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: “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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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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