Should I Read for Fun or Read for Study?

Should I Read for Fun or Read for Study?

Read for fun or read for study? AKA extensive or intensive reading? I’m specifically referring to reading books in Japanese, but this can be applied to any subject or language you want to learn.   Extensive reading is a fancy way of saying reading for fun. The “extensive” implying that you want to read as much and as wide ranging as possible in the language you’re studying. Honestly I think you should just read whatever you want to read. Forcing yourself to read subjects you find boring because you think you should read them can be counter productive. The point is… Read More…

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5 Japanese Light Novels for JLPT N3 Level Learners

What makes a Japanese light novels a “light” novel? I honestly don’t know. I used to think it was because they were written with easier to understand Japanese for younger readers, but that’s really not the case! (You have light novels like Overlord or Tanya which have very difficult Japanese.) Which was why finding five Japanese light novels for JLPT N3 level learners was a challenge! I purposefully picked five light novels that also have anime. Why? Because you’ll probably already be familiar with the story if you’ve watched the anime. Watching anime and reading light novels from the same… Read More…

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Where to Get Japanese Novels Outside of Japan

Where can you get Japanese novels? With the wonders of the internet there are quite a few ways you can procure Japanese novels outside of Japan! These suggestions may also work for manga in Japanese, as well as non-fiction, and other books, but I mostly based my research on novels. Not every international Japanese book store or website is listed below. I tried to find options that had the widest availability and most convenience for ordering internationally. There are three options for physical and four options for digital Japanese novels. A few tips when it comes to looking for a… Read More…

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Life, Death, and Cats 世界から猫が消えたなら (If Cats Disappeared from the World) for Japanese Learners

世界から猫が消えたなら (せかい から ねこ が きえたなら) by 川村 元気 (Genki Kawamura)   Author: 川村 元気 (Genki Kawamura) Genre: novel, Great for: Beginner – Intermediate (JLPT N3+) Length: 229 pages Amazon Japan (Kindle): 世界から猫が消えたなら Bookwalker Japan: 世界から猫が消えたなら (Read the first 14 pages with 試し読み!)   Japanese Synopsis (from Bookwalker) 僕は生きるために、消すことを決めた。 今日もし突然、チョコレートが消えたなら電話が消えたなら映画が消えたなら時計が消えたなら猫が消えたらそして僕が消えたなら世界はどう変化し、人は何を得て、何を失うのか30歳郵便配達員。余命あとわずか。陽気な悪魔が僕の周りにあるものと引き換えに1日の命を与える。僕と猫と陽気な悪魔の摩訶不思議な7日間がはじまった―――消してみることで、価値が生まれる。失うことで、大切さが分かる。   English Synopsis (translated by Japanese Talk Online) I must chose to lose something if I am to live. How would the world change if chocolate vanished? If phones vanished? Movies? Clocks? Me? What would people gain and what would they lose? A 30-year-old postman asks. There not much time… Read More…

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5 Second Trick to Remembering Vocabulary When Reading Japanese

Different people learn and remember information in different ways. This is obvious when you talk to different people about how they learn languages, such as Japanese. (I personally like using mnemonics but my spouse is a wizard an can “just remember” words… I’m not jealous…) Anyway, this is just one of many different methods you can use to remember vocabulary. It’s actually an incredibly quick trick I’ve been using when I read novels. (This is partially so I don’t spend so much time later drilling vocabulary with flashcards.) When I first come across a word I don’t know I try… Read More…

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Ink Wash Painting and Grief 「線は、僕を描く」(Sen wa Boku wo Egaku)

線は、僕を描く (せんはぼくをえがく) by 砥上 裕將 (Togami Hiromasa)   Author: 砥上 裕將 (Togami Hiromasa) Genre: novel, college, melancholy Great for: Advanced (JLPT N1+) Length: 317 pages Amazon Japan: 線は、僕を描く Bookwalker Japan: 線は、僕を描く (can test read on BookWalker with 試し読み!) (The manga is also available on Amazon and Bookwalker Japan.)   Japanese Synopsis (from the book) まさか水墨画をめぐる小説が、これほどまでに心をゆさぶる物語であるとは思いもしなかった。 両親を失い、空白を抱えていた「僕」は、紙に「線」を引く芸術を一から学び、練習を重ねることで、やがて失っていた自分を取り戻していく。生きている瞬間をとらえようと描き続け、自らの美をつかむ。現代の青春求道小説として、力強く胸に迫る作品だ。   English Synopsis (translated by JTalk Online) The Lines That Draw Me I never thought a story about ink wash painting would sway the heart so much. After losing both his parents and surrounding myself in white space, “I” learn from scratch an art… Read More…

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War, Humanity, and Letters「ヴァイオレット・エヴァーガーデン」(Violet Evergarden)

ヴァイオレット・エヴァーガーデン (Violet Evergarden) by 暁 佳奈 (Kana Akatsuki) There are two main novels in this series with a spin-off (外伝) and an after story, a total of four novels. This review to Japanese learners focuses only on the first book of Violet Evergarden 上巻. (I was planning to read the second book too, but started reading other books instead…) Author: 暁 佳奈 (Kana Akatsuki) Genre: Fantasty, military, drama Great for: Advanced (JLPT N1+) Length: 351 pages (book 1) Kyoto Animation: ヴァイオレット・エヴァーガーデン 上巻 Amazon Japan: KAエスマ文庫 ヴァイオレット・エヴァーガーデン 上巻 文庫 – 2015/1/1 Bookwalker Japan: N/A   Japanese Synopsis (from Amazon Japan) 陸軍病院で“一人”目を覚ましたヴァイオレット。… Read More…

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Japanese Short Stories「5分シリーズ」(5 Minute Series)

5分シリーズ (5 Minute Series)   Author: Various (published by エブリスタ) Genre: short stories, moving Great for: Intermediate (JLPT N2) Length: Around 210 pages Amazon Japan: 5分シリーズ(5分後に涙のラスト) (will need to search for others) Bookwalker Japan: 5分シリーズ   Japanese Synopsis (from Amazon Japan) 小説投稿サイト「エブリスタ」が主催する短編小説賞「三行から参加できる超・妄想コンテスト」入賞作品から、さらに選りすぐりのものを集め、加筆・修正。20000作超から選ばれた最高の感動体験8作。   English Synopsis (translated by JTalk Online) A collection of short stories from the novel website Eburisuta which were hand selected or won the “Great / Imaginative Contest for Sangyo”. Eight incredibly moving tales handpicked from 20,000 stories.   Why You Should Read 5分シリーズ (5 Minute Series) There are multiple books in the「5分シリーズ」 by エブリスタ, and each one… Read More…

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Light Novel Comedy「はめふら」(Bakarina)

乙女ゲームの破滅フラグしかない悪役令嬢に転生してしまった… is a Japanese light novel from 2015 which also has a manga release and just got an anime (which is airing Spring 2020).   First off, let me clarify the names for this series: Japanese official title: 乙女ゲームの破滅フラグしかない悪役令嬢に転生してしまった… Japanese unofficial title: はめふら English official title: My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! English unofficial title: Bakarina As we’re talking about the Japanese novel, which even the author’s editor said had one of the longest titles ever, I’ll be referring to it as はめふら. Author: Satoru Yamaguchi Genre: light novel, comedy, isekai, reverse-harem, romance, otome games… Read More…

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Fantasy, Mystery「かがみの孤城」(Kagami no Kojou)

かがみの孤城 (かがみのこじょう) by 辻村 深月(つじむら みずき)   Author: Mizuki Tsujimura Genre: coming of age, drama, (light) fantasy, novel, award winning Great for: Intermediate (JLPT N2) Length: 554 pages Amazon Japan: かがみの孤城   Japanese Synopsis (from Amazon Japan) 鏡の世界で謎を追う不登校児 大人と子どもの目が共存する救いの物語 大人である現在の自分と、子どもだったあの頃の自分の両方を、同時に、ここまで慰め、励ましてくれる小説なんてはじめてだ。辻村深月の新作『かがみの孤城』のことである。 中学一年生のこころは、ある出来事を機に学校へ行けなくなり、いつも家で過ごしている。ある日一人で家にいると、部屋の鏡が突然輝き始め、潜り抜けてみると、そこは城の中だった。集められたのはこころを含め、似た境遇にいるらしき中学生が七人。九時から十七時まで滞在が許されるその城で、彼らにはひとつの課題が出される。猶予は一年。戸惑いながらも七人は、少しずつ心を通い合わせていくのだが……。   English Synopsis (translated by JTalk Online) Truants Chasing A Mystery in the Mirror World – A Story of Salvation for Both Children and Adults “This novel began as a story that would comfort and encourage both myself when I was a child and myself as an adult now.” The latest novel from Mizuki Tsujimura, Kagami no Kojou. Kokoro is… Read More…

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Feminist Fantasy「女だから」(Sexiled)

女だから、とパーティを追放されたので 伝説の魔女と最強タッグを組みました (Sexiled: My Sexist Party Leader Kicked Me Out, So I Teamed Up With a Mythical Sorceress!) by 蛙田あめこ (Kaeruda Ameko)   Genre: fantasy, light novel, feminist Great for: Intermediate and above (JLPT N2+) (OR N3 learners who really, really love fantasy novels.) Length: 270 pages Amazon Japan: 女だから、とパーティを追放されたので伝説の魔女と最強タッグを組みました Synopsis (from Amazon Japan and Amazon US): 魔導師のターニャは「女だから」という理不尽な理由で冒険者パーティを追放される。 そのストレス解消のため、人のいない荒野で大魔術をぶっ放していたら、伝説の大魔女・ラプラスの封印を解いてしまって!? 半信半疑のターニャだったが、指を鳴らすだけで天候を変える大魔女の実力を目の当たりにして、本物だと信じることに。 Tanya Artemiciov is a talented Mage-class adventurer who just got kicked out of her party by a sexist scumbag. So what’s a girl to do? Go to the wasteland and blow stuff up of course! One small problem though: she… Read More…

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School Romance Novel 放課後美術室 (After School Art Room)

放課後美術室 (After School Art Room) by 麻沢 奏 (Asazawa Kana)   Genre: fiction, romance, coming of age Great for: Lower-Intermediate and above (JLPT N3+) Length: 309 pages Amazon Japan: 放課後美術室(麻沢 奏) Synopsis: 「私には色がない―」高校に入学した沙希は、母に言われるがまま勉強漬けの毎日を送っていた。そんな中、中学の時に見た絵に心奪われ、ファンになった“桐谷遙”という先輩を探しに美術室へ行くと、チャラく、つかみどころのない男がいた。沙希は母に内緒で美術部に仮入部するが、やがて彼こそが“桐谷遙”だと知って―。出会ったことで、ゆっくりと変わっていく沙希と遙。この恋に、きっと誰もが救われる。 “I have no color” thinks high-school freshman Saki, as all she does everyday is study, just like her mother told her to. But when she goes to the art room in search of her senpai Haruka Kiriya, the one she became a fan of during middle school when his painting stole her heart, she instead finds an elusive, womanizing boy. Saki decides to join the art club,… Read More…

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Hacks for Reading Japanese Novels

Hacks for Reading Japanese Novels

  I recently shared on Twitter how I had just finished reading a novel and felt inspired to write something useful about it. The following are a few hacks I’ve developed/picked up while reading Japanese novels. Hope you find them useful for your own reading! Bookmark Names and Terms Not that you should highlight every name or term, but instead write frequently used universe terms and names onto a piece of paper used as a bookmark. These are great because you can quickly reference terms as you come across them without having to flick back to a previous page where… Read More…

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Why You MUST Read in Japanese

When I started learning Japanese I drilled vocabulary, grammar and kanji. In my young mind language = words. For many years that was all I focused on, figuring that listening and reading was only achievable from learning this core information. Yes, vocabulary, grammar and kanji are incredibly important. But they mean nothing if you don’t read. You don’t magically learn how to read just from learning this information. You learn to read by reading. Reading then supplements and adds to your knowledge of vocabulary, grammar and kanji. But reading does SO much more than that.   First Attempts to Read… Read More…

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Reading Japanese Intensified – Review of Tango Risto

If you’re anything like me and you struggle to improve your reading then you want to get Tango Risto. I have always struggled with reading comprehension. It is the hardest part of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test and a must need for any level of Japanese. I try to read novels to improve this but that means I lack a core amount of Japanese vocabulary and grammar. Namely, the news. In the past I tried my own 2 Week Japanese Reading Challenge but going out of your way to find a good article for your level can be hard. Tango… Read More…

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Lose Yourself in Japanese: “Let Me Eat Your Pancreas” 「君の膵臓を食べたい」

Last year I picked up a book from Kinokuniya called 「君の膵臓を食べたい」(Kimi no Suizou wo Tabetai). I didn’t realize at the time was a great book it was. To the point where I would become so enthralled that I forgot I was practicing my Japanese. This is the kind of story that you want to find when you’re learning Japanese. One that you lose yourself in to the point where you’re not studying, you’re using Japanese.   “Let Me Eat Your Pancreas” 「君の膵臓を食べたい」Novel Japanese Level Other Media Live Action Movie Manga Anime Movie (coming 2018) Genre Drama Short Description A young boy… Read More…

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Improve Japanese Reading [2 Week Challenge]

Improve Japanese Reading Challenge

Learning vocabulary, kanji and (to a point) grammar, can be easy to do by yourself. But reading, speaking, listening and writing can be more of a challenge. I recently asked Patreon supporters what kind of challenges they would like to try to improve these Japanese skills. The most voted on was Japanese reading. The following is a 2 week challenge of my own design which I am testing out myself. I’m going to record my daily progress on the Japanese Talk Online Twitter and then discuss the results at the end. I encourage people try this along with me and tweet… Read More…

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Reading Japanese Texts in an Innovative Way

One of the most difficult aspects of learning Japanese for any level of ability, is reading Japanese texts. In particular Japanese that’s written for native Japanese people. It doesn’t matter what level you’re at vocabulary, kanji, and grammar that you haven’t studied will appear. This often means that reading is slow and difficult as you spend a lot of time looking up words and kanji. Then you have to take your notes and vocabulary and learn them! Putting the time and effort into doing this is a HUGE benefit to your Japanese abilities, but it’s also a chore, and even… Read More…

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5 Japanese Light Novels (in Japanese) for Beginners

Japanese light novels are a fantastic way to practice your Japanese! Light novels (or 小説) are, as the name suggests, smaller, easy to get through stories. Japanese light novels often have long on-going series with 6-20+ books! So if you don’t like the first book you can easily drop it, but if you love it you can hooked for long on-going stories which improves your kanji/vocabulary/grammar even more!! The title for this says “5 Japanese Light Novels for Beginners” but by “beginners” I mean people who have never read a Japanese light novel before. I strongly suggest you have at least… Read More…

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Beginners Japanese Reading

It’s often hard for beginners to find suitable materials for practicing Japanese reading. It’s tricky to find something suitable for you because every person is different. What you learn as a beginner, what you enjoy, what works best for you, etc., will be different from someone else. Below are some suggestions (including pros and cons) for beginners Japanese reading and listening including text books and materials made for young Japanese natives.   Beginner’s Japanese Reading Books Textbooks If you’re in a class and working through a textbook there will often be reading sections. These are great because they will cover… Read More…

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Reading Practice for Beginners

When you start learning Japanese you learn the hiragana and katakana along with vocabulary and grammar, but if you’re teaching yourself you won’t often get much reading practice to combine all those skills together in a useful way. So how do you practice? It’s good to start reading soon! It not only allows you to practice your vocabulary and grammar but also your understanding of Japanese sentences. This is particularly important at the higher levels where 80% of what you’re exposed to will depend on your comprehension of the language. The following are suggestions for beginner JLPT N5/N4 level learners.… Read More…

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Reading Novels – Breaking into Japanese Literature Review

“I want to be able to read Japanese novels”  (If you’re not yet convinced that being able to read Japanese novels is worth it check out this article). When I picked up my first Japanese novel I think I managed to get about 3 pages in before giving up. It was Kino no Tabi and I must have read the first page a billion times trying to get through my first novel. So I thought maybe I should try an easier novel. I got 7 pages into that one, and then 13 pages into my third attempt! But each time… Read More…

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Using Japanese Popular Media in Self Study

“Studying Japanese can be so boring sometimes and I just don’t have the time for it”   Japanese can be fun, you make time for it if it’s fun. Many people who want to study Japanese, or are studying Japanese, are doing so because they have come in contact with some form of Japanese popular media and it inspires them to learn Japanese. This is not a bad thing and I think it’s really unfair when people of high Japanese level (often professionals) criticise young people for being interested in Japan and Japanese because they “only like manga and anime”.… Read More…

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