Month: October 2018

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: “何か一つでも、日本語について「ほう!」と思っていただけましたなら、うれしいです。” About 『日本語びいき』 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. …

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: 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 …

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 …

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 …

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, …

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. 趣味の文具箱 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 …

Book Review: 『未来のミライ』by Mamoru HOSODA

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, …

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 …