Learn Japanese with Harvest Moon 64's Variety Channel!

Hi everyone! This is my first time making a thread like this, so bear with me if it’s a bit rambly or awkward! If you want to cut to the chase, click here. Otherwise, a little backstory.

Harvest Moon (localized today as Story of Seasons) is a series of farming lifestyle games made by Marvelous and known in Japan as 牧場物語. They’re cozy and charming, and one of my favorite timewasters. The first one I ever played was Harvest Moon 64, and let’s just say its translation leaves something to be desired. This is partially due to being translated by a Japanese native, and partially due to technical constraints like a fixed-width font and only a couple spare kilobytes for text on a jam-packed cartridge.

Because of the lack of space, a few things were cut. Some were fairly minor, like the map and leaderboard, but one particular cut stuck out to fans. The game’s television had 4 channels: Weather, Education, News, and Variety. The first three channels served gameplay purposes, letting the player know the next day’s weather, tutorializing itself, and notifying the player of upcoming festivals. The final channel (which features 7 shows included just for fun), however, was cut in localization, leading to no end of rumors as to how to unlock it.

The absence of this channel and the overall roughness of the translation is the genesis of my interest in Japanese, and today marks a very special occasion for me. Today, I’m confident enough in my Japanese abilities that I believe I can not only understand it, not only translate it, but teach others to do so, as well. To that end, I’ve started a significant undertaking.
This is an ongoing translation of Harvest Moon 64’s variety channel.

Rather than a simple translation, however, I want readers to get the same spark I did. So, not only did I transcribe and translate the entire set of shows, not only have I added cultural notes, but I also have established resources to help readers learn Japanese themselves. I’ve created an Anki deck and an item-by-item spreadsheet in the vein of the ones made for the book clubs that can be found elsewhere on WaniKani.

I’m not vain enough to think I can fully teach this on my own, so the Anki deck also links to many external resources, such as articles/posts from Tofugu, Maggie-sensei, Imabi, briefjapanese, and many more. I generally organize these links by complexity. I know when I learn something new, I typically need to check at least three sources before feeling that I’ve begun to grasp the gist of it, so it seemed critical to me to provide multiple sources particularly for grammar points. You can see an example of that implementation here:

I recommend using the Anki deck, but if you’re used to another SRS-style resource such as bunpro or KameSame, I also created an item-by-item spreadsheet.

My ultimate goal with this project is to create a resource that a learner can approach and use to kickstart their Japanese-learning journey. To that end, I also hope that anyone reading this offers feedback to help improve it. I’m still learning Japanese, myself, so, while I’ve tried my best to make the explanations clear and thorough, I have to imagine I’ve made a mistake somewhere in the >1,000 items.

All that said, please take a look at this effort to tie up this 23-year-old loose end. Links in the next post.


Landing Page — An overview of the project, with some history and technical information (as if that giant OP wasn’t enough! :P)

Part 1 — Episode 1 of あくを切る!, 歌ってナイト, and モンモンTV.
Part 2 — Episode 1 of スポーツでポン, 運命の赤い糸, ひみつせんし ゴン!, and 少女たんていいちごちゃん.
Part 3 — Episode 1 of あくを切る!, 歌ってナイト, and モンモンTV.

Spreadsheet — Item-by-item list of every term that appears in the shows, alongside definitions and notes. Plug them into KameSame, Bunpro, or an SRS self-study resource of your choice.
Anki Deck (Updated 10/27) — Same content as the spreadsheet, plus some links to external resources where necessary for additional context.


Part 2 is up! I think the articles mostly speak for themselves, but this is a suitable forum for questions, corrections, or discussion (as you have access to other Japanese-learners, many of whom probably know more than I do!), if any. Since an episode of each show has been covered, now, I think a general overview of the shows and what you can expect to learn from them might be appropriate.

In this set of episodes is A) a sports show covering baseball, which will teach you a couple baseball-related terms, B) a thorough explanation of the history and mythology behind the current form of the “red string of fate”, C) a 特撮-style show filled with sound effects (which are hard to find learning resources for, I think!), and D) a series about a girl detective that’ll feature a lot of conversation Japanese and discussion about the exact role of honorifics.

Last week, we had A) an Edo-era show invoking the 悪代官 trope B) a show featuring various parodies of well-known (in the ‘90s) music, which teaches some terms for describing music, and C) a kind of Dr. Phil-style show about solving peoples’ problems, usually related to farming or relationships.

As will become customary, the spreadsheet and Anki deck in post #2 are up-to-date with the current article. Hopefully you guys find it useful! I’ll probably also provide a more precise overview of

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Part 3 is out! The first full week out of the way, we loop back to the Edo-era samurai drama あくを切る!, and talk a bit about dialects, with some detail about their role in a story. We also give some basic rules for decrypting the Edo dialect, which is not-so-different from the ultra-common Tokyo dialect.

There’s also another episode of 歌ってナイト, which has a parody of Yuuya Uchida, one of the most influential musicians in Japan’s history. In addition to giving a little backstory about him, we also explain the concept of 渋い as it pertains to the arts. 渋い is sometimes a difficult concept even for natives to fully grasp when they first hear about it, so I hope my explanation helps give some of you a leg up.

Lastly, モンモンTV’s section largely deals with the concept of verb nominalization. I invoke Calvin & Hobbes to explain this using the term “nouning”, and I again hope it’ll be helpful.

The spreadsheet and Anki deck are, as usual, up-to-date, and have tons of notes and external links to blogs explaining every term used in the game to this point in far more detail and expertise than I ever could. Happy farmin’! :cow:

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