As I announced last week, I won’t be posting any more about Japanese news on Friday. I want to diversify the way I learn Japanese and find other materials (that is, not books) to improve my listening and get to know more different aspects of Japanese culture. I find that my Japanese learning has become too static. I have reached a good level of reading, but I am not flexible enough. There are a lot of areas where I feel like a complete beginner and my listening level is far too low. I will use my Friday post to report on my progress in these areas!
Dramas and me
To improve my listening, I have decided to watch Japanese dramas. This might seem an obvious and easy thing to do, but it is not for me. My relation with dramas (which was until now almost exclusively Korean dramas) is made of deceptions, frustrations and a lot of time lost. I have been disappointed in several Korean dramas that I have tried to watch, and I came to the conclusion that dramas were not for me and never really bothered to look for Japanese dramas. If I cannot even stand the first episode of broadly acclaimed dramas that are highly successful in Korea and abroad… it might just mean that the genre is not for me.
The only dramas that I have started and liked in Japanese are マザー (Mother) and 深夜食堂.
I only watched the first episode of マザー with the purpose of comparing it with the Korean remake 마더 (Mother). I liked the Japanese version much better than the Korean one, especially because of the child actress. But somehow, this drama was too “not relaxing”, and I haven’t watched more than the first episode. As for 深夜食堂, it was a little difficult to understand, but it is definitely a drama I want to continue.
But this week, I looked for another drama that I could use to train my listening, and I found 孤独のグルメ. I know the manga of course, but I never watched the drama, though it started in 2012! As there are 7 seasons, this drama must have been extremely popular, and I feel a little ashamed to watch it only now… 😳
Anyway, I am not that interested in food in general, so I thought I would maybe not enjoy it, but the first episode completely captivated me. It really kindled my interest in Japanese cuisine. I even cooked a personal interpretation of やきめし after watching the first episode, haha.
To me this drama is perfect because:
- the episodes are very short,
- there are not many dialogues in it. Of course, to train one’s listening, it is best to choose a drama with a lot of talking. But it can also be discouraging. My listening level is very low, and I have tried several other dramas this week to end up depressed because I understood almost nothing. To me, the short dialogues and thoughts that we hear in 孤独のグルメ are perfect regarding quantity and difficulty.
While watching the first episode, I also realised how fascinating and frustrating a Japanese menu can be. I only went to Japan twice, but I think we always ended up ordering food that we knew, because the menu was always so intimidating, with kanji you can not even pronounce and dishes you don’t know.
Thanks to 孤独のグルメ, I am now motivated to get familiar with Japanese cuisine, either by cooking or making a list of all the dishes I want to taste the next time I go to Japan. I will use the drama to learn the names of dishes and ingredients that are presented. I am using a notebook to take notes relative to each episode. It helps considerably that the name of each dishes appears on the screen, and it is easy to find information on the web. The drama website is also full of information, with the possibility to search for dishes over the 7 seasons and have a little description of the characteristics of this particular recipe.
My search for dramas started rather badly, I tried several dramas that I did not enjoy or could not understand. I should say that I watched them on Korean TV with only Korean subtitles, which go much too fast for me to understand them all. But I am more than happy with 孤独のグルメ. I like the drama enough to want to watch the whole 7 seasons, the episodes are short, so I don’t feel overwhelmed and can watch one from time to time. There are not too many dialogues, so it is not intimidating for a beginner like me. Last but not least, it provides me with interesting contents on Japanese cuisine. I feel that this drama helps not only to improve my Japanese but to get familiar with a part of Japanese culture.
My first week of looking for non-bookish ways to learn Japanese is a success!
Have you watched 孤独のグルメ? Are all the seasons similar or is one season better than the others? Please let me know!
I love 孤独のグルメ！ Quirky funny is my kind of thing. 🙂 I hope you’re able to see the short “making of” at the end of each episode, where a producer eats at the restaurant and you can see the actual owner/chef/etc.
I’m afraid I haven’t gotten far in the series so I don’t know if it gets better or worse with time, but the fact that there are seven seasons does bode well. Great find!
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Oh yes, the mini documentary is great too! I forgot to mention it. I heard there are some episodes in Korea, I’m looking forward to watching them!
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So how do you watch it? Nosubs ? English subs ? Japanese subs ? Korean subs ??
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I only have Korean subtitles for now (I haven’t made research yet to see if I can find it with Japanese subtitles). It helps to have Korean subtitles and as the series is not dialogues heavy, I can listen several times to the spoken passages and more or less make out what they say.
I find korean subs helpful due to the similarities between the languages. My order of preference is JApanese > korean > english
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