6 episodes

Welcome to the Way to Japan. I'm your host, Vanessa Villalobos, and I am on a VERY SIMPLE MISSION to fill life with more Japan. Right here in the UK! I'll be uncovering practical & inspiring ways to enjoy connecting to Japanese language, mindset & lifestyle in our everyday lives.

the Way to Japan Vanessa Villalobos

    • Society & Culture
    • 5.0 • 9 Ratings

Welcome to the Way to Japan. I'm your host, Vanessa Villalobos, and I am on a VERY SIMPLE MISSION to fill life with more Japan. Right here in the UK! I'll be uncovering practical & inspiring ways to enjoy connecting to Japanese language, mindset & lifestyle in our everyday lives.

    The Real Reason You May Fail to Learn Japanese

    The Real Reason You May Fail to Learn Japanese

    My 7-year-old's middle name is Zen.
    No, really, it is.
    We gave him the name hoping naively that it might, I don't know... infuse qualities of calm into his nature?
    He is, ermm, not calm. He is like a tightly coiled spring, ready to bounce off unpredictably in any direction. His spirit animal is, I think, Tigger.
    2020’s adventure in ‘home schooling’ rapidly led to clenched fists, hyperventilating, hiding under the desk, shouting ‘NO!’. And that was just me!
    All the lessons in the meaning of Zen are for mummy.
    Something I had to quickly understand is to follow the path of least resistance. Make it easy. Make it fun. Make it interesting. This inspired me to think more deeply about learning Japanese, and how it can be Omoshiroi.
    Really, this applies to all learning, doesn't it? EVERYTHING we do in life. It's just got to be compelling and enjoyable, or else we resist doing it.

    In episode 6, I will talk about The Real Reason You May Fail to Learn Japanese, including 3 steps to take to smash it to smithereens:
    Step 1: How to Break Your Learning Up into Small Chunks
    Step 2: How to Get the Habit of Learning Japanese
    Step 3: How to Create Your Japanese Language Community

    Thank you so much for listening! I have been so touched and overwhelmed by your kind support. It makes it all worthwhile.
    I’ll be back in January 2021 with my next Japanese London Living series of podcasts. So you can be first to know about, please do sign up to my newsletter. 
    I have defined 6 simple steps to OMOSHIROI learning, which I can’t wait to share with you in this series of podcasts!

    Start uncovering your UNIQUE visions, goals and tactics to learn the Japanese that YOU WANT!

    To grab a copy of the playbook that accompanies this series, click here:
    The OMOSHIROI Method Fill-in-the-Blanks Playbook

    Visit JapaneseLondon.com to get more info about learning Japanese, and enjoying a Japan-full life in London.

    Vanessa connects learners with 1-1 native speaking Japanese tutors for private lessons and runs the Japanese London Conversation Club.

    She also blogs about Japanese living in London, and can be found on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

    Yoroshiku onegaishimasu!

    • 23 min
    How Teaching Yourself Japanese Is Like Conveyor Belt Sushi

    How Teaching Yourself Japanese Is Like Conveyor Belt Sushi

    Have you ever been to a kaiten-zushi restaurant? I love the weirdly futuristic simplicity of the conveyor belt concept. Tantalising morsels of white, red and orange fish, laid like glistening gems on their thrones of rice glide regally past.
    We grab what delights us most, and devour it. Actually, the kaiten zushi experience is such an apt metaphor for Japanese study – in fact, for life in general.
    The choice can seem overwhelming, and we aren’t sure what to pick. Sometimes we get put off by accidentally picking something that’s not to our taste. Raw squid? Salmon Roe? Octopus balls? We get it wrong sometimes. Other times a new flavour surprises us and we acquire a taste for it.
    We don’t need to gobble up everything that passes us. We need to become more familiar, more discerning. In fact, the likelihood of getting exactly what we want increases every time we try again – we might even summon the courage to ask the sushi chef with the big sharp knives for directly for what we want. Ask, and it is given.
    If you’ve been following my series about the ‘OMOSHIROI’ method, you’ll know that I believe learning Japanese should be just to your taste – that is, both fun and interesting TO YOU. And the way to make things fun and interesting is YOUR WAY - to really consider what it is you enjoy, and grab it / do it / read it / learn it / watch it / listen to it / eat it! More! Little and often.
    In this episode, I will talk about my top picks for ‘How to Teach Yourself Japanese’, including:
    Japanese Language Learning Books (textbooks and cultural guide books)Japanese Mind-set Learning Resources (etiqutte & philosophy books, podcasts)Japanese Lifestyle Recommendations (I bite off more than I can chew with this - but pick 'food' and 'karaoke' as the  as areas of the daily lifestyle in Japan that you will be hard pressed to escape!)My mum's assessment of red bean pasteFrank Sinatra lyrics
    Hope you find this episode helpful! 
    I have defined 6 simple steps to OMOSHIROI learning, which I can’t wait to share with you in this series of podcasts!

    Start uncovering your UNIQUE visions, goals and tactics to learn the Japanese that YOU WANT!

    To grab a copy of the playbook that accompanies this series, click here:
    The OMOSHIROI Method Fill-in-the-Blanks Playbook

    Visit JapaneseLondon.com to get more info about learning Japanese, and enjoying a Japan-full life in London.

    Vanessa connects learners with 1-1 native speaking Japanese tutors for private lessons and runs the Japanese London Conversation Club.

    She also blogs about Japanese living in London, and can be found on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

    Yoroshiku onegaishimasu!

    • 22 min
    Delete Your Japanese Learning Apps (and What to Do Instead)

    Delete Your Japanese Learning Apps (and What to Do Instead)

    When I lived in Japan, it was before the smart phone-era. 

    I had a large map of Tochigi city and the whole surrounding area pinned to the wall in my apartment, and I studied the routes to the many elementary and middle schools I needed to visit. Some of them were quite far away by bicycle.
    I’d be on my way to school in the morning, zig-zagging gingerly along narrow paths between the rice fields, perched on my mama-chari bicycle, and clutching in my fist a small, damp note for security. On the note had been written neatly, in Japanese (not by me!): ‘Excuse me, I’ve lost my way, where is Chizuka Shogako?’.
    If my spoken Japanese was not immediately successful, which was often the case, I could show the innocent victim the note. I’d be pointed in the right direction and off I'd trundle again. I would breathe a deep sigh of relief when the school I’d been sent to as a visiting English teacher finally materialised, hazily, in the shadow of the mountains.
    If I’d had a smartphone back then, it would have been SO MUCH easier. I wouldn’t have had to attempt to memorise my route from a map. I wouldn’t have even needed to ask directions. Or, if I did, I could have had the phone speak the words, instead of me, slowly dying inside of acute embarrassment.
    That would have been AMAZING! So, no, I’m not really serious about deleting our incredibly handy Japanese learning and translating apps. We do have the technology, and we should make good use of it. 
    BUT, what I am concerned about is the PASSIVITY that the comfort of APPS can create. 

    In this episode I will talk about:
     Setting your own goals (one that don’t make you bored stiff) The difference between goals and systemsMark Manson's 'Shit sandwich' analogyDeciding whether you actually want to speak and write in Japanese (spoiler alert: you don’t have to)And a little about the sound of one hand clappingHope you find this episode helpful! 
    I have defined 6 simple steps to OMOSHIROI learning, which I can’t wait to share with you in this series of podcasts!

    Start uncovering your UNIQUE visions, goals and tactics to learn the Japanese that YOU WANT!

    To grab a copy of the playbook that accompanies this series, click here:
    The OMOSHIROI Method Fill-in-the-Blanks Playbook

    Visit JapaneseLondon.com to get more info about learning Japanese, and enjoying a Japan-full life in London.

    Vanessa connects learners with 1-1 native speaking Japanese tutors for private lessons and runs the Japanese London Conversation Club.

    She also blogs about Japanese living in London, and can be found on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

    Yoroshiku onegaishimasu!

    • 20 min
    Love Japan? What’s Your Japan Story?

    Love Japan? What’s Your Japan Story?

    When I was 15 years old, my father went on a business trip to Japan.
    My father was a Yorkshireman, and not at all given to gushing enthusiasm, except perhaps for a chip butty. Given his usual world-weary demeanour and workaholic tendencies, I was gobsmacked when he came back from his Japan trip all lit up like Akihabara electronic district on a Saturday night.
    He had cool Japanese souvenirs too: some weird ‘coffee’ gum, a hand-carved wooden Hokkaido bear, and a lovely crane-printed summer yutaka (cotton gown) for me. It was very exciting.
    He said: “Vanessa, if you ever get the chance to go to Japan – GO!”
    I was like ‘yeah, ok dad…’ *rolls eyes*
    Like many people who fall for Japan’s charms, my dad couldn’t even put his finger on what it was exactly that he loved about the place. 
    He liked the way the staff in McDonalds bowed when handing over his cheeseburger. He loved the gardens at Kyoto’s temples. He appreciated the craftsmanship of the Hokkaido bear. He wasn’t crazy about the food (not a seafood fan).
    So I didn’t understand quite what it was that he found so wonderful about the place, and neither did he.
    But I never forgot that spark that Japan had somehow managed to kindle in my cynical father. 

    In this episode I explore:
    More about MY Japan Story & believing 6 impossible things before breakfastQuestions to ask yourself to excavate YOUR Japan StoryHow I kept up my love affair with Japan (back in London)5 Japanese Things to Enjoy Everyday (even in lockdown - my top tips)
    Hope you find this episode helpful! 
    I have defined 6 simple steps to OMOSHIROI learning, which I can’t wait to share with you in this series of podcasts!

    Start uncovering your UNIQUE visions, goals and tactics to learn the Japanese that YOU WANT!

    To grab a copy of the playbook that accompanies this series, click here:
    The OMOSHIROI Method Fill-in-the-Blanks Playbook

    Visit JapaneseLondon.com to get more info about learning Japanese, and enjoying a Japan-full life in London.

    Vanessa connects learners with 1-1 native speaking Japanese tutors for private lessons and runs the Japanese London Conversation Club.

    She also blogs about Japanese living in London, and can be found on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

    Yoroshiku onegaishimasu!

    • 21 min
    Is It Worth Learning Japanese? 3 Questions to Ask Yourself

    Is It Worth Learning Japanese? 3 Questions to Ask Yourself

    You might not be offended by the F WORD, but I am.
    In the last month, I’ve had two consultation calls with Japanese learners where they just kept dropping the F BOMB – without even thinking about it.
    Fluency.
    The learners, both complete beginners, wanted to get fluent in Japanese. Quick! Now! Yesterday if possible! One had a time scale of 6 months, and the other a year. Now, I’m not one to rain on anyone’s parade, but I needed to break to the sad news that going from zero to Japanese hero in such a short time would be… well, unlikely.
    One of them took it well. The other was insulted. But why do you think I can’t become fluent in a year if I study every day? she said. I explained that it very much depended on what fluency really means to her. Also, she would need to be highly motivated to reach that level so quickly, and devote almost all of her time to this goal to make it happen.
    On the other hand, I just spoke to a guy who has been studying Japanese for a long time, but who is now feeling particularly unmotivated, given the global pandemic situation in 2020. Millions of trips to Japan have been cancelled or postponed indefinitely. He said: why bother now when I don’t even know when I’ll be able to go to Japan?
    I know that there have been lots of headlines about people learning languages during lockdown.
    So, I’d like to focus on 3 really important questions to ask yourself when it comes to making a decision on whether learning Japanese is right for you, right now. And, importantly, what Japanese to learn.
    What Problem Will Learning Japanese Solve in My Life?What Does Fluency Mean to Me, Personally?What’s Stopping You?Hope you find this episode helpful! 
    I have defined 6 simple steps to OMOSHIROI learning, which I can’t wait to share with you in this series of podcasts!

    Start uncovering your UNIQUE visions, goals and tactics to learn the Japanese that YOU WANT!

    To grab a copy of the playbook that accompanies this series, click here:
    The OMOSHIROI Method Fill-in-the-Blanks Playbook

    Visit JapaneseLondon.com to get more info about learning Japanese, and enjoying a Japan-full life in London.

    Vanessa connects learners with 1-1 native speaking Japanese tutors for private lessons and runs the Japanese London Conversation Club.

    She also blogs about Japanese living in London, and can be found on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

    Yoroshiku onegaishimasu!

    • 25 min
    How to Learn Japanese: 6 Simple Steps to Turn Slow & Painful Study into a Fun & Interesting Lifestyle

    How to Learn Japanese: 6 Simple Steps to Turn Slow & Painful Study into a Fun & Interesting Lifestyle

    *What does OMOSHIROI mean?
    I got some REALLY RUBBISH ADVICE from my mentor – a very experienced teacher – when I first arrived in Japan. Or so I thought…
    So, it was a sunny September morning and I was in the staff room preparing to teach my first EVER group lesson. Honestly, my mind was as blank as a squeaky clean blackboard. 
    Feeling steam billowing out of my ears, I begged the teacher to tell me what exactly I should plan to do. 
    ‘Oh, just make it OMOSHIROI*’ she offered, breezily. 
    No shit, Sherlock! I thought. But how on earth was I going to make learning a booooring foreign language OMOSHIROI for 30 kids stuck at their desks, inside four walls? 
    Little did I know that what she said was actually PROFOUND advice - and I was about to spend the next 20 years of life searching for the answer. 
    *Omoshiroi 面白い/ おもしろいis a Japanese word that translates as both ‘fun’ and ‘interesting’. 
    So, how is it possible to turn slow & painful study into a fun, interesting, funny and amusing process?
    Making learning Japanese fun and interesting is very much about embedding the language learning, and both types of culture, into your own life. 
    Are you a complete beginner in Japanese? Are you stuck somewhere on the pesky old intermediate plateau? Nearing that elusive peak of ‘fluency’?  I believe that stepping back and checking that learning is still ‘omoshiroi’ is the secret to success.
    I have defined 6 simple steps to OMOSHIROI learning, which I can’t wait to share with you in this series of podcasts!

    Start uncovering your UNIQUE visions, goals and tactics to learn the Japanese that YOU WANT!

    To grab a copy of the playbook that accompanies this series, click here:
    The OMOSHIROI Method Fill-in-the-Blanks Playbook

    Visit JapaneseLondon.com to get more info about learning Japanese, and enjoying a Japan-full life in London.

    Vanessa connects learners with 1-1 native speaking Japanese tutors for private lessons and runs the Japanese London Conversation Club.

    She also blogs about Japanese living in London, and can be found on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

    Yoroshiku onegaishimasu!

    • 21 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
9 Ratings

9 Ratings

pcfelix ,

Engrossing!

It’s been really engrossing listening to Vanessa’s unpacking of exactly where I find myself ..at the starting point of learning Japanese..having committed the plane ticket to a visit in 2022!..and sorting how to and what...Vanessa’s commentaries …her Omishiroi approach…are engagingly personal and objectively guiding at the same time...thank you!

dipstarchuu ,

Japan-lovers will love this!

It’s so comforting to listen to Vanessa put into words how I feel about living with and adding Japan into my daily life! Great to know there are people who feel the same and this podcast can really show you how to do it, and how to connect with what you want to achieve from your relationship with Japan and the Japanese language.

Portia79! ,

OMOSHIROI 😀

Vanessa makes her podcast both fun and interesting - channeling her mentor’s words from that sunny September day!

Top Podcasts In Society & Culture

Podmasters
BBC Radio 4
BBC Radio 5 live
Fearne Cotton
Elizabeth Day
Jake Humphrey