Jan 23

【RocketNews24】Are you smarter than a (Japanese) 5th grader? Take this mind-bending test and find out!

Posted by Michelle Lynn Dinh (Shimane-ken, Chibu-mura, 2010–13), editor and writer for RocketNews24. The following article was written by KK Miller, a writer and translator for RocketNews24, a Japan-based site dedicated to bringing fun and quirky news from Asia to English speaking audiences. 


Pretty much everyone enjoys being able to help their younger siblings or kids with their elementary school homework. It’s a little piece of joy to pass on what you’ve learned and prove how cool of a mom/dad or big brother/sister you are. You impart some simple knowledge and see the little light bulb turn on in their head as they begin to understand. Then you can sit back and watch with confidence as they interact with the world around them.

But what do you do when the homework is a question that even you can’t answer? This brainteaser had everyone in one Japanese family stumped for over an hour, so they turned to Twitter for help. And then much of the Internet was stumped too. Take a look at these riddles and see how many you can get playing: What Prefecture is This?

Some brain teasers never make you feel good, and you just need to get the answer however you can. That’s probably why one girl recently tweeted her sister’s elementary school homework. But we kind of agree with her: how is this elementary school homework?!?

Are you up for the challenge? Let’s try it ourselves!


Highlight to reveal answer: Nagasaki (長崎)

Yes, that row of hiragana characters is supposed be a hint at the name of a Japanese prefecture. Any ideas?

Just as there is an order for the alphabet, there is an order for the Japanese syllabary. All characters are placed in rows by their vowels sounds in the order: [a], [i], [u], [e], [o]. In the picture above, however, the hiragana characters begin from “i”, reading: ni (に),nu (ぬ), ne (ね), no (の), with na (な) all the way at the end. To any native Japanese person, this should seem seriously strange since, as the little arrow tells us, na should be at the front! Or, in Japanese: “Na ga saki ni.” Clever!


Didn’t get this first one correct? Check out the rest of the quiz at RocketNews24!

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