Book Review: 『日本語びいき』by Yumi SHIMIZU

『日本語びいき』 is definitely one of my best books of the year! The author, Yumi SHIMIZU (清水由美), is teaching Japanese to foreign students and wrote this book for her fellow native Japanese speakers. Through 21 short chapters, she invites her reader to rediscover the Japanese language and let oneself be amazed by patterns that natives usually take for granted. Here is how she concludes her book:


About 『日本語びいき』


『日本語びいき』by 清水由美, ill. ヨシタケシンスケ, 中公文庫

First of all, I appreciated greatly the structure of the book. Each of the 21 chapters can be read independently and will not exceed 10 pages. I read them in order, but you could jump to the topics that appeal to you most (the author sometimes refers to previous chapters, but I still think that they can be read in any order). Being very short, the chapters are pleasant to read and I never felt overwhelmed with information or grammatical details. It also has funny illustrations by ヨシタケシンスケ.

The topics of the book are very wide, the author talks about grammatical particularities, pronunciation, hiragana as well as usages. For example, the chapter “らぬき、れたす、さいれ” is about the tendency to omit the ラ in the formation of the potential form of verbs 一段. Not omitting it would make the verb sound like the honorific form. However, it can lead to confusion, with over scrupulous people adding an unnecessary ラ to the potential form of 五段 verbs. I found this chapter to be one of the most interesting and instructive, but I read each chapter with great interest, often smiling to myself or nodding vigorously, haha!

If you are interested in the Japanese language for itself, and if you like talking about and discover curious facts like the strange transformation of “エロティック” and “グロテスク” into “エロ” and “グロ“… then this book is for you!

For Japanese learners?

I personally think that this book can benefit Japanese learners in many ways. The author wrote this book from her experience of teaching to foreign students. The particularity of the language she scrutinizes are often the ones that puzzled her students (for example, this: “ティッシュ持ってってってったでしょ” for “持って行ってと言ったでしょう”). More than once, she spoke of things that I myself had to struggle with, learning Japanese on my own.

Rather than saying that I learnt new grammatical forms thanks to her book, I would say that I understood better the ones I already knew. There are a lot of things that I wish I had known when I was studying basic grammar. For example, the chapter on the concept of ウチ vs ソト was very instructive.

The author also refers to English and shows how puzzling English can be for Japanese, as much as Japanese is for English-speakers. Somehow, through her examples, I ended up thinking that Japanese was not that difficult after all and that English can sometimes be much more puzzling!

I personally didn’t struggle too much to read the chapters of this book, but some were more difficult than others. The style of the author is pleasant and it is easy to follow her explanations. Although the book is written for Japanese, there are always ample explanations that allow a non-native to understand everything. It requires, however, to know well the basic grammar, as several topics are about the potential/causative form, the transitive vs intransitive verbs, and so on. To really enjoy reading the book, I think that having a good understanding of all these structures is necessary.

 I think that 『日本語びいき』is a book you can return to several times, picking a chapter you might not have understood well the first time and give it another try. This is what I will certainly do!

Differences with 『日本人の知らない日本語』

『日本語びいき』was first published under the title 『日本人の日本語知らず』which I think, was a better title. But certainly, it would have been too close to another great book on Japanese, namely 『日本人の知らない日本語』.

I have discovered 『日本人の知らない日本語』thanks to Kotobites (you will find a more complete description of the book here), and it has been one of my favourite manga at the time. I am thinking now that I should re-read it, as I have made progress since the time I first read it.

Being a manga, 『日本人の知らない日本語』is less intimidating and I would even say, easier to read. It is also funnier in the comical situations it presents. The book focuses on the Japanese teacher and the stressful, funny or puzzling situations her students put her in. These situations are the opportunity to stress particular aspects of the Japanese language that puzzle the students. It is also much about cultural differences, each student struggling with different things given their original country.

In『日本語びいき』, the author sometimes evokes similar situation with her students, but it is not the main topic of the book. The book focuses on the Japanese language itself and is much more focused on grammatical patterns than 『日本人の知らない日本語』. In such, it is a more challenging book, but nothing too difficult either.

The contents and the style of both books are very different, but I personally enjoyed reading both and heartily recommend them!


『日本語びいき』helped me to understand better some grammar points that I had merely memorised when I started learning Japanese. I liked how the author sometimes links linguistic particularities to the characteristics of the Japanese society or underlines the regularity of some grammatical patterns. While I don’t want to blame the grammar textbooks I have used to learn Japanese, I wish I had had a teacher like Yumi SHIMIZU!

Yumi SHIMIZU’s blog: 猫な日本語

Monthly Review: October 2018

October has been a month for discovering new paths: I have started studying Japanese history and I have watched my very first Japanese drama.

The two books I had ordered about Japanese History have finally arrived, but before that, I had started reading as many things as possible on the Internet. I am taking notes in a notebook too, which allows me to use the new three Pilot Iroshizuku inks I bought this month (namely, 深海 shin-kai、月夜 tsuki-yo and 松露 syo-ro).

I have finished watching the drama 『シグナル 長期未解決事件捜査班』(シグナル ちょうきみかいけつじけんそうさはん) and this is the first Japanese drama that I watch from start to finish. I am looking for other detective dramas now!

But most importantly, I have achieved my goals for the month, which were:

October goals 2018

It was not a difficult challenge, but it helped me to stay focused and make an effort to finish the books I had started before commencing new ones. I finished『流星の絆』at the beginning of the month, 『未来のミライ』two weeks ago and 『日本語びいき』this weekend (I will write my review on Wednesday).

I wanted to finish these three books because I have realised that I don’t have much time left to complete my 2018 reading challenge. My challenge was to read a book per month in Japanese and I had brought back 13 books from Japan for this purpose.

Now, my goal of reading one book a month is largely completed because I have read much more than 12 books this year, sometimes even reading several books in a single month. However, I still haven’t read all the 13 books of my initial list, and I want to read them all before the end of the year!

As I have given up reading one book of my list (『悪と仮面のルール』 by 中村文則), I still have 3 to read:

  • 『リカーシブル』 (Recursible) by 米澤穂信, a long novel of +500 pages
  • 『往復書簡』 by 湊かなえ, a collection of four short stories, I already read the first one
  • 『探偵倶楽部 (クラブ)』by 東野圭吾, a collection of five short stories, I already read the first one

If I want to finish them all in 2018, I need to start the novel right now and read at least one or two short stories in November, hence my goals for November:

November Goals 2018

I also added some other goals, though “study Japanese History” and “watch a drama” are not very challenging ones! As for writing on a daily basis, I don’t know if I will be able to do it, but I will try. I have been writing in Japanese every day for some months and I was quite positive that it had become a habit, but I have given up at some point. I want to renew with writing, and November seems perfect for it!

So that’s it! What are your goals for November? Only two months left in 2018, let’s make the best of them!

Japanese Immersion: October week 4

The more I write these Friday posts, the more I doubt whether “immersion” is the good term for them. Initially, I wanted to create a Japanese environment around me to be sure that I was absorbing as much Japanese as possible.

I find this harder to achieve than I had imagined. The problem is not the lack of things to listen to or read in Japanese (on the contrary!), but my own disposition. I am more keen on absorbing cultural/entertaining contents in English than in Japanese. Furthermore, I have realised that a passive immersion in the language does not help me that much. Letting a Japanese audio run the whole day long won’t make me progress in my listening abilities if I don’t consciously listen to it. As a result, I found that working on an audio for 1 hour is more useful than hearing Japanese all day long without making an effort to understand it.

Anyway, this is what I did this week!

シグナル: reached episode 8!

The drama『シグナル』will certainly be the first Japanese drama that I watch entirely! Only 2 episodes to go. I am very happy about it because my attempts to watch Japanese drama have seen me going from frustration to frustration. 『シグナル』is a drama that I like watching for its story, I also like the actors, and I can understand most of what is said. Towards the end, however, we have to bear with good ones that are ridiculously good and bad ones that are ridiculously bad, but… I still enjoy the drama.

I have transcribed the episode 7 and 8 and with the exception of some scenes (always involving the same characters), I could write down a good amount of what was said. The length of 45 minutes is perfect to me. Writing down also made me more confident with a lot of kanji. When I started this exercise, I had to check the writing of a lot of kanji, but now I can write most of them without looking them up first.

Sapio magazine

I talked last week about a political magazine I bought because it has a dossier on the Emperor.

I have read the second article of the dossier, which was on the Empress. As I mentioned last week, every article is written by a different historian/academician, so the writing style is different. I found this second article to be very easy to read, more than the first one. I did have to look up several words and check some references on Wikipedia, but except for one or two passages, I can say that I understood it very well.

I really appreciate working on paper rather than reading on my phone. I can write down vocabulary and notes, and this is what the article looks like once I have studied it:

Sapio 9.10 2018 (pp 16-17)

I think that this amount of vocabulary and references search is okay. I don’t have so many things to look up that I would feel discouraged, but I still have the feeling that I am studying, making progress in reading and learning new words or facts. For example, the article mentions the Japanese colonists settled in Manchuria and their difficult journey back to Japan after the capitulation. This is an episode that I didn’t know well and I have read more about it since then.

That’s it for this week! It is not as much a continuous immersion than targeted study sessions, but no matter the form it takes, the most important thing is to devote some time every day to the language we learn!

Currently Reading: 『手紙』by Keigo HIGASHINO

I will stick to my resolution to always be reading a book by Keigo HIGASHINO. I found that reading several books at the same time in Japanese is the best way to avoid loss of interest or discouragement.

『手紙』, 東野圭吾, 文春文庫

I am so sure that I will love any book by Higashino that I just pick them randomly and never read the summary on the back cover. But I am surprised by『手紙』. It is hard to tell where the story will lead us, and I suspect the book to be more a social portrait than a crime novel. I already noticed that Higashino gives a social dimension to some of his books, and I would not be surprised if 『手紙』fell in this category.

The book is divided into 6 chapters, and I have only read the first one. To me, this book is like a focus on what is usually dismissed in crime stories: the daily life and hardship of the persons involved. Usually, a novel would concentrate on the plot, the investigation, and while it lets us glimpse at the suffering of the actors involved, especially the ones surrounding the victims, it rarely bothers to show us how, say, the brother of the murderer adjusts to his new condition and goes on with this life.

I think that this is what 『手紙』will do, though the novel might still change direction. In any case, it is a little different from what I expected, but I enjoy reading it all the more.

I am studying Japanese History!

Or at least, I will soon!

I have been telling myself for a long time now that I should read about Japanese History in English or French. I have finally got down to looking at History books available in English and selected the one I wanted to read. The book I ordered turned out to be two books and I hope that I can receive them soon!

Selecting a book

I didn’t know what book I should buy, so I started by looking at recommendations on the Internet. I am mostly interested in the 20th Century but also wanted to know what happened before. I was, therefore, looking for a general History from Edo to the present.

It was very difficult to select a book because looking at the different lists of “best books on Japanese History” made me realise that I was in fact interested in all aspects and periods of it and that I needed to read all the books listed.

I finally chose The Making of Modern Japan by Marius B. Jansen, which seems to one of the best introductions to Japanese History.

I could not resist ordering Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan by Herbert P. Bix because it covers the period I am the most interested in.

There are other books that I really want to read but that I keep for later, here is my wish list in order:

  • Embracing Defeat, Japan in the Wake of World War II by John W. Dower
  • The Rising Sun, The Decline and Fall of the Japanese Empire 1936-1945 by John Toland
  • Bending Adversity, Japan and the Art of Survival by David Pilling
  • Japan’s Longest Day by the Pacific War Research Society
  • The Rape of Nanking by Iris Chang

If you have any recommendations of books or films/drama on Japanese History, please don’t hesitate to let me know in the comments!

Shall I focus on language or culture?

Obviously, reading the +900 pages of The Making of Modern Japan will take me time. This means that I will spend less time learning Japanese. It will certainly slow down my progress, but on the other hand, reading about History is the thing that I want to do the most now. I know that I am forgetting all the things I learned for N2, that I should revise my grammar, write in Japanese every day, do more listening practice and so on. But I must admit that I am more interested in learning about Japanese culture and History now, than doing grammar exercises. As I am, after all, learning Japanese for pleasure, I will not restrain myself.

Learning about Japanese History will also feed my motivation and make me want to progress in Japanese to be able to read History books in Japanese too. Lack of motivation or a sudden loss of interest can affect any language learner, I think, especially when you are learning on your own. This is why it is important to welcome any new interest we might have relative to our target language/country/culture. While it will slow down my progress now, because I will devote less time to Japanese itself, it will also strengthen my motivation to learn Japanese further and make the extra effort to reach a good reading level (good enough to read History books in Japanese).

But I will not totally stop learning Japanese of course, I will still be doing Anki and read novels, and I will continue to set myself small weekly focus. However, I am giving up the idea to try N1 in 2019!

Japanese Immersion: October week 3

This week, I mostly read magazines! I bought the autumn edition of the 趣味の文具箱 and a magazine called Sapio.


This magazine is all about fountain pens and ink. The issue 47 is called 『万年筆インクの知りたいこと』and is all about ink. You will find in it interesting charts and analysis, as well as the new colours available in Japan. I particularly liked the “user’s ink life” section where are displayed how people use their ink to write, draw and keep ink journals.

It is not the best magazine to practice reading because it is often enough to look at the many pictures, charts or writing samples. I try to force myself to always read the captions and additional explanations. But even without a heavy reading practice, I think that there is nothing better than associating one’s hobby with the language you are learning. You will naturally feel motivated to read and understand something if it is about your hobby, and the language will be associated with positive feelings as well.

The site ei-publishing has a lot of magazines that cover all sorts of hobbies. You can buy the digital version if you can access one of the e-book platform mentioned here. I haven’t tried it myself, so I don’t know if it works well.


I bought this magazine because it was about the Emperor and the end of Heisei, a topic that interests me. However, I didn’t know if Sapio was a right or left-wing magazine, a progressist or conservative one. On Wikipedia, I read that the magazine is mainly about international issues, but will occasionally talk about internal politics or affairs. They say that the tone is conservative and that the editorial line adopts a critical position against China and Korea when it comes to human rights, freedom of the press or the anti-Japanese movements. They also often write about North Korea. Indeed, looking at the past issues shows a focus on China and North and South Korea.

Yemeni refugees in Jeju Island

The issue I have confirms what I read on Wikipedia. The first article is about the Yemeni refugees who have landed on Jeju island in South Korea at a time when Yemeni could enter the island without a visa. Since then, the government has removed Yemen from the list of countries whose nationals could enter Jeju island freely, and the population is demonstrating in Jeju and in Seoul against the presence of some hundreds of refugees on the island.

The magazine gives voice to the ones who support and help the refugees and the ones who are against them. The latter call them “fake refugees” and display mistrust against Islam. Someone said that accepting refugees is a duty if they are real refugees, but the Yemeni are “fake” ones and the government should think of the citizens’ “safety”. A woman says that she is afraid for her 9-year-old daughter because she knows that it is common to marry early in Yemen… (seriously?)

Among the ones who help the Yemeni, someone mentions that inhabitants of Jeju island themselves have sought asylum after the Jeju uprising in 1948. At the time, 10% of the island’s population died, and around 40,000 inhabitants sought asylum in Japan.

Further reading: an interesting article on this topic in The Guardian.

Dossier on the Emperor

But of course, the main topic of the magazine is the Emperor. I have just started the dossier so I cannot say a lot about its contents. The dossier contains several articles each written by a different academician. This makes it a little difficult to read because you have to get used to a different writing style for each article.

The first article is about Emperor Akihito (other articles are more historical) and shows how important each of the Emperor’s words is for the people. If I understood correctly, the article says that Emperor Akihito addressed the nation on a television broadcast after the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. It was the first time since the capitulation of 1945 that the nation heard the Emperor’s voice on a broadcasting system. The author of the article says that Emperor Akihito’s voice embodied the description of Japan as “the land where the mysterious workings of language bring bliss” as found in an ancient poem.

This is only one example of the interesting things I found in the article. It is a little hard to read, but reading on paper allows me to take notes and write down vocabulary. I don’t know why, but I always feel more confident when I have a pen in hand and can take notes.

There are seven articles in the dossier, I make it a challenge to read them all!

Book Review: 『未来のミライ』by Mamoru HOSODA


『未来のミライ』by 細田守(ほそだ・まもる), 角川つばさ文庫

I bought the novelisation of the film 『未来のミライ』by director Mamoru HOSODA to try the collection Tsubasa of the publisher Kadokawa. Tsubasa is a collection of books for children with full furigana and a wide range of genres classified in different levels of difficulty. 『未来のミライ』, which is novelised by Mamoru HOSODA himself, belongs to the level “小学上級から”.

I am very happy with the collection Tsubasa, and I will certainly buy other books from it. However, I had a hard time reading 『未来のミライ』and I would not have finished it, weren’t it for the sake of this review.

Read with furigana

It really is a pleasure to read a novel with full furigana. I thought of several ways to use the books of this collection to study:

  • Look up more words: I can’t tell you how often I give up looking up a word because I don’t want to draw the kanji in my electronic dictionary. I mean, having the possibility to draw the kanji rather than doing a painful search by key is a great improvement. But sometimes, I am too lazy even for that!
  • Read aloud: I think that reading aloud is a very good exercise. You can work on your intonation and will certainly remember some structures more efficiently. Also, if you are not used to speaking in Japanese, it can be an easy and comfortable first step to start voicing some Japanese.
  • Take the opportunity to revise forgotten words: There are a lot of words that I have learned at some point and whose meaning I remember well because they often appear in novels. However, I would forget their exact pronunciation. With so many new words around me to look up, I almost never take the time to look up these familiar words just to check their pronunciation. Having furigana is obviously a way to revise them painlessly.

The downside of having furigana is that some passages with a lot of text can sometimes look a little crowdy; this makes the whole thing look more difficult than it actually is. To be honest, I found the very first pages of 『未来のミライ』to be a little discouraging.

I highly recommend having a look at this collection if you want to start reading novels in Japanese but feel overwhelmed by the too many unknown kanji. I think you should start by looking at the “easy” books because 『未来のミライ』was not super easy to read. On the Website, you can read the first pages of the books as a free sample, so I recommend starting there.

『未来のミライ』was not for me

Let’s say it plainly, I didn’t like 『未来のミライ』and I thought I would never be able to finish it. I think that both I and the book are a little guilty of this disappointment.

A nice story

『未来のミライ』tells the story of the young Kun who has to deal with his newly born sister and two parents that seem a little overwhelmed by the situation. A series of fantastic events, in which he will meet his sister Mirai coming from the future, will help him overcome his initial dislike of her.

I think that the story is very nice, but it just was not for me. I could not, at any time, feel sympathy or interest for the capricious Kun and I was not particularly interested in the fantastic aspects of the story. I was expecting a focus on the two protagonists: Kun and Mirai from the future, but Mirai appears much less than I thought she would.

The structure of the story is also very repetitive. Instead of a narration that would progress, the same pattern repeats itself several times and I was quickly bored by it (spoiler: namely, a real situation in which Kun is frustrated and upset will trigger a fantastic situation where he meets a member of his family coming from a different time, experiences fantastic things, learns something, and then things go back to reality with a wiser Kun).

I am guilty here, but when I bought the book, I thought that the only fantastic element would be the apparition of Mirai from the future and that the story would mainly happen in “real life”. I was disappointed to see that a big part of the story takes place in a fantastic environment that was too arbitrarily fantastic to my taste.

I think that I am not very receptive for these kinds of stories or protagonists. So of course, this is my personal opinion, and I am sure that many people have watched and enjoyed the film.

Better for a film than a novel

I would like to point out another thing that explains why I didn’t like this novel. 『未来のミライ』is the kind of story that is perfect for the screen but loses a lot of its magic if novelised.

The fantastic parts create a dramatic visual effect that is certainly beautiful on screen. At least, that was my impression when I watched the trailer. Suddenly, the landscape would change, and Kun would find himself in a completely different place, time and atmosphere. It gives the film its magic, but I found it would fall flat on paper.

Some scenes’ interest and humour come from the actions and posture of the protagonists. Here again, it is much vivid on screen than in a book.

Not so easy to read

Last but not least, let’s talk about the difficulty level of this book. It was not a challenging book, but any novel by Keigo HIGASHINO would be much easier to read for me. I was reading a Higashino and 『未来のミライ』at the same time, and it always struck me how easy Higashino felt when I picked it up after I had read Hosoda’s book.

I think that there are three reasons why I found some parts of the book unexpectedly difficult:

  • First, I thought that it was difficult for a children book, but then I thought that it might be difficult because it was a book for children. I can imagine that books for young readers also have an educational goal and try to introduce a rich vocabulary.
  • Being a novelisation, this book has to describe everything that happened on screen. As a consequence, there was a lot of descriptive passages that were not all easy to read. I found the end to be particularly challenging, but that may be because I was looking forward to finishing it and was not as focused as I should have been.
  • When you read in a foreign language and don’t understand all the words, you have to rely a lot on the context to guess a part of the words you don’t know instead of looking them up. With the fantastic elements, it was impossible to guess from the context because the context would arbitrarily change and I was sometimes as bewildered as Kun himself.


While I recommend the collection I don’t particularly recommend this book. As I didn’t like reading it, I haven’t taken advantage of the many study opportunities provided by the furigana. I wanted to use the book to make all kinds of exercises like reading out loud, translating in French then back in Japanese and so on. But at the end, I just read it as quickly as I could to finish it.

But I don’t give up! Next time, I will dig into the Tsubasa website to find a story that interests me, hoping that I will then be willing to spend more time with the novel and use it to study.

Korean resources to learn Japanese: how to download audio files

A discussion I had recently in the comments of this blog made me think I should write more about the Korean publisher Darakwon.

Darakwon publishes a lot of textbooks to learn foreign languages (including Korean as a foreign language), and Japanese is, with English and Chinese, one of the main languages studied in Korea. I think that you can use some of these books if you are learning Japanese and don’t speak Korean.

Why use Korean resources?

Naturally, all these books are written in Korean. However, I think that you can still find some of them useful, even if you don’t read Korean. Not only are these resources of good quality, but it can also be interesting to look at learning materials in other languages. You might find that Korean ones have a different approach than English ones. I am far from being an expert in language learning textbooks, but I am sure that it is a good way to diversify the resources you normally use.

Particularly, I think of two kinds of textbooks that can be used, even if you don’t read Korean.

  • JLPT preparation books. Most Korean books are only a collection of questions. I have used several Korean textbooks to work for the JLPT myself, and they were all drills only. You can think of Korean books for the JLPT as a collection of tests. They are very different from the Japanese So-matome or the Shin Kanzen series that have real lessons. As a consequence, you can navigate the books even if you don’t read Korean and use the drills to add extra practice to your preparation. However, be aware that the explanations are likely to be only in Korean.
  • Conversation books. If your Japanese level has reached a point where you can work on your own to understand a sentence without translation, you could use the many conversation/dialogues books published by Darakwon. You won’t be able to use the translation in Korean, but all you will need to do is to look up words by yourself. I think that these conversation books can be very useful because they come with an audio that you can use to study in different ways (listen to it on the go, make a listen and repeat exercise, etc.)

Apparently, you can buy some of them in the Google Play store as an e-book (searching for “darakwon” should be enough, or you can copy-paste the Korean title of a particular book). I couldn’t find the equivalent on the iBooks store, but I hope it will come in the future.

This being said, even if you don’t buy the e-book, you can listen to the audio tracks of all their textbooks for free directly on their website. This can give you an idea whether or not the book will be useful for you or even provide an additional listening practice in itself. This is particularly true for the conversation books and the JLPT listening books. Personally, I have spent a lot of time just listening to JLPT listening tracks, without answering the questions, just to practice listening before the test.

How to access the audio files?

To access the files on their website, you need to log in if you are using a computer. Creating an account requires (at least now) a Korean phone number. Once logged in, you will have to download and install security programs on your computer, and the whole thing will be in Korean so it might be confusing.

However, if you access their website via your phone you have the possibility to listen to the tracks directly on the website or to download them via the “Darakwon” app. I know it sounds complicated, but I think it is worth it if you are looking for more listening practice for the JLPT, for example.

If you don’t read Korean, follow these steps!

Step 1: (optional) Install the Darakwon app. This will allow you to download all the tracks you want to listen to and stock them here. It will be much more convenient to listen to the audio on the app than on the website. (name of the app: Darakwon, or in Korean 다락원 스마트 러닝, available on Google Play and the App store)

Step 2: Head to on your phone and look for materials to learn Japanese. Go to the menu and select Japanese:


You will then be able to select the type of books you want to look at. As I said previously, I think that the JLPT and conversation textbooks are the most useful. I will take the JLPT listening textbook for N5/N4 as an example:


Once you select the category JLPT, you get the list of textbooks:

  • 독해 : reading
  • 한자 : kanji
  • 어휘 : vocabulary
  • 문법 : grammar
  • 청해 : listening


Let’s take a look at the book for the listening section.


You can listen to the audio files online by selecting the purple button. For this particular book, you can also access the script and the answers (I don’t know if it covers all the files or just the final test).


Once you are here, you can either select “all tracks” or select a particular chapter of the book. In our case, the chapters correspond to the different types of questions that appear in the JLPT.

I recommend to use the app Darakwon and download the files via the app. Select “all tracks” if you want to download them all and click on the blue button. If the app is on your phone, it should open it directly.

If you don’t use the app, this is how the online player looks like:


Step 3: Use the app.

When you select the blue button, it should open the Darakwon app and the files will be ready for download:


To download all the files at the same time, select “edit” on the top right, “select all” and then “download”.


Your files will then be accessible via the second icon on the bottom:


You can now listen to the tracks via the application player which is neither excellent nor very bad.



That’s it! Sorry if it is a little confusing, I am not used to writing a “how to”! 😅

If you buy a Darakwon book on Google Play, they tell you to download the mp3 on their website, which can be daunting if you don’t read Korean. This is why I hope this was useful. I particularly think that the JLPT textbooks can provide you with a lot of practice material. If you are looking for new listening material, I also recommend that you take a look at the “conversation” books, I personally find several of them useful, especially the ones that use the same pattern in different contexts.

Korean publishers have a lot of great resources to learn Japanese, but I never really talked about them on my blog because I thought it would be difficult and pricey to order them outside Korea. However, now that I know that some of them are accessible as an e-book via mobile stores, I wonder if I cannot introduce some of them in the future!

Japanese Immersion: October week 2

I have been a little sick this week and haven’t done much for my Japanese.

First of all, I was a little disappointed, when I watched the 5th episode of the drama 『シグナル 長期未解決事件捜査班』, to find it very difficult to understand. I thought I had made progress, and it is discouraging to realise that I still have to struggle as soon as the actors speak a little faster or use difficult words. Not feeling well certainly did not help me because I was not willing to put in the extra effort and look up words as I would have done otherwise.

I also watched the first episode of 『流星の絆』. I have finished the novel by Keigo HIGASHINO and wanted to have a look at the drama, but I didn’t like it. It is a good listening practice though, so I might continue to watch it, but I don’t like it enough to study it or listen to it several times. As they made 10 episodes out of a single novel, they had to add scenes, and I think that the result is very far from Higashino’s book. The drama may follow the main story, but the atmosphere is very different. They made what looks like a family drama out of a detective novel, and I was not convinced by the acting.

I had a headache all week long, so this is all that I have done for my Japanese this week…

Japanese Immersion - October week 2-1

Book review: 『流星の絆』by Keigo HIGASHINO



I would like to congratulate myself on having read a +600 pages book in Japanese!

As it was a book by Keigo HIGASHINO, it was not a challenging read. I consider his books to be among the easiest books I have read in Japanese so far:

  • a writing style that I think is easy to get used to;
  • a detective story that focuses on the plot, and does not attempt to show literary feat by making long descriptions, using difficult words and complicated sentences;
  • enough suspense and tension to make you turn the pages without realising it.

Every time I read a novel by Higashino, I am amazed by his capacity to write so many books that are both very similar in style and contain a unique plot, story and mystery.

When I started reading the first page of 『流星の絆』, I felt immediately close to the characters and involved in their story. I wanted to know what would happen to them. The sympathy that bounds the reader and the three protagonists together during the very first pages only grows stronger when the story unfolds. This is certainly what made me read the relatively long setting part as eagerly as I did the end of the novel.

Being a rather long novel, 『流星の絆』 takes its time to work on its setting. The book opens on a criminal investigation that took place in the past, and this first part was totally enthralling for the detective novel aficionado that I am. Then the story jumps to the present and goes through a quieter part that sets the background for the upcoming main plot. Once this one started, I could not put down the book.

The story is mainly one of vengeance. As often in Higashino’s books, we see the story through the point of view of different characters, each with their personal desires, and it is hard to take a side.

I enjoyed reading this book very much. The second half was particularly entertaining. It is not my favourite book by Keigo HIGASHINO because I found it a little too “kind”, I prefer detective novel to be a little darker. Nevertheless, it was a pleasant read and Higashino’s books are definitely one of my favourite entertainments in Japanese.

Note: There is a drama adaptation of this novel, I plan to watch it!