日本手話 Japanese Sign Language

I almost asked the forum if y’all could help me find this, but I managed to find it on my own, yay!

Here is a NHK program for learning 日本手話(にほんしゅわ) (Japanese Sign Language).

I’ve seen a couple of episodes of it while channel surfing and it was really cool to watch. I think it’s also useful because they are teaching the basics using spoken Japanese and subtitles, so it’s good for Japanese listening and reading practice.

Is anyone else interested in learning JSL?

A coworker who knows JSL taught me to count to 10. Do you know any JSL?

14 Likes

I don’t know any JSL but I learnt some British and German sign language a while back. It’s fascinating how many different systems of fingerspelling there are!

I’m curious about the 50音 signs in JSL. Is there actually a difference between signs like し, しゃ,しゅ,しょ? In the pictures on this website it seems like they’re sliiightly differently angled, but that seems hard to tell apart in conversation. Or is it all about mouthing?

2 Likes

No, but I caught a TV show about a school for the deaf one time when I was in Japan. I was vaguely amused that the kids would always dry their palms on their trousers before they started signing. Like, it was an unconscious reflex action, but all of them had it.

6 Likes

I can try asking, but usually that coworker and I don’t have overlapping shifts. That’s a great question though!

1 Like

That sounds a lot like when speakers clear their throat or swallow before speaking. I haven’t seen people who sign ASL do that, so I wonder if it’s a common habit in Japan or just a thing at that school :thinking:

Wow, I don’t see that coworker very often. Today she taught me how to say (おな)じ、みてる、and えええええ

For (おな)じ,


You pinch your fingers together. If something is (すこ)(おな)じ, then you make a smaller motion

I think I might be wrong on みてる or maybe it was ()てる? but it looked like these emoji :point_right: :point_left: and you would clip your index fingertips past each other. I can’t find it online though :sweat_smile:

Very quintessential to Japanese conversations, へええええ


and you just make the gesture bigger based on how much you want to exaggerate

1 Like

Had a couple deaf friends during college here so learned a bit by then and later on attended JSL classes for a while.

It’s been a couple years since the last time I actually studied it, but very now and then I happen to come across a deaf person and use it.

If you are fine with just memorizing words (and thus using “Signed Japanese” (日本語対応手話) there are several channels on YouTube. I remember using these two for reviewing vocabulary I learned at class:

But if you want actual “Japanese Sign Language” (日本手話), which has different grammar, word order and etc from Japanese, it’s a bit harder to find good material for free available on the internet. They usually advise you to take the free classes Japanese prefectures are required to provide.

On a side note, as absolutely anything in Japan, there are exams for evaluating your skills, lol.

For JSL there are two different ones, 手話技能検定 and 全国手話検定, with several levels.

When I was studying it I took 4級 of 技能検定 because it was the one available where I live, but Japanese Deaf community tends to prefer the later one.

4 Likes

These are some awesome resources and thank you for sharing about the tests as well! :smiley:

1 Like

I couldn’t find the picture you referred to, but if you are fingerspelling in Japanese, you actually make two signs for しゃ and such.
First a regular し and then a や pulling to yourself, which means it’s small.
Since it’s one mora, they often say you are supposed to make them both in one tempo.

But truth is deaf persons fingerspell in an insane speed anyway, so it’s not like the tempos are clear at all, lol.

Not the best video but it’s what I was able to find for now:

3 Likes