Talking about Possession in Japanese: Basic Grammar for Beginners

Today I want to talk about possession.

I’m talking grammatical possession here, NOT the Grudge-type possession.


(How do people watch that sorta spooky stuff, anyways?)

the grudge

This simple intro and explanation of possession is a great early grammar lesson for beginners, even those of you still in the hiragana and katakana learning stages.  I kept this really basic, I promise.

In English, we can indicate possession by using the words, my/mine/your/yours/his/hers/ours/theirs, or adding ‘s.

But in Japanese, we use the particle:   (pronounced: no).

Particles (in case you’re familiar with them yet) are a bit like the little laundry tags attached to the neck of t-shirts.

clothing tag

Except Japanese particles at attached to the ends of Japanese words in a sentence, not the back of your shirt.

And instead of giving you care instructions for your clothes, they give you grammatical “care instructions” for Japanese words.

And instead of chaffing your tender neck flesh, they burn your precious brain cells.


At least that’s how I feel for now. Hopefully particles won’t be such a painful part of speech down the road. Only time will tell. 🙂

Let’s start with some basic possessive pronouns created with the  particle:

Yours, Mine, Ours

There’s also:

HIS: かれの (kareno – pronounced ka-ray-no_

HERS: かのじょの (kanojyono – pronounced ka-no-joe-no)

Here’s the basic sentence structure for using  の as a possessive particle.

basic possessive sentence structure

As you can see, it’s pretty simple. You can also see how to use the particle to indicate possession with ‘s, as is done in English.

Lastly, here’s how to use the  particle to indicate possession in question sentences.

basic possessive sentence structure for questions

だれ (dare – pronounced da-ray) means whose.

です (desu), which is a verb coupla meaning. it is or to be.

The  (ka) at the end of the sentence is used as a question particle. (I can go more into the ka particle later)

You could also get more specific and ask: だれのすしですか?Whose sushi is that?

And a simple response might be: わたしのです。It is mine. OR あなたのです。It is yours.

Like I said, this is just a super simple intro and explanation to some really basic possessive Japanese grammar. Nothing fancy, just another small piece of the Japanese language learning puzzle. I hope you found it helpful. 🙂

Other links for learning possessive particle and grammar in Japanese:

PuniPuni Japan 

The Japanese Page

Thanks for reading!

Shiga Shar

If you enjoyed this post or learned something new, please share it on social media and consider donating a few bucks toward my 2017 Goodwill trip to Shiga through PayPal.

ありがとう // Arigatou // Thank you!






Saginaw Asian Markets Mother’s Day Haul

Part of my treat for Mother’s Day weekend included a trip to the Asian grocery stores in Saginaw, Asian Market and Far East Market.  These are my happy places.

I like them both equally, so don’t make me pick a favorite. You’re not going to find a lot of English on packages, so sometimes you’ll have to buy things at your own risk. I may not know a lot of Japanese yet, but I know enough to recognize it on the packaging and get a decent idea of what the contents inside. The owners at both places don’t know much English, but seem happy to help if you have any questions.

asian marketFar East Market

In my experience, the folks in both stores are super friendly and helpful. The Far East Market is a bit small and crowded with merchandise, but it’s clean and relatively organized. You’ve really got to visit both stores if you visit. They do share some similar items, but I always find neat things to try (or just look at) at each of them.

On to the goods!

Anpan あんパン

Anpan is a baked sweet bread with sweetened red bean paste (あんこ anko). This popular Japanese treat even has a mascot with a picture book series and anime: Anpanman.


This anpan came shipped in from 168 Asian, which is the largest Asian market in Michigan, located in Madison Heights, MI (Detroit area). I’ve never been there (yet).  I scored this baby at the checkout area of Asian Market. It had no other label on it other than a plastic baked goods bag with 168 Asian written on it red letters. I only knew what it was from drooling over them on the Internet.

The bean paste is lightly sweetened and on the chunky side (which I like), and the bread was a super soft, fluffy dough with a nice sweet eggy flavor. It’s hard to tell from the image, but this baby was just about the size of a side salad plate. Delicious and filling.



Kit Kat  キットカット

I can’t eat American Kit Kat bars since they’ve added PGPR, which gives me migrane-like headaches. I scored the matcha flavor from Asian Mart and the Sakura/Milk Chocolate blend and the Butter Cookie at Far East Market. The Butter Cookie is actually the “bakeable” Kit Kat type, where you toast in the toaster over before eating it.




Bonito Flakes ぼにと

Bonito flakes are made from a dried and smoked type of tuna fish. I’ve never tried it yet, but can’t wait!!!! It’s a savory, smoky, umami packed addition with versatile uses in Japanese cooking.


Vegetables やさい

I bought purple sweet potatoes and baby bok choy. I plan on stir frying the baby bok choy with some tofu and other goodies. I’m thinking of some kind roasting the purple sweet potato with some kind of sweet miso flavored sauce.



Mochi Ice Cream もちアイス


Matcha Flavored Snack Sticks


Baked Rice Crackers


I mostly grabbed this last bag of treats because the packaging was adorable. What can I say, I’m a sucker for kawaii packaging.

If you ever get the chance, you should check out the Asian markets in Saginaw.

Thanks for reading!

Shiga Shar

If you enjoyed this post or learned something new, please share it on social media and consider donating a few bucks toward my 2017 Goodwill trip to Shiga through PayPal.

ありがとう // Arigatou // Thank you!




Motivation, Meltdowns, and Motherhood Mental Health: My First Four Months of Japanese Self Study

Four months goes by fast, you guys. Not only am I four months into my Japanese studies, I’m only four months away from my big trip to Japan.


I know that the trip doesn’t require any Japanese language skills, but I’m pushing myself like a crazy lady because really really REALLY want to be able to chat a bit with natives, my host family, and believe familiarity with Japanese will help enrich my overall experience in Japan.

I was doing great with my studies until February when we got our income tax returns filed in February. I was hoping to use this money to pay for my trip (including spending money), but the amount was half of what I was expecting. I dry-heaved and cried for a few days, and gave up on studying for almost a week while I wallowed in self-pity and snacks.


After a week, I told my husband that one way or another the rest of the money would come. I wasn’t sure how, I just believed it would. My dream was too big to me to just let it fizzle out because of stupid money. Even as I write this, I’m still short on funds. I’ve sent in my application fee of $200, and need to pay the first installment in early July, then the rest in early August.

The rest money will come. I just gotta believe.


Picking up language learning after that week or so break was rough. I was surprised how much I’d forgotten. It totally bummed me out, but the experienced was good motivation for never making the same mistake again. It took around a week or two of super diligent practice to get back on track again, but I did it.

Language Learning Tip: If you can help it, don’t miss a day of practice! A few minutes of practice is better than doing nothing at all.

Once I got my groove back, I hit yet another wall in my studies. Memorizing phrases and vocabulary wasn’t enough. I needed to study grammar, but I was scared. I spent the entire month of April tearfully navigating grammar.

grammar cry

Honestly, grammar isn’t so bad once you have learning resources that bore or frustrate you. The Japanese from Zero videos (info below) and the Memrise App grammar levels (info below) have worked best for me so far. What I love most about grammar is finally being able to write and read basic sentences, not just memorizing them. It’s so rewarding!!!

So let’s move on to the tools I’ve used during my first four months of learning and my goals for the rest of the year.

Study Tools for January – April 2017

Memrise App for iPhone

I friggin’ love Memrise!!! I don’t think I’d be as far along in my learning without it.

What I completed from Jan. 2017 to April 2017:

  • Basic Katakana
  • Introduction to Japanese
  • Japanese 1
  • Japanese 2
  • Started JLPT N5 Grammar & JLPT N5 Vocab

My next Memrise App learning goals are to complete the levels listed below along with Japanese 3, JLPT N5 Readings, and Beginner’s Japanese Grammer 1 (JLPT N5 Grammar) before my trip to Japan in September.

I don’t know how or if my phone will work in Japan for the 10 days that I’m there, but I’m hoping to at least keep up with my review words while I’m there. If not, my plan is to spend the rest of September catching up on reviewing all my words.

Oct. through December goals are to get started on JLPT N4 Vocab, JLPT N4 Readings, and regularly review all completed words as needed to keep them fresh in my mind.

MLC Learning Center (Meguro Language Center) Free Online Resources

My goal for my first year of learning Japanese is to learn the first grade level kanji, along with any others that appear in my Memrise studies.

I have the Basic Kanji 120 MOSTLY memorized.

  • Basic Kanji 120 Lesson (first grade kanji). Sign up to get the e-mail lesson for free HERE. There is also an option on the page to download the whole booklet at all once.

Japanese from Zero Video Series on YouTube

I didn’t discover these until my second month or so learning Japanese. The videos are created to go along with the book series, but have a lot to offer even if don’t have the books.

View the Playlist HERE.


Website HERE. Jisho is a free online Japanese dictionary. It’s crazy useful for learning kanji, vocabulary, and general reference. I use it a lot when I’m trying to figure out words or kanji in captions on Instagram by native Japanese speakers. It’s also useful for learning stroke order of kanji if you’re practicing handwriting.


I wrote a post HERE about accounts to follow on Instagram if you’re learning Japanese. The other way I use Instagram is by making friends with natives speakers and other nice folks learning Japanese. I absolutely love my IG friends! 🙂

Instagram has forced me to look up kanji, read/translate, figure out how to create sentences, and have conversation with native speakers through a sort of digital immersion.

The Results (So Far)

I’m pretty darn with happy with how much I’ve learned in such a short amount of time. There is no reason to let limited funds or limited time set you back from learning a new language. I’m proof of that.

Thanks to the Internet, there are hundreds of incredible free ways to learn a new language without ever having to ever leave your house or put on pants if you don’t want to. If you have a smart phone and/or computer, you can learn a new language.

As far as finding time. Well, it really comes down to priorities. I spend WAY less time in Facebook, which has not only given me more time to practice Japanese, I feel like I have way less negativity in my daily life. I also feel like spending my last half-hour before bed practicing Japanese has helped me sleep better, too.

And as crazy as this may sound, I feel like learning Japanese is making me a better mother.  Instead of having a glass of wine at night to unwind, I practice Japanese. And to be honest, I think my nightly “wine-down” was negatively impacting my health and well-being, including my sleep habits. As of today, I’ve been “sober” for a little over two months.

I also feel like the intellectually satisfying part of learning Japanese has given me more self-confidence and self-appreciation. It’s like the self-care practice I’d been missing to help maintain daily balance in my life. If I’m feeling stressed out or in need of “me time,” I grab a cup of tea or coffee (sometimes a snack), and study Japanese. I love it.

I look forward to what the future holds for my Japanese learning experience. I’ve even recently thought about how I might be able to use my skills for some kind of job, perhaps once all my little ones are grown up and done with homeschooling. A bit of extra income around these parts would be a huge bonus, for sure.

Thanks for reading!

Shiga Shar

If you enjoyed this post or learned something new, please share it on social media and consider donating a few bucks toward my 2017 Goodwill trip to Shiga through PayPal.

ありがとう // Arigatou // Thank you!




Drinking Beer & Learning Japanese with Nomitalk


I wouldn’t normally advise drinking while learning Japanese, but I think I’ll make an exception for Nomitalk, a new YouTube series for those who enjoy language and libations.

I love the natural feel of the Nomitalk videos, which feature ordinary conversation in ordinary settings with native Japanese speakers. The two videos I watched included a trip to a takoyaki bar and a walk through Yoyogi Park for Hanami. I’d never heard of a takoyaki before and didn’t realize people could sit and openly drink during Hanami. Interesting.

The Nomitalk videos are appropriate for all learning levels since they’re captioned in Japanese, romaji, and English. If you’re in the JLPT N5 learning range like myself, you’ll recognize a lot of the words, and actually be able to understand them since most of the speaking is slower, casual speech.  Perhaps that’s due in part to the alcohol. 🙂

alcohol aliens

If you’re looking for some high-quality edu-tainment, check out Nomitalk. You can find them on:




If you’d like to read more about alcohol and drinking culture in Japan, check out:

Drinking Alcohol in Japan by Tofugu

Drinking Culture in Japan

As for me, I’m not much of a drinker, but I do appreciate a nice craft beer or tasty cocktail once in a great while. I’m pretty curious to see what Japanese beer and alcohol tastes like, and hope to sample a few things during my visit in September.

japan beer


Thanks for reading!

Shiga Shar

If you enjoyed this post or learned something new, please share it on social media and consider donating a few bucks toward my 2017 Goodwill trip to Shiga through PayPal.

ありがとう // Arigatou // Thank you!







Usagi’s Hiragana & Katakana Drag-n-Drop Game

usagi chan

Usgai’s Hiragana Drag-n-Drop Game is a simple way to quiz yourself on your hiragana knowledge. Simply click on the hiragana with your mouse and drag it into the correct sound space. There’s also a timer at the bottom of the game square, if you fancy that sort of thing.

I memorized hiragana and katakana using the Memrise app, but enjoyed using these on the side to help reinforce what I’ve learned.

Using multiple learning tools is a great way to strengthen your learning, and keeps you from getting a rut with just one study method or resource. 

There’s also a Katakana version HERE.

Technology Required: PC with Flash Player

Price: FREE

Language Level: Absolute Beginner

Link to the hiragana game here:


Thanks for reading!

Shiga Shar

If you enjoyed this post or learned something new, please share it on social media and consider donating a few bucks toward my 2017 Goodwill trip to Shiga through PayPal.

ありがとう // Arigatou // Thank you!




10 Instagram Accounts to Follow if You’re Learning Japanese

If you’re not currently utilizing Instagram in your language learning, you’re missing out big time.


One way to use Instagram for learning a new language is as a “studygram,” where you post your daily handwriting practice, journal entries, etc. to hold yourself accountable and track progress. Following other studygram accounts for your target language is also a great way to hold each other accountable, learn together, and make new friends. 🙂

The other way to use Instagram for learning a new language is by following people who offer daily lessons or learning tips. I do follow some of these people on Facebook, too, but I try to avoid Facebook as much as possible these days since it seems like most posts are political and/or negative junk I’d rather not contaminate my good vibes.

Now on to the list!


Honestly, this doesn’t even need an explanation does it? Tofugu is the like the ultimate place to be following on every social media platform if you’re learning Japanese or need to satisfy your regular Japanophile cravings.

Language Level: Beginner to Advanced


Daily posts of Japanese proverbs and lessons by a helpful Japanese native speaker.

Language Level: Intermediate to Advanced


Daily posts of a Japanese word with an adorable illustration. There’s usually a helpful explanation in the caption, as well. Ringo in Japanese means apple, so A Ringo a Day is a play on words of the phrase, “An Apple a Day.”

Language Level: Beginner

@easyjapan_lessons (Crunchy Nihongo)

Mini grammar and vocabulary lessons. The Crunchy Nihongo website is a treasure trove of learning resources, too. They even have an app. (Android only at the moment)

Language Level: Beginner to Advanced


Instagram account for the MLC Japanese Language school in Tokyo. They always post great learning content, and a have a number of free resources and lessons available on their website. Material is organized by JLPT learning levels.  I’ve learned TONS thanks to MLC. They rock!

Language Level: Beginner to Advanced


Learn Japanese with this adorable cat comic. (Neko = cat, manga = comic book). Lots of romaji, which can be helpful for new learners. Having the context of the comic really helps reinforce the language learning. Plus, it’s just so darn cute!

Language Level: Beginner to Intermediate


A mix of vocabulary and grammar. Most posts also include an audio file to hear pronunciation.

Language Level: Beginner to Intermediate


Vocabulary, grammar, proverbs with well-written explanations by Romy Ellis, a native Japanese speaker and teacher.

Language Level: Beginner to Advanced

Such a pretty page to follow. Vocabulary is taught using kana on sticky-notes next to pleasant visuals to really reinforce language learning. I believe the IG user is a native Spanish speaker, so some captions include Spanish, but it shouldn’t hold English speakers back from reading and learning from the content.

Language Level: Beginner


Simple useful phrases in Japanese with a cute little illustration. This is mostly beginner level content, but you’ll definitely need to know your kana for sure.

Language Level: Beginner to Intermediate



Renshuu means practice in Japanese. I meant to include this originally, but I didn’t think they had an IG account. But they do! やーた!!!!Yay!!! I really love the kawaii comic style of learning. Again, having context when learning is such a huge help for me when reinforcing what I’m learning.

Language Level: Beginner to Intermediate

Thanks for reading!

Shiga Shar

If you enjoyed this post or learned something new, please share it on social media and consider donating a few bucks toward my 2017 Goodwill trip to Shiga through PayPal.

ありがとう // Arigatou // Thank you!




When an Herbalist Goes Overseas: First Aid Kit

Like any good herbalist, I have multiple kitchen cupboards filled with dried herbs, homemade tinctures, infused oils, and assorted encapsulated herbs for just about any kind of minor medical need you can imagine. Having never traveled much before, let alone outside of the country, I’ve never really thought about what I would take with me for an extended travel first kit using herbs/natural remedies.

My trip is less than 5 months away at this point, but I that the big day is going to be here before I know it. So this morning I sat down and put together my herbal first aid kit for my travels. I’m not sure how well tinctures will travel, so I only included easy to transport items. I have time to make changes if I need to, but I think this is a good kit.

*Disclaimer: This post is for educational purposes only. As an herbalist, I am not a doctor, nor do I diagnose or treat diseases. Okay? Okay. *

So here’s what I’ve packed (at least so far) and why:

Activated Charcoal: I use this for food poisoning, gastroenteritis, insect bites/stings, and/or other digestive disturbances.

White Willow Bark: An herbal alternative to aspirin: for headaches, minor pain relief, or topically as an astringent for minor injuries.

Papaya Enzymes: Digestive support aid for indigestion, upset stomach, overeating, nausea.

Adrenal Support: I’ll be taking this daily for immune system and nervous system support.

Goldenseal: Used for minor infections (both internally or topically), may also be used to support digestive and immune system health.

Allergy Relief Capsules: In the event of any minor indoor or outdoor allergic reactions.

Also packed: herbal cough drops, calendula salve (natural antibiotic/first aid ointment), bandages, gauze, cotton swabs, tweezers, a butterfly bandage, joint/muscle cream, an alcohol swab, spare lip balm, and a nail clippers.


Whew! I think that’s it. Oh, man. Having one more prepared for my trip feels so great! It’s really starting to sink in that I’m actually going to Japan. Ahhhh!!!!! I’m so excited!!!!!!

Until next time….


Thanks for reading!

Shiga Shar

If you enjoyed this post or learned something new, please share it on social media and consider donating a few bucks toward my 2017 Goodwill trip to Shiga through PayPal.

ありがとう // Arigatou // Thank you!





Japanese Sentence Making for Beginners

It’s been less than 6 months since I began my daily Japanese studies. Time flies when you’re having fun! 🙂

Up to this point, I’ve learned hiragana, katakana, around 1,500 vocabulary words (according to my Memrise app), some basic “survival” phrases, and most of the first grade level Kanji. This past week I began studying grammar.

My biggest fear about beginning grammar was it would be complicated and frustrating that I’d want to give up learning Japanese. At the same time, I understood that jumping over the grammar hurdle would make me one step closer to being able to think and communicate in Japanese one day.

fry fear
Pretty much sums up my approach towards Japanese grammar.

But guess what? It’s really not that bad. Not yet, anyways.

really not bad

The first step in learning Japanese grammar (at least for me) is understanding basic sentence structure.

Knowing the kana and a bunch of vocab words felt like having a 1,000 piece puzzle without the picture on the puzzle box to know how to put it all together, a.k.a. grammar.  The following resources (all free, by the way) helped me put the “border” of my lanauge puzzle together.  I obviously have a loooooong way to go, but the task ahead seems less daunting now that the foundational parts are in place.

Hopefully, these things will help you, too. 🙂

10 Major Aspects of the Japanese Language by

An intro to basic Japanese phrases, a few vocab words, and a run down of 10 things to keep in mind when trying to understand some key elements of the Japanese language, which I’ve found helpful as I learn grammar and language “construction.”


How to Build a Sentence in Japanese: The Ultimate Guide to Kickstart Your Understanding of Japanese Basics by Japanese

At first glace, I was overwhelmed by all the information on this page. I took my time and went through each of the areas and took notes, which took me about an hour. My favorite part about this page is the way sentence structure examples are presented with a little formula. For example:




I wrote these down in my study notebook to refer to ask I work on making sentences for practice.


Basic Polite Sentence Making from

Great site for people who enjoy visual aids to support their learning. The entire site is FULL of incredible info for learners at every level.


Beginners Japanese Grammar 1 (JLPT N5 Grammar) on the Memrise App



Creating Simple Japanese Sentences with Japanese From Zero

Sensei George is hilarious. At least I think so. 🙂 His lighthearted and playful approach to learning Japanese helps me not want to curl up into the fetal position and cry when Japanese learning gets difficult. Most of the videos are around 10 minutes or less, and although created as a supplement to the book, are helpful for folks without the books as well.

*What about Tae Kim’s Guide to Learning Japanese?*

I am using Tae Kim’s Guide to Learning Japanese, but mostly as a reference as I get more comfortable with grammar and kanji. I do think it’s a great resource, but it most definitely is overwhelming if you’re super new to Japanese because of the use of kanji right away.

My Study Plan as of Today:

  • Better understanding the various parts of speech (adjectives, verbs, etc.), while continuing to plug away at vocabulary words and kanji.
  • I also need to do more speaking and listening practice, which I’ve been awful at doing up to this point. :/
  • Memrise App daily, especially Beginners Japanese Grammar 1 (almost done with Japanese 2 and JLPT N5 Vocab)

Thanks for reading!

Shiga Shar

If you enjoyed this post or learned something new, please share it on social media and considering donating a few bucks toward my 2017 Goodwill trip to Shiga through PayPal.

ありがとう // Arigatou // Thank you!




Half a Day on a Plane?! {Why I’m Not Worried about the Long Flight to Japan}

14 hour plane ride (1)

I’ll be 35 this September when I board the plan to Japan. It’s been almost 15 years since I stepped foot on a plane, and that trip was just a couple hour flight to Florida from Detroit, Michigan.

Not only have I not flown in over a decade, I’ve only traveled a few hours away from my small Michigan town a few dozen times throughout these years. And when I did, it was always a half-day or so trip with my husband and kids. Never alone.

But in roughly five months, I’ll be sitting on a 14-ish hour flight with people I don’t know, staying in foreign country for 11 days, four of them living with a Japanese family I’ve never met.

nervous meme


Naturally, I’m a bit nervous.

But mostly, I’m looking forward to it.



My entire life is pretty much devoted to my husband and kids. I honestly can’t remember the last time I got to read, eat, study Japanese, sleep, or just use the bathroom without someone needing something from me.



pantry mom
I feel your pain, Pantry Mom.


Now don’t get me wrong, I have a great life, but after spending the last 15 years nearly non-stop birthing, wiping, cleaning, feeding, teaching, and all the mothering and wife-ing duties in-between, I’m going to enjoy not having to cook, clean, or care for anybody but myself on that half-day flight (and the rest of my trip, for that matter).




I know being away from each other will be difficult, but I also know that opportunities like this don’t always happen a second time around. As nervous as I am, I’m thrilled and thankful to have a chance to pursue this awesome opportunity. The truth is,

There will never be a “convenient” time to pursue your passions or dreams, especially when you’re a mother. 

I know it sounds cliche, but I really think this is going to be a life-changing trip for me. And I hope it inspires my children to enjoy life, be open for new adventures, and embrace opportunities as they arise.


Thanks for reading!

Shiga Shar

If you enjoyed this post or learned something new, please share it on social media and consider donating a few bucks toward my 2017 Goodwill trip to Shiga through PayPal.

ありがとう // Arigatou // Thank you!










Today’s Weather Is… {Japanese Lesson} + Free Worksheet


This week we’re learning about how to talk about today’s weather in Japanese.

This is the closet door in our dining room, where I’ve set up a little sticky note station for this activity. The kids enjoy fighting over who gets to put up the daily weather sticker each morning. 🙂 And because we live in Michigan, sometimes we get to change this out multiple times a day.

mich weather



Here are a few other places to learn weather related Japanese lessons:

My Weather – Japanese Pinterest Board

Japanese Vocabulary – Weather in Japanese – Tenki 天気   (perfect for younger kids)

Waku Waku Japanese – Language Lesson 17: Weather  (older kids, teens, & adults)

Japanese Weather & Word Vocabulary

Japan Meteorological Agency   (Has both English & Japanese)


I also made a worksheet for my older kids that I thought I’d share here for those interested. It’s nothing fancy. Just something I whipped up on Canva quick for my older kids. Click The Weather Is… to download the free printable .pdf worksheet.

The Weather Is...


See you later! またね! (matane!)

Shiga Shar

If you enjoyed this post or learned something new, please share it on social media and consider donating a few bucks toward my 2017 Goodwill trip to Shiga through PayPal.

ありがとう // Arigatou // Thank you!