Learning Japanese meets Timothy Goes To School + Tea Ceremonies

Through the amazing magic of mobile computing and wirelessnetworking, I’m finishing up some work while my daughter watches a(commercial free, courtesy of Treehouse TV here in Canada) episodeof “Timothy Goes To School” beside me.

Today’sepisode features the “Japanese” character and hermother (both portrayed as cats, of course) doing ashow-and-tell demonstration of a Japanese TeaCeremony. While I wouldn’t normally post an entry about anepisode of a pre-schooler’s television show, this provides aconvenient segue to my interest in Japanese culture (from aphilosophical and social-structure perspective – I don’t own asingle anime and I’ve never watched Robotech). The teaceremony is one of the elements of Japanese culture that seemsso…philosophically wise: Taking a moment to actually payattention to, and appreciate, the most minute of details seems soenlightened, and is so contrary to most of Western culture.


To continue this long and drawn out transition to a post aboutthe software business – About a year ago I decided to learnJapanese (with an eventual goal of an extended visit to Japan).When you have no immersion this can be extremelydifficult, and in the limited time I’ve been able to allocatetowards this fringe goal, I’ve learned the glyphs and pronunciationof the Hiraganaand Katakanaalphabets. Given that real world Japanese intermixes a massive setof Kanji in withthat, not to mention that there’s crazy things like words andgrammar used to communicate, it really means that I have nofunctional Japanese ability beyond transcribing Japanese sounds.Nonetheless, it’s been very enjoyable, and has indirectly taught mea tremendous amount about human language – it’s akin to learning anew programming language, and circuitously gaining insight aboutthe languages that you already know.

So what does any of this have to do with anything One nightsome time back I was weighing how much time I really wanted todedicate towards this fringe goal, and what, if any, software toolsexisted to help the process. My search brought me to DeclanSoftware’s ReadWrite series.Judging from my own experience, which I think would be similar toothers, Declan is an excellent case study for small softwarepublishers to learn from.

When Goldfish Escape

Not only did they allow me to demo their software to an extentthat made me feel confident in a purchase – but still leaving mehungry for more – they also allowed me to satisfy my impulsewith immediate satisfaction (I immediately got a full-unlock – nowaiting for snail-mail. Obviously this sort of impulse buy wouldonly happen for relatively inexpensive software, but if it wasn’tas immediate I would have likely put off thepurchase, during which I probably would’ve lost interest, orfound a different product). Any worries I might have had abouthanding over credit card information to a small vendor dissolvedwhen I saw that their payment processing was handled by regnow (whoI’d worked with before).

To really put the icing on the cake, they also offer a smalldiscount for buying a set of related products together (Kanji,Hiragana, and Katakana).

All fears were eliminated, they satisfied my impulse, and theymaximize the revenue by selling me additional products I didn’toriginally intend to buy. All from a random search engine hit.

(For those considering or studying Japanese, I highly recommendthe superb JWPce asa great little accessory tool. With the dictionary, includingEnglish to Japanese, it is remarkably useful)