Month: February 2018

Currently reading: 「世界は終わらない」 by 益田ミリ

I am still reading the novel 「彼女がその名を知らない鳥たち」but I allow myself some breaks with Miri MASUDA’s manga 「世界は終わらない」. I already knew Miri MASUDA through her yonkoma manga series 「すーちゃん」, a total of 4 books that follow the daily life of a 30-year-old woman, working in a café and reflecting on her future while dealing with everyday’s ups and downs. 「世界は終わらない」is very similar to the 「すーちゃん」series but its protagonist is a man of 32, single, working in the bookshop just near すう’s café. He, too, goes through life with a mixture of positiveness and doubts, anxious about the future but willing to do things well no matter what. There are some hints at the 「すーちゃん」series, but nothing that one needs to know to understand the story. I love this manga because it deals with life as it is, with the joys and disappointments it gives us. I always feel very close to Miri MASUDA’s characters, and I have no difficulty imagining myself in their situation. Another thing that I enjoy is the setting in a bookshop. I …

Motivation: clean your desk!

I have always had a romantic vision of the perfect workspace: piled up on a dick wooden table, dozens of books bought in used secondhand bookshops, a notebook lighted up by the dim and dusty glow of an old-fashioned lamp that isolates you from the rest of the world and let the rest of the room vanish into obscurity. I studied in Paris, where some ancient libraries exactly give this sort of atmosphere that makes you feel unique, superior and inspired. If you have watched the film 「舟を編む」, I can say that Majime’s home is the perfect incarnation of what I try to describe. This is certainly one of the reasons why I loved this film (and the novel) so much. But now, I just couldn’t work in a confined and dark space anymore… today it triggers anxiety more than the desire to study. I now like a clean desk with a simple, organised layout and a bright room. Space and light help me stay positive. But I may have cultivated a tendency to let the …

Japanese News: About this amazing women’s speed skating team pursuit!

Context: On Wednesday, Japan won Olympic gold in women’s speed skating team pursuit. The trio Miho Takagi, Ayano Sato and Nana Takagi claimed Japan’s third gold medal and set a new world and Olympic record. They defeated the Dutch, who had won gold at Sochi and who themselves set their own new record during this race. What is more, this new medal (the 11th for Japan) makes Pyeongchang the most successful Winter Olympics for Japan. I found several articles on NHK about how people reacted to this victory. The team Source: スピードスケート女子団体パシュート 日本金メダル 4人の談話 4 women stepped on the podium: the sisters Miho and Nana Takagi and Ayano Sato who raced in the final race and Ayaka Kikuchi who raced in the semi-finals. And as I have decided to make some efforts to remember Japanese names: 高木美帆 (たかぎ・みほ) Miho TAKAGI 高木菜那 (たかぎ・なな) Nana TAKAGI 佐藤綾乃 (さとう・あやの) Ayano SATO 菊池彩花 (きくち・あやか) Ayaka KIKUCHI Miho Takagi underlined the fact that this victory is a team achievement: “この優勝はチーム全員の力がないと成し遂げることができなかった金メダルだと思うので、感無量です” 成し遂げる・なしとげる: accomplish, achieve. The object can be “目的” or “計画”. 感無量・かんむりょう: deep …

Book review: Asahi Keywords 2019

At the beginning of every year, Asahi publishes「Asahi Keywords 朝日キーワード」, a book that introduces key notions that help to understand the news in all usual domains, from politics to social matters, economics or culture. Published in January 2018, this year’s edition is entitled 「朝日キーワード2019」and summarizes the year 2017 (this is a little confusing…). This book aims at Japanese, not Japanese learners, and is designed for people who don’t necessarily read the news on a daily basis but need to show a certain knowledge of what happened in Japan and in the world these last months. Typically, people who prepare for an entrance exam or a job interview. There is even a special edition called 「朝日キーワード就職2019 最新時事用語&一般常識」, but I haven’t seen it so I can’t tell the difference between the two. Inside the book 「朝日キーワード」 covers all the main topical issues of last year in the following fields: 政治、国際、経済、社会、医療・福祉、環境・国士、科学・技術・情報・通信、労働、教育、文化・マスコミ、くらし、スポーツ. The section “politics”, “international” and “economics” all begin with an introductory double page that introduces the essential points one has to grasp to have a good global understanding …

Daily study: let’s remember Japanese names!

This week’s good resolution is to stop procrastinating and finally start learning Japanese names! In fact, this is something I should have done much earlier. Last week, when I studied an article about ice hockey, I was both pleasantly surprised to see that I could understand it well and frustrated to not be able to read out loud the several names that were in it: 久保英恵、大澤ちほ、小野粧子、小池詩織、浮田留衣、山中武司 😵 To be honest, I have always tried to avoid remembering names. Even when I read a novel, I sometimes satisfy myself with being able to associate 2 or more kanji with a character, even if I have forgotten how they are pronounced. I think that I have a good visual memory of kanji, if you tell me at the beginning of a book that “正木藤次郎” is this character, I will remember it until the end. But it will be arduous to me to remember the pronunciation (まさき・とうじろう) of these kanji, and I will have to go back several times to their first occurrence (the only time they appear with furigana) before …

Japanese News: Japan women’s ice hockey: first Olympic win!

Today, I will study an article about Wednesday women ice hockey game where Japan beat the unified Korean team 4-1. The context South Korea and North Korea have created a unified team in women’s ice hockey for Pyeongchang Olympics. The unified Korean team was defeated 8-0 by both Switzerland and Sweden and Wednesday’s game against Japan was a highly anticipated match. To Koreans, defeating Japan in sport is a big achievement in itself. With Japan winning 4-1, both teams had their moment of glory: Japan women’s ice hockey won its first Olympic game and the unified Korean team scored its first goal. As strange as it may sound, the arena exploded with cheers and flag-waving when Korea finally scored, as though the girls were winning a gold medal… Anyway, I was eager to read about the “historical victory” of Japan women’s ice hockey team in Japanese. I found a long article on NHK News Web: アイスホッケー女子日本が南北合同チームに勝ち初勝利 Every time I start reading a long article in Japanese, I feel discouraged and have difficulty focusing on what I am …

Currently reading: 「彼女がその名を知らない鳥たち」by 沼田まほかる

I am reading the third book of my 2018 reading challenge! My challenge was to read a book per month, and I am well ahead of schedule. The book I chose is 「彼女がその名を知らない鳥たち」by 沼田まほかる (ぬまたまほかる) There is a film adaption which trailer you can watch here: To be honest, I may not have bought this book if I had watched the trailer before. I was expecting some kind of psychological thriller where we don’t know if the protagonist is persecuted or suffering from paranoïa… but this story seems to be mainly a love story. This book is clearly above my level. The opening chapter was difficult, but opening chapters usually are, and I always need some time to get into a story. Therefore I persevered and reached the 1/4 of the book… and it is still challenging!🤯 There are passages that I understand well and others that leave me behind. To be more precise, I feel more or less comfortable with narrative passages, but some of the dialogues give me the impression I never learnt Japanese 😱 … …

Motivation: got my first マイブック!

I got my first 「マイブック」, an empty book published by 新潮文庫 that offers you a page a day to write your own story, notes and thoughts. 「マイブック」has the exact same appearance than any other book published by 新潮文庫. I like the beautiful cover and the paper that may not be the best support to use a fountain pen but undeniably gives authenticity to “my book”. The inside is not totally empty, it comes with a table of contents, each new month being a new chapter. You will find the date on each page and a ribbon mark (that fascinates my cat) makes it easy to use. I bought 「マイブック」too late to write anything in January and, therefore, just started the day I got it. Writing a little every day is something that I want to do since high school but never did. Our ancient Greek teacher made us see the importance of writing every day, our own thoughts and the ones of others. Although taking notes when we read literature can be used for further …