7 Useful Websites to Survive in Japan

 

Imagine getting an invitation to your welcome party and a co-worker hands you a map to the location. You don’t think to ask about the place or what do all the squiggly lines mean–not like you can if you don’t know Japanese–so when the time comes to go to the welcome party, you realize that you don’t know the way. But that’s only one worry from living in Japan. Japanese language resources, English books, organic products, and even emoticons are different in the Land of the Rising Sun. Thanks to the internet, you can simplify your needs while living in Japan.

 googlemapsGoogle Maps: In Japan, you can easily get lost. There are no street names, and multiple routes with the same number make finding a certain business nearly impossible. Good thing all businesses must print their ads with a map to their shop…right? If everyone relied on those 5-centimeter sized maps, no one in Japan would use Google Maps. My advice: stick to landmarks!

japaneseemoticons

Japanese Emoticons: Western emoticons are great, but Japanese ones are easier to read and have more pizzazz. Plus, each emoticon conveys the exact emotion I’m looking for in a tweet or email. \(^▽^)/

freejapanesefont

Japanese Fonts: If you’re learning Japanese or you make anything with text in Japan, this website is the best! You can download and install the fonts that actually write Japanese, not the gibberish you find on Fontspace. Just be on the look out for the fine print. Some fonts are licensed for non-commercial uses, which means you can only use them for unpaid projects.

bookdepository

Book Depository: Japan has a severe lack of English books that aren’t condensed readers for English exam takers. Some Japanese English-reading residents are fine with the scant choices of English literature at Toda Books and Book Off (they mostly have YA and best sellers). For those who want books without the expensive shipping fee from Ebay, Amazon, Abebooks, Book Depository is the best. They ship books worldwide for free. Are the books cheaper than Ebay or Amazon? No, they’re full price, but they’re brand new books.

iherb

iHerb: If you’re missing your beloved African soap bars or certain organic cookie mixes and you can’t get them from home, iHerb is the next best option. They have a flat $4 shipping rate to Japan and they sell organic and vegan household products.

weblio

Weblio: Japanese is hard. Even Google Translate has a hard time making Japanese understandable. Weblio is another translation website that offers a literal translation of the English and example sentences using the main verb.

Wunderground: Between June and October, Japan is plagued with typhoons and stormy weather. Reliable English-language weather forecast sites like Wunderground are few in total, considering that many are in Japanese. Still, Wunderground is a good place to watch any severe weather changes in the Western-Pacific region.

Manga, Comic Book, and Graphic Novel Courses for Aspiring Creators

mangacoursebaner

Manga, Comic Book, and Graphic Novel Courses for Aspiring Creators

Updated: January 23, 2018

Finding a course can be hard, especially if you’re not Japanese. Here’s a few places to find manga and sequential, or comic book, art courses around the world.

Free Courses and Resources

Limited or Fee-based Courses

  • U.S.-Japan Creative Artists Exchange Fellowships are federal grants for artists to exchange culture and experiences with Japanese counterparts. Deadline to apply is February 1, 2018. To learn more about the program, visit http://www.jusfc.gov/creative-artists-programs.

  • Manga University, known for their How to Draw Manga book series, offers a home study course ($39.99 or $49.99). There are no instructors, only PDFs and a lot of words, but the information is great for beginners and people who’ve never taken a high school art class. Check it out at http://www.howtodrawmanga.com/pages/home-study-course. I did purchase this home study course to see how it fared against other courses. I wrote about my experience with the Manga University here.
  • Similar to Manga University, Cotty Kilbanks (cartoonist/artist for Rocko’s Modern Life and Iron Man) on Craftsy has a home study manga course called Drawing Anime Style through HD videos for a set price. This course is for people who consider themselves intermediate level in 2D drawing. For more information, please click here.
  • Comics Experience, which is attached to Stan Lee’s ComiKaze, has several comic book courses–from script writing to penciling techniques–and all taught through the net. To find out more details, go to http://www.comicsexperience.com/courses.html.
  • CG Master Academy is a specialty online art academy that offers classes for character designs, digital painting, figure drawing, and perspective drawing. Classes are offered all four seasons, and the prices for each one is usually $699. If you plan on doing mostly digital art, this academy is suited for you. Go to http://2d.cgmasteracademy.com/ for more information.
  • The Experiment in International Living has a high school summer abroad program for Japanese arts. It’s a 1-month stay for high schoolers in Vermont, USA. For the program details and price tag, look up http://www.experimentinternational.org/programs/find-a-program/japan/japanimationanime-and-manga/overview/.
  • SAW-Teen-manga-courseSAW, or the Sequential Artists Workshop, is a Florida community of artists trying to improve their abilities through classes and workshops. They offer year-long art programs, weekly workshops, and online classes at random times of the year. To check their calendar, visit  http://sequentialartistsworkshop.org/wordpress/. On Saturdays from January 12th to February 16th, 2016, SAW will offer a Teen Comics and Manga Class at their location in Gainesville, Florida (SE 5th Ave at Main St, behind Citizen’s Co-op).
  • Mad About Manga! is a manga course run by Malcolm Matheson. This course costs $97 to participate. For more information, please go to http://madaboutmanga.com/.
  • For those online and interested in traditional comic book creations, check out the Comics Workbook (http://comicsworkbook.tumblr.com/about). Not only do they offer lessons on sequential art, but they have a magazine as well.
  • Katonah Art Center in New York offers classes in manga at a cheaper rate than community college prices (usually around $378 to $420 for 10 weeks). Find more information at http://www.katonahartcenter.com/classes/visual-arts/ .
  • Activity Hero offers San Francisco kids and teens art classes, including manga classes such as this Wednesday Cartooning and Manga Class for $325 (January 20th – March 16th, 2016). To enroll, check it out here.
  • Manga Class at Appel Farm is New Jersey-based art class offered through McArt à la Carte geared towards enjoyment and learning. Visit http://mcartshop.com/manga-class-appel-farm/ for more information.

University Courses Outside Japan

(English) Courses in Japan

Courses around the World

History of Manga Courses

If you’re looking for screentones, please try Screentones for Manga Artists Outside Japan page.