SEC 英会話アカデミーでは、話せるようになることが一番大切だと考えます。
そして、次のステップへ。 それが、SEC英会話アカデミーの目指す英会話スクールです。


  • 講師は、あなたの目標を理解した上でレッスンを進めていきます。
  • 受講希望の方すべてに無料体験レッスンを受けていただき、担当した講師の判断で初級コースと中級コースのいずれかに割り当てられます。
  • レッスンは集中力が高まるマン・ツー・マン形式です。
  • あなたに合わせたレッスン・スタイルでレッスンを受けられます。
Educational Blogs
User Profile   October 13, 2017

Welcome back to our annual social media Japan report! Though the main players in Japanese social media haven’t changed since our 2016 report, their positions and users have. This article will take a look at which networks are most important in Japan, how they’ve changed over the past year, and what you should be ready for in 2017 to stay ahead on social media.

If this is your first look into Japanese social media, we recommend checking out our 2016 Japanese social media report. Reading it will give you a good understanding of how social media in Japan is different compared to other markets. If you already have, or are already aware, then let’s get started!

Japanese Social Media Indicators in 2017:

  • Twitter has a big lead on Facebook in Japan and is still showing strong growth
  • Instagram is taking off just as we expected, pushing beyond 10 million users in Japan this year
  • Facebook is showing stagnation in Japan. Their growth is low and there are signs of low time being spent on the social network as well.

Japan’s Top Social Networks in 2016: Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram


*Tap or Hover on the graph below to see details.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
Source: Facebook, Nielsen, NHK, CNET, eMarketer, WSJ, Twitter, MyNavi
*2013/14 Twitter data is based on eMarketer figures
*2015/16 Twitter data is based on Twitter official figures
**2016 Facebook and Instagram data was reported by Facebook in Sept 2016


Looking at the latest numbers shows Twitter knocking it out of the park compared to Facebook and Instagram. Twitter reported having over 40 million users in Japan in 2016. This overshadows Facebook’s 25 million Japanese users and dwarfs Instagram’s 12 million. One important note about Twitter is that they have only recently begun to release data about MAU by country. The appearance of a rapid increase in Japanese Twitter users from 2014 to 2015 could be the result of more accurate reporting coming straight from Twitter rather than an actual increase of that magnitude.

Twitter: Japan’s Dominant Social Network


Twitter has apparently been underrated in Japan until releasing official figures for the country in 2016, which were much higher than what reputable market research firms were reporting. According to Twitter, the network saw a 14% increase in users that pushed it above 40 million monthly active users (MAU) for 2016 in Japan. As we’ve mentioned in previous analyses, Twitter Japan’s success is largely due to its mobile-friendliness and anonymity among its network, two factors that have shown to be very important to Japanese social networkers.

Twitter is also seeing much more activity and engagement among Japanese users. According to survey data, 40% of Twitter users said that they increased the amount of time they spent on the social network this year. Additionally, 41% of Twitter users said they are connected to over 100 people via the social media channel. For comparison, only 29% of LINE users and 28% of Facebook and Instagram users said they are connected to over 100 people.


*Tap or Hover on the graph below to see details.

Source: MIC
*Data is from 2015, taken from 2016 MIC report

Demographics are also helping Twitter to stay ahead. Teens and twentysomethings are the largest age demographic on the social network, and not coincidentally twentysomethings have the highest smartphone adoption rates in the country. Furthermore, Twitter is almost evenly split between male and female users, at 49% and 51% respectively. Comparing these demographics show that Twitter provides the most diverse and wide-reaching audience of any major social network in Japan.

Twitter provides the most diverse and wide-reaching audience of any major social network in Japan.

Not only is it diverse, but Twitter is a much more wide-reaching network than Facebook and Instagram in Japan. It allows easier access to celebrities and influencers than on Facebook, and due to anonymity, people are not shy to follow and be followed. Additionally, there is a much broader range of content that is shared on Twitter in Japan, thanks to anonymity.

Facebook: Strong But Stagnant


Facebook is still sitting behind Twitter as Japan’s second most popular social network but is growing at a strikingly lower rate than Twitter and Facebook’s own Instagram. As mentioned in our previous report, Facebook experienced a rough start in Japan due to the fact that Japanese internet users prefer anonymity to Facebook’s real-name network. Eventually, Facebook managed to break through that cultural barrier and experienced rapid growth from 2011-2012. Now that the honeymoon is over, it seems that Twitter is reclaiming that momentum among Japanese social networkers.

In spite of this, there are still over 26 million Japanese Facebook MAU. Even if the social network is showing slow growth in Japan, it is still an established and useful channel of communication in japan.


*Tap or Hover on the graph below to see details.

Source: MIC
*Data is from 2015, taken from 2016 MIC report

In terms of demographics, Facebook in Japan is generally more adult than Twitter and used in a much more professional manner. Over half of Facebook’s Japanese users are in their 20’s or 30’s, and about a third are in their 40’s and 50’s. Seniors and teens make up less than 10% each of Facebook’s user base. In terms of gender, Facebook users are almost evenly split with 53% male and 47% female.

Japanese Facebook users are generally careful about what they share on the social network, considering that work colleagues are commonly added as friends. Additionally, Facebook is being used as a networking tool among young Japanese professionals. This makes Facebook Japan a place where users are not likely to share controversial or striking material, but rather more public and widely acceptable content.

Additionally, over 90% of Facebook users are accessing the social network via smartphones and mobile devices. In 2017, virtually everything should be mobile enabled, but remember that mobile-minded content is going to be crucial when communicating with Facebook users in Japan.

Instagram: The Fastest Growing Japanese Social Network


Instagram was still seen as a newcomer to Japan in 2015 but has become much more established and common in 2016. The photo sharing social network has seen the highest rates of growth among all social networks in Japan since 2014, enjoying a 37% increase in users from 2015-2016 and pushing above 12 million users in 2016 as well.

Consistent with 2015, Instagram also scored the highest satisfaction ratings among Japanese social networkers, tied with LINE as the most enjoyable social network in Japan. Users are also spending more time on Instagram, with 58% of users reporting that they increased the time they spent on Instagram in 2016. We’d say it’s safe to conclude that Japanese people are generally liking Instagram as a social network, and as smartphone adoption continues to be on the rise, we can only speculate that Instagram will keep its momentum into 2017.


*Tap or Hover on the graph below to see details.

Source: MIC
*Data is from 2015, taken from 2016 MIC report

As for demographics, Instagram still is strongest among young women, but men and older users both rose in 2016. We saw year over year user increases of over 200% for both men and women over 50 years old on Instagram in Japan. Color us a bit surprised to see this, but it seems that Instagram isn’t just for the kids. This shift could lead to a new dynamic for the network, with a curious mix of content for young and old audiences.

Usage is quite similar to Twitter in terms of influencers and followers. There are numerous Japanese celebrity accounts now that have surpassed 1 million followers. Additionally, brands are also doing well on Instagram in Japan. Fashion and food related companies continue to be very popular in Japan, but we’re seeing many more automotive brands and accounts gaining popularity among Japanese Instagram users. This is likely a result of the increase in male users. It will be interesting to see how the dynamic of Instagram will change with an increase of older and male users hopping on.

LINE: Japan’s Favorite Messenger App

As we have mentioned in our previous report on social media in Japan, LINE is less of a social network and more of a messaging app. We have covered LINE’s usage in Japan extensively, and also have advice on how to connect with Japanese LINE users on our blog. We suggest taking a look at our previous blogs to learn more about LINE in Japan.

Ephemeral Social Networks: Snapchat and its New Counterparts

Ephemeral Social networks such as Snapchat, where users send temporary content to one another that can only be seen for a short period of time, are already mainstream and popular in many markets but have just started to gain traction in Japan in 2016. Snapchat, Instagram Stories, and Snow are all vying for users in Japan, and gaining quite a lot of attention. Though they aren’t quite mainstream in Japan yet, we think they are worth paying attention to in 2017.


Though we don’t have hard numbers on MAU in Japan, experienced a 250% increase in traffic from Japan in Q1 2016. Additionally, survey data shows that Snapchat is used by over 50% of ephemeral social network users in Japan. Snapchat isn’t seen as an innovator of ephemeral social networks like it is in America, and other networks are gaining ground on the app in Japan as a result.


Instagram is sort of crossing over its style of social networking with the introduction of Instagram stories. The “me-too” feature that mimics Snapchat’s function of sharing temporary images and videos for up to 24 hours has seen strong adoption rates compared to competitors. Survey data shows that 30% of ephemeral social network users switched from using Snapchat to Instagram stories in mid-2016. Considering the rapid growth of Instagram as an overall social network, Instagram stories is poised to keep a strong hold of this segment.


Snow is a newcomer in this segment which was recently launched by LINE messenger’s parent company Naver. Though many of its features can be seen as a direct copy of Snapchat, they are very localized for Japanese and Asian audiences. Naver has a very good sense of what smartphone users want in Japan, and Snow is an app geared directly towards them. Survey data shows that Snow was more popular than Snapchat in mid-2016, and it’s a network that we will definitely be keeping an eye on in 2017.

Special Mentions


LinkedIn is still showing very small adoption in Japan and hasn’t released any new usage figures for Japan in 2016. According to their website, they have over 1 million users in Japan. As we mentioned last year, if you’re looking for English speaking professionals or expats living in Japan, LinkedIn is a great place for that. Otherwise, we suggest Facebook for contacting and maintaining professional contacts in Japan.

Social Media in Japan for 2017

Looking at all of the trends, we think that Twitter is definitely going to be the dominant social network in Japan for 2017. Twitter Japan has seen massive growth over the past two years, and the network’s reach is unmatched. Instagram is the up and coming network that we expect to continue growing. Additionally, brands are doing pretty well on Instagram. Also, Facebook is still relevant and allows highly targeted advertising. Though the reach isn’t as broad as Twitter, it is better for reaching professionals and older users.

Whatever your plans are for 2017, there are millions of social networkers in Japan that you can reach out there. We’d love to help you expand on this information to plan your social media marketing plans for 2017 and keep on growing in Japan.

User Profile   October 04, 2017

1. Sensōji (浅草寺)


Sensō-ji 金龍山浅草寺, is Tokyo’s largest ancient Buddhist temple and a major Tokyo attractions for Japanese and foreigners located in Asakusa.

The temple is dedicated to the Bodhisattva Kannon, also known as Guan Yin or the Goddess of Mercy.

It is Tokyo’s oldest temple, and one of its most significant. Formerly associated with the Tendai sect, it became independent after World War II.

Opening Hours

Daily 06:00am – 05:00pm

Getting there

By Subway :

1. Tokyo Metro : Ginza Line – Asakusa Station

2. Toei Subway : Asakusa Line – Asakusa Station

2. Nakamise (仲見世)


Located just before Sensoji after Kaminarimon or “Thunder Gate”, a massive paper lantern dramatically painted in vivid red-and-black tones to suggest thunderclouds and lightning, Nakamise is one of the oldest shopping centers in Japan.

Apart from typical Japanese souvenirs such as yukata, keychains and folding fans, various traditional local snacks from the Asakusa area are sold along the Nakamise.

Opening Hours

Daily 10:00am – 5:00pm

Getting there

By Subway :

1. Tokyo Metro : Ginza Line – Asakusa Station

2. Toei Subway : Asakusa Line – Asakusa Station

3. Meiji Jingū (明治神宮)


Meiji Shrine 明治神宮, is the Shinto shrine that is dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shōken.

To pay respect : At a Torii (shrine archway): Bow once when entering and leaving.

At Temizuya (water well) : Rinse your left hand then right hand. Then Rinse your mouth with your left hand before rinse your left hand again. Lastly rinse the dipper (allow the remaining water to run down the handle of the dipper).

At the Main Shrine building : Bow twice. Clap your hands twice. Make a wish if you like & Bow once again.

Opening Hours

Daily 06:30am – 4:30pm ( Summer time opens until 6.00pm )

Getting there

By Subway :

1. Tokyo Metro : Chiyoda Line – Meiji Jingu Mae Station

2. Tokyo Metro : Fukutoshin Line – Meiji Jingu Mae Station

4. Imperial Palace & East Garden (皇居)


Tokyo Imperial Palace 皇居 is the main residence of the Emperor of Japan. Except on Jan 2 (New Year’s Greeting) and Dec 23 (Emperor’s Birthday), the palace buildings and inner gardens are not open to the public .

Only on both specific dates, visitors are able to enter the inner palace grounds and see the members of the Imperial Family, who make several public appearances on a balcony.

The Imperial Palace East Gardens 皇居東御苑, are a part of the inner palace area and are open to the public.

Opening Hours

Daily except Monday & Friday 09:00am – 4:00pm ( Summer opens until 5.00pm )

Getting there

By Subway :

1. Tokyo Metro : Marunouchi Line – Tokyo Station

2. Tokyo Metro : Tozai, Chiyoda, Marunouchi, Hanzomon Line – Ōtemachi Station (exit C10 – closer to East Garden)

3. Toei Subway : Mita Line – Ōtemachi Station (exit C10 – closer to East Garden)

5. Tsukiji Fish Market (築地市場)


Tsukiji Market 築地市場, is the biggest wholesale fish and seafood market in the world. It handles more than 400 different types of seafood from cheap seaweed to the most expensive caviar, and from tiny sardines to 300 kg tuna and controversial whale species.

The most interesting part is the Tuna Auction. It is limited to 120 visitors per day. Viewing tickets are issued on a First come, First serve basis beginning at 4:30 AM at the market’s Fish Information Center, located next to the Kachidoki entrance. (Not the main entrance)

The first 60 ticket holders are able to view the auction from 5:25 AM until 5:50 AM, while the other 60 ticket holders can view the remainder of the auction from 5:50 AM until 6:15 AM.

Note : To watch Tuna Auction, it is advisable to stay near Ginza area so you can catch a cheaper cab early in the morning. No trains are operating at this hour.

You can also book a Tsukiji Tuna Auction Tour with a Guide during the night.

Opening Hours

Daily except Sunday & alternate Wednesday: 04:00am – 11:00am

Getting there

By Subway :

1. Tokyo Metro : Hibiya Line – Tsukiji Station

For More Info : Tsukiji Website

6. Tokyo Skytree (東京スカイツリー)


Tokyo Skytree

One of Tokyo’s newest landmark & attraction, the 634 meter Tokyo Skytree is the tallest tower in Japan. The tower is the primary television and radio broadcast site for Kanto region.


Tokyo skytree

The Tokyo Skytree is its two observation decks Tembo Deck & Tembo Gallery which offer spectacular views of Tokyo city skyline. On the base of Tokyo Skytree host a large shopping complex with aquarium.

Opening Hours

Daily 08:00am – 10:00pm

Getting there

By Subway :

1. Tokyo Metro Hanzomon Line & Toei Subway Asakusa Line : Oshiage Station

For More Info : Tokyo Skytree Website

7. Tokyo Disneyland & DisneySEA (東京ディズニーランド)


Disney Sea Tokyo

Tokyo Disneyland is a 115-acre theme park based on the films produced by Walt Disney. It was opened in 1983 as the first Disney theme park outside of the United States.

Tokyo DisneySea, the 4th most-visited theme park in the world is also the 9th park of the 11 worldwide Disney theme parks to open.

Inspired by the myths and legends of the sea, Tokyo DisneySea is made up of seven themed ports of call: Mediterranean Harbor, Mystery Island, Mermaid Lagoon, Arabian Coast, Lost River Delta, Port Discovery and American Waterfront.

Opening Hours

Daily 08:30am – 10:00pm

Getting there

By Subway :

1. Tokyo Metro : Yurakucho Line – Shin-kiba Station. Change to JR Line Train to Maihama Station.

For More Info : Tokyo Disneyland Official Website

8. Kabukichō (歌舞伎町)



Kabukichō (舞伎町 is an entertainment and red-light district in in north east Shinjuku beyond Yasukuni-dōri Avenue.

It is very famous for hostess bars, host bars, love hotels, shops, restaurants, and nightclubs, and is often called the “Sleepless Town” .

The district’s name comes from late-1940s plans to build a kabuki theater: although the theater was never built due to financial difficulties, the name stuck.

Opening Hours

Daily 7:00pm – 3:00am

Getting there

By Subway :

1. Tokyo Metro : Marunouchi Line – Shinjuku Station

2. Toei Subway : Oedo & Shinjuku Line – Shinjuku Station

9. Ginza (銀座)



The Ginza (銀座) is considered the high fashion center of the city and contains many upscale shops and restaurants.

It is one of the most expensive real estate in the world. During weekend, the street will be closed to motor traffic during the day hence becoming a Pedestrians’ Paradise.

Opening Hours

Daily 10:00am – 10:00pm

Getting there

By Subway :

1. Tokyo Metro : Marunouchi, Ginza & Hibiya Line – Ginza Station

10. Yasukuni Shrine (靖國神社)


Yasukuni Shrine 靖国神社 is a Shinto shrine dedicated to the soldiers and others who died fighting on behalf of the Emperor of Japan.

When the Emperor Meiji visited Tokyo Shokonsha for the first time in 1874, he composed a poem; “I assure those of you who fought and died for your country that your names will live forever at this shrine in Musashino”.

Opening Hours

Daily 6:00 to 18:00 (to 19:00 from May to Aug ; to 17:00 from Nov to Feb)

Getting there

By Subway :

1. Tokyo Metro : Tozai & Hanzomon Line – Kudanshita Station

2. Toei Subway : Shinjuku Line – Kudanshita Station

11. Akihabara Electric Town (秋葉原)


Akihabara is the largest town collecting all kinds of electronic appliances and devices in the world. The products at the very top of technology are always abundantly available here.

Over here, staffs master 20 languages of the world. Communication here can be going on smoothly without any problems. Customers can easily purchase the overseas model products.

Check out : Akhihabara Town Map

Opening Hours

Daily 11:00am – 9:00pm

Getting there

By Subway :

1. Tokyo Metro : Hibiya Line – Akihabara Station

12. Roppongi (六本木)



Roppongi 六本木 well known as the city’s most popular nightlife district among foreigners, offers a large number of foreigner friendly bars, restaurants and night clubs.

Recent redevelopment projects, Roppongi Hills and Tokyo Midtown have increase Roppongi’s appeal to a wider range of visitors big shopping complexes & luxury hotels.

Getting there

By Subway :

1. Tokyo Metro : Hibiya Line – Roppongi Station

2. Toei Subway : Oedo Line – Roppongi Station

13. Kubukiza (歌舞伎座)

Kabuki-za in Ginza was the principal theater in Tokyo for the traditional kabuki drama form.

It is the only theater in Japan that has shows every month. The building’s design is old and unique, registered as a Tangible Cultural Property by the Agency for cultural affairs in Japanese Government in 2002.

Getting there

By Subway :

1. Tokyo Metro : Hibiya Line – Higashi-Ginza Station. Exit 3.

2. Toei Subway : Asakusa Line – Higashi-Ginza Station. Exit 3.

14. Tokyo Tower (東京タワー)


Tokyo Tower 東京タワーthe world’s tallest self-supporting steel tower is a communications and observation tower.

At 332.5 metres (1,091 ft), it is the second tallest artificial structure in Japan. Completed in the year 1958 as a symbol for Japan’s rebirth as a major economic power.

Visitors can ascend to the main observatory at 150 meters and the special observatory at 250 meters to get a bird’s eye view of Tokyo.

Opening Hours

Daily 09:00am – 09:00pm ( main observatory )

Getting there

By Subway :

1. Toei Subway : Oedo Line – Akabanebashi Station. Exit Akabanebashi Gate.

2. Tokyo Metro : Hibiya Line – Kamiyacho Station. Ext No.1.

For More Info : Tokyo Tower Official Site

15. Hachikō Statue (ハチ公)


One of the most touching real life story in the world. Hidesaburō Ueno, a professor in University of Tokyo, took in Hachikō, a golden brown Akita, as a pet. During his owner’s life, Hachikō greeted him at the end of each day at the nearby Shibuya Station.

The pair continued until May 1925, when Professor Ueno did not return. The professor had suffered from a cerebral hemorrhage and died, never returning to the train station where Hachikō was waiting.

Every day for the next nine years the dog waited at Shibuya station. Hachikō died in 1935, and was found on a street in Shibuya.

Eventually, Hachikō’s legendary faithfulness became a national symbol of loyalty, particularly to the person and institution of the Emperor.

Getting there

By Subway :

1. Tokyo Metro : Hanzomon, Fukutoshin & Ginza Line – Shibuya. Exit Hachiko.

Other Attractions

 1. Sanrio Puroland (サンリオピューロランド)


Sanrio Puroland

Sanrio Puroland, home of Hello Kitty, My Melody is the 2nd theme park in Japan featuring characters, following Disneyland.

Located indoor, it is an all weather park which offers a variety of live performances and attractions.

Note : You can buy bento’s outside of the theme park to save money.

Book Your Tickets Online : Sanrio Puroland

Opening Hours : 09:30am – 5:00pm (Check the website for the exact opening time & Closed Day)

Getting there

By Subway :

1. KEIO Line : From Shinjuku Station – Take rapid bound train to Hashimoto & get off at Tama Center Station. Walk out of the station go straight till KEIO Plaza Hotel Tama and turn left.

For More Info : Sanrio Puroland Official Website

2. Pokemon Center Mega Tokyo


The Pokémon Center is a specialist store for Pokémon goods. The wide range of original Pokémon Center goods are the most popular items found at the Pokémon Center.

If you want Pokémon goods, Pokémon Center is the place to go!

Opening Hours : Daily 10am to 8pm

Address : Sunshine City alpa 2F, 3-1-2 Higashi-Ikebukuro, Toshima-ku, Tokyo, 170-6002

Getting there

By Subway :

1. Tokyo Metro : Yurakucho Line (Y) – Higashi-Ikebukuro Station

2. Tokyo Metro : Marunouchi (M), Yurakucho (Y) & Fukutoshin (F) Line – Ikebukuro Station

3. Book Your Tokyo Tours Online


User Profile   October 04, 2017

Do you want to study, work, or live in an English speaking country? If so, taking the IELTS is probably in your future.

Once you’re clear on the IELTS meaning (“IELTS” means International English Language Testing System), you’ll need to figure out whether you need to take the Academic IELTS or the General IELTS. The Academic version of IELTS has different Reading and Writing sections than the General version, so your study materials need to be specific to the version you’re taking.

Tips for Academic Writing Task 1

The IELTS Academic Writing section is divided into two Tasks. In IELTS Academic Writing Task 1, you must describe the information in a given graphic, table, chart, or diagram.

Here are three tips to keep in mind when writing your response.

1. Don’t over-complicate the question

IELTS recommends you spend 20 minutes on Task 1. The examiners don’t expect (or want) you to write down every possible detail about the visual you’re analyzing.

2. Organize your ideas logically

Once you know what the question is asking, you can start your essay. Grouping ideas together logically will make your ideas less jumbled and easier to read. Try using this three-paragraph organizational template when writing your Task 1 response.

3. Understand your limits when interpreting data

There is a lot of specific grammar and vocabulary that people use when talking about data, so it’s better for you to stick to common vocabulary than to use technical words you aren’t sure about.

Tips for Academic Writing Task 2

For IELTS Academic Writing Task 2, you must write an essay to discuss a given problem and possible solutions to it. Here are three tips to help you construct a good essay.

1. Break down the question

Unless you fully answer the question, you cannot score higher than a band 5. Luckily, once you learn how to correctly analyze a question, you can quickly improve your score.

2. Make a plan before starting to write

A lot of students don’t plan out their essays before they start writing. If you do this, it’s very likely that you’ll get lost in the middle and either end up with a very disorganized essay, or you may even have to start over completely.

3. Write slightly over the word limit

It’s a lot of work, but the IELTS examiners actually do count every word of your writing test to make sure it meets the minimum word requirement. For Task 2 you have to write at least 250 words. That means writing 249 words for Task 2 will cost you points.


User Profile   October 03, 2017

Video games—currently, this has become a prevalent form of media that is accessible in different forms. From home consoles, arcade machines, and even mobile phones, most people all over the world now have access to this wonderful invention for entertainment. However, the present industry would not be as strong as it is now without the influence of Japan. Even up to this point, Japanese gaming companies such as Nintendo, Square Enix, Sony, and Bandai-Namco are still revolutionizing the trade with the games and consoles that they are producing. With this much importance in the industry, it could only mean that the country had its deep roots in the landscape. Let us look at the contributions and the evolution of Japanese gaming culture, and how it made a breakthrough in the West.

The 80s Arcade Golden Age

While Atari in North America was dropping in sales during the Game Crash of 1983, Japan was churning out the classic titles that we know even today. With the creation of the arcade titles like Space Invaders (1978), Pac-Man (1980), and Donkey Kong (1981), Japan started the Golden Age of Arcade Games. Because of the popularity of these games, North America and Europe started importing them to quench the demand for video games in their respective region.

Soon after, Nintendo, in 1983, started to reignite its initial concept of a home console for gaming in the form of the the 8-bit console, Nintendo Family Computer (Famicom, for short), which was known to the Western market as Nintendo Entertainment System. This console, in tandem with the arcade exportation, revived the gaming industry in the West, and placed Japan in the global market, as titles like Super Mario Bros, The Legend of Zelda, and Final Fantasy (1987) gave diversity to the games available in the market. 

Lastly, near the end of the decade, Sega, being driven by the will to compete, created the Sega Mega Drive (Sega Genesis in the West) in 1988. It was the first 16-bit home console, and was able to become a more successful console in the North American and European markets than in Japan. Its main competitor, Nintendo’s Super Famicom (Super Nintendo Entertainment System), also a 16-bit console, was released during the next year, and was the one that dominated the local market. 

The Early 90s and the Development of 3D Graphics 

Not long after the success of home consoles in the previous decade, the 90s marked the transition from sprite-based graphics, to full-fledged 3D graphics. This demanded an upgrade from the low bitrate consoles of yesterday, to the beloved 32-bit and 64-bit consoles of the time. The two mega consoles of the time were the Sony Playstation, and Nintendo’s Nintendo 64. In conjunction with the development of these consoles came the further diversity of game genres that provided gamers worldwide the choice of which game can pander to their taste, increasing gameplay complexity to take advantage of this increasingly technological engines. The release of Street Fighter II for the arcade, Nintendo Super Famicom, and Sega Mega Drive was the initial spark that ignited the boom of the fighting game genre. The titles Final Fantasy and all its 6 installments gave rise to the role-playing game genre, with the subsequent title Final Fantasy VII in 1997 being the highest grossing game in the franchise with its revolutionary graphics and story-telling, and gameplay. Lastly, we also have Super Mario World and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, two of the greatest franchises of Nintendo, that improved the genre of platformer and adventure games to what it is today. 

In addition to the home console improvements of this era, Nintendo also gave birth to the market where it thrives significantly even until today—handheld gaming. In 1989, the Nintendo Game Boy was released in Japan, and was welcomed by most gamers who deem it convenient to be able to play their games while being away from home. The console had its own line of Super Mario games, as well as Megaman games; but one of the Nintendo originals whose main franchise was deemed exclusive to the Nintendo handheld market was Pokemon

The Late 90s: Age of Story Complexity 

Continuing the development initiated during the early 90s, game developers were now able to put more content into their games. Role-playing games and adventure games gained longer and more in-depth plots that came with the titles, most notably in the previously-mentioned Final Fantasy VII. With three discs to encapsulate a single game, it is most expected that depth of content would be expansive, with mini-games and subquests being a staple for the genre. The new expansion of content also gave birth to memorable game soundtracks and graphic designs, as well as creation of additional game genres, like the sophistication of the stealth game genre through the release of the Metal Gear Solid for the Sony Playstation—a sequel to the original Metal Gear for the Nintendo consoles. This age was also the precedent of the next era, with the release of the first console of the Sixth generation: the Sega Dreamcast, which was hailed as the console that was ahead of its time in terms of processing power and graphics rendering. 

The handheld console also took a significant improvement in the field with the release of the Gameboy Color, as well as Sega Game Gear—both boasting the capability to now render color for their games. The notable title signifying this improvement was the release of Pokemon Gold and Silver, being able to integrate color to the game, and improve on the basic gameplay premises of the previous instalments by adding the day and night cycle, as well as the reintegration of the map of the previous Pokemon Red and Green (Blue in releases outside Japan).

The Early 2000s: The Rise of DVD Technology

One technological advancement describes this era of Japanese gaming technology—DVD. With this new media to store games, developers became capable of adding more than just gameplay complexity and high bitrate music—voice became available as well. The most notable console of this time is the highest grossing console of all time—the Playstation 2. Titles that are notable during this era were the following: Kingdom Hearts, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, Virtua Fighter 4, and Dragon Quest VII: Eden no Senshitachi. With the success of the Playstation 2, Nintendo also released its Nintendo Gamecube, which is the first Nintendo console to make use of an optical disc for its games. Noteworthy for this title is the first Pokemon game for a home console, the Pokemon Coliseum, The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker, and Super Smash Bros Melee, which is still one of the popular fighting games from Nintendo to date.

In this age, however, the Western industries were already starting to get back up its feet, and was ready to restart the production of consoles. The mark of North America at this stage was the production of the first console of Microsoft—Xbox. This will then become the biggest contributor to the lying low of Japanese gaming companies in producing their traditional style of gaming, and the beginning of Westernization of games that became prevalent in the succeeding consoles.


User Profile   September 27, 2017

Nebuta festival

Gigantic illuminated floats take to the streets of Aomori every August.

The sleepy northern town of Aomori comes alive for the Nebuta Matsuri (festival), a week-long celebration in early August, one of Japan's most famous festivals. As darkness falls, huge illuminated floats are pulled through the streets by armies of local people. Crafted from coloured rice-paper, huge images of demons, warriors and horses bear down on the crowds below as the floats are rocked, spun and raced through the town. Hundreds of dancers follow the floats, to a cacophony of bells, flutes and drums. On the last night of the festival the floats are loaded onto boats and floated out to sea against the backdrop of a spectacular firework finale!

When to go: The festival takes place annually from 2nd to 7th August. The main days are 2nd to the 6th when the night time illuminations provide the spectacular backdrop to the festivities. On the 7th there are day time celebrations all finished off with an incredible firework display over the harbour after dark.

User Profile   September 25, 2017

The Hobbit

On September 21, 1937, a book was published which would have a profound and lasting effect on popular culture. It spawned other books by the same author, books about those books by scholars and fans, and an astonishing series of films. More importantly, the book inspired other authors to take up their pens and write works of a similar nature. It was J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, or There and Back Again.

The Hobbit is a tale of self-discovery for a seemingly simple hobbit named Bilbo Baggins. Bilbo is offered an opportunity to take a journey of adventure, something hobbits are not pre-disposed to do. A wizard named Gandalf and a coterie of Dwarves eventually persuade Bilbo that he is the catalyst to helping the Dwarves cross Middle Earth to The Lonely Mountain and rescue their ancestral treasure from the evil dragon, Smaug. Along the way, Bilbo encounters Wargs, Goblins, Elves, a giant spider, and an insanely murderous creature called Gollum, whom Bilbo curiously takes pity on. He collects a sword, some treasure, and a mysterious ring. Although reluctant, and always longing for the simple pleasures waiting for him back home, Bilbo learns to his amazement that he is resourceful, clever, and brave.

The Author

Tolkien was an academic scholar and don at Oxford University when, one night, he tired of grading papers and instead began to scribble down ideas for a novel for his children that would contain elements of a new kind of mythology. His title at Oxford was as the Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon, which is an honorarium meaning that he was the university’s leading expert on early English literature, its traditions, and influences. He used his vast knowledge in this area to lovingly craft his magical tale.

Tolkien had, at the outset, a vague ambition to write a novel for his children which would embody the elements of Anglo-Saxon epics and myths, including Norse mythology and the early English saga of Beowulf. Like those tales, his story of Bilbo Baggins, and all the inhabitants of Middle Earth, began as oral narratives – bedtime stories! He recognized the significance of the heroic tradition in early cultures, and the power that myths and legends have in developing a culture.

In the 1920s, over a decade before the writing of The Hobbit, Tolkien set out to create a mythology for England, incorporating all the Anglo-Saxon, Celtic, and Icelandic beliefs and sagas combined with a deeply Christian moral system of good and evil. Although devoutly Catholic, his pre-history of English mythology never mentions God or Christ. Nevertheless, the precepts of his faith can be found throughout the work. He never abandoned this project, continuing to expand on it for over half a century until its eventual publication shortly after his death as The Silmarillion.

Tolkien loved languages. He was adept in creating new ones based on runes, the ancient northern system of writing, and dialects from throughout the Anglo-Saxon world. His names for many of the characters and locations in The Hobbit and in The Lord of the Rings are totally invented, but they sound authentic. As the stories grew more complex, so did his invented languages. They contain a grammatical symmetry and cohesion which is quite remarkable.

Roads Go Ever, Ever On

Given the work that he had already put into his mythology, and his broad knowledge of linguistics and the history of literature, it’s easy to see how Tolkien could amalgamate all of this into bedtime stories for his children. Finally, he set them to paper in one story.

He offered an early draft to several colleagues (more on them later) and at least one student, Elaine Griffiths, who in turn showed it to a friend then working for the publisher Stanley Unwin. Unwin, so the story goes, paid his young nephew to read the book and only agreed to publish it based on the boy’s enthusiastic reaction.

Tolkien also belonged to a society at Oxford called The Inklings, a group of academics who gathered at the Eagle and Child pub during semester to drink beer and discuss literature and academia. He passed the book around at one of these sessions, and it eventually fell into the hands of Tolkien’s friend, CS Lewis. He was so affected by Tolkien’s ability to charm young people with a deceptively complex idea, that Lewis went on to write his own allegorical saga of Christian philosophy, The Chronicles of Narnia.

Today, of course, we have JK Rowling’s novels of the young wizard Harry Potter, and many other works of fantastic literature, all of which owe some of their inspiration to the complex world which Tolkien crafted from his brilliant mind and stunning imagination.

Of course, it’s easy to enjoy The Hobbit without spending any time at all thinking about its literary, historical, or linguistic origins. It’s a charming tale of wizards, dragons, elves, and adventure. It appealed to children, which was certainly Tolkien’s intent, and even included some simple poems which anyone could relate to. It isn’t a fussy, stuffy book at all. It is, rather, a crackling good yarn!



User Profile   September 19, 2017

People learning a language different from their primary one always begin from the level of a child. Across the spectrum of nationalities, this is true regardless of one’s capacity, as textbooks that aid in studying a new language always begin with the formation of simple sentences with the use of simple words. Because of this, it is not surprising that the best way to augment one’s education is through children’s books.

Now, just because children’s books are intended for the young demographic, it does not mean that their themes and ideas are confined for them. Under the light word choices and easy “read” mask rich and fulfilling narrations that are worthy of being explored by all ages. However, with With that said, here are three wonderful English children’s novels that are worth picking up as a supplement to people leaning the English language.

1.     Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (1997)

The Harry Potter series of novels were written by the renowned author, J. K. Rowling, and has achieved huge popularity with the help of the movie adaptations. The Philosopher Stone is the first book of the series, which began the adventures of its main protagonist, Harry Potter, a wizard child who lived his 11 years with rather unpleasant foster family. He then discovered his magical origins, and decided to leave a life of abuse to fulfill his destiny by first going to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, the wizarding school. There, he met Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, his best friends and companions for the next seven years; and the three lived their first year of school with tons of adventure and mischief that culminated with them pursuing the coveted Philosopher’s Stone which Voldemort—the main antagonist of the series—was after at the time.

The story of The Philosopher’s Stone revolves around the themes of necessary rebellion, as well as unwavering humility. The former is presented during the multiple times the heroic trio went beyond the bounds of the school rules to do several virtuous deeds, where one of which was to prevent the evil wizard from acquiring the means of immortality. The latter, on the other hand, is envisioned in Harry Potter’s character after learning his heritage and his destiny as a hero that will save the Wizarding World from demise. He remained humble and compassionate, and had been an outstanding personality that was willing to stick out for the bullied and the oppressed. As the story progressed along the series, the themes became more socio-political despite its being a children’s story—and as such, it is best to start with the exposition and the origins of its main character, as well as his motivations.

2.     The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884)

The book here, unlike the previous entry, is the sequel to a prior book released by its author, Mark Twain, which was entitled The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. The story of this book revolves on the life of Tom Sawyer’s friend, Huckleberry Finn, who was a poor boy with a drunkard father. The story took place in St. Louis, Missouri, where the poor are oppressed, and slavery was accepted. Because of his situation as an abused child because of certain stash of riches he and Tom acquired during their previous exploits, he was adopted by a woman named Widow Douglas, who lives with her sister, Miss Watson. He was forced to be educated and groomed to become part of the elite and cultured social class, which Finn found to be disgusting, even though he has learned to accept over time. When his father once again tormented him, he became fed up and escaped his reality, meeting a fellow outcast, Jim, who was an escaped slave of Miss Watson. Throughout their adventure, Huckleberry Finn discovered deeper problems with the society he lived in with regard the treatment of slaves, and he was tested to choose between treating Jim as an object, or as a person. The story was resolved when Tom found the two, and exposing the facts that Finn’s father had already died, and Jim was already a free man since the death of his former mistress, and Finn becoming fed up with the idea of being adopted by a “civilized” foster family.

In contrast with the light tone of the first entry that primarily explores the concept of virtue, as well as the use of Fantasy to depict certain realities, this book presents the dilemma created by the context of the historical time—a time when slavery is an accepted norm. We are exposed to the hypocrisy of a “civilized” society where fellow human persons are subjected to cruel treatment and abuse, which runs counter with what an educated person should present him/herself. Long story short, despite its comic presentation and its light language, the tale of Huckleberry Finn is one that bears weight of a dark part of history.

3.     Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (1950)

The last of the books on the list reels us back to a Fantasy children’s story written by C. S. Lewis, an author known for the classic series, Chronicles of Narnia, in which this book is included. It is the first book in the series, and gave us the background of the four main characters, the Pevensie siblings Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy. During their move to the countryside because of the Second World War, the siblings found themselves exploring a new world—Narnia—that was accessible through a wardrobe in the house owned by Professor Kirke, their guardian. Lucy ended up in the said world first, and learning about the White Witch who was controlling Narnia by dictatorship by instilling the curse that granted Winter forever with no Christmas. Edmund ended up in the same world the second time his sister goes to Narnia, but encountered the White Witch, who enticed him with a dessert that he kept on craving. The third time Narnia was explored, all four of the siblings arrive, being awaken by the reality of Narnia, and was encouraged to meet with Aslan—the lion that was regarded as a deity there. Problems arose when the witch learned about the prophesy of the four humans that will overthrow her, and moved to kill Edmund first. Aslan, learning of this, sacrifices himself to save the boy, only to be revived again and join Peter and the siblings in their battle with the White Witch.

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe had been regarded as an allegory with several Christian tones. The novel explored the dangers of gluttony and greed, as it was the driving force that drove Edmund to side with the White Witch initially. He even sold his siblings’ actions to the witch because of the insatiable craving for the dessert that she gave the child—much like Judas Iscariot sold Jesus to the Romans for 30 pieces of silver. Furthermore, and perhaps the biggest salute to Christianity is Aslan mirroring the passion of Christ, where he suffered, died, and rose again to save Edmund and the whole of Narnia. In summary, this story provides a clear visual of sacrifice for the greater good, much like the sacrifice of Christ for the sins of mankind as depicted in Christian lore.


User Profile   September 14, 2017

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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Yes, there is a film with Leonardo DiCaprio, but that doesn't get you off the hook from reading this perceptive, pitch-perfect novel. Set in the jazzy Roaring Twenties, Fitzgerald's tale of obsession, ambition, love, money, and a world that would vanish with the Depression was to be his Big Hit—and he was surprised and disappointed when it sold poorly. When Fitzgerald died in 1940, he was an all but forgotten writer. Soon after, there was a revival of his work, and he is now viewed as one of the great American novelists. Today, 500,000 copies of Gatsby are sold each year. 

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

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Lee's famous novel, published in 1960, has sold more than 40 million copies worldwide. For all that it exposes the racial injustice of a particular time and place, it is timeless and universal. As Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Rick Bragg wrote in Reader's Digest, "Many people see To Kill a Mockingbird as a civil rights novel, but it transcends that issue. It is a novel about right and wrong, about kindness and meanness." Here are some more high school English books worth a re-read.

On the Road by Jack Kerouac


Kerouac's agent spent more than four years trying to find a publisher for this turbo-charged, road-trip novel about the postwar beat generation. Finally published in 1957, On the Roadwritten in a style at once breathless and disjointed—spoke to the deep restlessness of young people chafing at mainstream Cold War culture.

Tell Me a Riddle by Tillie Olsen

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You might not have heard of Olsen, but her 1961 story collection Tell Me A Riddle was one of the first to intimately chronicle the lives of working-class women. One entry is plainly titled "I Stand Here Ironing," and chronicles a mother's regrets with wisdom, bravery, and not an ounce of self pity. Olsen opened a window onto a world not often seen before in American literature and influenced a generation of women writers, including Margaret Atwood, Sandra Cisneros, and Alice Walker. Here are some great books for mothers and daughters to read together.

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

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You might’ve been assigned the tale of Pip the ambitious orphan in school. But we promise Great Expectations is more entertaining to read as an adult, because the humor that sailed over over your head will be evident now—and besides, you won't need to write a paper about it. Dickens, in his time, was as famous as a rock star (or, a Kardashian) because his novels were written as page-turners, with whip-smart observations about ambition and human nature.

All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Marie Remarque

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Remarque's searing war-is-hell novel gave millions of readers their first view of the suffering of ordinary German soldiers and civilians during WW1. All Quiet on the Western Front serves as a reminder of the real people on the other side of any battle.

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

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We know, it's looong and the Russian names are complicated, but seriously: if you can follow thousands of pages of Game of Thronesand the rest of the Ice and Fire series (which we love, by the way) then you can handle the challenge of one of the greatest novels of all time. War and Peace is set in the years before, during, and after Napoleon's invasion of Russia. Tolstoy brilliantly chronicles the world of a crumbling aristocracy—on the battlefield, in society, and at home. His research was meticulous, his characters (the soldiers, lovers, seekers) unforgettable. Most recently, War and Peace was adapted as a Tony-winning Broadway musical starring Josh Groban.

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers

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McCullers was just 23 years old when her novel about a deaf-mute and the travails of the people he encounters was published. She wasn't the first to write about people at the margins of society, but in The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, she did so indelibly. Quotable quote: "And how can the dead be truly dead when they still live in the souls of those who are left behind?" Here are our favorite lines from quotable books.

Native Son by Richard Wright

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Published in 1940 (as was The Heart is a Lonely Hunter), Wright's graphic, violent protest novel was an eye-opener about racial tensions and poverty in America. For hundreds of thousands of readers, the story was a conversation starter: Wright's protagonist Bigger Thomas commits an accidental murder, and spirals downward into more violence and despair. 

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

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Pulitzer Prize-winning author McCarthy is one of our greatest living prose stylists. His post-apocalyptic novel, The Road, in which a father and young son struggle to survive, is made all the more profound by its brevity. It's a quick read that stays with you. Intrepid readers undaunted by a more ornate, challenging, Faulknerian style should also read McCarthy's masterpiece Blood Meridian.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

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Shelley was still a teenager when she created the iconic mad scientist and monster. Frankenstein never loses its grip on our imaginations, because the questions it raises about science, ambition, and our humanity remain as urgent as ever.

A Good Man Is Hard to Find by Flannery O'Connor

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A deeply religious woman, O'Connor wrote about morally flawed characters with humor, compassion, and a razor-sharp mind. She was a master storyteller, as evidenced in her best known and most-loved collection, A Good Man is Hard to Find. Flannery O'Connor's Georgia home is one of the stops on our American literary road trip.

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

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Disaffected teenage narrator Holden Caulfield—thrown out of prep school, surrounded by "phonies"—has touched millions of readers. For decades, almost every book about alienated adolescents was invariably compared to The Catcher in the Rye, but none has matched the original. Salinger had his finger on the pulse of a generation in a way that few writers can match, and he broke with tradition by writing in a colloquial voice, which had everyone wanting to talk like Holden.

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

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Yes, The Chronicles of Narnia are children's books and no, they don't age. These complex fantasy novels, which have sold more than 100 million copies worldwide (and clearly influenced, among others, J.K. Rowling), have been praised and criticized for their Christian themes, but there's a lot more going on here than simple allegory. Read them again. 

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

15-Books-You-Really-Should-Have-Read-By-Now-via-barnesandnoblecomVIA BARNESANDNOBLE.COMThis much-more-grown-up sequel to The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is widely considered to be Mark Twain's masterpiece. It's part coming-of-age story, part cross-country adventure, part biting social satire. Twain makes brilliant use of irony as Huck, raised in the pre-Civil War south, gradually comes to understand the evils of slavery. Huck Finn has endured, despite its notoriety as one of the most banned books of all time.

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

16-Books-You-Really-Should-Have-Read-By-Now-via-barnesandnoblecomVIA BARNESANDNOBLE.COMWhen a rich American businessman is killed on a train, it's up to detective Hercule Poirot to figure out which of the passengers is responsible. Published in 1934, Murder on the Orient Express's conclusion still stuns readers. Make sure you read this famous whodunnit before the movie comes out in November! If the trailer—and star-studded cast, including Michelle Pfeiffer, Penélope Cruz, Josh Gad, and Judi Dench—is any indication, it's going to be good.

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

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Few authors have captured the essence of Depression-era America with more raw emotion than John Steinbeck. Of Mice and Men follows two farm hands looking for work: the protective and sharp-witted George and the disabled but big-hearted Lennie, who doesn't know his own strength. The two men learn that even the simplest of American dreams are often out of reach before the tale comes to a heartbreaking end. James Franco and Chris O'Dowd starred in a 2014 Broadway adaptation. Though short, this novel packs a serious emotional punch.

The Odyssey by Homer

18-Books-You-Really-Should-Have-Read-By-Now-via-barnesandnoblecomVIA BARNESANDNOBLE.COMOK, so this one's technically an epic poem, not a book, but we think it still counts. As an epic poem, The Odyssey was recited, or sung, for years and years before it was written down. It tells the (fictional) story of Ancient Greek war hero Odysseus's perilous 20-year journey home from the battlefield. He outsmarts a Cyclops, chats with dead people, and endures the repeated wrath of a seriously angry sea god before finally arriving home. The second-oldest known work of Western literature has stood the test of time. The Coen brothers reimagined The Odyssey in the American South in the comedy O Brother, Where Art Thou? starring a young George Clooney. Plus, some of the best scenes in the popular Greek myth-inspired kids' series Percy Jackson and the Olympians were also inspired by Odysseus's journey.

The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

19-Books-You-Really-Should-Have-Read-By-Now-via-barnesandnoblecomVIA BARNESANDNOBLE.COMThis fictional, but meticulously researched, thriller will make you wish you paid more attention in art class. A murder at the Louvre museum leads symbologist Robert Langdon on a high-stakes treasure hunt through Europe with the police on his tail. It's got just the right mix of page-turning action and brainteasing historical information. This is one book that (Tom Hanks's coolness notwithstanding) is way better than its movie adaptation.  The Da Vinci Code's mind-bending "what if" questions will stay with you long after you put it down.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

20-Books-You-Really-Should-Have-Read-By-Now-via-barnesandnoblecomVIA BARNESANDNOBLE.COMGenerations of readers have fallen in love with Elizabeth Bennet. Pride and Prejudice's delightful heroine chooses to marry for love rather than money and isn't afraid to put an arrogant suitor in his place. With the novel itself still a staple of many an English class, the story also lives on through its many—and very diverse—spinoffs. These include the true-to-the-novel 2005 film starring Keira Knightley, the rom-com Bridget Jones's Diary, the fun web series The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, and even the satirical paranormal adaptation Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. 

Taken from

User Profile   September 14, 2017

One of the most rampant form of media nowadays is the video game. We do not only get this from dedicated video game consoles, but we also get them in our personal computers, as well as in our smart phones. We also get to purchase retro games that were not initially available for our everyday gadgets. However, there is this misconception about games that we ought to dispel—the idea that games are just mere distraction for people who are studying. In fact, studies have shown that video games are amazing tools to augment a person’s learning experience.

In a precursory view of video games, we see media that do not seem to give any learning value to anyone playing it across the age spectrum. What they primarily provide is something like gambling games or sports—a form of entertainment. Whatever genre of games you play—from the typical mobile puzzle games, to massive multiplayer online games—the image of a typical person who is immersed in gaming does it for the pleasure of relaxing away from the rigorous activities of daily life. However, what we do not scrutinize under a figurative microscope are the thought processes that one develops in overcoming adversity in video games, as well as talents the acquire that can be transferred from the virtual world to the real world. It is in the promotion of these subjects that game-based learning has been rapidly growing in popularity in both school and office settings.

To begin talking about game-based learning, we should know first what it is. Game-based learning is the use of games to enhance the learning experience. This is different from gamification, which do not make use of actual games—be it digital or otherwise—in the process of learning (Isaacs, “The Difference between Gamification and Game-Based Learning”). One best way to illustrate the former is through aviation schools using flight simulators to teach the mechanics of how to fly a specific type of plane to would-be pilots without subjecting them to the real physical risks of such activity unprepared. A flight simulator is, without a doubt, a video game which uses a computer as its medium, and is classified in the simulation genre—a rapidly rising genre in popularity. Another example of this would be the game The Oregon Trail, a video game created by Minnesota Educational Computing Consortium (MECC) in 1974, created to teach children about the realities of 19th-century pioneer/settler life on the Oregon Trail. This game includes mechanics like hunting, trading, and creating settlements, the success of which depend on how quick a player types a word, or how s/he chooses in several game prompts.

Now that we know what game-based learning is, we must now ask this question: why do we need to have this concept for learning? According to Jessica Trybus of the New Media Institute, the traditional method of teaching in schools, as well as training in corporate settings rely heavily on the approach of “[drilling] us on certain narrow procedures, and then evaluate us on our memory of what we are told” (“Game-Based Learning: What it is, Why it Works, and Where it’s Going”). With the digital age rapidly growing, and with the population steadily increasing with the youth who are tech-savvy, the need for a highly-interactive and highly-immersive learning media becomes more apparent. With video games as a media, it revolutionises the motivation of a student as they “can quickly see and understand the connection between the learning experience and our real-life work” (Ambrose, qtd. in Trybus, “Game-Based Learning: What it is, Why it Works, and Where it’s Going”). This is illustrated through the basic mechanics of a video game, where a player works toward a goal, creates a series of methodologies to tackle the goal, and adjust through consequences in every procedure they take. This is directly observable in cases of simulations games; but the same thought patterns of problem solving are also used in other genre of games. One such example is in Dragon Quest, a Japanese role-playing game where a player takes on the guise of a main protagonist of the story, and it is up to him/her how s/he will approach various puzzles, enemy encounters, and dungeon boss battles to proceed further with the story.

Aside from the creation of a more fascinating environment, the mechanics of a game polishes and demonstrate abilities through application. The idea of scoring and trophies in games can force a player to adapt strategies to conquer an achievement that is tangent to the aim of a game. Take for instance the game Overwatch: for this game, the main goal is just for your team to conquer a map objective given to you. However, there are several sub-goals, whether it be a character-specific achievement, or a map objective-specific one, which encourages one to improve their tactics to approach the primary aim. This kind of adaptivity and logical thinking is then juxtaposed to real-life scenarios. What this means is that with video games, we open ourselves to a new method of measuring knowledge, as it is more appropriate to measure one’s capacities in the way they learn to make choices (MacKay, “Playing to learn: Panellists at Stanford discussion say using games as an educational tool provides opportunities for deeper learning”)

In summary, video games in and of itself are supplementary media that is designed to either let you experience what you are learning through direct simulation; or they can be media that stimulates the mind to create a new way to motivate one to learn, with a visible pay-off being presented at each stage of a game. So the next time you see a child playing video games, do not discourage them—they might be learning more than you think.


User Profile   September 13, 2017

The World of the geisha

The distinctive white face, red lips and elaborately decorated hairstyle of the Geisha is an enduring image portrayed throughout the globe as the entrance to a world to which most of us mere mortals are not invited. From somewhat seedy beginnings, the current world of the geisha remains a mystery to most foreigners and Japanese alike.

Memoirs of a geisha

Like most nations, Japan has always had some manner of pleasure quarter offering various forms of entertainment, including (of course) the erotic. As Japan cut off all contact with the outside world during the Edo era, the rich merchants of the cities continued to develop the arts of the country in the major urban areas.

With the many courtesans of the time providing one area of fulfilment, the merchants looked for other types of entertainment, including music, dance and poetry. From these early stages, the world of the geisha developed, providing a service to entertain and charm, working alongside the very desirable, and for most people unobtainable, courtesan.

Girl power

As this form of entertainment progressed, the first geisha on the scene were actually men, appearing around the early eighteenth century. Women soon caught on, and the geisha as we know her today emerged with strict rules to not upstage the courtesans, or steal their clients. As courtesan entertainment waned after the mid-eighteenth century, geisha took their place, peaking around the 1900s in Tokyo.

She's a modern woman

Nowadays if you long to experience geisha culture, you must head to the cultural capital of Kyoto. Under a hundred geisha remain in the city, living and working in the traditional teahouses as they always have done. The inevitable declining numbers due to the strict and secular world make this profession as elite and enigmatic as it always has been.

The modern geiko (Kyoto term for geisha) starts her life in the Kyoto okiya (geisha house) these days around the age of 15, although traditionally it was much younger. After learning skills in hospitality and traditional arts, she will go on to become a maiko - an apprentice geiko.

The young maiko will follow her mentor and "older sister" geiko to appointments, shadowing her movements and observing the skill of repartee and reserve with the clients. As a professional entertainer, the geiko's role is not only to play music and dance, but also to make the customers feel at ease with witty conversation and even join in drinking games as the night progresses. As an amateur, the maiko is not expected to be as charming and amusing, and instead relies on ornate jewellery, rich kimono and young looks to speak for her.

Geiko and maiko may have many appointments per night, starting around 4pm and working long into the early hours, scurrying from from bar to bar on their wooden geta sandals. Typically, they will take Sundays off, changing into jeans, wearing their hair down and going shopping like any other young woman. If you're walking around Kyoto on a Sunday, you may be passing by a geisha without even realising it.

Mysterious girl

If you wish to meet, and even drink with a maiko or geiko, it's all about who you know - and they don't come cheap. Most only work at licensed ochaya (teahouses) in the geisha districts, often veiled behind anonymous wooden doors, with small discreet signs that most passersby wouldn't detect.

For many Japanese people, even those living in Kyoto, the closest they have come is perhaps glimpsing a geisha alighting from her taxi and disappearing behind a nameless sliding door. The ochaya manage to keep their reputation of exclusivity with expensive bar bills and membership-only rules.

As a maiko arrives at her appointment wearing sometimes hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of exquisite kimono, jewellery and hairpieces, it is imperative the ochaya knows she will be safe. The ochaya also bill their customers per month, keeping a running tab of drinks, taxis and geisha services, requiring a great degree of trust. Potential new customers therefore are only allowed to join if a current member recommends them, and is prepared to act as a guarantor.

Sisters are doing it for themselves

Inevitably, due to the demanding lifestyle of the geisha and the pressures of the modern world, numbers are declining. Competing hostess bars, karaoke joints and the recent economic downturn have meant teahouses have had to be less restrictive and welcome new customers and even foreign tourists. If you have the cash to splash, you may have the opportunity to meet with a geisha, enjoy her company and play the requisite drinking games into the night.

The image of Japan is one constantly pushing forward into the future, and whilst some may say the geisha world is outmoded and losing its dignity, the links to the past and tradition in Japan are astoundingly enduring. As long as Japan continues to hold its rich and respected culture paramount, the world of the geisha as we know it will continue to survive.

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講師陣は、フィリピンの一流大学を卒業し、 教師の資格を持った講師や、英会話スクールの講師経験者です。


名前:カレン先生 Karren





名前:ティナ先生 Tina





名前: テイラー先生 Taylor

専攻: 国際学

学校: イースト大学




名前: レイナルド・シー Reynaldo

専門: 電子情報通信エンジニアリング

大学: マプア工業大学(マニラ)

私は東京で米国企業に技術者として20年間勤務しました。その間、仕事や観光で色々な国を訪問しました。 タガログ語、英語、日本語 と福建語を話します。 温和な性格です。