Author: Inhae

Japanese News: kanji of the year 北

You probably read or heard about it if you follow the news about Japan: the kanji of the year 今年の漢字 is officially 北・きた. Link to the NHK article on the subject. The 今年の漢字 is a kanji chosen at the end of each year by the Japanese kanji proficiency society 日本漢字能力検定協会 to represent the year that is about to end. It is revealed on December 12th in Kyomizu temple 清水寺・きよみずでら in Kyoto. During the ceremony, the chief abbot 貫主・かんじゅ of the temple writes the selected kanji on a large piece of Japanese paper 和紙・わし with a big brush. I think anyone can easily guess why 北 was chosen. It’s true that concerns about North Korea 北朝鮮・きたちょうせん were very present in the news. Let’s read the article and learn some new words! 北? 北朝鮮 The first meaning of 北 in our context is North Korea. The article says that the multiple launches of ballistic missiles from North Korea have created a menace and anxiety. A ballistic missile is “弾道ミサイル”. 弾道・だんどう means “trajectory”, “line of fire”, “path of a projectile”. …

Currently reading a magazine on Moomin and watching the series again

After my déconvenue at the JLTP, I bought this magazine even though I had no idea what it was about, just because I love Moomin. Moe turns out to be a magazine about illustrated books for children and you probably know Moomin, the main character of children books created by Tove Jansson.   As a child, I had an illustrated book of Moomin but I can’t remember which story it was. I just remember that I was a little afraid of Snufkin, who is now my favourite character! I think one can say that I had forgotten all about Moomin until I came to Korea. I don’t know why but Moomin is very popular here. The first part of the magazine is devoted to this month’s theme: Moomin. I find it very interesting and it made me wonder why do some characters become so famous that they fascinate people all other the world when there are so many books for children and so many new characters created every year. The magazine opens with an article about …

Collecting collocations: how to take notes to improve one’s writing skills

I am concerned about how to improve my writing skills and I have tried a method that seems to work well. The idea is to thoroughly study an article in order to collect collocations and expressions that we can use for writing. Until now, I have entirely relied on Anki to learn new words. This method works like magic to me, but I realised recently that Anki only helps me recognise the words and mainly allows me to improve my reading skills. Which is fine by the way. But the problem is that I don’t always know how to use the words I learn. I don’t want to enter too much information when I create a new card in Anki. First, it would take a lot of time to do so and second, I don’t want to spend too much time studying Anki and I am sure that I would not even bother reading the complementary information when studying my deck. That is why there are a lot of words that I don’t know how …

Japanese News: Emperor Akihito will retire on April, 30th 2019

You may have heard that a date was finally set last week for the abdication of Emperor Akihito. I think it is time for me to try reading political articles, but I will start with a very short one. Link to the article. (😲😨😱 As I check this link again, I realise that they completely changed the article in the meanwhile. When I studied it, it was a very short one… I am very sorry for that, but as this post is mainly focused on vocabulary, I think it is still okay…) This article published on Asahi does not bring much information but given that I can’t read the title, I think it is a good material to study some vocabulary. Let’s start with the title: 天皇陛下退位「2019年4月30日」 政令を閣議決定 To me, this is typically the kind of sentence that I can understand because I know the meaning of each kanji, but I could not possibly read it out loud with confidence. The only two words I already knew for sure are: 天皇・てんのう Emperor 決定・けってい decision (to say …

Currently reading: パラドックス13 by 東野圭吾

One of my good resolutions for 2018 is to read more books by Higashino Keigo. This is not a very hard resolution to keep as I love this author. I have decided to take a break from the Kaga series that I am currently reading and chose a relatively recent and long novel: 「パラドックス13」(read: パラドックス サーティーン) This is the longest novel that I have ever read in Japanese, 562 pages. But it seems to be as easy as the other novels that I have read so far. Flipping through the book also allowed me to see that the most part of it consists of dialogues. As for the story, it seems to be very different from the other crime/mystery novels by Higashino Keigo. To sum up the beginning, on March 13th, at 1:13 p.m people mysteriously disappear from the surface of the earth. We learn from the cover that only 13 people remain. It does not really seem to be a science-fiction story, nor a crime or mystery novel. I still have no clue how …

JLPT 2017 second test and beyond

Yesterday was finally the second JLPT test of the year. As I prepared a lot for it, I cannot but give my impressions on the test. Disappointed 😫 To be honest, I went to the test with a decent amount of self-confidence. I was particularly afraid of the grammar part so I worked a lot on it and when the day of the test finally came, I felt ready. But sincerely, I am not even sure to have made a better performance than I did in July. Surprisingly, the grammar part was not at all difficult. Of course, there were some tricky questions but I had the impression that the test was easier than the mock tests I had practised. On the contrary, the vocabulary part was quite difficult to me. But I guess that rather than saying that it was difficult, it’s better to say that I was unlucky. It’s hard to tell which words will come out and I feel that I just run out of luck. The reading part was okay I …

Japanese News: 「九十歳。何がめでたい」

I have found an interesting article this morning. Published on Asahi, the article’s title is 年間ベストセラー発表 1位は「九十歳。何がめでたい」. Link to the article The title would not have caught my attention if I hadn’t read recently an article about the “アラハン” (around hundred) phenomenon in Japan. I read about this in the magazine 일본어 저널, which is a Korean monthly magazine to learn Japanese (see my review here). I find it to be a very interesting topic, so I will first write about アラハン and then move to the Asahi article. アラハン Source: 일본어 저널, 2017 November, p.74-75. The term アラハン comes from “around hundred”. Recently, many women around 100 have published books where they look back on their lives and transmit something to younger generations, especially women who could be their daughters and grand-daughters. Even if they lived at a time when women didn’t work, these women all pursue diverse activities, among which, writing books. It seems that these books’ main readers are women in their 40’s or 50’s. The article says that they want to learn …

Book review: 嘘をもうひとつだけ by 東野圭吾

「嘘をもうひとつだけ」is the 6th book of the Kaga series 加賀恭一郎シリーズ by Higashino Keigo. If you are not familiar with this series, it features detective 加賀恭一郎 Kaga Kyoichiro and is composed of 10 books. The first novel of the series was one of the first novels written by Higashino Keigo (「卒業」was published in 1989*) and the last one 「祈りの幕が下りる時」is very recent since it was published in 2016. Why I love this series I really like detective Kaga because he is very different from other contemporary detectives that all seem to share the same flaws: bad temper, tobacco or alcohol problem (if not worse), a haunting past, very disagreeable manners and tone, conflicting relation with hierarchy, impossible personality and so on. Kaga Kyoichiro is, on the contrary, described as a very polite person, always using the most beautiful honorific language. To be honest, as every Japanese learner maybe, I have always been unwilling to learn the honorific verbs and expressions. But, reading several books featuring Kaga somewhat made me see the honorific language as something cool and something I …

Things I want to do after the JLPT and planning for next year!

These last months have been almost entirely devoted to preparing for N2. I am very happy that I did it because it helped me improve my vocabulary and grammar knowledge with the result that I can read books in Japanese more comfortably now than I could this summer. I also worked a lot on improving my listening skills because the listening part of the test that I took on July (JLPT N2) made me aware that listening was my weak point. But now, I am very glad that all of this is almost over. I don’t plan to study that much this week because I feel that it won’t change anything anymore. Instead, I am more focused on what I will do after the JLPT. I won’t try N1 because I really want to do something else than preparing for a test. I think that sometimes, I just don’t know what to study next and feel like I don’t have any concrete goals. At these moments, deciding to sit the JLPT is a great booster …

Japanese News:

Today, I will study an article published on NHK News Web about the Zama 座間市 murder case in which Shiraishi Takahiro 白石隆浩 killed 9 people. In fact, I heard this report this morning, on the site NHK Radio News (report from the 24th November, 9:00 to 9:05). It appears that what the journalist said on the broadcast is the exact same contents than this article. I tried to understand as much as possible by only listening before reading the article. Link to the article I find this article easy to understand, even by only listening to it. It talks about the youngest victim of  Shiraishi Takahiro 白石隆浩, a high-school student of only 15. The article explains how the police could retrace her last known movements. We know that she bought a new tee-shirt, entered a station and probably changed to her newly bought black tee-shirt in the toilet while throwing her belongings (phone and IC card) away. It seems that she was told to do so by Shiraishi Takahiro to prevent the police from finding her …

Currently reading: 噓をもうひとつだけ by 東野圭吾

Even if I am still struggling with Mishima’s Temple of the Golden Pavillon 「金閣寺」 that I am reading in Japanese, I just couldn’t resist the temptation to start a new book by Higashino Keigo. I was missing Higashino’s universe, and I was eager to read the next novel of the Kaga series 加賀恭一郎シリーズ. Also, I wanted to read something easy and relaxing. In the Temple of the Golden Pavillon, the protagonist has befriended Kashiwagi, who is a real stumbling block to me. Kashiwagi’s long and cynical speeches are leaving me behind and I felt a little demotivated to read this book lately. Anyway, I had to order 「噓をもうひとつだけ」, the 6th book of the Kaga series, because I couldn’t find it in any bookshop. I was afraid this might mean that this book was not very popular. I finally received it, and as far as I can tell, it is by far the easiest book I have read in Japanese so far (excluding books for children or manga). 「噓をもうひとつだけ」 is not a novel but a collection of 5 …

Some last listening exercises before the JLPT

The Korean publisher Darakwon has an interesting series to practice the listening part of the JLPT. It is called 新일본어 능력시험 청해 콕콕 찍어주마. It exists for every level, but N4 and N5 are grouped in the same series. I only have the N2 book for listening, which is called: 新일본어 능력시험 청해 콕콕 찍어주마 -N2 대비-, this is the book I will present in this post. Two weeks before the JLPT, I am mainly revising grammar points and doing practice tests. Even if the grammar is my weakest point, I am most worried about the listening part. I think that, concerning grammar and vocabulary, I will either know the answer or not. It’s more about knowledge than performance. But to me, listening is all about performance. There are almost no unknown words in the listening scripts of N2 to me, but sometimes, or even often, I just don’t recognise things that I know. As a consequence, I feel like I need to do some extra practice concerning the listening part. This is where the Darakwon …

Japanese News: Tokyo Olympics countdown in Ginza

This is an article published on Asahi website yesterday evening about the Tokyo Olympics countdown clock. Link to the article I don’t know why the clock was unveiled yesterday, that is, 981 days before Tokyo Olympics. The article does not say whether this date was strategic or not. Anyway, let’s see what words I can learn from this article! The countdown clock カウントダウンクロック made its appearance 登場・とうじょう on November 16th. The clock that is 3 meters high was designed and built by the brand Omega. Omega is the official 公式・こうしき timekeeper タイムキーパー of the Olympics. The clock represents the Japanese flag 日の丸・ひのまる and can be seen before the Omega shop 店舗・てんぽ in Ginza, Tokyo. The unveiling お披露目・おひろめ ceremony セレモニー featured Chad le Clos, London Olympics Gold medalist in the swimming race 競泳・きょうえい and the actress Nanao who said: 2020年へのカウントダウンが始まってわくわくしている。皆さんが素晴らしい結果を出してくれるよう祈っています source I am excited that the countdown for 2020 has started. I am praying for everyone to get fantastic results.  (I wonder if the presence of くれる allows us to translate that she is speaking of Japanese participants …

Book review: 日本語能力試験、模試と対策 by ASK Publishing

If you are learning Japanese, you may have come across ASK Publishing’s books more than once. They have published a lot of material to study Japanese, with some really good methods to take the JLPT. Their most famous series is certainly the So-matome series, which prepare test takers for any level. They also published 多読ライブラリー, which a fantastic series to start reading Japanese, even at a beginner level. Today, I would like to present two books, which are 日本語能力試験、模試と対策, volume 1 and volume 2. Each volume is composed of two complete tests, so if you buy the two books, you have 4 practice exams to do. Structure of the book First, each book comes with a “how to use this book” section. I don’t know why, but I really appreciate this kind of introduction. It makes me feel that the authors of the book really had a progression course in mind and want you to use their book as it was intended to. The explanations are available in Japanese, English, Chinese and Korean. Understanding the JLPT Then, each …

Japanese News: Looking for suicide partner on Twitter

You probably have heard of Takahiro Shiraishi and the murder case that stroke Japan this week. Takahiro Shiraishi killed 9 people, among whom persons who were looking for a suicide partner on Twitter. Far from committing suicide with his victims, he killed them and hid their bodies in his apartment. Today’s news article is a rather long one, published on Asahi this morning. I will only study some parts of it and try to focus on information less generally conveyed in English sources. Link to the article First of all, some vocabulary relative to suicide that I found in the article. 自殺志願者・じさつしがんしゃ: 志願者 means “candidate”. 自殺志願者 means someone who wants to commit suicide. 自殺募集・じさつぼしゅう: 募集 means “recruiting”. 自殺募集 is a hashtag on Twitter for people looking for suicide partners. 自殺仲間・じさつなかま: suicide partner 自殺未遂・じさつみすい: suicide attempt The article mainly focuses on the case and on how people who want to commit suicide 自殺を望む人 use Twitter to find partners, through the hashtag 自殺募集. This problem didn’t appear with Twitter. In 2005, a man killed three people he …