seasons. To drive the oni out of their houses, they would throw beans.

These days, a person plays the role of oni in these ceremonies, and people throw beans at them. In the Innovative office, one of our male team members played oni (see photo), and the other staff threw beans at him, and wished for good luck for the company this year.

After throwing them, people collect and eat the beans. It is believed that eating them brings good health in the year that follows. People traditionally eat, or should eat, as many beans as their age. For example, a 20-year-old person eats 20 beans, and a 30-year-old person eats 30 beans. So if you are 40 or 50 years old, it must be tough to accomplish this feat! In reality, people usually just eat as many as they want; it can be more or less than their actual age.

(2013 Feb.)

Getting Sporty at Innovative Language

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

Today, we bring you another blog post from Motoko, JapanesePod101.com lesson creator, host and Office Party Planner! Motoko will be sharing more bilingual posts on our blog, so check back often and leave a comment!

Hi listeners! Motoko here. In this blog, I would like to talk about our trip to Round1. This was the second event we held while Eran was here (actually, we went there in November! :p). Round1 is one of the Japanese amusement complexes that have a variety of athletic fields for sport and other indoor activities. It is also famous for “Spo-cha,” (short for “sports challenge”) which is the name of the kind of service Round1 offers.

You just pay the fee for 1 or 3 hours and then enjoy as many sports and arcade games as you like. We call it ‘1-jikan asobi hōdai’ or ‘3-jikan asobi hōdai’ (1時間遊び放題 or 3時間遊び放題).

I tried rollerblading for the first time in my life and it was REALLY difficult even just moving forward. (So one of my co-workers rescued me. It was a very good experience though!)

Even if you are not good at sport, you can still find something to enjoy. There are arcade games (for free!), darts, a rodeo bull machine, and karaoke!

When you’re hanging out with a group of friends in Japan, Round1 is a great place to go!

(Dec 2012)

Year-end Cleaning at Innovative Language Tokyo Office!

Tuesday, December 25th, 2012

Today, we bring you another blog post from Motoko, JapanesePod101.com lesson creator, host and Office Party Planner! Motoko will be sharing more bilingual posts on our blog, so check back often and leave a comment!

Hey everyone. Motoko here! I’d like to talk about our year-end cleaning event, called Ō-sōji(大掃除) in Japanese. Most of our staff had questions about why people in offices did cleaning themselves instead of hiring cleaning staff. But this process is very significant for the year end in Japan.

As you see from its kanji, this is the biggest cleaning season and takes place at the end of the year. It has its origin in a Shinto event called Susuharai (煤払い), in which monks and people cleaned their houses to purify them and welcome the god/kami called Toshi-gami (歳神様 or 年神様) on new year’s day. In other words, Ō-sōji was originally a ritual event. The god, Toshi-gami, is believed to bring people and also their houses happiness and luck each new year. People traditionally clean their houses together and prepare for new year’s day. They believe that if the house is dusty and dirty, the god won’t come. (Japanese gods tend to like nice and clean places!)

In order to invite happiness and luck to the office, some of us formed a group: Team Ō-sōji. We had a one-hour cleaning session in the office. To be more eco-friendly, we chose to use dusters, zōkin (雑巾), to wipe everything off. You can use one of these almost forever just by washing and squeezing it.

[photo1: Our powerful weapon: マイペット]
マイペット

[photo2: Clean dusters after the cleaning ]
Clean dusters after the cleaning

After the cleaning, we of course went to a meal to reward everyone for their hard work.

[photo3: Salt can be one of the good sauces. Simple is best! ]
Salt can be one of the good sauces. Simple is best!

(Nov. 2012)

Welcoming Eran to the Tokyo office!

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

Today, we bring you another blog post from Motoko, JapanesePod101.com lesson creator, host and Office Party Planner! Motoko will be sharing more bilingual posts on our blog, so check back often and leave a comment!

Hey everyone. Motoko here!

Today I would like to talk about our recent visit from Innovative Language’s Co-Founder, Eran. Though he’s usually based in New York, he came to visit the Tokyo office in mid-November. It had been a year since his previous visit, so we welcomed him and took him to some interesting spots!

The first event was dinner at Ninja Akasaka. I’m sure you know what a ninja is! And this is a restaurant where you can see modern-day ninja and enjoy creative, gourmet meals. When we arrived, we were let in to the restaurant in groups of 4 or 5 people. What we saw as we entered is a secret, but it was definitely a fun and exciting experience! After being welcomed in, ninja or kunoichi (female ninja) took us to our tables. The seating areas looked like caves and we squished into our small but comfortable seats.

Every meal both looked and tasted great! The course started with a terrine of foie gras with Shuriken-shaped biscuits.

Most of the dishes related somehow to ninja and were fun to look at and eat. I really liked the tiny ninja-shaped dessert, because it was pretty cute!


If you like the animes Naruto or Nintama Rantaro, or even if you don’t really like ninja, I recommend a visit to this restaurant because you will experience something special!

(Nov. 2012)

Halloween at Innovative Language!

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

Today, we bring you another blog post from Motoko, JapanesePod101.com lesson creator, host and Office Party Planner! Motoko will be sharing more bilingual posts on our blog, so check back often and leave a comment!

Hi everyone, Motoko here!

Today, I’d like to let you all know what we did for Halloween here in the office. Unfortunately, Halloween has not been popular in Japan in the past, but it has been getting more and more popular recently. The most famous event would be the Halloween parade in Kawasaki, as well as some other costume parties in nightclubs in the city. People usually wear a costume and become their favorite characters, and can enjoy dancing and eating. Few people go to the neighbors and say “Trick or Treat!” like people in the US do – this is because many people still don’t know what Halloween is here.

Since most of our team is from other countries, we decorated the office with Halloween stuff. Getting into the spirit, our boss Peter took the initiative with the decorations. We also had another drawing competition, like we have for other occasions in the past. Our team members drew their own jack-o’-lanterns and then put them to a vote on the 31st. We had 2 in the first place. One is the ‘abstract’ interpretation on the top left (G) and the other one has big sparkly cute eyes (I).


Which one do you like the most? What kind of jack-o’-lantern would you draw?

Extra photo: Our new motto is “no sick days”! We work ourselves to the bone!

(2012 Nov.)