Japanese immersion: September week 4

To be exact, this post should be entitled Japanese non-immersion because the week was a complete disaster. I have been busy with other things and could not even hold to my weekly challenge (it was listening and repeating lines of Isao TAKAHATA’s film Only Yesterday). As for immersion, there was almost none, apart from some usual things I do like listening to a video in Japanese while cooking, but then I don’t really listen with attention.

慰謝料弁護士~あなたの涙、お金に変えましょう~The only active step that I took was to watch the first episode of a Japanese drama. I chose 『慰謝料弁護士~あなたの涙、お金に変えましょう~』because it was on the list of the popular Japanese drama of our VOD’s catalogue. As almost every first episode of a drama is available for free on this VOD, I took the resolution, some months ago, to watch as many first episodes as possible until I find a drama worth watching and paying for.

So I watched the first episode of this drama but it was not a success. I can see the appeal of such dramas, but it is not for me. While I did find some scenes funny, I don’t think that I want to pay to watch the rest or even spend time watching it.

During the whole episode, I was annoyed and wanted to stop but at the same time, I thought it was a good listening practice and continued to watch it. But then I felt irritated because now that I had one hour free to do some Japanese I was watching a drama I didn’t like instead of doing something more productive or at least interesting. This frustration prevented me from actually listening to the drama and I could not even take advantage of my listening session. I ended up even more frustrated, with the feeling that I had lost my time.

Japanese immersion - september week 4-2

Oh well, I guess this kind of things happens, and it will soon be forgotten! I really felt depressed that day but upon the years of this learning Japanese adventure, a wasted week is hardly something worth writing about.

And I will finish this post on a positive note. When I ended the episode and returned to the catalogue, I saw the drama シグナル (2018) which is a remake of the Korean drama of the same name – 시그널 (2016). I tried to watch the Korean version when it came out, and while I found the story very interesting and wanted to watch the whole drama, for some reason, I didn’t.

I can’t wait to watch it in Japanese now, and I am excited to have found a drama that I really want to watch for itself and not just to practice Japanese.

I’ll start watching it this weekend!

Japanese drama trailer. The complete name of the Japanese remake is 『シグナル 長期未解決事件捜査班』:

Original Korean drama trailer (in Japanese):

Currently reading: 『日本語びいき』by 清水由美

Once again, I find myself reading several books at the same time! I could not resist this book’s title and cover:


『日本語びいき』by 清水由美, illustrated by ヨシタケシンスケ, 中公文庫

『日本語びいき』 is written by a Japanese teacher who teaches Japanese to foreigners. From what she writes in her forewords, I guess that there was/is a lack of understanding of what a Japanese teacher is and what skills it requires. People tend to think that anyone can teach his or her own language and are not aware of the challenges that lay behind this apparently easy task:



The author wrote this book for Japanese readers, and her point is to show to native speakers the difficulties, the charm, the strangeness even of the language they speak every day. She wants to bring the amazement Japanese learners experience to the native speakers: 「日々自在に操っていらっしゃる母語、日本語に、新鮮な驚きを感じていただければ幸いです。」(p.4)

When I saw this book and understood what it was about, I immediately thought about 海野凪子(うみの・なぎこ)’s work 『日本人の知らない日本語』. The fact that 『日本語びいき』was first published under the title 『日本人の日本語知らず』tend to draw this two books closer. But they are in fact very different. First of all, 『日本語びいき』is an essay, not a manga, even if it does contain some (but very few) illustrations. More importantly, 『日本人の知らない日本語』 depicts various funny or strange experiences the Japanese teacher is confronted to with her foreign students. 『日本びいき』is only about Japanese as a language. I don’t want to say that it is a linguistic book because it is not as specialised as that, but it dissects surprising aspects of the Japanese grammar, looks at the mistakes Japanese people sometimes do, explains patterns native speakers might not be aware of, and so on.

I am very excited about 『日本語びいき』! It might not be as funny as 『日本人の知らない日本語』but I already have had a lot of enlightening moments since I started it (and I am only at the beginning).

I am sure that this book will appeal to a lot of Japanese learners. I will be able to talk more about the contents when I finish it and write my review. See you then!

Impersonation and language learning

Today’s post is about speaking, which is rare on my blog! What triggered it is this video I found on YouTube:

It was a commercial, and for once, I didn’t skip it after 5 seconds. This Korean guy learns English by doing impersonations of Sherlock Holmes from the series by Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss.

I always feel excited to see how many different approaches and methods people use to learn a language. I never used this one before, in any language that I have learned, but it looks fun and effective.

I have heard about the shadowing method too but never tried it myself. If I understood correctly, shadowing means that you speak a text together with the original audio (?). What I did do, however, is to listen to a dialogue and repeat it alone, trying to get as close as possible from the original.

What this guy does is a little different. He does not only learn the text by heart and repeat it at original speed, but he also tries to impersonate the character, like an actor. This means that you won’t just repeat the text like a robot, but try to play it, with the right tone, the emotions and even the facial expressions of the actor. I think that this slight difference plays a big role in the effectiveness of this method.

When you speak a foreign language, don’t you sometimes feel like you are acting, playing a role that is not really you? To be more precise, don’t you feel that you need to be acting in order to speak well? This is how I feel. Being just me, I would speak in an inaudible voice, mumbling grammar points and vocabulary and turn red at my accent. But if I tell myself that I am just an actor playing the role of an English native speaker (or any other language), I can get rid of my inhibition, or at least, a part of it.

Also, I think that impersonating a character you like is the best way to get a good intonation and speak like a native speaker. Maybe not as well as a native speaker (you might still have an accent), but with the mimics, the particularities of a native speaker. This is what Lindie Botes explains in her video (at 4:30):

Her imitation of French! Haha.

So if you want people to tell you that you speak like a native speaker, you need to imitate the native speakers’ mimics and intonation. But if you are inhibited like I am, it will be hard to do it. This is why impersonating film/series characters can be a good start. By practising this exercise over and over, it will certainly become easier and easier to speak like a native speaker.

Speaking is not my focus with Japanese right now, but I found the first video inspiring and motivating and it made me want to try the same with a Japanese movie. I am not aiming at perfection, and I don’t really want to improve my speaking, but I think it could be fun. Through it, you also learn vocabulary and practise grammar, and improve your listening too, so why not? Last but not least, it allows you to vary your language learning routine with a fun exercise that doesn’t feel like studying at all.

Japanese Immersion: September week 3

My focus for this week was to read my novels, so I haven’t done many non-bookish things for my Japanese immersion.

Japanese Songs

This being said, I did work a little on my immersion with music. I already mentioned it in a previous post, but I have difficulty finding Japanese songs I like. The Japanese artists I loved before learning Japanese are mostly in the instrumental sphere. Now that I am learning Japanese, I am looking for songs with lyrics, but I am starting from zero and slowly building my Japanese playlist. (If you are like me, check these recommendations, they are a good starting point!)

Here are two songs that I have discovered this week and like very much:

『夜の流れ』by Cantaro IHARA (井原寛太郎). The first time I saw the artist’s name, I thought it was a great name for a singer because it meant “let’s sing”. Then I wonder why on earth I was thinking that, and I realised that I was mixing Spanish “cantar” (to sing) and Japanese grammar -おう (let’s sing), haha.

ハイウェイ オレンジの額

緑の地図 うごめくライトたち 流れ行く夜

言葉は魔法のようだ 傷つけるも笑わすも全部
青いガラスに ぽたり 月が落ちて

光の粒追い越し更けて行く 流れ行く夜

全てはいつも通り あどけない声 だらしない癖も
夜の流れと僕らの声の色 合わせて

言葉は魔法のようだ 傷つけるも笑わすも全部
青いガラスに ぽたり 月が落ちて

The second song is ムーピーゲーム by AltA:


I could not find the lyrics for this one.

I also like the band キリンジ, especially the former albums when the band was composed of the two brothers: Yasuyuki HORIGOME (堀込泰行) and Takaki HORIGOME (堀込高樹). The group reformed itself in 2013 with Yasuyuki leaving the band and 5 other members joining it.

This is the song “Sweet Soul”:

You’ll find these three songs on iTunes.

LDP election

Even if reading the news was not the focus of this week, I did follow the election yesterday. You can easily find videos of the whole process (the Diet members voting, the count of the votes and the results) on Youtube but it is not very interesting.

What I found interesting, as usual, is this critical article by Mainichi: 「1強」への不満直視を.

Even if Abe won the large majority of the Diet members’ votes, he only got around 55% of the local votes. The article underlines that a significant number of party members sympathise with Ishiba. Even if Abe and Ishiba have slightly different opinions on the Constitution, Abenomics and so on, their position is still relatively close. What differs the most is their political standards (how they see politics and how they think politicians should act.) As a result, we can imagine that the voters who chose Ishiba sympathise with his ethical position on what politics must be, i.e.「正直、公正」and what the LDP must seek, i.e.「自由闊達(かったつ)に議論する自民党を取り戻す」.

On the contrary, Abe avoided any comment on the Moritome-Kake problems, taking refuge behind a formula repeated again and again: 「謙虚に丁寧に政権運営を行っていきたい」. But, our article says, words are not what matter and Abe should work to regain the people’s trust.

Finally, the article criticises Abe’s resolution to work on the Constitution as soon as possible (he will submit a plan for the amendment during the extraordinary session of the Diet -臨時国会- this autumn). Mainichi says that the Constitution is hardly a priority and what should be done first is to answer the people’s fears concerning the future:



So that’s it! One of my September challenges is achieved! I wanted to follow the LDP election in the news in Japanese, and I have done it. I think that defining a topic and restrict yourself to articles on this topic is the best way to start reading the news. Soon enough, you get familiar with the persons involved, the set of vocabulary always used and of course, what happens. It then becomes easier and easier to read and understand articles on your topic.

Currently reading: 『未来のミライ』by 細田守

Some months ago Topple commented on one of my posts to recommend the collection 角川つばさ文庫 (collection “Tsubasa” of the publisher Kadokawa). I have been on the lookout for a book of this collection since then and finally spotted one in a bookshop the other day: 『未来のミライ』by 細田守 (ほそだ・まもる).

The collection

First of all, let’s talk about the collection because I am sure it will interest all Japanese learners!

Tsubame is a collection for children/young readers of the famous publisher Kadokawa. The books have a light green cover and a slightly bigger size than standard books. I don’t know if it is true for all the books in the collection, but mine has some illustrations inside.


The books are classified by levels indicated by one, two or three leaves on the cover. 『未来のミライ』has three leaves which means: “小学上級から”. No matter the level, all books come with full furigana, which is, of course, the best part of this series.

They are also classified into 6 genres:

  • A オリジナル
  • B ベストセラー
  • C ノベライズ
  • D ノンフィクション
  • E 海外の名作
  • F 日本の名作

『未来のミライ』is classified as C, so I guess that it is a novelisation of Mamoru HOSODA’s anime of the same name. I think that Hosoda wrote the novel version himself. You can also buy the novel version in the standard Kadokawa collection, without furigana. If you are interested in buying the Tsubasa collection, don’t forget to look for the green cover!


You certainly have heard or seen pictures of the film by director Mamoru HOSODA. Hosoda also directed famous anime films like Wolf Children or The Boy and the Beast (both available in the Tsubasa collection). I haven’t seen 『未来のミライ』yet, it was released in Japan this Summer, and I think that it will be released later in the year in Europe and the United States.

The story is about a 4-year-old boy who has to deal with a newly born sister and two busy parents who are too occupied to answer his caprice anymore. Then, supernatural and fantasy-like elements appear, and our young protagonist meets his little sister Mirai, coming from the future. This is the trailer:

To be honest, I chose this book because it was the only one available in this collection, but I don’t feel particularly drawn to the film, and the story does not appeal to me.

As a result, I have some difficulty getting into the story, I find it to be too childish, even for children. After all, the protagonist is a 4-year-old boy… I can perceive that the story is nice for a film, but I tend to have higher expectations when I have a book in hand. While it might be entertaining and funny in an anime, I don’t like having to go through a lot of clichés when reading (for example the father having a hard time managing domestic tasks when the mother goes back to work after the birth of the baby.)

I think that I have been unlucky in my choice (which was not really a choice) of the book. I am sure that other stories would have been more suitable for me. If you are interested in the collection, have a look at their website, they have a lot of titles.


I will be able to tell you more about this particular book in my review when I finish it. For now, I can say that reading with furigana is extremely enjoyable. It is easier to look up words, you can read aloud without frustration or even use it to study. While the story does not interest me much, reading in Japanese is always a pleasure, so I am quite pleased with this book, and I have to thank once more Topple to have recommended the collection to me!

My new study method: the One-week challenge/immersion!

I think I got it at last! The method that suits me best to learn a language. Learning Japanese on my own has been a mess of trials and errors, of abandoned study plans and seemingly revolutionary but unrealistic study methods. But somehow, it has been fun trying different things, and designing study plans is definitely one of the reasons why I love learning things on my own.

But at last, I think that I have found a method that I can stick to, and that will help me improve my Japanese while being entertaining enough to not feel like hardcore study.

One-week challenge/immersion study method

My problem is that I regularly come up with things that I want to do on a daily basis, and of course, if these daily tasks pile up, it becomes impossible to do them all every day, and I end up dropping some of them.

As a result, I am always a little anxious because I feel that I am not doing what I should be doing. If I focus on reading, I think that I should work on grammar instead, and if I read the news, I think that I should be writing in Japanese instead…

Working on a weekly basis instead of a daily seems to suit me better: I decide on Sunday what will be next week’s topic and I stick to it during the week. I don’t need to worry about the other tasks, because they will get their week sooner or later.

Concrete examples

It might be difficult to set oneself challenges and difficult or boring tasks every week. But you can alternate challenging weeks and immersion weeks, as long as it is linked to your target language.

Examples of one-week challenge/immersion

  • Read one news article per day (translating it can be optional)
  • Read … pages in Japanese per day
  • Study 2 or 3 grammar per day
  • Write a page of a diary in Japanese
  • Watch … minutes of Japanese TV
  • Listen to 20 minutes of a podcast
  • Play a game in Japanese and write down new words you learn from it
  • Make translation exercises
  • Learn a text by heart by the end of the week (work on it every day)
  • Translate Japanese recipes and cook what you have translated
  • Talk in Japanese for … minutes and record yourself
  • Read one blog post per day on a topic you like

Instead of trying to do everything every day and end up panicking because I can’t, I will assign each task a week and record my progress in a notebook for personal accountability.

I see several benefits in this method:

  • First of all, it is not boring because each week is different from the others. The problem with doing tasks every day is that I am motivated during one or two weeks, and then every day looks the same. Focusing on a different thing every week allows your study to always feel fresh.
  • If you focus on one skill/material for one week, you will progress in this area. I mean that one week is enough to start feeling improvement. Maybe not much, but if you write in Japanese every day for seven days, you will find it less daunting by the end of the week. The quality of your writing might not have improved yet, but the act of writing in Japanese will be less intimidating and less difficult.
  • You need to focus on the task you chose for the week and stop thinking about all the other things you are not doing. If you think you should be doing another activity instead of the one you picked, just program it for the following week and free your mind from it.
  • If you write in a notebook the theme of the week and what you did each day, it will become a precious collection of your efforts and an invaluable history of your language journey. Also, your notebook works as a partner for accountability, and it will help you to not skip a day.
  • This system is highly customisable. Depending on the time you can devote to your language study in general or during a particular week, you can adjust your weekly challenge. It can be reading one page per day in Japanese as well as reading 40 pages.
  • You should not skip a week and make sure that you are always doing something in your target language. However, some weeks can be more relaxing than others. If you come from a challenging week, you can devote the next to playing games in Japanese for example. If you know one week will be particularly busy, you can focus on listening to a podcast every day while commuting or eating breakfast.

But what about building new habits?

Unfortunately, what this method does not do is helping to build new habits, because one week is not long enough. However, I am convinced that it helps to get used to doing a particular thing in our target language. If I have been reading the news in Japanese for one week, it will become something less intimidating to do, and it will be easier to open this news website in Japanese. If I spent the whole week listening to a Japanese podcast, the next time I open my app, I will be more tempted to listen to a Japanese podcast than an English one.

A word about my last Monday’s challenge

Last Monday, I tried a one-week challenge focused on reading and translating one article (mostly editorials) by Mainichi Shimbun every day. I stuck to it even if the last two articles (Saturday and Sunday) were a little too long for me.

Translating can double the benefits of a reading session

At least, this is how I see it after one week doing this exercise. Translating forces you to look up every unknown word and be sure you understood the grammar and the pattern correctly. More than that, you have to understand the implications of the sentence, what the author is hinting at, what he really wants to say, and so on.

When I only read, I focus on the general meaning of a paragraph, I want to be sure to understand it enough to be able to move on to the next paragraph without being lost. But I miss a lot of nuances or even sometimes, undertone, sarcasm or humour.

So not only does this exercise boosts your vocabulary, but it also improves your reading abilities in general, the faculty to understand more than what is said, make connections and so on.

One week was the perfect format

Instead of trying to read the news every single day of my life and end up reading fast, without looking up words and without understanding completely what I am reading, I really studied the articles I read during this challenge. This was time-consuming, and at the end, I was glad that the week was over. But I stuck to it and I did it seriously because I knew that it was only for one week.

I wonder if doing something thoroughly for one week, with dedication and care, is not more effective than doing it every day but roughly and without really commit oneself to it. If I tell myself that I want to read the news every day, I will be tempted to pick an article that looks easy. If I choose a difficult one, I will start reading it, find it too difficult and give up, with the satisfaction of having tried and completed my task for the day. But I am not sure whether I really can make progress like that.

So yes, I will give up the idea of doing something every day (apart, of course, from studying Anki), and focus on weekly challenges.


I still need to try this method in the long-term, but I already feel very excited about it. We all have different ways of learning languages, and a good method for someone might not be suitable for others. I think that a lot of people like to feel free and just study what they want to study when they want to study it. As for me, I need some structure and a study plan to be effective. However, any rigid environment or routine usually wears my motivation down. This weekly challenge/immersion method might be the pivotal point between structure and freedom. It is also a good way to combine my desire to do a lot of things to learn Japanese and the lack of study-time in one day.

I’ll try to use this method for several months to see how it works!

Japanese Immersion: September week 2


I woke up this morning to hear the good news: Animal Crossing is coming for the Switch! To me, Animal Crossing is closely linked to learning Japanese: it is a game I play in Japanese, and it created an unconscious association between “Japanese” and “a fictional world I love, where the smallest acts of kindness matter and make you smile, your efforts always rewarded, where everybody is nice and where animals talk”. I started playing Animal Crossing because it was a refuge against the real world where your efforts are not always appreciated, people are not always nice and animals don’t talk.

What is funny is that I watched Animal Crossing New Leaf videos in Japanese this week. I like the channel of a YouTuber called くるみ. I like how she creates stories (she’s dating the cat ジンペイ) inside the Animal Crossing world and makes a game released 6 years before feel fresh and new.

LDP election

But of course, my Japanese immersion of this week is mainly due to reading the news. I started a one-week challenge on Monday and I have read and translated into French at least one article per day since Monday (I am updating my progress on my post).

The most important thing is that reading articles about the LDP election has become easier and easier. Articles that go into details about Abenomics are still too difficult for me, but it is more because of the economy relative terms than the Japanese level.

The general feeling I get from reading about the election in Mainichi is that they wished there were more public debates. The head of the LDP will also be the next Prime Minister, so this election concerns all Japanese citizens, not only the LDP members or sympathisers. This is why Mainichi wished there were more open debates.

One must also add that there hasn’t been an election for LDP leader/Prime Minister since 2012. There was no other candidate in 2015, so they didn’t run the election. As they have a challenger to Abe this time, they should take this opportunity to question Abe’s politics until now. I don’t think that the journal supports Ishiba, the other candidate, but they support his demand for more open debates. The presence of Ishiba is a good opportunity to do a thorough inspection of Abe’s choices.

Unfortunately, the campaign period is very short and has been shortened by two events: The earthquake in Hokkaido imposed a necessarily break of three days, and just after that, Abe went to Russia. As a consequence, there has been only one speech and press conference on Monday. The local party members vote on Wednesday (19th) so the campaign period is almost over.

Some articles even pointed out that both the Moritomo and the Kake scandal didn’t have a satisfactory ending. Ishiba wanted to use it for his campaign. His initial slogan was 「正直、公正」 but he had to drop it because it was felt as an attack on the LDP in general, it sounded like a slogan manufactured by the opposition. Also, it was a way to admit that the actual LDP is “不正直、非公正.”

Abe will certainly win with a crushing majority and it seems that local voters are not excited about the election. Mainichi also regrets that both candidates’ propositions lack concreteness and are not appealing enough to raise the interest of the citizens.

Today’s debate

With Abe’s return to Japan, the discussions resume. Today (14th) took place a big debate between the two candidates. It is broadcasted by NHK and I watched it because it interests me and of course, it will be a good listening practice.

But I ended up dozing before my TV and dreaming of the next Animal Crossing game…

To be honest, I understood nothing at all. With a lot of concentration, I could understand what they were talking about, but I could not follow what they wanted to say. I am a little disappointed because I thought that having read a lot about the campaign would allow me to understand a little the debate… I guess I need more listening practice!

If you have trouble falling asleep tonight, you can watch it:

Have a good weekend!

Currently Reading: 『流星の絆』by 東野圭吾


『流星の絆』by 東野圭吾, 講談社文庫

To me, the best way to start reading again after a long period of trials and errors is to start a novel by Keigo HIGASHINO.

The magic worked this time too, with the novel 『流星の絆』(りゅうせい の きずな). It is a very long novel (617 pages), but I am confident that if you like Higashino’s style, you will like everything, from the shortest short stories to the longest novels.

I felt committed to the story right from the beginning. I don’t know why I sometimes stay indifferent to what happens to the characters and sometimes feel immediately involved in their story. The author’s style maybe… Anyway, the beginning of the novel is completely engrossing, with a murder and a criminal investigation. This is exactly what I needed to start reading in Japanese again. After having made several attempts to start a novel, starting several books and giving up after a few pages, I was happy to feel engrossed in a story and read the first 100 pages without even realising it.

Given the length of the novel, I expect a somewhat complex story with a lot of different settings and intrications, a little like another novel I read and loved by Highashino: 『夢幻花』.

One of my goals for September was to start a novel by Higashino and try to finish it. I think that this novel is too long for me to read it in a month but knowing that I can finish it at all is a pleasing thought. As usual, Higashino’s writing style is Japanese learners friendly!

Read the news in Japanese: one-week reading challenge!

I have decided to try something new this week and start a “reading the news in Japanese” challenge.

I will read and translate one news article per day this week, starting today and ending on Sunday. I think that the more often you read the news, the easier it gets. Not only because you improve your reading skills in general, but because you get familiar with a certain vocabulary and know what the main topics of the moment are.

Which articles?

I like reading the site Mainichi.jp, so this is the news website I will choose. To avoid losing time every day in looking for articles worth studying and to be sure to pick a topical issue, I will choose mainly the editorials. As you can see on their website, they usually write two editorials per day so I can choose the topic that interests me the most (or even study both if I am motivated).

I also like the editorials because I find that they are the most interesting articles. The others tend to relate only the new facts concerning this or that topic. The editorials convey opinions and sometimes critics and I like the way they are written.

I might also pick political news, especially the ones concerning the LDP election


I will read and also loosely translate the articles in French. I will try to translate the whole article to be sure that I understand everything and to force me to look up words or study a particular sentence pattern if there are passages I don’t understand well. But I will not try to make a beautiful translation, I don’t care if the French result looks weird, conveying the meaning is what counts.

I am reading the articles on my iPhone, using the Mainichi app. I don’t know how it works with other devices, but you can use the dictionaries on the iPhone to read easily in Japanese. I have downloaded a Japanese-Japanese one and a Japanese-English one. Also, it is easy to look up words on the Internet or access the Wikipedia page of persons and places.

I will add to Anki the words I want to remember too.

I have started using Tsubame notebooks to take notes while reading the news and I think that I will stick to it. I use the 30 pages A5 format. They are fountain pen friendly and I can usually hold my notes on a page or a double-page. I already finished one notebook that I use to study the news since I don’t do it anymore on my blog. I usually write a summary of the article, some useful words or names of people, and add citations when I find a passage is worth writing down. For this challenge, however, I will certainly use more pages per article as translating it will take more place than usual.

It is very encouraging to finish a notebook, this is why I like the 30 pages format. I also think that it would be nice to have a bunch of these carnets lined up on my shelves. I also think of indexing them to be able to find a topic easily later on.

Let’s start!

I will update this post every day to add the article I chose! If you want to do something similar or even work on the same articles, please let me know in the comments!


障害者の不妊手術調査 記録なしでも救済対象に (editorial): A very interesting article on the difficulty to find records concerning the forced sterilisations that took place in name of the Eugenic Protection Law. Only 12% of the victims could be clearly identified because their names were found on official records. The article underlines the necessity to help also the victims whose name does not figure anywhere and shows that it is hard to identify them after so many years.

安倍首相と石破氏の論戦始まる: This is a short article about the speeches and press conference given by Abe and Ishiba. I found this article relatively easy to read. I don’t know what “参院選の合区解消” exactly is (for Ishiba, this is the priority topic) and I couldn’t find information in English (and I was too lazy to read about it in Japanese).


大坂なおみ選手の快挙 さらなる成長が楽しみだ (editorial): An article about Naomi OSAKA’s victory at the US Open. The article is not particularly interesting because it does not bring anything new: it mainly was about the finale and Naomi OSAKA’s reaction to it. The article says she gives a new image of the Japanese: ”人種や言葉の共通性だけではくくれない、新しい日本人像を大坂選手は示している”.

自民総裁選の論戦始まる もっと突っ込みがほしい (editorial): as I didn’t find the article on Naomi OSAKA challenging, I tried this one too. It looks at the two candidates’ speeches and press conference for the LDP election with a critical eye: neither Abe nor Ishiba made a speech powerful enough to attract people’s attention. Both candidates’ propositions lacked concreteness. The author regrets that there is no real political debate that could really go deep in questioning each candidate views and strategies. I can understand the article as a whole but there are some passages difficult to translate because I don’t know what it refers to exactly. For example, one should know a little about the political factions inside the LDP to understand what is meant by ”石破氏の腰が引けているように見えるのは、石破氏を支持する参院竹下派が対立の先鋭化を望んでいないことへの配慮もあるのだろう。” 🤔


北海道で電力不足が長期化 政府の責任で危機管理を (editorial): This article was a little difficult to read in Japanese and I had to do a lot of work on vocabulary (all the words relative to electricity supply were challenging). The article is about the problems of electricity shortage due to the earthquake in Hokkaido. The earthquake damaged the main source of electricity supply of the island: Tomato-Atsuma station. HEPCO (Hokkaido Electric Power Company) said that we still have to wait until the station can work properly. Until then, the population is asked to reduce its consumption, which is a heavy burden on factories that are just starting producing again after the earthquake. I don’t understand the things relative to supply-demand imbalance and why it can lead to a further shortage, but the article does not go deep into these details anyway. The article calls for a distributed generation system which would have prevented such a problem.

The other editorial was about Russia, and I must admit that I am more interested in and more used to reading articles about politics and society than international relations. So I didn’t study it.


安倍政治を問う アベノミクス 勘定を回されるのは誰だ (editorial): There was only one editorial today and it was about Abenomics. Economy is really not my area, I must admit that I lack some basic knowledge to understand articles on Economy in general (no matter the language.)

I really tried to translate this article but I ended up skipping more and more sentences and finally gave up. It was the pattern “I looked up every single word (even the ones I knew, I mean) and I still don’t understand this sentence”…

Still, I think I more or less grasped the essence of the article: Abenomics might have allowed economic growth, but it will have bad results in the end (I don’t understand why or how). It is important to take the opportunity of the election to thoroughly question Abenomics: we must look at the whole picture, including the repercussions in the future and not just look at the present results. Unfortunately, people will start to focus on the negative side effects after the Abe era is over (in three years).


経済、憲法などで舌戦 討論会: I didn’t study the editorials today because I wanted to read an article about the debate Abe-Ishiba that took place this morning. I can’t believe that I watched the debate, understood nothing, read this article, understood most of it without looking up words. There really is a gap between my reading and my listening level. The article is mainly about Abenomics and the Constitution, two points where the candidates disagree.

The article is just reporting what was said during the debate. I am looking forward to reading tomorrow’s editorial which will certainly be about the debate. Articles that convey opinions are more interesting than simple reports, I think.


安倍政治を問う 統治手法 なぜ不都合に向き合わぬ (editorial): This article was not very difficult but it was extremely long. It is by far the most interesting article I have read this week. I thought that today’s editorial would be about the debate Abe-Ishiba that took place yesterday. This is why I was surprised to read a very critical article about Abe only. It starts by saying that Abe’s response to the scandals Moritomo and Kake was not satisfactory. It goes on saying that some people think that Abe is covering up cronyism in both cases. It then gives the results of a recent survey: it shows that a lot of people do not trust or esteem Abe.

The article then says that Abe’s reaction to the scandals looked like an attempt to manage the situation in order to avoid unfavourable documents to be made public. Abe is so anxious to avoid any unfavourable article about him, that he refuses to give interviews to newspapers that would criticise him (like Mainichi). The article says that this attitude amounts to dividing the population into two groups: the ones who support Abe and the ones who are against him. Abe chooses to speak only to the ones who support him, ignoring the opposition and the people behind it. This is not the role of the politicians, who should try to unify rather than divide.


安倍政治を問う 対トランプ政権 懐に入っての成果は何か (editorial): I now understand that today’s editorial and yesterday’s are part of the same series called “安倍政治を問う”. Mainichi reflects on the characteristics of these (almost) 6 years with Abe as Prime Minister.

Today’s editorial is about the relations with the United States and it critics Trump rather than Abe. I think that, even if the article wishes that Abe had spoken more about the future relations between the two countries, it does not critic Abe’s choices and position. The general idea is that Abe did the best he could with the new American President and the different threats he uttered. The article mainly focuses on the military and commercial aspects, two topics where Trump raised justified concern and worries in Japan.

This article was interesting, challenging but not too difficult but a little too long to translate for a one-time study session. Still, I hope they will continue this series, it is a good way to get a panorama of the last few years!

Japanese Immersion: September week 1

The main thing I did to listen to Japanese this week was watching episodes from 『ちびまる子ちゃん』.

『舟を編む』by director 石井裕也I also re-watched the film 『舟を編む』which is one of my favourite films. I love equally the novel by Shion MIURA (三浦しをん) as the film by director Yuya ISHII (石井裕也)

I really recommend this film to anyone interested in the publishing world, dictionaries and the pursuit of one’s ideal against sales and profit considerations. This film always makes me feel that hard work and dedication can always win against the lack of immediate recognition and approval. I also have to fight an impulse to buy a paper dictionary!


I have found a YouTube live video called “JapaNews24 ~ 海外へ日本のニュースをLIVE配信” on the channel ANNnewsCH. I wish I had known sooner that such a live video exist. Apparently, they take broadcasted news in Japan, put them all together in a YouTube live video for people living outside Japan. I don’t know exactly when they add new contents, but it seems to be always news from the same day.

Anyway, I like watching it for several reasons:

  • First of all, easy access is the key to immersion in your target language. If I had to go to a website, select a video or have to wait for something to load… I would certainly never do it. To me, nothing is more accessible than YouTube because I already spend too much time on it.
  • The fact that it runs without interruption is also very useful. They have to cut the program for maintenance for several hours once a week, but that’s it. You can launch the video at any time and let it run.
  • It is much easier to understand the news on TV rather than on the radio. Not only do the images help to understand what it is about, but the text that appears on screen is also great support.

I am very glad that I have found that. I don’t watch it for long periods of time, but I took the habit of letting it run while I am busy with other things. The fact that it is easily accessible on my phone and that it is always current and fresh contents are two very appealing points.

It also helps in keeping touch with what happens in Japan, particularly with the recent typhoon and the earthquake in Hokkaido…

Liberal Democratic Party election

I try to follow the election, but it is not very exciting… 🙄

From what I understand, there are 405 votes from Diet members and 405 votes from the local party members. This being said, there are more than one million party members with the right to vote. I read that the votes are redistributed among the candidates according to the D’Hondt method or “highest averages method”… but here we are far beyond the range of what I can speak of with confidence. So, to summarise, there are votes of the Diet members and votes of the local party members and they are both equal: 405 votes each. The local party members have until the 19th to vote and the 405 Diet party members will vote on the 20th. The results, I think, will be announced on the 20th too.

There was a handful of potential candidates but most of them announced that they would not compete. With Seiko NODA’s announcement this week that she didn’t collect the necessary support of 20 Diet members to become a candidate, we know that this year’s confrontation will be a duel between Shinzo ABE and Shigeru ISHIBA. Their candidature was officially announced today but their speech and the press conference are reported until Monday due to the Hokkaido earthquake.

Abe is looking for a third mandate. He won the elections in 2012 and in 2015 there was no other candidate anyway, so they didn’t hold the election and Abe stayed at the head of the party. Abe’s main propositions are the Abenomics and the Constitution: he wants to keep both the paragraph 1 (Japan renounces war) and the paragraph 2 (Japan does not keep army forces) but add a clear mention of the Self-Defense Force. Shigeru Ishiba wants to modify the Abenomics and suppress the paragraph 2 altogether.

Even if there are two candidates, there is a general lack of interest at the local level for the election because the positions among the Diet members is clear: Abe will certainly win with a crushing majority. This Mainichi article says that 80% of the Diet votes will go to Abe.

People seem concerned with the participation rate at the local level. As our article says:




There is also the possibility that some people might not vote in reaction to the Mori-Kake scandals.

These two scandals, while very present in the news, did not affect Abe’s chances to win a third mandate. Among the reasons that speak for him are the economic results and the fact that people trust him to handle international affairs:

Shunichi SUZUKI (LDP member and member of the House of Representatives) points out the economic results and says that there is no need to change: (source)


and Taro ASO (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance) underlines Abe’s ability to deal with Trump, saying that Abe is certainly the only one capable of being a good interlocutor to the American’s president:


He also adds:


Does 顔 have another meaning I am not aware of? Or did he actually said “その顔を比べて”? 😮


I am glad that I am reading the news again. It is still very difficult to understand the spoken news though. When I watch the JapaNews24, I sometimes understand very little or nothing at all. There is no other choice than to persevere and continue listening to a lot of Japanese while learning new words through Anki!