Breaking Into Japanese Literature: Seven Modern Classics in Parallel Text ed. Giles Murray Exploring Japanese Literature: Read Mishima, Tanizaki and Kawabata in the Original ed. Giles Murray New Penguin Parallel Text: Short Stories in Japanese ed. Michael Emmerich Read Real Japanese Essays: Contemporary Writings by Popular Authors ed. Janet Ashby Read Real Japanese Fiction: Short Stories by Contemporary Writers ed. Michael Emmerich Reading Japanese with a Smile: Nine Stories from a Japanese Weekly Magazine for Intermediate Learners by Tom Gally
N3 ふわふわ by 村上春樹 羊男のクリスマス by 村上春樹 ふしぎな図書館 by 村上春樹 気まぐれロボット by 星 親一 N2 さわらないで by 新津きよみ インストール by 綿矢りさ 20の短編小説 (anthology) Translated マーダーボット・ダイアリー by Martha Wells 星の王子さま by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
13 Secrets for Speaking Fluent Japanese by Giles Murray (meh) Making Sense of Japanese: What the Textbooks Don't Tell You by Jay Rubin (yay) How to Sound Intelligent in Japanese: A Vocabulary Builder by Charles De Wolf (haven't read this yet)
Grammar A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar 日本語基本文法辞典 by Makino & Tsutsui A Dictionary of Intermediate Japanese Grammar 日本語文法辞典【中級編】 by Makino & Tsutsui A Dictionary of Advanced Japanese Grammar 日本語文法辞典【上級編】 by Makino & Tsutsui
Hey all, it's been a while. I started my previous log at the start of the decade, and then 3 months in that-which-shall-not-be-named happened, and then the horrors just continued to outdo each other. Easily the worst years of my life (although I'd rather not, like, set the bar lol). Lots of soul-searching happened and is still happening, but I'm back(ish)!
I missed geeking out about languages, and I could really use a space to be enthusiastic again (now that I can feel enthusiasm again) with like-minded people Looking forward to sharing my plans!
My goal for the near future is to work primarily on my Japanese. The last time I seriously studied it was when I was taking the JLPT N1 in December 2015 (and failed), and since then it's been all about maintenance. My interest in Japanese and the time I put in dropped when I was no longer using it for work.
I enjoy my current job alright, but over the past year or so I've begun to realise I'd love to get back to a job where I can use Japanese again. I think for a long time I subconsciously discouraged myself because these jobs (especially in my field) are rare. But I've started to take myself seriously, voiced my goals, and decided to start working toward them. I'm not in a hurry, and it's good to be prepared.
That means seriously brushing up my Japanese, and learning a bunch of new skills while I'm at it. It's been a long time since I've been this excited about anything!
The plan: Modern Japanese:
- Join the AI6WC - Study to resit JLPT N2 in December - Work on a volunteer project (translating WWII historical material) (- To Super Challenge or not to Super Challenge?)
- Take classes (in progress) - Learn to read kuzushi-ji
I'll also be doing a bunch of adjacent work (studying history, mostly).
I've been working on some more concrete study plans for Japanese. I was looking at my old log (the original one haha) for inspiration and resources and gosh, I was really serious about studying. Old Me was onto something for sure, but also kept burning themself out. I sure hope that taught me something
Anyway, as stated before I plan to retake the N2 in December, which will be the third time I'll be taking it - I passed every time, I just think it's good practice. Because I've been there, done that, I'm taking a relaxed approach this time around and study whenever I feel like it. I'll have lots of time before December anyway.
JLPT N2 study plans:
Grammar: Try! 文法から伸ばす日本語 N2 or 日本語能力試験N2/N3文法対策標準テキスト (I haven't decided yet) Vocabulary: 日本語総まとめ N2 語彙 (also on Memrise) Listening: Lots of movies/series/musicals, going to try and stick to Japanese subtitles where possible
I really enjoyed looking at my old log and reading about all the movies, series and musicals I watched and the stories/books I read. I want to do that again! So let me start right away:
I've been taking Classical Japanese classes this semester, they finished this week. We read, deconstructed and translated a number of short texts:
Stories 89 and 104 from 徒然草 (Essays in Idleness written by a Japanese monk). Especially story 89 was fun, about cat demons (of a sort ). 羅生門 from the 今昔物語集 (Anthology of Tales from the Past). Actually not the first time I read this original version of Rashomon, I had just completely forgotten about it. A short academic text from the 紅毛雑話 about a salamander kept in formaldehyde.
If I can wriggle my way into next semester's class, I'd love to continue with Classical Japanese.
That immediately brings me to an update of the AI6WC (Advanced Intensive 6 Week Challenge) so far:
March 16th: Classical Japanese (reading) - 120 min March 19th: WWII translation (reading) - 240 min March 21st: Classical Japanese (reading) - 120 min March 23rd: Classical Japanese (reading) - 60 min Total: 540 minutes (9 hours)
(Looking at the old log also made me a little sad - so many people I regularly interacted with have disappeared...)
Oh Japanese, you really are my one true love and I'm so sorry for treating you like shit the past years I realised I've been learning Japanese on and off for nearly 16 years, which is nearly half my life... whelp. I'm trying not to lament the fact I could've been much better at it if I had stuck with it constantly all those years years But anyway, I think every time I come back to Japanese after a long period of absence I'm proving I really haven't lost that much knowledge, and that's just really neat!
Anyway, weekend round-up!
I finally started watching season 2 of Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories, with Japanese subtitles this time. I still occasionally pause while watching, to take in the subtitles, but it's rarely actually necessary. It's nice to be watching this series again.
Guess what else I finally started watching? 龍馬伝! Way back when I lived in Nagasaki I had to look at Fukuyama Masaharu-as-Ryoma's face plastered all over the city for over half a year and I swore I'd watch Ryomaden one day... it was about time So far I'm two episodes in and it's a solid historical drama (emphasis on drama). It has the absolute worst opening theme though Unfortunately it seems the Japanese are going overboard with copyright and stuff again and there's not a single trailer to be found on YouTube, but there's this fanvid with a few nice screenshots to give an impression:
Then today I went to the cinema to see Love Life. It was quite good. Also had quite a lot of Korean Sign Language!
(No English language trailer, sorry.)
As for reading, I picked up the New Penguin Parallel Text: Short Stories in Japanese again after a long pause and finally finished Kawakami Hiromi's 鼹鼠. Easy read, interesting story. I also made a start on the next one, Abe Kazushige's 馬小屋の乙女, which is a step up in difficulty again.
March 24: Midnight Diner S2E01 with Japanese subtitles (listening): 20 min Ryomaden S1E01 (listening): 60 min
March 25: New Penguin Parallel Text: Short Stories in Japanese (reading): 45 min Midnight Diner S2E02 with Japanese subtitles (listening): 20 min Ryomaden S1E02 (listening): 60 min
March 26: New Penguin Parallel Text: Short Stories in Japanese (reading): 30 min Love Life (listening): 120 min
Small update on the state of my other languages and what happened to them during the Lost Years™.
Russian: This is the only language I've actively kept up with from the pandemic onwards. Over the past years I've focused mostly on maintenance, with a little active learning here and there. Russian is largely responsible for my 1235 day Duolingo streak and I'm ok with that (although I've hit the boring repetitive parts of Duolingo). All I want is for my Russian to be good enough for travel purposes, and I think I'm there already. I'm quite comfortable in what I currently know, which is a nice feeling, and I'll hopefully have an opportunity to test it again this summer (not Russia, obviously). Also plan to make my own little tailor-made travel dictionary before we leave. I still really like the language
German: I'm not sure how to quantify my German anymore. It's fine. I understand virtually everything and use it without thinking about it. My grammar is atrocious but aside from that I'm fully functional and have even used it for work on occasion. I haven't 'studied' German since high school - it's just happening at this point.
Mandarin: On the back-burner. I haven't worked on Mandarin seriously for years now, although I may throw in a little Duolingo now and then in a vague attempt at conserving my existing level (results: questionable). Out of all my low level languages this is the one I don't want to lose (although I'm under no illusion my Mandarin is any good). I might have some incentive to pick it up again in the next year or so, but Japanese takes priority.
All the others: Lost. Fun while they lasted. Never continued with Arabic. Might (maybe) pick up Korean again at some point (for reasons), although I doubt it. I dropped Norwegian back in 2020 - I was learning it for fun (as a little treat), and I had fun doing it, and I might go back to it in the future... maybe.
Surprise! I started learning a new language this semester, like a fool. SLN (Sign Language of the Netherlands): I'd been wanting to do this for years and now the stars were finally aligned for me to take an evening course. It's simultaneously very interesting and I'm also not feeling it at all, alas (not a fun thing to admit to yourself). So when classes finish in June that's it.
This week I began with the more serious part of my studies: textbooks, SRS and kanji. I started working on Try! for grammar - focusing mostly on the Japanese explanations of the grammar points. It's going well but... I think I'm going back to 総まとめ after all I completely forgot I had digital versions of the books, very convenient (and I also found all my old notes and exercises - it's been 8+ years so I don't think I'll remember the answers haha). Try! is pretty good but the lessons are fairly long, and I prefer the way 総まとめ is set up. The lessons are more bite size, split up into weeks and days, and that level of organisation is exactly what I need. Not that I actually stick to the schedule, but instead I cross off the lessons I did.
Anyway, the rest of the week was pretty busy so I didn't get started on the 総まとめ textbooks yet. What I did do is go back to studying 総まと N2 vocab on Memrise - and some N3 on the side, to fill any possible gaps I may have. I have a lot of time before December so I'm going to focus especially on keeping up with reviews (I refuse to let them pile up like I usually do ).
And then there's kanji. I'm (grudgingly) trying something new there. Will report back later.
March 27: Try! N2 (textbook): 60 min Memrise (SRS): 10 min
March 28: Ryomaden S1E03 (listening): 45 min Midnight Diner S2E03 with Japanese subtitles (listening): 20 min Try! N2 (textbook): 30 min Memrise (SRS): 20 min
March 29: Memrise (SRS): 20 min
March 30: Memrise (SRS): 15 min Kanji (SRS): 20 min
March 31: Kanji (SRS): 30 min Memrise (SRS): 10 min
Total: Listening: 345 minutes (5h45) Reading: (615 minutes (10h15)) SRS: 125 min (2h05) Textbook: 60 min (1h)
On a different language note: Weirdly I found out Drops (do we all remember Drops? I didn't) started offering Ainu (remember me learning Ainu? I do, vaguely) in 2019, for the International Year of Indigenous Languages. It's not the most extensive course, and Drops has really changed drastically since I last used it but... I'm having fun with it. Swiping little pictures, monkey brain goes brrrrrrr.
I already planned on doing a little Ainu on the side again, purely out of interest, and this might just be the level of (not) intensity I need right now.
Productive weekend, despite (or thanks to) it being Easter.
I started reading システムの危殆 (the first book in the Murderbot Diaries series by Martha Wells) in Japanese. One of my favourite books, read it five times in English, so I figured why not? I finished the first chapter and I have to admit it's making me painfully aware of my shortcomings (kanji kanji kanji...). Translator Naoya Nakahara won a prize for his translation and I see it. The book could have been katakana galore, and it isn't (unfortunately for me, Murderbot likes to use a lot of technical (multiple kanji) words On the plus side, quite a bit of vocab turns out to be surprisingly relevant for my WWII translation project ).
Perhaps this level of sci-fi is a little beyond me. I'm trying not to feel too discouraged - it helps that I love the book and can dream just about every sentence. The question is, do I want to read this comfortably, skipping over words I don't know exactly (either in reading or meaning) but can guess? Or do I want to actively look up words? I'm going to have to find the right balance. Perhaps using the Midori app will help a little - it's been my go-to dictionary app for years. For the first time I'm using its bookmark functionality. So far it's been quite useful to look up repeating words. I can also export my word list which is neat and definitely something I'll do in the future, and there are built-in flashcards (but I'm not crazy about those, yet).
Anyway. Elephant in the room. Kanji. I am mostly happy with the ways I've been taught Japanese in uni and self-taught myself after, but my kanji knowledge is a mess. The only time I studied kanji in some sort of organised manner was when we used the 漢字マスター series in class in Japan. The books do a good job linking between kanji, meaning, vocabulary and readings. I am tempted to go back to them, but I'm trying something else first. I just really, really need to patch the holes in my knowledge.
I am trying R. I am trying Rrrr. I am. I can't even say it. I am going through all the jōyō kanji first to last with the help of Kanji Koohii and their app. Basically I'm using... using RTK (I threw up a little in my mouth). Going back to the basic of basics. I hate that it works just a little, to remember the way kanji are written and to get a vague sense of their meaning. I'm still not a fan of detaching the reading from the kanji, but. Ugh
April 7: Ryomaden S1E04 (listening): 45 min Golden Kamuy S2E03+04 (listening): 40 min Kanji (SRS): 30 min Memrise (SRS): 15 min システムの危殆 (reading): 180 min
April 8: Kanji (SRS): 10 min Memrise (SRS): 40 min
April 9: Kanji (SRS): 15 min Memrise (SRS): 20 min
April 10: Ryomaden S1E05 (listening): 45 min Kanji (SRS): 30 min Memrise (SRS): 30 min システムの危殆 (reading): 50 min WWII translation (reading): 75 min
Total: Listening: 475 minutes (7h55) Reading: 920 minutes (15h20) SRS: 315 min (5h15) Textbook: (60 min (1h))