An opened japanese book with headphones on it

Inside that audiobook

To improve one’s listening skills, there is no other way than to listen, listen, listen. And one good way to listen to something in the target language is to acquire audiobooks.

Audiobooks advantages:

  • You can purchase the book and the audiobook, which means you can improve your listening and your reading skills and easily check in the book things you didn’t understand while listening.
  • You can choose something that appeals to you, there are all sorts of audiobooks, from fiction to self-development.
  • Contrary to the radio, you can listen again to a certain part, or even study a certain chapter and so on.
  • You can listen to it anywhere, while driving, commuting, doing houseworks and so on.
  • It does cost its cost but if you buy an audiobook, the quality will be there, the text is read by a professionnal and well read.

I’m sure there are a lot more advantages…

Anyway, if you want to buy an audiobook, you can go to febe. Creating an account is free and you can have a preview (do you say «preview» for an audio?) before buying. After buying the audiobook, you can download the mp3.

Unfortunately, they don’t have so much choice in literature… They seem to be better at business, self-development and practical books.

I usually don’t read self-development books but I have found that they are quite easy to understand in japanese. Much more than fiction. So if your goal is to improve your listening skills, go for a book about how to set one’s goal, improving whatever skill, being better at, sleep better, concentrate better, study better and so on! And it can do no harm listening to those kind of things 😀

I actually bought two self-development books on ibooks (it was before I get to know febe). They are really great to improve listening skills, they won’t use extravagant vocabulary and they are both pronounced very clearly.

The easiest to understand is : ポチ・たまと読む 自分を励ます技術・悩みを解決する技術

The other one is : 朝昼夕3つのことを心がければOK! あなたの人生を変える睡眠の法則

There are a lot more audiobooks, I am not saying those ones are better than the other. It’s just that I bought them and am quite satisfied with them.



A photo of the book cover of 星の王子さま, the Japanese version of Le Petit Prince


  • 原生林・げんせいりん Virgin forest
  • 猛獣・もうじゅう wild animal
  • 大蛇・だいじゃ big snake
  • 再現・さいげん reproduction
  • えもの・獲物 prey
  • まるごと・丸ごと in its entirety
  • 冒険・ぼうけん adventure

p8. …絵を描きあげた The あげる here is not «to give» (in this case, it would be 描いてあげた but «to be finished, completed» which is constucted with -masu stem.

  • 傑作・けっさく masterpiece
  • めざす・目指す to aim at
  • 操縦・そうじゅう flying a plane
  • 見わける・みわける to recognize
  • 持ち歩く・もちあるく to carry with oneself
  • 冴える・さえる to be clear-headed
  • トランプ is not Trump but playing cards

My notes for the second part.



My reading notes for the third story of すーちゃん by Masuda Miri. (p19 to 24)


  • 気合を入れる・きあいをいれる means to motivate oneself, to give it one’s all. I had learnt this expression in one of my N2 books but it is the first time I encounter it.

Maichan says 行くぞ・いくぞ to herself. I thought ぞ was very rude and only used by men. Maybe it’s ok to use it when talking to yourself, especially to say 行くぞ, it certainly emphasis your resolution.



  • ~がらみ related to…, concerning…
  • 懇親会・こんしんかい friendly reunion, get-together
  • 小娘・こむすめ Young girl
  • 岡村・おかむら Maichan’s family name is Okamura
  • 谷田・たにた Maichan’s chef is called Tanita… I wish I were more familiar with japanese name… so frustrating to see a name and not being able to pronounce it…
  • 蒼き・あおき name
  • 異動・いどう means «change», but it certainly is a shortcut for 人事異動・じんじいどう which means staff reassignment and happens at the end of the fiscal year (end of march)
  • 沢山 is たくさん…
  • 喋る・しゃべる to talk, to chat. (I should learn the kanji even for words that are usually written using kana alone…)
  • 塚本・つかもと Name
  • 得する・とくする to make a profit
  • 渡っていく・わたっていく I think, but I’m not sure, that it means Something like going through life.
  • 甘い・あまい just can’t mean «sweet» here… from all the other meanings of 甘い the only one that actually makes sense is «promising». Then, Maichan would be saying that being relatively pretty, it does help at work, but relying only on that to go through life wouldn’t be promising.
  • 商事・しょうじ after a firm name, it means … corporation
  • 杉下・すぎした name
  • 超子・ちょうこ female given name
  • ペチャペチャ onomatopoeia for chattering
  • ブス・ぶす extremely ugly woman

As usual a very interesting story that tells a lot about human psychology in a very few words. I tend to like Maichan’s story a little more than Suchan’s ones.

Becoming a Genius overnight…

…is difficult but don’t give up and keep trying!

Somedays, I wake up and I have become a Genius overnight. I know I can read anything in japanese, I just need to trust myself! So, I get prepared and head to a bookshop, eager to test my new ability. I pick a book which looks nice, not bothering about the fact that this book is far beyond my level, Genius can’t be bothered by such commun thoughts. I can’t wait to know what it feels to read fluently in japanese, so I open my book in the metro and start reading, thinking that I may be impressing people around me, hehe. That’s when my newly acquired Genius begins to fade. Finally, this book will join its friends on the books I’ll read leater bookshelf…


Well, I guess that more study and reading practice will help me light that light bulb for good!


My reading notes for the second story of すーちゃん by Masuda Miri. (p12 to 18)


  • 水菜・みずな Some kind of green vegetable, the best thing to do is to Google-image it.
  • キッシュ haha, didn’t recognize it. Quiche, from french.
  • いつもの usual, habitual.

pas surSo, Suchan explains that a Customer in her coffee shop said «same as usual» when she asked what he wanted. Suchan’s friend Maichan says it’s 恥ずかしい… Is it 恥ずかしい because the customer expects Suchan to remember him, not aware that she meets so much other people every day? Or is it simply shameless to do that in Japan? I’ve always thought that it was somehow cool to have regular customers who won’t even bother to order because they know you know what they’ll take…

  • 常連・じょうれん regular customer
  • 生きがい・いきがい purpose in life

So, that settles it. They think it is pitiful to want to become a regular Customer or act as one. Well, ok, now I understand!

  • 接待・せったい can mean reception, welcome, but here I think it means business Entertainment.
  • 独り者・ひとりもの unmarried person.
  • 不倫・ふりん adultery. As Maichan is not married, the term refers certainly to her being single having an affair with a married man.
  • 説教・せっきょう preach, sermon
  • 忠告・ちゅうこく advice
  • 恩着せがましい・おんきせがましい patronizing, condescending, implying you should be grateful

Then Suchan starts reading the book 「負け犬の遠吠え」(まけいぬのとおぼえ). It is a book written by 酒井順子 (さかい・じゅんこ)and published in 2003. I had a look at the wikipedia page of the author, she seems to be quite popular and has written a lot of essays.

「負け犬の遠吠え」の画像検索結果As for this book in particular, 負け犬 means a dog who has lost a battle and is running away with its tail between its legs. It also means, a woman over 30 who is not married (and doesn’t have children).

Even if the title seems insulting, Sakai Junko is, on the contrary, giving her support to women who are over 30, not married, and who don’t have children. In a society were women are expected to marry and raise children, this book seems to have been very popular and created a 負け犬ブーム. Women who choose not to marry and secure themselves a position through work would call themselves 負け犬.

I haven’t read the book myself but I have had a look at the many comments of its Amazon page. I can’t understand everything but I think this book depicts women who marry and have children as 勝ち組・かちぐみ and women who choose to do what they want with their life, their time and their money as 負け犬・まけいぬ.

It’s great to encourage women who choose not to marry and pursue their career but it also seems that being successful at work and having money has to be the counter part for not marrying and not raising children. As if refusing to become a wife and mother was only accepted if you can prove that you are good at something else. What if you are over 30, not married, but not particularly successful at work or good at anything?


  • 満たす・みたす to satisfy, to fulfill, to meet (requirements…)
  • 勝ち犬・かちいぬ obviously, the contrary of 負け犬
  • ひれ伏す・ひれふす to prostrate oneself before
  • 落語・らくご traditional comic storytelling
  • 文楽・ぶんらく japanese puppet theatre
  • エステ esthetic


  • 向上・こうじょう elevation, improvement, progress


My reading notes for the first story of すうちゃん by Masuda Miri. (p5 to 11)

In the first story, Suchan goes to a Self Udong restaurant セルフうどん. From what I understand, it is a place where you can choose every ingredient that compose your udong, from the quantity of noodle, to toppings, condiments and seasonning. I gress that’s why Su asks for ワカメ, a seaweed, to add to her meal.

  • こだわる to fuss over
  • 裏表がある~うらおもてがある to be two-faced
  • 豪快な、ごうかいな to be lively, hearty, largehearted
  • 太っ腹な・ふとっぱらな generous, big-hearted, broad-minded
  • 鍋をする・なべをする eating together around a hot pot?
  • 癒される・いやされる This is an expression which means that, thanks to Something, you feel relieved from your stress, you feel at ease, at peace. You defenitely should search for 癒せる in Google images and have a look at those cute little kitty faces!

「クウネル」の画像検索結果Suchan bought the magazine クウネル ku:nel. I didn’t know when I first read this story, but the magazine really exists. It seems to deal with cooking, home and life style.

I found this cover and I understand better what she means when she said that those people were living straight life and that they never seem to be hesitating… haha.


  • 炊く・たく to cook rice or beans.
  • 仙人・せんにん taoist hermit

réfléchitThen Suchan says something I don’t quite understand : «テーブルファンシーだし座椅子ダサいし»

ださい means unsophisticated, out of fashion, the contrary of fancy. 座椅子・ざいす is a chair with no legs, to seat on the floor. Now what’s this phrase supposed to mean… Does it mean that things look nice or attractive but that only half of it is real and that the other part is not at all what we expected… ?

  • 玄米・げんまい Brown rice


  • 東急ハンズ Tokyu hands is a store where you can find almost everything for the house and daily life.
  • 笠・かさ is a conical hat, so a 電気の笠・でんきのかさ is a lamp cover
  • 蛍光灯・けいこうとうfluorescent light
  • 白熱灯・はくねつとう incandescent light
  • 貧乏くさい・びんぼうくさい・ビンボーくさい shabby

Stay motivated

Sometimes, I wake up in the morning ready to make a great day of that day. I know exactly what I want to do, how I will do it and why I do it. I don’t ask myself what’s the meaning of life, it seems my goals are worth it, I am following a path, I am powerful.

Wake up and….

se lever

… Ready to go!


But sometimes, I don’t want to get up at all, the goals of the previous day seem meaningless, I don’t even know why I’m doing what I am doing, at the end we are going to die anyway so what’s the point of learning anything at all.

Let me stay in bed…

au lit

I wish someone else could live my life instead of me.


I thought a category to stay motivated would help me to stay motivated, that’s why I created it.

My three daily anki decks 1: words

Like the majority of japanese learners (at least, I think so but I may be wrong), one part of my daily learning routine is anki. I have three decks, one for words, one for kanji and one for grammar (that I started recently because I just couldn’t figure out how to remember every grammar point from N2).

In this post, I will present my deck for japanese words.

It has three entries : french, kanji and hiragana. Every note has three cards :

French is displayed and I must say the word in japanese

スケッチThe reason why I choose not to display the hiragana is because I tend to look only at the hiragana to check my answer and if correct, move on to the next card without even look at the kanji. No wonder I do not recognize the word (kanji) when I see it in a book or anywhere else later… I use the «hint» function to hide the hiragana and force myself to first look at the kanji. As for checking the pronunciation, I just listen to the audio (awesome tts) and don’t even need to click on the hint to display the hiragana. The audio is played when the answer is shown.

Kanji is displayed and I must pronounce it and tell its meaning


Nothing particular here. The audio is played when the answer is shown. This card is for me the easiest one.

Now we come to the most difficult card :

Hiragana is (dis)played, I must find the word


That’s certainly the trickiest part of anki. Mostly because there are some homonyms and because it is not easy to recall what something like しょうげん can mean without context. That’s the reason why I use an extra field to tell me in which context this word would appear. For vinegar it is obviously the kitchen.

When the card is shown, the audio will play automatically. I hid the hiragana to concentrate on what I hear instead of just reading the hiragana. So basically, this card is a listening practice.


The audio is read from the Kanji field. For words with no kanji, I just write the hiragana again in the kanji field so that I have audio for those notes too. Doing that has another positive effect. The notes with kanji create three cards, which means I see the word three times. On the contrary, notes with an empty kanji field generate only two cards and I see the word only twice. I knew that I had difficulties remembering the words written only in hiragana comparing to those with kanji but I didn’t relate this fact to the way my anki was built. Now that I have changed this, I can tell the difference.