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Blog anniversary and new schedule

I am a few days late, but my blog turned two years old!

I take the opportunity to announce a change in my blog schedule. I find it very hard to post twice a week as I had planned to in January 😔. Obviously, the preparation for the JLPT is taking too much of my time.

I also want to change a little the direction of my blog. As it is now, my blog is very personal, I use it mainly to record my own progress, write a language journal and stay motivated.

While I will continue to write this kind of posts, I will certainly write them less often. I found that it was easier to talk about what I was doing to learn Japanese last year because I had time to explore several methods and experience new things. This year, I don’t really have much to say other than “I finished the 20th lesson of my JLPT grammar textbook”, haha.

What I really want to do now is to write posts that could be useful for other language learners like learning tips, textbook reviews, novels recommendations and so on. These kind of posts will certainly take some time to write, but this is the direction in which I want to go.

To sum up, you will find on my blog:

  • Personal updates of my Japanese learning journey. I think that I will write when I feel that there is something interesting to say rather than forcing myself to write once or twice a week.
  • Longer posts about things that can be useful to learn Japanese. I have several ideas of upcoming posts, but they take a long time to write.
  • Book reviews, as usual.

Unfortunately, I cannot really schedule these posts, but I will do my best to write as often and regularly as possible.

Thank you for following and reading my blog!

Language diary #8: changing things in Anki

If you follow my blog, you know that I am studying for the JLPT N1. This year, I feel that my language learning activity is divided into two parts:

  • JLPT preparation
  • Reading books and learning new vocabulary through Anki (which what I was doing last year)

While I am quite satisfied with all the JLPT related things I am doing, my regular Anki deck is becoming more and more annoying. First of all, it is full of leeches (cards you keep forgetting), and I think that I should change the way I add the words in my deck.

Until now, I added as little information as possible for each word: the kanji, the pronunciation and the meaning in English. A card looked like this:

The advantage of minimalist cards is that it is easy and fast to create them. My goal was to know as many words as possible to progress in reading. Also, I didn’t want to spend too much time studying Anki, this is why I didn’t add too many pieces of information in a note.

To sum up, I focused on quantity (roughly know as many words as possible) rather than quality (know a word well, know how it is used, in which context, know all its different meanings).

However, studying for the JLPT made me realise that I could not pass the vocabulary section with a rough knowledge of what a word means, at least not for N1. It also made me realise that I should not have completely discarded learning colloquial expressions, or even words in sentences. Given that I am learning words to read and not to speak or write, I thought I could do without it. But in the end, I realise that it is much easier to recognise a word in a sentence if I have learned this word in a similar context, instead than on its own.

Another good point in favour of expressions rather than word only is that it is much easier to remember. This card above, 逸脱, is a leech, I keep forgetting it. Worse, I keep confusing it with 経緯. They don’t share the same kanji, and they have different meanings, yet I keep confusing these two words…

The reason why I cannot remember some words is always the same: I do not really understand what the word means. This is particularly true with words like 経緯・いきさつ which means “the state of affairs”, “circumstances”, “situation” or “conditions”.

As a consequence, while I was keeping my cards simple to study Anki faster, I kept forgetting the same cards, I was loosing time on leeches, I didn’t really know what I was learning.

One solution would be to add sentences and expressions. For example:

For me, this is much better. The meaning of the word is obvious and I can remember it more easily. I know in which context I am likely to find this word.

The problem is that it takes a lot of time to create the note. Obviously, it takes time to write, but what is really time consuming is to go through all the example sentences in my dictionary and choose the ones I want to add to Anki. On the other hand, reading the example sentences and selecting only the most relevant ones is part of the “studying a word” process, it helps me to remember and understand the word.

If I add several sentences for the same word (to know all its meanings and the different contexts in which it can be used), I will end up learning less words, but I will know the ones I learn better.

The question is whether I should go for more quantity or more quality… The answer is certainly to do both and add sentences and expressions only for the words that I have trouble remembering or have an abstract meaning.

Anyway, these are the thoughts that enter my mind every time I sit down and study Anki. I think that I will change the way I add new notes and see if it helps me to 1) remember the words better, 2) recognise and understand them quicker when I see them in novels and 3) helps me for the JLPT.

Book Review: 『メゾン・ド・ポリス』by Miaki KATO (加藤実秋)


Title: 『メゾン・ド・ポリス』(maison de police)
Author: Miaki KATO (加藤実秋)
Published by 角川文庫

There are three books so far in the series 『メゾン・ド・ポリス』. The first book was published in 2018 and the third one just came out (February 2019). There is also a drama adaptation.

『メゾン・ド・ポリス』is a novel but it contains 5 different stories, all devoted to a different case.


Hiyori MAKINO is a young female police officer who struggles to find her place in the criminal division (刑事課) where she has been working for only 3 months.

“Maison de Police” is a house where several retired police detectives live together as flatmates. They have left the world of crime beyond them, but when Hiyori comes to consult them on an old case, they start to investigate again.

Review: Light and easy read, interesting characters

I loved『メゾン・ド・ポリス』, it is one of my favourite books in Japanese.

First of all, I liked the unique setting of the book: with its bunch of retired detectives, it felt new and refreshing.

I also liked the overall tone of the novel. It is a light read, the author does not give a realistic account of a police investigation with all its different procedures, which can be burdensome to read in a foreign language. In this novel, the headquarter is the Maison de Police, and its inhabitants work much like private detectives to help Hiyori solve mysterious cases.

As each story is short (around 60 pages), the author focuses on the plot, without much descriptions or introspection, which makes it easy to read.

Another thing that I really enjoyed is that the cases are serious ones. When mystery novels have a light tone, they sometimes have light mysteries to crack, and I don’t feel very committed to them. In 『メゾン・ド・ポリス』, Hiyori works at the criminal division, so reading this novel feels like reading a police/detective fiction rather than simply mystery fiction, if that makes sense… I find that the author cleverly managed to mix a light tone and serious cases, and I loved the book because it has these two dimensions.

The characters are very interesting, and I felt I wanted to know more about them and their past. I will definitely read the second tome of the series.

To sum up, I would say that this novel is a good one for Japanese learners. It is relatively easy to read, it contains five short stories so you can take a break between them. The stories are suspenseful enough to encourage you to keep going even if reading in Japanese is challenging.

Note for Japanese learners: while I found the first 4 stories easy, the 5th one is more difficult. The writing style is the same, but the case is more complicated. But if you have read the first 4 stories, you will be able to read the last one too!

I also recommend to make a list of the main characters and a list for each story, or you might be overwhelmed with names.

I made a quick sketch of the cover to remember the names of the main characters.

Trailer of the drama:

JLPT: First Milestone

I started studying for the JLPT N1 on January 1st (my aim is to pass in December), so I have been studying for three whole months now. I think that now is the perfect time to take a small break, ask myself if I am going in the right direction and eventually change my strategy.

I will certainly do two or three similar “milestone post” during the year.

The things that I have done and the things that I have to do


I am working with the So-matome textbook; it has 56 lessons, and I have studied 22 lessons. I still haven’t reached the half of the book, but this is what I had planned. I still need a little more than two months to finish this textbook so I should be ready to start a new textbook in June. I will certainly go for the Shin Kanzen or check what is available in Korea. In any case, I don’t think that the So-matome is enough so I will definitely use another textbook in June.


Here again, I am using the So-matome textbook, and it also has 56 lessons. I have studied 32 lessons which is great. If I can finish the textbook at the end of May, I will have enough time to study with another textbook, either the Shin Kanzen or something else. I really do feel that the So-matome is suspiciously light when I compare it to Korean textbooks for N1 grammar for example. So-matome is a great textbook to get started, but I feel that I will have to use another one before December.

I will also have time to practice with drills.


I am studying with the 日本語単語スピードマスター (Quick mastery of vocabulary), it has 69 units, and I have only studied 25 lessons. I am only studying two lessons per week.

As far as vocabulary is concerned, I have planned to study with this textbook only so I don’t mind working with it until late in the year. When I have studied all the units, I will spend my time reviewing and practicing with drills.

Reading and listening

Let’s be honest, I am not doing much for listening at the moment. My lack of listening practice is such an issue that I will certainly write a post devoted to it.

As for reading, I am reading novels as usual, and I have started reading the news again. I also started practicing with a N1 textbook.

What worked well

Two things really worked very well for me: the physical flashcards for the grammar and my Anki deck for the kanji.

I will stick to the system of physical flashcards until December. To me, it is the best method ever to review the grammar regularly and actively. After three months of use, I can say that this method works, that it is enjoyable and brings me a sense of achievement.

I love my grammar flashcards!

My new Anki deck for the kanji is also something I like. I love playing with Anki to find the best layout, and I have tried to create cards that fit the JLPT questions style. I am confident that it will help me get a good score at N1 and allow me to rush through the vocabulary/kanji questions and save time for reading.

I love my Anki deck for kanji!

What didn’t work and what I have changed

What didn’t work so well is the vocabulary. I have been thorough in following my study plan, and I have studied two new units per week. The problem is not to learn new words, but to review them regularly.

While I do like this book, I don’t open it often enough!

I figured out that part of the problem came from the book itself. It is a compact book of 350 that cannot possibly open flat, and I didn’t like studying it.

I usally don’t like writing in my books, even textbooks, and they often look new even after I have studied them for several months. I always take notes on a separate notebook. With the vocabulary book, however, I realised that I had to really get to grips with it and make it mine. I broke the spine, got rid of the cover, and start scribbling in it.

Writing in the book is a big improvement, I can add information where the textbook falls short, especially when it comes to the translation in English. I also add synonyms and highlight the words that I need to review more often and so on. I should have done it sooner!

I bought these Pilot Frixion in Tokyo, as you can erase them, there are great for people like me who are afraid of writing in books.


I am glad to see that the study plan I had designed in January works well. As a result, I will stick to it and keep going in this direction. The strategies for grammar and kanji are perfect for me, and I hope that the change of strategy for vocabulary will help me to review more regularly.

I still need to work more on listening, I have to think of a way to include more Japanese audio in my schedule. I have plenty of things to listen to, it is a problem of time.

Last advice…

If you are following a yearly study plan or if you had goals for the year, why not take some time now to see how far you have gone during these first three months. If you feel that you haven’t been able to stick to your initial schedule or study plan, it is maybe time to review it and understand what didn’t work and why. Don’t be discouraged if you feel that you haven’t studied enough. Keep what worked well and change the rest, find new strategies and review your goals if necessary!

Book review: 『切り裂きジャックの告白』by Shichiri NAKAYAMA (中山七里)


Title: 『切り裂きジャックの告白』(Confession of Jack the Ripper)
Author: Shichiri NAKAYAMA 中山七里
Editor: 角川文庫
355 pages.

Shichiri NAKAYAMA is a prolific author of crime fiction. 『切り裂きジャックの告白』is the first novel to introduce the police detective Hayato INUKAI (犬養隼人).


The novel is exactly about what its title refers to: a serial killer who calls himself “Jack”, murders similar to those of Jack the Ripper, a police investigation to find the killer.

But there is also more in this novel than a simple chase of the murderer. The story addresses the topic of organ donation and transplantation and contains several discussions on this topic.

Review: Very interesting, difficult to read and not very suspenseful.

First of all, I found all the debates and thoughts surrounding the medical and ethical aspects of organ donation both interesting and difficult to read. This book was definitely not an easy read, both because of its topic and its language level. There was a good amount of vocabulary I had to look up, especially all the medical terms. For example, there is scene that describes how organs are removed from a donor, and needless to say that it was full of specialised terms that I was not familiar with.

While I found the debates around organ donation interesting, I also found that they were sometimes artificially introduced in the novel. For example, one of the characters would watch a television debate, and the author just transcribe this debate. I like when a novel contains ethical questions, but I don’t like when it is artificially introduced in the story. In 『切り裂きジャックの告白』, I sometimes felt that the whole police investigation was a pretext to talk about organ donation and transplantation, and the pace of the story was often broken by considerations on this topic.

These are the books that the author consulted to write his novel. Sometimes it felt that the author read a lot about this topic and wanted to put as much knowledge as possible in his novel.

As for the investigation in itself, I found it good but not very suspenseful. Maybe too realistic? I didn’t really feel the thrill of hunting down a murderer (which is certainly the reason why we read such books…?), but it was still interesting to see how the investigation is conducted, how the media are involved and so on.

Last but not least, while this novel is the first of the Hayato INUKAI series, I don’t feel that I really know this character. Strangely, all the other characters were well portrayed, but I found that Hayato INUKAI was a little insipid.

Despite all these criticisms, I did enjoy the book. I think that the book’s value mostly lies in its topic (organ donation), so if you are interested in this question, you will certainly find this book interesting. However, if you are looking for a suspenseful thriller, there might be better options…

Language diary #7: monthly review

March has been a strange month. I have done my third trip to Japan, and of course, it motivated me a lot. It also slowed down my progression for the JLPT preparation, and it was hard to keep studying the week after my return from Japan. I have been able to find my study rhythm again at the end of the month, and I was finally able to achieve my JLPT goals.

My goals for March were:

my monthly goals are displayed on my homepage

Reading Goals

I had no reading goals this month. I was able to finish the books I wanted to read before the trip, and I have started my 2019 reading challenge last week.

I am reading 『切り裂きジャックの告白』by Shichiri NAKAYAMA (中山七里), and it is not an easy read. I thought it would be a classic police thriller with a serial killer and police officers who try to catch him. In fact, it is exactly that, but the novel also contains a lot of thoughts and debates on organ donation and transplantation in Japan. I am not usually interested in medical matters, so I never really thought or read about this topic before. I didn’t know, for example, that there has been discussions around brain death and whether or not it should be accepted as actual death (rather than heart arrest).

And because organ donation is such a heavy topic, I started another book of my list that I hope will be lighter and maybe even funny: 『メゾン・ド・ポリス』by Miyaki KATO (加藤実秋).

JLPT Goals

It has been three whole months now that I study for the JLPT. I had forgotten that it can be very discouraging on the long run. Now I think that it was a bad idea to keep reading and listening practice for the second half on the year. Doing only vocabulary, grammar and kanji ends up being to abstract. I have decided to slowly start working with reading and listening textbooks, both because I need it and to give me a sense of concreteness.

I have reached my goals concerning vocabulary, I have studied until unit 23 of the 日本語単語スピードマスター. The last lessons have been very easy to me, mainly due to the fact that I have regularly read the news on politics last year. I already knew almost all the words of the lessons on politics, media, law and international politics.

I have completed my Grammar plan too and reached week 5 lesson 2 of So-matome. I am really glad to see that I am doing well with this textbook and will be able to finish it at the end of May, which gives me ample time to study with another textbook afterwards, review and make drills.

As for kanji, I am still experimenting with my new kanji deck. I might be putting more energy in building my deck, choose the display of the cards and the colour of each information than actually learning the kanji. Anyway, I have only reached week 3 day 5 of the So-matome.

Looking for April!

I feel that April will be a productive month! It will start with my registration for the JLPT of July (I’ll take it as a practice test, my real goal is December) on April 1st (tomorrow!).

Here are my reading and JLPT goals:

JLPT Journal #7: Reading!

In February, I took a practice test (the one that is available for free of the JLPT website), and I found the reading part to be very difficult.

I took the JLPT N2 twice in 2017 and got 60 and 59 points in the reading part. I remember that I didn’t find the texts to be challenging, and I even found some of them interesting. In 2018, I spent the whole year reading Japanese genre fiction, and I naturally thought that my reading level had improved.

As a consequence, it was a shock to discover that I could not understand some of the N1 texts. At least, not in a limited time. I read them, more or less understood all the words, but still could not understand what the author meant.

I think that there is a huge gap between N2 and N1 when it comes to reading. The N1 texts are much more difficult than any mystery novel I read.

To be honest, this practice test discouraged me a little. It was more than a month ago already, and I am only starting now to do something concrete to improve my reading.

Step One: study!

I am studying the texts in this practice test. The idea is to understand why I did not understand them at the time. What I do is:

  • First, I read them carefully without looking up words. I try to understand as much as possible without looking up unknown words. If I had had more time during the practice exam, if I had been more focused at the time, would I have understood them?
  • I translate the text in a notebook. When I see a sentence that does not make sense, I write it down in Japanese and study it.
  • When I am done with all this, I look up the words and grammar I don’t know.
  • I sum up the text in my own words and try to write what the author wants to say.
  • I answer the questions.

I have studied several texts in this way and was always able to answer correctly. Most of the time, I don’t need to look up words, the difficulty of the text is that the author never says clearly what he or she thinks. They imply things, they use metaphors and so on. In the end, I can understand what they mean, but I need a lot of time. So what I need to do is to practice in order to increase my comprehension pace.

Step 2: practice

In my initial plan, I wanted to study grammar, vocabulary and kanji first. Only when I am done with these textbooks, was I to start working on reading and listening textbooks. The practice test of February showed me that I needed to practice throughout the year. So I bought my first reading textbook, which is a Korean one published by Darakwon.

It is not really a textbook with lessons and exercises, it is only a collection of practice texts for the reading part. There are 6 to 12 texts for each reading part (shot text, long text, etc.) and two “final tests” (reading part only).

For now, I don’t have any study plan with this textbook, I will try to work with it regularly and finish it before the test of July, if possible.

So that’s it! I feel that I am back on track now and don’t feel discouraged anymore. I mean, N1 will be difficult, but instead of complaining about how difficult the texts are, I am taking concrete steps to improve my reading level!

Language diary #6: Book haul and reading challenge!

I was in Japan last week for a trip in Tokyo, and of course, I took the opportunity to visit several bookshops and buy Japanese books.

(This post is long, scroll down to see the list!)

Reading Challenge #2

Last year, I set myself a first reading challenge: read all the 13 books I had bought in Japan (in December 2017) before the end of 2018. This meant reading roughly one book per month. This challenge was a success, it got me into the habit of reading Japanese genre fiction regularly and helped me improve my reading pace.

This year (2019), I start a similar challenge: read all the 23 books I bought in Japan before December, 31st.

As we are already in March, this means reading 2 to 3 novels per month. I think that it is doable, given that I bought mainly detective and mystery novels, a genre that I am used to reading and is not too challenging for me.

How I chose my books

Usually, I buy my books in Korean bookshops (some have a Japanese corner) or on Amazon. The flagship of Korean bookshop Kyobo does have a good selection of Japanese books, but of course, it cannot compare with bookshops in Japan. This is why I took advantage of my being in Tokyo to purchase books from authors I didn’t know or never saw in Korean bookshops.

Generally speaking, these were my criteria:

  • I mainly bought detective and mystery novels because I love it and they are easier to read than literary fiction.
  • I focused on authors I didn’t know and books I never saw in Korea.
  • I like reading series, and when I found an interesting series, I have tried to buy the first volume.

Most of the books I have bought come from the new release sections. Thanks to Kazen’s video on Japanese bunko paperback, I now know that the promotional wrapping band around Japanese books is called a “obi”. The obi greatly influences me when I purchase new books, I think that I entirely rely on what is written on it, and I cannot resist their catchy promotional phrases!

The list!

Authors I already knew

As I said, I mainly chose authors I never read, but I could not resist buying some authors I knew:

I have only read one book by Gaku YAKUMARU (薬丸岳), but I liked it. It was 『誓約』 and I have finished it just before going to Japan. It was a page-turner, easy to read and exactly the kind of books I enjoy reading in Japanese. I bought『ガーディアン』 without hesitation. It is a school mystery, which I like, and the last pocket release by Gaku YAKUMARU.

During my 2018 Reading challenge, I have read Kazumasa HAYAMI (早見和真)’s best-seller 『イノセント・デイズ』, which was one of my favourites but also one of the most difficult to read. 『小説王』was advertised in all the bookshops I went to, and the obi says that there is now a drama version. I wonder if 『小説王』will be as difficult as 『イノセント・デイズ』, but if it is, it is a good way to find out if I have made progress since last year!

  • 『ガーディアン』by Gaku YAKUMARU (薬丸岳), published by 講談社文庫.
  • 『小説王』by Kazumasa HAYAMI (早見和真), published by 小学館文庫.

Starting new series!

It is not always easy to know if a book belongs to a series, and I find even harder to know in which order one should read the books of a series. Most of them do not have numbers, which certainly means that they can be read in no particular order. However, I always like to start with the first one, even if it is not the best one. Even if each novel has an independent story, I like to see how the protagonist evolves.

Sometimes I did manage to buy the first volume, but sometimes not. I could have systematically checked on Wikipedia, but I didn’t want to spend the whole day in the bookshop either!

Series 刑事犬養隼人, featuring detective Hayato INUKAI (犬養隼人) by Shichiri NAKAYAMA (中山七里). The first four books of this series were displayed in one of the bookshops I went to (I think it was Sanseido). I bought the first two volumes. They look like classic thrillers, with murders and a police investigation.

I could not resist buying a third book by Shichiri NAKAYAMA, though it does not belong to this series: 『追憶の夜想曲』. It is a legal thriller (法定ミステリ), a genre that I like and would like to read more in Japanese. I think that it might be a little challenging if court related words appear, but it is fine to have more difficult books on my list.

What I didn’t realise when I bought this book, is that it also belongs to a series, the 御子柴礼司シリーズ featuring lawyer Reiji MIKOSHIBA, and it is the second volume. I would have preferred to read the first one first, but I guess it does not matter. If I like 『追憶の夜想曲』, I will definitely add the other books of the series to my reading list!

  • 『切り裂きジャックの告白』(Confession of Jack the Ripper) by Shichiri NAKAYAMA (中山七里), published by 角川文庫.
  • 『七色の毒』(Poison of the Seven Colors) by Shichiri NAKAYAMA (中山七里), published by 角川文庫.
  • 『追憶の夜想曲』by Shichiri NAKAYAMA (中山七里), published by 講談社文庫.

Series “その可能性はすでに考えた”, featuring detective Jo UEORO (上苙丞) by Magi INOUE (井上真偽). I liked the title of the series, the cover of the two books and let myself be influenced by the obi. I think that these two books might have a different tone than the others.

  • 『その可能性はすでに考えた』(I’ve considered all the possibility) by Magi INOUE (井上真偽), published by 講談社文庫.
  • 『聖女の毒杯 – その可能性はすでに考えた』(I’ve considered all the possibility) by Magi INOUE (井上真偽), published by 講談社文庫.

Series メゾン・ド・ポリス, featuring a bunch of retired detectives, by Miaki KATO (加藤実秋). Apparently there are three volumes in this series, and I have bought the first one, which is a collection of short stories. There is a drama adaptation too. It really looks unique and interesting, I cannot wait to start it!

Series 佐方貞人, featuring lawyer Sadato SAKATA (佐方貞人) by Yuko YUZUKI (柚月裕子). The book I bought is the second book of the series… Here again I am expecting a legal thriller.

  • 『メソン・ド・ポリス – 退職刑事のシェアハウス』by Miaki KATO (加藤実秋), published by 角川文庫.
  • 『検事の本懐』(The Public Prosecutor’s Desire) by Yuko YUZUKI (柚月裕子), published by 角川文庫.

Other mystery novels and thrillers

I don’t know what to expect with these two books by Shin NAKAMACHI (中町信). Though they have a similar title, I don’t think that they are part of a series, but I may be mistaken. It is the obi that caught my eyes and made me buy them. I mean, how can you resist?

I think that it is the first time I see such a thing, but both books have a list of characters on the inside cover! This is so great!!

  • 模倣の殺意 (The Plagiarized Fugue 1973, 2004) by Shin NAKAMACHI (中町信), published by 創元推理文庫.
  • 『天啓の殺意』(The Apocalyptic Fugue 1982, 2005) by Shin NAKAMACHI (中町信), published by 創元推理文庫.

『父からの手紙』by Kenji KOSUGI (小杉健治) is a sentimental mystery and I thought it might be similar to some of Kanae MINATO’s books, a suspenseful mystery which also contains a deep analysis of family relationships. In 『殺人鬼にまつわる備忘録』by Yasumi KOBAYASHI (小林泰三), a man suffers from anterograde amnesia and cannot recall anything that occurred after a certain event, the only thing he can trust is his notebook. 『ケモノの城』by Tetsuya HONDA (誉田哲也) looks like a classic page-turner thriller. 『盤上に死を描く』(The Killing Diagram) by Neko INOUE (井上ねこ) involves a serial murder with a puzzle-like mystery, exactly the kind of books I like! Finally 『6月31日の同窓会』by Yukiko MARI (真梨幸子) is certainly the book I am the most anticipating: former students of the same school die after receiving an invitation for an alumni meeting taking place on June 31st.

A special mention for 『首折りの男のための協奏曲』by Kotaro ISAKA (伊坂幸太郎). I have never read this author, but he was recommended to me by Anteateralert in the comments of my blog (thank you!), and I have recently read a review of another book by Kotaro ISAKA on, the review mentioned that Kotaro ISAKA’s writing style was a little similar to Keigo HIGASHINO!

  • 『父からの手紙』by Kenji KOSUGI (小杉健治), published by 光文社文庫.
  • 『殺人鬼にまつわる備忘録』by Yasumi KOBAYASHI (小林泰三), published by 幻冬舎文庫.
  • 『ケモノの城』by Tetsuya HONDA (誉田哲也), published by 双葉文庫.
  • 『盤上に死を描く』(The Killing Diagram) by Neko INOUE (井上ねこ), published by 宝島社文庫.
  • 『6月31日の同窓会』(June 31st Reunion) by Yukiko MARI (真梨幸子), published by 実業之日本社.
  • 『首折りの男のための協奏曲』(a concerto) by Kotaro ISAKA (伊坂幸太郎), published by 新潮文庫.

Not-mystery novels

I have mainly bought genre fiction because I will be busy studying for the JLPT until December, and I didn’t want to read challenging books (sometimes it means spending several months reading the same book!). I did choose these three titles, which are not mystery novels:

『わたし、定時で帰ります。』by Kaeruko AKENO (朱野帰子) is a book I saw on Amazon some time ago and wanted to read. I like reading novels about Japanese professional world and this title really appealed to me. A rapid flip through showed me that the novel is mainly composed of dialogues, so I hope that it will be easy to read.

The two books by Yo IKENAGA (池永陽) have so beautiful covers that they immediately caught my eye. The two books seem to be about people who struggle with their life and cannot seem to find happiness. 『下町やぶさか診療所』is about a doctor and the patients who come to him, 『コンビニ・ララバイ』is about the owner of a convenience store and the clients of the store. I could not decide which one to pick, so I ended up buying both.

  • 『わたし、定時で帰ります。』by Kaeruko AKENO (朱野帰子), published by 新潮文庫.
  • 『下町やぶさか診療所』by Yo IKENAGA (池永陽), published by 集英社文庫.
  • 『コンビニ・ララバイ』by Yo IKENAGA (池永陽), published by 集英社文庫.

Easy to read?

I wanted to buy light novels, but I could not find detective novels that appealed to me (for example, I didn’t want to read stories that happen in London). I also did not have the time to make a thorough search, so I gave up the idea. It is hard for me to tell if a book will be easy to read. I would say that most mystery novels are relatively easy, though there are exceptions. I bought these books thinking they might be easier, but I may be mistaken.

It is not written anywhere but I think that 『赤レンガの御定番』by Shoko MIKI (三木笙子) is a light novel. I bought it because it happens during Meiji, and it is adverstised as a 明治浪漫ミステリー.

Yugo AOSAKI (青崎有吾)’s books were displayed in Tsutaya where the author signed his books. I bought his new release 『ノッキングオン・オックドドア』and 『図書館の殺人』because I cannot resist a book with such a title! It is part of a series, and it is the 4th book. For once, I didn’t care because I don’t think that I will want to read the whole series, and this particular title attracted me more than the others.

  • 『赤レンガの御定番』by Shoko MIKI (三木笙子), published by 講談社タイガ.
  • 『ノッキングオン・オックドドア』(Knockin’ on Locked Door) by Yugo AOSAKI (青崎有吾), published by 徳間文庫.
  • 『図書館の殺人』(The Red Letter Mystery) by Yugo AOSAKI (青崎有吾), published by 創元推理文庫 (the publisher with the characters’ list on the inside cover!)
Writing a characters list on the inside cover is a marvelous idea! 😃


So that’s it! 23 books! I hope that I can read them all this year while preparing for the JLPT. I have mostly chosen books that I think I can read without struggling, and I see them more like a material for entertainment rather than for studying Japanese. If I pass the JLPT N1 in December, and if I have spent the whole year reading genre fiction, I will certainly be prepared to tackle more challenging literary fiction or non fiction in 2020!