#2 in Kindle Japanese Language Instruction Category

Our Hiragana, the Basics of Japanese is now #2 in the coveted “Japanese Language Instruciton” category.  Well, actually I am coveting the #1 spot, but for only being on the market a month, that ain’t bad. 

We are #1 under Alphabets and #3 in Travel > Asia > Japan.

Now that I have used my iPad and Kindle for a while, I have a few observations.  But… that will wait until next time.  Now back to Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography.

Huge Update for iPhone/iPad Japanese Phrases app

The Japanese Phrases and Lessons app (opens in iTunes) has a new update.

New to this Update:
* Lessons section totally redone (this is what took us the longest!) — 95% of the negative reviews were about the lessons section crashing, unresponsive, or otherwise ugly. Now the entire lessons navigation is controlled natively by iPhone controls (previously, it was just a bunch of HTML files). All Japanese words in the lessons have audio (tap to hear!).
* Spaced Repetition – Mark words/phrases as “Mastered,” “Familiar,” or ” Unfamiliar” to have that phrase appear more often or less often when ordered.
* Random order – In addition to having categories ordered by Spaced Repetition, you can also have it displayed randomly.
* Stats! Now a glance at any category will tell you how many words you have “Mastered” and how far you have to go.
* Better use of space – the bottom menu is gone! Now all pages are accessed from the front page.
* Option: Choose number of questions to be quizzed in the Quizzes
* Auto card – Have the cards change automatically (new on iPhone)

I already uploaded an update to this update fixing a few small things I forgot to add to this update. The next update will include retina enhanced images (for iPhone 4) and/or additional kanji lessons. I’m planning on doing both, but if I get one done before the other, I may just upload it as is.

On Japanese Toilets

Rob Long, a Hollywood-based satirist writes this in the latest issue of National Review: (here is the full article)

Arriving late one night into Tokyo, I checked into my hotel room to discover the world’s most complicated toilet.

I’ve said this before, but the Japanese have both the highest high-tech and lowest low-tech toilets in the world.  There are the traditional squat toilets that are little more than a hole with a flusher:

And then there are these: (continuing from Mr. Long’s account)

There were hoses and nozzles where hoses and nozzles probably shouldn’t be, and along the side there was an alarming set of button and switches, which made the entire contraption look like a neat freak’s electric chair.


It’s difficult to convey, in a magazine dedicated to the higher pursuits of political philosophy and national renewal, just how fantastic the Japanese toilet was. It’s impossible, especially, within the civilized parameters set by the editors and their assistants, to describe what a revelation it was — after a few eye-popping mishaps with the electric controls and one of the smaller nozzles — to discover that there were still things to perfect about an act we’ve all come to take for granted, still improvements to be made on the entire system, and that the Japanese had done it.

…In addition to the water in the toilet itself, there’s the additional water for all of those clever nozzles — you can set the pressure for each of them, but I learned the hard way that it’s best not to be a hero.

There is a happy ending.  After returning to the U.S. he found a supplier (surely Toto) and bought himself one.  One day, I plan to do the same.

This reminded me of a time shortly after I first arrived in Japan.  A friend and I sat down at a Gusto’s Family Restaurant to enjoy Yamamori Poteto Furai (big mountain of fries) and some pizza.  After ordering, he excused himself to visit the little boys’ room.  A full fifteen minutes later, he returned to his now cold food with a contorted look on his face. All I could get out of him was:

Don’t ever touch any of those buttons!!!

It took a few years, but now I am confident enough with my Japanese to use and want the high-tech Japanese toilet.  There’s no place like the bathroom at home, Toto.