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21 Seeking pleasure at beer pubs (2) 09/Feb/2003
20 Seeking pleasure at beer pubs (1) 09/Feb/2003
19 Inviting a thief to my house 09/Dec/2002
18 Water comes out (continue from Kyobintha village) 12/Mar/2002
17 A visit to Kyobintha 4 12/Mar/2002
16 A visit to Kyobintha village (1-3) 12/Mar/2002
15 Housewarming ceremony 08/Aug/2001
14 The night without light 28/Jun/2001
13 Thoughts about Japanese in Yangon 25/May/2001
12 Fashionable 03/May/2001
11 Thingyan (Water Festival) 02/May/2001
10 The place you like is home 30/Sep/2000
9 Lovely Cat 27/Sep/2000
8 The coldest time in Yangn 11/Sep/2000
7 Suddenly, a hotel disappeared one day 11/Sep/2000
6 Story of lovely pet dog in Yangon 11/Sep/2000
5 Mystery of Myanmar 01/Jul/2000
4 The Mystery of Htet Htet Moe Oo, Queen To TV Commercials 02/Jun/2000
3 Japan-made Things, Which Cannot Be Bought in Japan 02/Jun/2000
2 A Village Beyond The River 02/Jun/2000
1 A Downtown with Too Many Cars and People 02/Jun/2000
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Seeking pleasure at beer pubs (2)

Seeking pleasure at beer pubs (1)

Get through the handicap

Inviting a thief to my house

Water comes out (continue from Kyobintha village)

A visit to Kyobintha 4

A visit to Kyobintha village (1-3)

Mandalay Diary 6th Jun 2001

Mandalay Diary 26th Mar 2001

Mandalay Diary 1st May 2001

Thoughts about Japanese in Yangon
by Kenichi Kimura

This monastery is located in North Okkalapa Township. The name of the monastery is well-known. Most of tour guides, interpreters and staff of foreign companies in Myanmar are from the classes of this monastery. Courses of English, Chinese, French, Korean, Italy, Russian and Japanese are conducted free of charge.

Japanese language classes on weekends seem to be more popular because they are being taught by seven or eight volunteer Japanese teachers. For example, UFL (University of Foreign Languages where I am attending a course) conducts four-year courses. Although there are Japanese language courses, the teachers are not very fluent in Japanese. There are very few students who can speak Japanese fluently after their graduation, after four-year-study at the university. But there are many students who can speak Japanese surprisingly and have never been to Japan at the monastery where there is no admission fee and tuition. I have taught Japanese on Saturdays at the place where I took interest in it before. Then, I have been teaching on weekends for about a month.

First, I thought that I would need to talk over the matter with the head monk. But, the students who have been learning in this school arranged the periods to teach after asking volunteer Japanese teachers. On the first Saturday, I had to teach the students who did not know a, e, i, o, u (letters used to pronounce Japanese words). On the first Sunday, I had to teach advance class.

I got the monastery after being introduced by Ma Khaing who works for Sanay. She and Ma Aye Mon Myat who is very fluent in Japanese gave me various kinds of advice. "If the lectures are too difficult the students cannot follow them. If they are too easy, the students leave the class." they said. This was my first experience to teach a large crowd although I had taught Japanese to many people. At the second time I chose the textbook to teach and copied for thirty students. The number of students had increased to over 60 on the third week. And their proficiency became different and I found it difficult to decide as to what to teach.

It would be shocking for me if the number of students decreased for teaching uninteresting topic. While I was preparing materials for teaching, there were times I could manage to teach some topic.

The following was an incident. I used to teach Japanese to Than Lin Tun who lives with me. My friend who shared my flat told me that Than Lin Tun's counting in Japanese was strange. The sound of 7 was recited as "hichi". Than Lin Tun pointed at me when my friend asked that who taught you to recite 7 "hichi". (Seven is pronounced as "shichi". Here, the author taught the wrong pronunciation.)

Till that time I was born in Fukuoka mispronounced 7 as "hichi". There was nobody who corrected me in Fukuoka. Moreover, the first teacher himself pronounced as "hichi". And the next day, I asked the woman from Foreign Ministry of Japan who is attending Myanmar Language Course and is a native of Fukuoka. Her answer was that there was no regulation and "hichi" was right. Therefore, I came to know that it was not only me who made mistake. I felt a bit calm. But, it can only be changed to the Kanji (Chinese character) "shichi". If I did not get to Yangon and I lived in Fukuoka for the lifetime I would not have noticed that mistake.

Can I teach standard Japanese then?

On the first day at the monastery I made friend with a man called Thaung Shwe who was good-natured. He was the first Kokang national I had seen. He was rather small man and very much alike with a Japanese. He was working for a Japanese trading company. And he was said to be a man who didn't know likes and dislikes of others by the company staff. I couldn't say for sure that he couldn't know difference between spoken and written form of Japanese, he always used the Japanese sayings_" Stay away from evil person" and "Man from Tokyo, woman from Kyoto". I didn't think that modern youth could understand the latter.

I asked my Japanese friend at home whether he knew that saying or not. He used to be a part time student at Ichi Ha Shi University for about six years. But he didn't know the meaning. I could understand for I am a bit old. I think that means "Man form EDO goes with woman from Tokyo". He was studying the expressions that most Japanese could not understand. Although other people told him that they were useless for other could not make it head or tail, he liked to do so. Whenever we met he raised questions.

Although I reminded him that Japanese teenagers could not understand the Japanese expression he used, it was difficult to change character and style of someone. I came across a Japanese proverb in a book that a friend of mine brought to me that I read during Thingyan (Water Festival). That was "Man does not live on land and in country. There are Grammar words in every country. Man lives with that." I wish Japanese language would be used correctly with emphasis like that.

© Kenichi Kimura