Author: insidethatjapanesebook

Japanese news: on natto, vitamin K and femur fractures

I found an intriguing article today on the Asahi website. The title of the article is : 中高年の骨折は「西高東低」 原因は不明、納豆が関係か. 骨折・こっせつ fracture of a bone The title says that concerning bone fractures of middle-aged and elderly persons, it is “high in the West and low in the East”. Even if the reason for this difference is unclear 不明, it may be related to the consumption of natto 納豆. Link to the article What is defined as “high” or “low” is the proportion 割合・わりあい of persons who broke their femur 大腿骨骨折・だいたいこつこっせつ. 大腿骨・だいたいこつ is the femur or thighbone. Together with 骨折・こっせつ, which means “fracture of a bone”, it means “fracture of the femur”. Research groups 研究グループ・けんきゅう say that the differences between West and East Japan could be related to eating habits 食生活・しょくせいかつ. The survey 調査・ちょうさ carried out is based on data coming from the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare 厚生労働省・こうせいろうどうしょう. The survey concerned people above 40 who had a femur fracture 大腿骨骨折をした40歳以上の男女. The goal of the survey was to examine the differences by prefecture: 都道府県別・つどうふけんべつ 都道府県・とどうふけん is …

Japanese news: カズオ・イシグロ received the ノーベル文学賞

For today’s news article, I have selected a short and easy one. I still don’t feel confident in reading long articles or articles about politics, I fear they might be discouraging… Anyway, there is a subject that interests me this week: the British writer Kazuo Ishiguro カズオ・イシグロ receiving the Nobel Prize ノーベル文学賞. Link to the article This is a short article published on Asahi this morning, mainly focused on Kazuo Ishiguro saying that a part of him is Japanese, as announced by the title: イシグロさん「私の一部は日本人」 ロンドンで取材対応 The word 取材・しゅざい means “collecting data”, “doing research for an article”, “covering a story”, “gathering news”. Here, we can simply translate it by “interview”. To say “to grant an interview” we use the verb 応じる・おうじる:取材に応じる.We find this expression at the beginning of the article: “取材に応じた”. In our title, we have the noun 対応・たいおう which can be used in a lot of situations and have different meanings. Here it simply carries the meaning of “response”. The article starts by describing Ishiguro’s reaction when he heard (about the information) that he received …

Book review: 「私が彼を殺した」by 東野圭吾

This is the 5th novel of the detective Kaga series by Higashino Keigo. If you are not familiar with Higashino Keigo, he is certainly the most famous contemporary Japanese writer of mystery and detective novels. His books are systematically translated into Korean, but sadly, there are only a few translations available in English or French… Detective Kaga series is maybe the main series of Higashino Keigo. The first novel of the series was published in 1986 and the last one only some years ago. Reading the books of the series in order allows us to see how Highashino Keigo himself evolved and how the society changed, too. For example, the use of cellphones or other “new technologies” is slowly introduced and used in his novels. I would say that the first three novels of the series,「卒業」, 「眠りの森」 and 「悪意」, where more or less focused on Kaga himself and you could say that he was the protagonist or one of the protagonists of the novels. In this three novels, we get to learn a little about …

Currently reading: 私が彼を殺した by 東野圭吾

Even if I am still reading 舟を編む (progressing very slowly), I couldn’t resist the temptation to start a new novel by Higashino Keigo. I am reading the Kaga series (加賀恭一郎シリーズ) and I bought the 5th novel of the series: 私が彼を殺した. When I started the novel, I really felt comfortable, I think the Japanese word 落ち着く would be appropriate to describe this feeling. Steadily reading the same author has the consequence that you get used to his or her style of writing. I have read 6 novels of Higashino Keigo so far in Japanese and I feel accustomed to his writing. Returning to one of his novels after a long pause felt like returning to a familiar and comfortable place. I have read very comfortably a good third of 私が彼を殺した this weekend and I think that there are three reasons why I can read this novel quite easily: To begin with, Higashino Keigo’s novels are not difficult. If I compare with 舟を編む for example, Higashino Keigo’s books are very straightforward. Everything is said or described plainly and …

Japanese News: France not going to Pyeongchang?

I was very surprised when opening Asahi website this morning to see an article stating that France may not attend the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang if the relationship with North Korea gets worse. Let’s analyse Asahi’s article Link to the article The title is not difficult to understand: フランス、平昌五輪不参加の可能性も 北朝鮮情勢を懸念 The word underlined is Pyeongchang. I am always fascinated with how Japanese use kanji for Korean places and names, when Korean themselves don’t use them anymore (they write everything in hangeul, even Names). For example, Japanese newspaper, when talking about Korea’s actual president, would write 文在寅(ムンジェイン)when Korean do not usually use the kanji and simply write the name in hangeul. That’s interesting because Japanese could use the sole katakana transcription like they do for other foreign names. But given that Koreans do have kanji names, Japanese media prefer to use them. The problem is the pronunciation. I don’t know how 文在寅 or 平昌 would be pronounced in Japanese but it would be different from the Korean pronunciation. That’s why the Korean pronunciation is given in most cases. …

Discover Japan

I guess that “Discover Japan” is a well-known magazine among people interested in Japanese culture, but I discovered it only recently… In fact, I saw an interesting issue in a bookshop last year (September 2016) about Tokyo Olympics and bought the magazine thinking that I would read it later. At the time, I was not able to read in Japanese but I am glad I bought it because I can enjoy reading it now. Discover Japan has a beautiful website which presents each issue of the magazine and even gives access to some articles online. I think that it is possible to buy an old issue via Amazon or other sites and they even offer a wide range of e-versions, but I haven’t tried them. As for the issue I have about Tokyo Olympics (Discover Japan 2016年9月号 Vol.59), it is a very thorough and interesting overview of the different aspects of the games preparation and what it means for the hosting country. There is, for example, a parallel made with the Games of 1964 and …

Daily Study: Listening to Okinawa radio

This weekend, I went to a Japanese restaurant where you could hear the radio of Okinawa. Back home, I checked their website, and they have several programs accessible in streaming. I have always considered the radio to be one of the best ways to improve one’s listening skills. People tend to speak at a natural speed and use expressions they would use in everyday life. I often listen to audiobooks too, but the reading speed of the speaker is much slower than real life conversation. Even if I can understand some audiobooks, I am totally lost when it comes to radio programs or Japanese people talking to each other. If you take a look at the radio of Okinawa and go to the “streaming” page, try the first program “ゴールデンアワー”. They speak so fast!! 😮 Compared to the slow and peaceful stream of an audiobook… I take it as a challenge and a way to get out of my comfort zone in the hope that I will get better at listening to Japanese. I like the …

Korean resources: “Japanese Sentences”

I am currently renewing a strategy I had at the beginning and which consists in listening to a lot of Japanese sentences (almost until I know them by heart), to learn vocabulary and grammar pattern at the same time. At that time, I used a Korean book which is called “Japanese Sentences” and belongs to the “Cakewalk series”. Even if the book has a title in English, it is published in Korea and entirely in Korean (and Japanese of course). Now that I am using this book again, I think it might interest other Japanese learners with an intermediate level, even if you don’t speak Korean. This is a little review of the book. If you want to order it via an Asian bookshop in your region, here is the reference: book title: 일본어 필수 표연 From the series: 무작정 따라하기 Author: 후지이 아사리 Editor: 이지톡 (eztok) ISBN: 9788960472730 How the book is structured It is a small but thick book of 550 pages which contains 990 sentences in Japanese. It is divided into 4 …

Motivation: don’t pass N2 in 4 months and be enthusiastic!

I am preparing the JLPT N2, and I think that I might have put myself too much into it. I met several Korean students who passed N1 and even a girl who got a full mark at the section “language knowledge” of N1 😳 I also saw that some Koreans can pass N2 in 4 months (beginning from nothing) and it made me reflect upon level and enthusiasm and how one is so much more important than the other. Don’t pass N2 in 4 months Last week, I came across this advertisement for an institute in Seoul (Japanese sisa) that offers a course to pass N2 in 4 months. (I roughly translated it) As you can see, the course aims at complete beginners and promises that you will get N2 in only 4 months. The line that I translated in light blue indicates clearly that the purpose of this course is to add a line to your resume. If you can study like Koreans do, it is maybe possible to pass N2 in 4 months, but …

Motivation: Find something that exists only in Japanese

Among the usual advice given to language learners is the idea that one should pursue one’s field of interest in the target language. For example, if you like history, try to read history books in Japanese, if you like cooking, try this Japanese recipe, and so on. I am following this advice, of course, but even if it makes the learning process more enjoyable, it does not prevent me to feel demotivated from time to time. For example, I am interested in Japanese modern history. What I can do is buy a History book for children with illustrations and try to read it. If I want to learn more about a historical event, I can try to understand the Wikipedia page in Japanese. But to be honest, I think I would finally give up and read what I want to know in English. This kind of method always leaves me with a demotivation phase after the euphoria of the first days. I think that there are two reasons for this: either I don’t really want to understand the content of …