Month: May 2018

Currently Reading: 「光」by 三浦しをん

Even though I am reading several books at the same time, I am not losing sight of my reading challenge list. Given that「赤い指」 (the previous novel I read) was easy to read, I picked up a book that I am almost sure will be challenging: 「光」by 三浦しをん (みうらしをん). I bought this book during my December haul in Kyoto and I chose it because I had read another book by this author: 「舟を編む」. If you follow this blog for some time, you know that it took me months to read 「舟を編む」(I have just checked my older posts, I posted this book in my “currently reading” section in August 2017 and my review in January 2018! 😳 … I published some reading notes too because I stumbled across so many challenging parts). Nevertheless, 「舟を編む」is one of my favourite books ever, not only in Japanese. And so I bought 「光」with a mix of excitation and apprehension because it might as well be as challenging as 「舟を編む」. Both books have something in common though, they both have been adapted …

Monthly Review: May

May has been without a doubt a month of drawing and journaling. These two activities have found their place in my daily schedule by replacing what used to be an ineffective “Japanese study.” For months now, I have been thinking about how to continue learning Japanese without taking classes nor preparing for the JLPT. I haven’t found many concrete things to do or materials to study, and I was often left with a guilty feeling because I was no longer “studying Japanese.” As a consequence, I clung to all sorts of resources I had, because it gave me the impression that I was still on tracks. And then, the post “Keeping it simple: tips for simplifying your language study routine” by Kotobites helped me to understand that, sometimes, less is more. Simplifying my study routine is exactly what I have done this month. I am now accepting the idea that reading novels and the news is the core of my “study” and that I don’t need to feel bad about the things that I am not …

Japanese News: May week 4

A lot has happened this week, and it was hard to follow everything! There are important topics that I have skipped, but here is what I found interested this week: Palme d’Or for Hirokazu Kore-Eda! Hirokazu Kore-Eda won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival for his film 万引き家族 or, in English, Shoplifters! 😃 是枝裕和・これえだ ひろかず: Hirokazu Kore-Eda ンヌ国際映画祭・カンヌこくさいえいがさい: Cannes Film Festival パルムドール: Palme d’Or According to this article, it has been 21 years since a Japanese director won the highest prize of Cannes. The last time was in 1997 for the film うなぎ by Shohei Imamura. 今村 昌平・いまむら しょうへい: Shohei Imamura During the award ceremony, Kore-Eda said: “さすがに足が震えています。この場にいられることが本当に幸せです”. 授賞式・じゅしょうしき: award ceremony I am not surprised that Kore-Eda should win the Palme d’Or because he has received critical acclaim at Cannes before and his films are always so enthusiastically welcomed in France. With Shoplifters, Kore-Eda has seen seven of his films selected in Cannes. Like father, like son won the Jury prize in 2013 and in 2004 young actor Yuya Yagira who played the leading role …

Book review: 「赤い指」by 東野圭吾

「赤い指」is the seventh book of the detective Kaga series “加賀恭一郎シリーズ” (かが・きょういちろう) by Keigo HIGASHINO. Before starting the review of this novel, I would like to say a word about the series. The series First, you don’t have to read them in order. Even though they follow a chronological order (starting when Kaga is still a student), it would not impact the comprehension of each story to read them separately or in a random order. I also find that the books are very different from each other in terms of structure. The first two novels were very similar with two main focalisations that alternate (a chapter seen from the point of view of Kaga, then a chapter seen from the point of view of another character). The third book, 「悪意」was very unique and different from the other novels. The following two books were very similar: we read the story from the point of view of another or other characters of the story and we don’t know what detective Kaga is up to. The sixth book was …

Reading Progress: 「在日」chapter 1

I thought it would be a good idea to post my reading progress for challenging books. It encourages me to go on reading! I finished reading the first chapter of 「在日」by 姜尚中(カン・サンジュン). The first chapter was only 25 pages long, but it took me some time to go through it. I think that I understood most of it, but there are still two or three passages where I am not sure of what is implied. I could not look up each and every unknown word (too many of them), so I dismissed some of them and did not always made a good choice in deciding whether to look up for a word or not. What would sometimes happen is that I go on reading a whole paragraph without really understanding it, just because I missed a keyword. This means that I had to go back to the beginning of the passage and look up more words. What also happened a lot is a lack of understanding due to bad concentration. I would read a whole page …

Japanese News: May week 3

This week, I had the feeling that everything I tried to read was too difficult… It happens I guess… 😐 Some survey Last week, I wrote about Yanase’s answers to the Diet concerning the Kake Gakuen scandal. He kept saying that he did not report his activities to Abe and that the Prime Minister did not know that arrangements were being made to favour his friend ‘s institution. On Monday, Abe echoed Yanase’s assertion by saying “報告は受けていない” (source). In other words, he confirmed that Yanase did not report (報告・ほうこく) to him concerning the meeting he had with Kake’s people. Abe added: “国家の重大事でない限り、(秘書官から)途中段階で説明を受けることはほとんどない” (source). As long as it is not an important case, it is rare that he receives explanations from his secretary while the work is still in progress. To go on with the repercussions of Yanase’s hearing at the Diet, let’s take a look at the results of a survey of public opinion 世論調査 (よろんちょうさ). Mainichi made public the result of a survey that took place over two days (on the 12th and 13th …

Currently Reading: 「在日」by 姜尚中(カン・サンジュン)

I am deviating a little from my “reading challenge list for 2018” with 「在日」by Kang Sang-jung. As I am currently living in Korea, I took an interest in the relationship between Korea and Japan. So when I saw this book in a bookshop of Seoul the other day, I just had to buy it. This title caught my eye because of another book that I still haven’t read but which covers, I think, the same subject: Pachinko by Min Jin Lee. I have been telling myself that I should read Pachinko since I read Akylina saying so many good things about it on the literary sisters’ blog. I still haven’t got around to it yet, because I have a huge list of books I want to read in English… But when I saw 「在日」, I thought it could be a way to dig into the subject while waiting for the good time to read Pachinko. What immediately drew my attention is the name of the author: 姜尚中 (Kang Sang-jung). This means that the author is using …

Read in Japanese: self-improvement books

I am mainly talking about novels on my blog, but I am also reading some non-fiction books. I realised some time ago that self-improvement books were surprisingly easy to read in Japanese and can be a good start for anyone looking for easy reads. Of course, I haven’t read enough books of personal development to state it as a general rule, but I would be prepared to bet that most writings in this domain are relatively non-challenging. Based on the books that I have read or am reading and the ones I have flipped through in bookshops, I found some characteristics that make these books easy to read in Japanese: Easy to read for Japanese too I think that these books want to reach a wide public, including people who don’t particularly like reading novels or complicated writings. Many of these books are designed for people who work a lot and don’t generally have the time or the energy to engross themselves in long reading sessions. As a consequence, the interior layout of the books …