Month: January 2018

Currently Reading: 「豆の上で眠る」 by 湊かなえ

I am reading the second book of my 2018 Reading challenge! I chose 「豆の上で眠る」by 湊かなえ(みなとかなえ). I bought this book because it was presented as a “shocking mystery of two sisters” (衝撃の姉妹ミステリー!), but I am slowly discovering that this novel is much more than a mystery. Even if there is a mystery focused on the two sisters Yuiko and Mayuko, the novel mainly turns around the relations between the member of the family. From the striking portrait of the mother to the way a child perceives itself in the family, the complexity of feelings that family members can have for one another confers its deepness to the story. The novel opens on Yuiko, the little sister, returning home during the Summer. She is now a student, and we feel that this trip back home will be filled with memories of the past. As a reader, we are dragged into a journey that leads us to Yuiko’s childhood and, as far as I can tell, will reveal unspoken bitterness. At the beginning, the title is explained as Yuiko recalls …

My method for the JLPT reading part

Last week, I got the results of the second session of the JLPT (December 2017), and I was happy and relieved to see that I passed with 156 points! I thought that I would pass because, after the test, I felt that my performance was similar to what I did in July 2017, when I took the N2 for the first time. But precisely because my performance seemed to be the same, I was anxious. I thought that the four months I spent working with the Shin Kanzen Master series between August and November of last year were maybe not worth it… In this post, I am going to see what these 4 months brought me and then give my personal tips to pass the Reading section (the only section where I feel entitled to give advice). A year of JLPT N2 I started studying for the JLPT N2 at the beginning of 2017. I used the So-Matome series, which I really appreciated. I had time (6 months), and I didn’t really stress myself with the JLPT. …

Japanese News: Changing article 9 of the Constitution? Discussions inside the LDP

The article I propose to study was published on NHK Yesterday: 憲法9条2項”の扱い 自民 党内意見集約に時間かかるか Political articles are by far the most difficult ones… Today, I want to try to study one and get more familiar with some political vocabulary that is bound to appear often in the news. I want to slowly broaden my vocabulary for politics, to be able to understand what an article is about by only looking at the title or having a quick glance at its contents. For example, knowing the word 憲法・けんぽう (Constitution) is enough to guess that this article is about the amendment of the Constitution. I have made a list of words that are necessary to understand this article and useful to read the political news in general: 憲法改正・けんぽうかいせい means “amendment of the Constitution”. This is a word that frequently appears in the news because revising the Constitution is one of Abe’s main goals. Directly related to the Constitutional revision is the 自衛隊の明記 or the “clear mention of the Self-Defence Force”. 明記・めいき: as the kanji suggest, this word means …

Book review: 「噓を愛する女」 by 岡部えつ

I finished reading the first novel of my 2018 reading challenge (read one novel in Japanese a month in 2018). I chose a very short one to begin with: 「噓を愛する女」by 岡部えつ(おかべえつ). To summarize briefly the story, Yukari (由香里), a successful working woman pushing 30, is living with her boyfriend Kippei (桔平), who does not seem to want to marry her. When Kippei is brought to the hospital unconscious after he suffered from a subarachnoid haemorrhage, Yukari discovers that her boyfriend’s identity is not what she thought it was. She begins an investigation to discover who he really is and why he lied to her. The novel is very short, 260 pages, and is mainly focused on what Yukari does and discovers. There are very few descriptive parts, which makes it very easy to read for Japanese learners. Every chapter brings new elements that take Yukari and the reader nearer to the truth and this investigation-like story made me keep turning the pages long after I had read my daily quota. But even if reading this …

Motivation: studying Anki

If you are learning a foreign language, you are certainly using a spaced repetition system (SRS) to memorise vocabulary. I personally use Anki and created my deck from scratch when I started learning Japanese. Today, it contains more than 7000 words and expressions and I can say that, contrary to any other material, this Anki deck has been with me all the way long from the very first day and is still the most solid pillar of my learning Japanese journey. It has witnessed all the phases of my studying process and contains some irrelevant words that make it very personal. Without Anki, I could not have remembered so many words. Still, more than often, I sigh before opening my deck and what motivates me is not as much the perspective of learning new words as the fear to procrastinate and find myself with double work the next day. I think that the main source of demotivation concerning Anki (or any other SRS) is the feeling that we are studying our deck for the sake …

Japanese News - South Korea and North Korea together i

Japanese News: South Korea and North Korea together in Pyeongchang

On Wednesday (January 17th), officials from South Korea and North Korea have met and discussed the Olympics for 11 hours. Two major decisions came out of this meeting, both turned towards friendship: first, South and Nord Korea will enter the opening ceremony together, under a “flag of the unification” (a white flag with a blue Korea peninsula); second, the two countries will create a joint women hockey team. Concerning the size and the participation of North Korea teams, it will be settled tomorrow (20th). This is the NHK article I chose to study today: ピョンチャン五輪北朝鮮選手団の規模・参加種目は4者会談で The article is long, but there were few difficult words to me in it. Yet, it was difficult to read and I had to re-read most paragraphs twice and slowly in order to fully understand them. More than often, my eyes would just go through the whole paragraph with my brain lazily following. I would end up having a vague idea of what the paragraph is about but I would have been unable to translate it. Reflecting on what makes a …

Currently reading: 噓を愛する女 by 岡部えつ

I started the first novel of my 2018 reading challenge list! I picked up what seemed to be the easiest novel on the list: 「噓を愛する女」by 岡部えつ(おかべえつ). I didn’t know this author before, I have checked her Wikipedia page and I saw that there was a drama adaptation of one of her previous novel. I first thought that this novel was adapted into a film, but now I think that it is the other way around, that this novel was written after the film. It may sound strange, but I am not sure at all which came first… Here is the trailer for the film: From what I have read so far and what we can guess from the trailer, I think that there may be some differences between the film and the novel. For example, the film seems to insist on the “perfect couple” aspect, whereas the novel stresses the fact that they were not married. But the main point remains the same. One day, a woman named Yukari realises that everything she knew about …

Book review and character list: パラドックス13 by 東野圭吾

Review 「パラドックス13」(read: サーティーン) is a novel by famous crime author Higashino Keigo. Contrary to what we may expect, 「パラドックス13」does not deal with crime and investigation, but with science-fiction. At least, an SF element gives the context in which the characters will evolve but we won’t know much about the scientifical phenomenon that stroke the Earth on March 13th. At 1:13 pm on this fatal day, people mysteriously disappear from the surface of the Earth. Only 13 persons remain. The whole novel will see these 13 persons meet and try to survive in an environment becoming more and more hostile. The novel gives his readers everything one may expect to find in this kind of survival adventure, making it a real page-turner. The most interesting part of the novel lays not in action, however, but in the interaction between the characters. How do 13 persons who don’t know each other get together and collaborate for the sake of the community? Will tensions lead to tragedy? Are sacrifices worth it? And do the values of right and wrong still …