Sci-fi, Horror, Adventure – 裏世界ピクニック (Otherside Picnic)

裏世界ピクニック (Otherside Picnic) by 宮澤 伊織 (Iori Miyazawa)   Author: 宮澤 伊織 (Iori Miyazawa) Genre: light novel, sci-fi, fantasy, adventure, horror, yuri Great for: Advanced (JLPT N1+) Length: 320 pages Amazon Japan (Kindle): 裏世界ピクニック Bookwalker Japan: 裏世界ピクニック   Japanese Summary (Bookwalker) 仁科鳥子と出逢ったのは〈裏側〉で“あれ”を目にして死にかけていたときだった――その日を境に、くたびれた女子大生・紙越空魚の人生は一変する。「くねくね」や「八尺様」など実話怪談として語られる危険な存在が出現する、この現実と隣合わせで謎だらけの裏世界。研究とお金稼ぎ、そして大切な人を探すため、鳥子と空魚は非日常へと足を踏み入れる――気鋭のエンタメSF作家が贈る、女子ふたり怪異探検サバイバル! English Summary (JNovel Club) Her first encounter with Toriko Nishina was on the Otherside after seeing “that thing” and nearly dying. Ever since that day, exhausted university student Sorawo Kamikoshi’s life changed. In this Otherworld, full of mystery, which exists alongside our own, dangerous beings like the Kunekune and Hasshaku-sama that are spoken of in real ghost stories… Read More…

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I Can’t Go to Heaven – 僕は天国に行けない (Boku wa Tengoku ni Ikenai)

僕は天国に行けない (Boku wa Tengoku ni Ikenai) by ヰ坂 暁 (Akira Isaka)   Author: ヰ坂 暁 (Akira Isaka) Genre: novel, character novel, mystery, questioning life Great for: Advanced (JLPT N2~N1+) Length: 343 pages Amazon Japan (Kindle): 僕は天国に行けない Bookwalker Japan: 僕は天国に行けない   Why You Should Read 僕は天国に行けない (Boku wa Tengoku ni Ikenai) Me after the two-page prologue: Oooh. This is going to be interesting. Me half way through chapter one: Whaaaat!? I was not expecting that. Me at the end of chapter one: WHAAAT!?!? Even before I started reading this book the cover and obi had me intrigued. A grey image of… Read More…

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Isekai Stuck in a Video Game Light Novel – ログ・ホライズン (Log Horizon)

ログ・ホライズン (Log Horizon) by 橙乃 ままれ (Mamare Touno)   Author: 橙乃 ままれ (Mamare Touno) Genre: light novel, isekai, video game, fantasy Great for: Advanced (JLPT N2~N1+) Length: 343 pages Amazon Japan (Kindle): ログ・ホライズン Bookwalker Japan: ログ・ホライズン   あらすじ ・ Japanese Synopsis (from Bookwalker) オンラインゲームの世界に日本人ゲーマー3万人が閉じ込められた! モンスターとの戦闘、味を失った食料、死ぬことのない境遇。昨日までプレイしていた「剣と魔法の世界」が今日からの「現実」。未だ、混乱続くエルダーテイルで、<腹ぐろ眼鏡>で<引きこもり体質>の主人公・シロエが、旧友直継、美少女暗殺者アカツキらと、廃墟・アキバから世界を変える!!   English Synopsis (from Amazon) Thirty thousand Japanese gamers awake one day to discover that the fantasy world of Elder Tales, an MMORPG that was formerly their collective hobby, has become their cold hard reality. Severed from their everyday lives, they confront a new horizon filled with ravenous monsters, flavorless food, and the inability to die!… Read More…

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Nihongo with Ako – Japanese Podcast for N4/N3 Levels

I recently had the honor to be on 日本語 with あこ (Nihongo with Ako), a podcast hosted by Japanese teacher Ako Suzuki. I had come across her podcasts in the past but never listened to them properly. (I was more familiar with her online lessons.) But after listening to some episodes, and appearing on Ako’s podcast myself, I saw they’re really great listening practice for JLPT N4/N3 level learners.   About Ako Sensei Ako Suzuki has been teaching Japanese for 19 years. She has group and private lessons for all Japanese levels (although she’s currently fully booked.) As well as a YouTube… Read More…

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What is Happiness? また、同じ夢を見ていた (Mata Onaji Yume wo Miteita)

また、同じ夢を見ていた (Mata Onaji Yume wo Miteita / I Had That Same Dream Again) by 住野よる (Yoru Sumino)   Author: 住野よる (Yoru Sumino) Genre: novel, elementary school, coming of age, fantasy Great for: Intermediate (JLPT N3+) Length: 306 pages Amazon Japan (Kindle): また、同じ夢を見ていた Bookwalker Japan: また、同じ夢を見ていた   あらすじ ・ Japanese Synopsis (from Bookwalker) 友達のいない少女、リストカットを繰り返す女子高生、アバズレと罵られる女性、一人静かに余生をおくる老女。彼女たちの“幸せ”は、どこにあるのか。「やり直したい」ことがある、“今”がうまくいかない全ての人たちに贈る物語。 English Synopsis (translated by Japanese Talk Online) A young girl without any friends, a high-school girl who constantly self harms, a woman branded a bitch, and an old woman living the rest of her life in peace. What does “happiness” mean to these women? A story for… Read More…

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An Advanced Taisho Era Challenge「千手學園少年探偵團」(Senju Gakuen Shonen Tanteidan)

千手學園少年探偵團 (Senju Gakuen Shonen Tanteidan) by 金子 ユミ (Yumi Kaneko)   Author: 金子 ユミ (Yumi Kaneko) Genre: novel, Taisho Period, mystery, high school Great for: Advanced (JLPT N1+) Length: 306 pages Amazon Japan (Kindle): 千手學園少年探偵團 Bookwalker Japan: 千手學園少年探偵團 あらすじ ・ Japanese Synopsis (from Bookwalker) 時は大正時代、東京府――。大蔵大臣・檜垣一郎太(ひがきいちろうた)の妾の子・永人(ながと)は、嫡男の“謎の失踪”を受け、急きょ跡継ぎとして名門私立千手學園(せんじゅがくえん)に放り込まれることに。学園内では妖しげな呪いの噂が流行しており、永人は思いがけず友人たちとその解決に挑んでいく。学園に蔓延る謎を、そして義兄失踪の真相を暴くことができるか!? 大正浪漫の香り漂う本格学園ミステリ、ここに開幕!   English Synopsis (translated by Japanese Talk Online) It’s the Taisho Period in Tokyo and Nagato, the son of the Minister of Finance​ Ichirota Higaki’s mistress, is flung into the prestigious private Senju Gakuen, taking his place as his father’s heir after his elder brother’s mysterious disappearance. The academy, however, is overrun with strange curses… Read More…

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Slice of Rowing Life 君と漕ぐ(Kimi to Kogu) for Japanese Learners

君と漕ぐ:ながとろ高校カヌー部 by 武田 綾乃 (Ayano Takeda)   Author: 武田 綾乃 (Ayano Takeda) Genre: novel, slice of life, high school, club, rowing Great for: Advanced (JLPT N1) Length: 332 pages Amazon Japan (Kindle): 君と漕ぐ:ながとろ高校カヌー部 Bookwalker Japan: 君と漕ぐ:ながとろ高校カヌー部   あらすじ ・ Japanese Synopsis (from Bookwalker) 両親の離婚で引っ越してきた高校一年生の舞奈は、地元の川でカヌーを操る美少女、恵梨香に出会う。たちまち興味を持った舞奈は、彼女を誘い、ながとろ高校カヌー部に入部。 先輩の希衣と千帆は、ペアを組んで大会でも活躍する選手だったが、二人のカヌーに取り組む気持ちはすれ違い始めていた。恵梨香の桁違いの実力を知り、希衣はある決意を固めるが。水しぶき眩しい青春部活小説。   English Synopsis (translated by Japanese Talk Online) When Maina, a first year high schooler, moves after her parents divorce, she meets Erika, a beautiful young girl canoeing in the local river. Maina’s the type of person who gets caught up in the moment and she invites this girl to join her in the Nagatoro… 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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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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Study Beginners Japanese With Science!

By study beginners Japanese with science, I don’t mean Matrix-level download the language to your brain (although I wish I did!) I mean, using science books aimed at young Japanese people to learn a wide variety of general knowledge and Japanese vocabulary. The science books I’m talking about in particular are なぜ?どうして?科学のお話 or “Why? How? Science Stories”. Here’s a review of these science books aimed at children and how you can use them to boost your Japanese! なぜ?どうして?科学のお話 (Why? How? Science Stories)   Genre: science, textbook, for children Great for: Beginners (JLPT N4-N3) Length: about 180 pages per book (total… Read More…

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Review of Kyoto JALS – Great for Beginners, Not Advanced

To put my situation in context: I have been studying Japanese for over 10 years. I have passed the JLPT N2, working on the N1 for about 6 months, and am a translator. The reason I wanted to study in Japan for 6 weeks was to improve my speaking for interpreting classes (which are on summer holiday). I also hoped it would help me with N1. I initially chose the Japanese Language School (JaLS) in Hokkaido because they offered afternoon internships. I figured this would be great for improving speaking in a natural environment. But they told me the advanced… 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: “I Want to 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.   “I Want to 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… Read More…

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Japanese Flashcards: Dealing With Backlogs

As many readers of Japanese Talk Online know, I LOVE using Memrise. I use it practically every day for Japanese flashcards when I’m studying for a test. But there are often times when I won’t use it for a week, a month, or several months. This creates a lot of backlog of items to review, and seeing that long list of 2000+ words I need to review can be really daunting. This post will look at how to deal with huge review backlogs you often get with flashcard programs like Memrise and Anki.   How Spaced Repetition Flashcard Programs Work SRS,… 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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Review of Nihongo Tango Speed Master

日本語単語スピードマスター (Nihongo Tango Speed Master) is a relatively unknown series of books which focus just on Japanese vocabulary. And I’m surprised it’s unknown because all the books contain a lot of vocabulary, and lots of vocabulary that doesn’t appear in other books! There are 4 日本語単語スピードマスター books: Basic, Standard, Intermediate and Advanced. These books are based vocabulary that appears in the new JPLT. Basic (1800 vocabulary for N5 and N4) Standard (2400 vocabulary for N3) Intermediate (2500 vocabulary for N2) Advanced (2800 vocabulary for N1) (Each range between $27-$31)   I like this series because they are simple. Each chapter is… Read More…

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Top 10 Japanese Language Android Apps

Top 10 Japanese Language Android Apps memrise

I’ve talked about some great apps for learning Japanese but that was years ago and technology has changed! I’ve been playing with a lot of apps recently and come across some goodies as well as re-discovered some classics. The following list isn’t in any particular order, but each of them is very different from one another. When I’ve found similar apps I’ve selected the best one out of them (i.e the best dictionary app). I’ve tried all of these apps myself and tried to give a fair pros and cons list. The following top 10 Japanese language android apps are… Read More…

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Review of MA in Theory and Practice of Translation, SOAS

  For the past year, from September 2014 until September 2015, I have been doing an MA in the Theory and Practice of Translation (Japanese) at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London. (Updated 2016) My decision to do this had always been a Plan B as SOAS is seen to be a very prestigious school and there are not many Japanese translation courses in the UK. And due to reasons, my decision and application to the school was a bit of a rush job (done in just 3 days). I had looked at the program in… Read More…

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Try! JLPT Grammar Book

The 「Try! 日本語能力試験   文法から伸ばす日本語」or “Try! JLPT – Studying Japanese from Grammar” is the best Japanese grammar book I have ever used for learning JLPT grammar. I mentioned before that grammar is my weakness. I am so bad at grammar, partially because I don’t know English grammar (terms, I know how to use it naturally), and partially because I find it difficult and boring to practice. HOWEVER, this is the first time I’ve actually understood Japanese grammar and enjoyed learning them! Try! is a fairly new series of grammar books published in 2014, so unlike Nihongo Somatome and Shin Kanzen… Read More…

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JapanesePod101 Review

Don’t waste your money on JapanesePod101   This is an honest JapanesePod101 review and has my own opinions. I’m sure each person using the program will think of it differently, so it’s worth checking out for yourself if this is something for you. JapanesePod101 is a website which provides Japanese lessons from beginner to advance, using audio lessons, so if you are an auditory learner this might be a good one for you. This post looks at the resources JapanesePod101 provides and it’s pros and cons. You cannot explore the website without signing up. The front page opens with a brief… Read More…

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Review of italki.com

italki.com is a website I decided to check out after watching this video by Rachel and Jun reviewing the site. Turns out I’d already signed up for the website at the beginning of this year, I’d just completely forgotten about it until recently! This website allows people to connect with people who speak the language their learning, it’s not just Japanese, but all kinds of languages! You can practice Japanese in a number of ways: Hire teachers who will give you lessons! Find language partners to type messages to talk to them via skype! Post notes and ask questions and… Read More…

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A Cheap Way to Visit Japan – WWOOF

“I have no money, but I really want to go to Japan!” – The first time I ever visited Japan was in 2008 when I was on my gap year. I had worked at a shop for several months beforehand to save up enough money for the flights and a few weeks in a school, but I wanted to spend longer in Japan and WWOOF was the perfect option. WWOOF stands for “World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms” and is basically what it says on the tin. It’s an organisation present in about 99 countries where organic farms can sign… 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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