Help with Japanese

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PauloJ
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Help with Japanese

Post by PauloJ » Tue Jan 22, 2019 5:06 pm

I don't know if there is a topic like this, I could not find any.

But, I would like to start studying Japanese, focused mainly on studies to read the Japanese Sutras. I would like indications of materials and methods. :smile:

Admin_PC
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Re: Help with Japanese

Post by Admin_PC » Tue Jan 22, 2019 6:54 pm

There really aren't many materials in Japanese.
Honen's 1-sheet document, and a couple of Shinran's Gathas are some of the only exceptions I know of.
Sutras themselves are all in Chinese.
Most Japanese commentaries are in Chinese.
Honen's Senchakushu and Shinran's Kyogyoshinsho are in Chinese.

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Re: Help with Japanese

Post by Admin_PC » Tue Jan 22, 2019 6:56 pm

I'd probably start with the SAT database Tripitaka:
http://21dzk.l.u-tokyo.ac.jp/SAT/ddb-bd ... hp?lang=en
And the digital dictionary of Buddhism:
http://www.buddhism-dict.net/ddb/

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Queequeg
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Re: Help with Japanese

Post by Queequeg » Wed Jan 23, 2019 7:01 pm

PauloJ wrote:
Tue Jan 22, 2019 5:06 pm
I don't know if there is a topic like this, I could not find any.

But, I would like to start studying Japanese, focused mainly on studies to read the Japanese Sutras. I would like indications of materials and methods. :smile:
What is your background? Are you looking to learn outside of an institutional setting?

If you have no background and money is no object, here is an ideal path I would suggest:

Start with this:

Middlebury Language School

It is an intense 9 week immersive language school.

From there, ideally, move to Japan and enroll in language school. The best program is this:

Inter-university Center for Japanese Language Studies

To be accepted to that program you might need to go to another language program to get up to the required level.

This is THE Japanese language school for aspiring scholars and others who wish to attain Japanese fluency.

From there, you're going to need to study classical Japanese and Kambun.

That path is no joke. Its full time for several years. But, you will be reading, writing and speaking at an advanced university level capable of graduate work at a Japanese university.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta

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kalden yungdrung
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Re: Help with Japanese

Post by kalden yungdrung » Wed Jan 23, 2019 8:46 pm

PauloJ wrote:
Tue Jan 22, 2019 5:06 pm
I don't know if there is a topic like this, I could not find any.

But, I would like to start studying Japanese, focused mainly on studies to read the Japanese Sutras. I would like indications of materials and methods. :smile:
Tashi delek P,

Maybe this man Takahiko Hakodera, is willing to help you, he is a Japanese Bönpo and his English is pretty good, because he wrote a book about Bön Dzogchen in English.

You could ask him for that, no you can get always in live , but maybe it could be yes, who knows.

Here i give you the link to his webpage:
https://bonjapan.jimdo.com/%E3%83%81%E3 ... 42ShAVuNHE


Best wishes and a nice day
KY:
The best meditation is no meditation

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PauloJ
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Re: Help with Japanese

Post by PauloJ » Wed Jan 23, 2019 10:30 pm

Thanks for all the answers.
I think my main focus is reading. But, as Admin_PC already said, most of the material is in Chinese. :consoling:

Basically, what I would like was to master a language to read sutras or comments. Since I am a Shin practitioner -- I thought Japanese Language would be good for this too.

Shaku Kenshin
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Re: Help with Japanese

Post by Shaku Kenshin » Thu Jan 24, 2019 3:28 pm

If you learn only classical Chinese, you will be able to read the sutras and commentaries, but you will not be able to read the Shinran's letters and Japanese hymns. You will also not be able to understand how Shinran and others cleverly used kaeriten (return markers that where used to grammatically transform Classical Chinese into Japanese word order) to alter the meaning of sutra and commentary sections they cited.

The best way would be to learn Japanese and then classical Japanese and how to read classical Chinese based on that.

This is no joke and takes a few years dedicated learning. It is doable, but to be very honest, I haven't met anyone who has done this outside of academic education, but I am sure there are some people who were able to do it.

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Re: Help with Japanese

Post by Admin_PC » Thu Jan 24, 2019 5:21 pm

Japanese grammar can take a while. To me, the common thread throughout are the Chinese characters (Kanji). Starting with something like James Heisig's "Remembering the Kanji", Kenneth Henshall's "A Guide to Remembering Japanese Characters", or some other resource on understanding Chinese characters would at least give a head start on recognizing almost 2000 characters and their general meaning. That way, you'd have a basic gist of the meaning, giving a starting point, and you could focus on different pronunciations and grammars later. Just a thought.

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Queequeg
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Re: Help with Japanese

Post by Queequeg » Thu Jan 24, 2019 5:59 pm

Admin_PC wrote:
Thu Jan 24, 2019 5:21 pm
Japanese grammar can take a while. To me, the common thread throughout are the Chinese characters (Kanji). Starting with something like James Heisig's "Remembering the Kanji", Kenneth Henshall's "A Guide to Remembering Japanese Characters", or some other resource on understanding Chinese characters would at least give a head start on recognizing almost 2000 characters and their general meaning. That way, you'd have a basic gist of the meaning, giving a starting point, and you could focus on different pronunciations and grammars later. Just a thought.
I hesitate to say this, because I don't want to be discouraging, and PC, I know you understand this, but just learning to recognize characters does not lead to literacy, in either Japanese or Chinese. This can be a fruitful approach as a supplement to working primarily with a translation in one's native language while looking for reference to the original. Its not going to add up to actually being able to meaningfully read the original.

FWIW, the approach you suggest can be achieved with the Daizokyo database and google translate... Actually, some texts in the Daizokyo database have ready references to the BDK translations where available built into the interface.

Daizokyo Database:
http://21dzk.l.u-tokyo.ac.jp/SAT/satdb2015.php?lang=en
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta

Admin_PC
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Re: Help with Japanese

Post by Admin_PC » Thu Jan 24, 2019 6:15 pm

I did not meant to imply such a method granting any sort of literacy, but it's more progress towards literacy of Buddhist texts than standard Japanese classes.

Just speaking from experience, written and spoken Japanese are two completely different worlds. Taking Japanese classes; toiling through formality levels & complex grammar transformations, will not give you much in the way of progress towards actually reading any of this stuff. Took 2 years in high school, followed by 2 years (4 semesters) in university and was exposed to maybe 300 kanji. Nowhere near enough to read Honen's 1 sheet document, let alone any sutras.

All I'm saying is: get your feet wet with the meanings behind various kanji so you at least have a starting point for when you try to study them seriously and so you're not intimidated by them.

I haven't tried to do the Google translate thing with the Daizokyo, but my experience with even simple sentences has left me less than impressed with the offering.

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Queequeg
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Re: Help with Japanese

Post by Queequeg » Thu Jan 24, 2019 7:08 pm

Admin_PC wrote:
Thu Jan 24, 2019 6:15 pm
I did not meant to imply such a method granting any sort of literacy, but it's more progress towards literacy of Buddhist texts than standard Japanese classes.
I shy away from suggesting a casual approach can build toward literacy simply because the chasm is huge. I watched how hard my wife had to work to get to her level - she can't read classical Japanese or Kambun/Chinese fluently, but she can muddle through. (She can, however, read classical script pretty well, which is pretty cool.)
Just speaking from experience, written and spoken Japanese are two completely different worlds.
Indeed. I can have conversations with people at the bar, but can't read effectively. My wife can read highly technical scholarship, but she can barely order dinner.
I haven't tried to do the Google translate thing with the Daizokyo, but my experience with even simple sentences has left me less than impressed with the offering.
Yeah, it doesn't read sentences well. What I meant is, you can look up each individual character for its meaning, which, practically speaking, amounts to mere learning the meaning of characters.

Heisig is a good practical approach, but because its focused on being practical, its not always accurate when it comes to the etymology of characters.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta

Admin_PC
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Re: Help with Japanese

Post by Admin_PC » Thu Jan 24, 2019 8:05 pm

Henshall's is a lot more etymological in flavor. That's the one I've used a lot more of. Often gives a bit on the evolution of the character and some discussion of the actual radicals involved. As a source, it can be way more accurate and helpful for understanding the meaning when you see that character C evolved from characters A & B.

I was one of those intimidated by kanji for a looooong time. Kanji and written Japanese are like studying a totally separate language for me. Somewhat ironically, it's been workbooks like Basic Kanji Book(s) and Kanji in Context that have helped me the most. I've just seen others go from 0 to JLPT1 in the matter of a few years with the mnemonic approach (Heisig or Henshall), which is why the recommendation. Also seen others get a lot out of flashcard systems like Anki, which have been useless for me as well.

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PauloJ
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Re: Help with Japanese

Post by PauloJ » Fri Jan 25, 2019 7:54 pm

Thank you all. :smile:

I will begin a Japanese course and I will try to focus on reading material.
But, something is not clear: is it possible to learn to read classical Japanese and from there to get to read classical Chinese?

Admin_PC
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Re: Help with Japanese

Post by Admin_PC » Fri Jan 25, 2019 8:56 pm

Maybe, if you use the kaeriten that Shaku Kenshin mentioned. Japanese has really complex grammar. Chinese grammar (even classical) is almost non-existent. Hence, my recommendation.

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rory
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Re: Help with Japanese

Post by rory » Mon Jan 28, 2019 11:33 am

I'm studying Japanese, with the plan to speak and to eventually read Japanese texts on Buddhism with studying Classical Chinese as a goal.

I'm using a great textbook "Genki" and have a tutor. Genki does a good job of explaining grammar and teaching characters. Go through Genki 1 and Genki 2 then, discuss what to study with your tutor/professor.

Paulo, have you had Latin or another language like Russian, as Japanese has a different structure than Romance languages and is difficult that way. Otherwise it is not, just lots of memorizing and that's simply a matter of perseverance.
gassho
Rory
Namu Kanzeon Bosatsu
Chih-I:
The Tai-ching states "the women in the realms of Mara, Sakra and Brahma all neither abandoned ( their old) bodies nor received (new) bodies. They all received buddhahood with their current bodies (genshin)" Thus these verses state that the dharma nature is like a great ocean. No right or wrong is preached (within it) Ordinary people and sages are equal, without superiority or inferiority
Paul, Groner "The Lotus Sutra in Japanese Culture"eds. Tanabe p. 58
https://www.tendai-usa.org/

Admin_PC
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Re: Help with Japanese

Post by Admin_PC » Mon Jan 28, 2019 7:14 pm

Genki 1 & 2 will get you to upper beginner level (1 year - JLPT5, some of JLPT4).
For the next level, the same company offers "An Integrated Approach to Intermediate Japanese", which should be good for JLPT4 and probably even JLPT3 (2 to 4 years).
After that, most recommend 中級から上級への日本語 if you want to stay in the same series/type of lessons.

Just to give you an idea of what those levels mean:

Level | Kanji | Vocabulary | Listening | Hours of Study
N5 | ~100 | ~800 | Beginner | 150h (estimated)
N4 | ~300 | ~1,500 | Basic | 300h (estimated)
N3 | ~650 | ~3,750 | Lower Intermediate | 450h (estimated)
N2 | ~1000 | ~6,000 | Intermediate | 600h (estimated)
N1 | ~2000 | ~10,000 | Advanced | 900h (estimated)

As far as tackling sutras, that 2000 kanji will probably just give you a solid baseline and you'll still need to be looking up a bunch of characters.

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rory
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Re: Help with Japanese

Post by rory » Wed Jan 30, 2019 4:44 am

I spoke with Indrajala, who just got his doctorate in East Asian Studies about this. He said it would take me about 5 years to be able to read scholarship. I'm finishing Genki 1 in one year, I'll do the same with Genki 2.

I suggest you when you are finishing year 1, have your teacher find a Shinshu temple's children's page in Japanese on the net and start learning the characters for Pure Land that you'll need; like Amida, nenbutsu, shinjin etc this way you'll get a start in your specialized vocabularty.
gassho
Rory
Namu Kanzeon Bosatsu
Chih-I:
The Tai-ching states "the women in the realms of Mara, Sakra and Brahma all neither abandoned ( their old) bodies nor received (new) bodies. They all received buddhahood with their current bodies (genshin)" Thus these verses state that the dharma nature is like a great ocean. No right or wrong is preached (within it) Ordinary people and sages are equal, without superiority or inferiority
Paul, Groner "The Lotus Sutra in Japanese Culture"eds. Tanabe p. 58
https://www.tendai-usa.org/

Admin_PC
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Re: Help with Japanese

Post by Admin_PC » Wed Jan 30, 2019 5:35 am

He’s kind of a special case, definitely far from the norm (speaking as someone who’s been in Japanese learning circles for decades). Only had 2 years of formal language education, still admitted he had a bunch of help on his term papers. 5 years in kanji terms would be more than one new one a day, every day for 5 years. Genki 1&2 in 2 years, I guess 5 years is feasible for grammar - with the understanding that the intermediate book I mentioned is as long as Genki 1&2 combined, and the Japanese book I mentioned is twice as long as that. 900hours of study in 5 years is not unrealistic if you put in an hour every weekday.

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Zhen Li
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Re: Help with Japanese

Post by Zhen Li » Wed Jan 30, 2019 10:13 am

If you have a Mac, search DDB access on the App Store. This is really the best way for looking up Buddhist terminology at the moment. You have to become a subscriber to DDB and then log in using your DDB username. I don't remember if there is a PC version.

There's really no difference in learning the meaning between Japanese and Chinese—but if you want to know the Japanese pronunciations (which in many cases would be closer to the Chinese pronunciations at the time of translation), then you can just select Hepburn, Katakana, or Hiragana from the dropdown pronunciation menu, rather than the default, which is Pinyin.

Typically if I want to read a chunk of a text that I don't understand I'll just copy and past it into the text box and then it will be easy to look up. SAT DB has brief entries for each character or compound in one of their pop-up windows but if you want the other meanings you have to go to the DDB website or use DDB Access. As for reading Classical Japanese commentaries, I am afraid this won't help.

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Queequeg
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Re: Help with Japanese

Post by Queequeg » Wed Jan 30, 2019 2:22 pm

Admin_PC wrote:
Wed Jan 30, 2019 5:35 am
He’s kind of a special case, definitely far from the norm (speaking as someone who’s been in Japanese learning circles for decades). Only had 2 years of formal language education, still admitted he had a bunch of help on his term papers. 5 years in kanji terms would be more than one new one a day, every day for 5 years. Genki 1&2 in 2 years, I guess 5 years is feasible for grammar - with the understanding that the intermediate book I mentioned is as long as Genki 1&2 combined, and the Japanese book I mentioned is twice as long as that. 900hours of study in 5 years is not unrealistic if you put in an hour every weekday.
5 years is about right if you're doing it full time AND working your ass off. That's what my wife did. IUC is an amazing but hard program.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta

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