Learn Japanese through movies #1: Hirokazu Koreeda

I recently wrote about falling out of love with Japanese and how I am trying to go past my crisis through my biggest passion, the one that brought me to Japan in the first place: movies.

Instead of forcing myself to study in a traditional way I am allowing time to enjoy my favourite activities and only when possible to get a little language take away from it.
So here are two good Japanese movies I watched this month and I recommend whether you are studying the language or not. Each of them inspired me a tiny Japanese lesson to share with you, I hope you enjoy it!

Do you have any recommendations for Japanese movies? Do you usually focus on a specific vocabulary area or grammar topic when watching a movie in your target language?

learn japanese through movies

After Life – Hirokazu Koreeda, 1998

Original title: ワンダフルライフ Wandafuru raifu
Recent works of Koreeda are sometimes compared to Yasujiro Ozu (though he feels closer to Ken Loach) for his attention to family dynamics and to everyday life’s details. Some of his earlier works though have more of a supernatural approach. This is the case with his 1998 movie After Life. This film uses an interesting narrative device in order to explore human feelings and the varied experiences people go through during their lives.

Language takeaway: words and expressions used to talk about the past or your memories.

思い出 [おもいで omoide]: memories, reminiscence.
記憶 [きおく kioku]: memory, recollection, remembrance.
最初の記憶 [さいしょのきおく saisho no kioku]: the first memory.
覚える [おぼえる oboeru]: to remember.
はっきり覚えている [はっきりおぼえている hakkiri oboeteiru]: to remember clearly.
忘れる [わすれる wasureru] to forget.
忘れられないこと [わすれられないこと wasurerarenai koto]: something unforgettable.
印象深い [いんしょうぶかい inshou bukai]: deeply impressive, memorable, striking.
一番思い出深い風景 [いちばんおもいでぶかいふうけい ichiban omoidebukai fuukei]: the scenery that resides deepest in my memory.
過去を振り返る [かこをふりかえる kako wo furikaeru]: to think back on the past.
思い出を遡る [おもいでをさかのぼる omoide wo sakanoboru]: to go back in memories.
生きた証を残して死にたい [いきたあかしをのこしてしにたい ikita akashi wo nokoshite shinitai]: I want to die leaving evidence that I lived.
あの頃のこと考えると… [あのころをかんがえると… ano koro wo kangaeru to…]: if I think back to that time…
大切な思い出を選ぶ [たいせつなおもいでをえらぶ taisetsuna omoide wo erabu]: to choose a precious memory.

Air Doll – Hirokazu Koreeda, 2009

Original title: 空気人形 (くうきにんぎょう Kūki Ningyō)
A beautiful, heartrending, dreamy and cruel movie about an air doll, created as a sexual substitute for men, that magically comes to life. Koreeda delivers another movie brimming with humanity, a beautifully directed work enhanced by an impeccable soundtrack.
Nozomi, the protagonist gracefully played by Korean actress Bae Doona, discovers the world little by little as if she was a child. Her lines of dialogue are spoken clearly and slowly. Moreover, other characters give her explanations of concepts she doesn’t know, providing you with some good examples of monolingual definitions.

Language takeaway: Grammar – ~て形+しまう -te form + shimau

This expression has two main meanings:
to finish completely
to do something by accident (conveys involuntariness or regret, or is used when pretending said feelings).
In many sentences can be translated into “end up ___ing”. It’s often used in its past form: ~てしまった -te shimatta.
Ex. ケーキを食べてしまった。 [keki wo tabete shimatta] I ate all the cake (oops! I didn’t mean to but…).
その映画を見て泣いてしまった。 [sono eiga wo mite naite shimatta] Watching that movie, I ended up crying.
From the movie: 心を持ってしまった [kokoro wo motte shimatta]. I found myself having a heart (I was not supposed to, but it happened).
Polite form: present ~てしまいます (-te shimaimasu), past ~てしまいました (-te shimaimashita).
Colloquial form: present ちゃう (chau), past ちゃった (chatta).

Hi there!
Get access to a growing library of free learning materials
Follow: