Mata, Onaji Yume wo Miteita: A review

I had some grand plan of reading more than ten Japanese novels this year in order to improve my reading, vocabulary, and what have you. I have since reached a grand total of three. Which, hey, is a far better number than zero, but it’s not anywhere near where I wanted to be.

One of my favorite downtime pastimes is to walk into a bookstore and browse, no matter where I am. Depending on the size of the bookstore/my ability to read the language, I can be in the same shop for hours. And while many people spend those hours standing in place and reading through a book, I’ll be flitting back and forth between multiple sections, delighting in everything available I have yet to read.

On one such outing, I came across また、同じ夢を見ていた (I saw the same dream again) by 住野よる (Sumino Yoru). It looked cute, I could read the title and first page without help and, most importantly, the story looked interesting to me.

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Update from the kotatsu

Hello and welcome to the last day of January, 2018! Stefanie here, reporting from her kotatsu. It’s a whopping 1 degree Celsius outside, and despite having run out of water within arms’ reach I am reluctant to get up to refill my glass due to it being chilly.

There isn’t a ton happening this January, which is why not much has been written since my Takamatsu post. But I’ll run you through a couple of general life updates since we’re all here.

  • I totally failed the N1.

    This comes as no surprise to me; I basically let myself get pushed into taking it far before I was mentally ready to go for it. I did surprisingly well in the listening given how little I studied for it, but everything else was pretty bad. I’ll try it again, but won’t do so until December 2018. I’m not disappointed; if anything, my reaction was to shrug my shoulders and go やっぱりね.

  • I read a Japanese novel this month!

    Today I finished volume one of 文学少女, or “Book Girl”. It’s a light novel that’s been translated into English, and funnily enough I found it on a website recommending the English version! The first story, “The Suicidal Mime”, was dark (as you can imagine), but the writing style was enjoyable and the premise of the demon girl who eats books for sustenance was entertaining. I’d recommend it, especially if you’re a fan of anime– a lot of the reactions in the novel are overblown like you would see on the screen, which made them easy to imagine!

    Haven’t decided what I’ll read next– maybe I’ll finally read volume 2 of 寺町三条のホームズ. It’s only been sitting on my shelf for, what, two years? Regardless, I want to see if I can keep up reading 1 Japanese novel a month, on top of my other reading goals.

  • I’ve signed up for a special taiko class!

    I’ll post more information about this as the time gets closer, but I’ll be doing a 1 week intensive deal later this year. I’m extremely excited about this because I’ve wanted to do so for yeeeeeaaaaars but haven’t had the funds, time, or holidays from work for it. This year I’ll have all three, and since I’ll be done with student loans as of next month (whoa), I decided to treat myself.

  • I’m getting back into Japanese podcasts.

    I’ve really gotten into some English podcasts, which is great fun to listen to but not so great for the Nihongo practice. I’m a fan of folklore, history, and modern culture/society, so if you have any recommendations, lay ’em on me! In return, here’s my recommendation: ジンキとポテコの話せばわかる。Imagine overhearing a casual conversation between friends over a beer– that’s what you’ll get from this podcast. The speaking style is conversational, and they’ll bring up lots of little topics, whether it’s “who ought to bring what to a picnic” or “how does Anpanman work, anyway?”

    なぜなにコミュニケーション is another one I enjoy. While it’s more formal, it discusses what’s best to do in given situations. The very first episode title translates to, “What do you do if someone you’re talking to has prominent nose hair sticking out?”

That’s about it from this corner of Japan. I’ll have more to post as the weather gets warmer and plum blossoms–then cherry blossoms– start blooming. Or when I can nag a friend into hitting up one of the many new, interesting cafes in town.

In the meantime, stay warm, stay healthy, and see you next post!

Post-JLPT recovery

So, who else here just took the JLPT? 乙 to you!

How did it go? Do you feel confident about your results, or did you spend the entirety of the test berating yourself for not studying harder? Or are you somewhere in between? Whatever the case, you’ve just been through an extremely rigidly structured test, and it’s time to reward yourself for doing it. But how?

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What’s your JLPT strategy?

“I’m not going to pass, so I’m not going to stress about studying super hard this time around,” I said, shoveling textbooks into my shopping basket.

“It’s a futile effort, anyway, so I’ll just treat this as an experience, not a serious try,” I added, plugging vocabulary words into my SRS app.

“Who even PASSES the JLPT anyhow?” I concluded, struggling out of bed to complete my daily drills.

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Why I’m taking the N1 even though I won’t pass

Hey, guys! Two weeks sure passed by fast. It’s that time of year when work picks up, the weather cools down, and absolutely everyone wants to get together and Do Things. I’ve been going on adventures in my area and struggling with a big Will I or Won’t I question–will I take the JLPT this December?

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Murders, spirits, and cute puppies, oh my! Dog Cafe One Noir, a book review

Want to read something that goes from adorable to tragic to horrifying, then back to unbearably cute in a matter of sentences? ドッグカフェワンノアール by Syo Ishida ( 石田祥) might be for you.

Set in Kyoto, the tale follows the story of a young woman named Rin Morigawa (森川凛), a part-time worker at a Dog Cafe. Rin’s life is pretty typical; she shares an apartment with a roommate to make ends meet and goes to work. Oh, and she can see and talk to ghosts.

More on that later.

One day while going to work, she sees a box with four puppies in it. It’s too late for all but one of them, a little girl with a heart-shaped mark on her forehead. Rin rescues this pup, named Silvie, and from there her adventures begin.

Some of her adventures are run of the mill–friends dealing with dog allergies, people at the cafe hitting on her–but others are much more supernatural. Many of her customers at the Dog Cafe end up bringing in their histories, including ghosts of loved ones. These ghosts, upon realizing Rin can see them, lead her to clues to solve the mysteries behind their own deaths. Some take longer than others. From a young boy who was terrified of being alone, to a kind worker who worried about the cafe he worked in, Rin deals with several situations with the help of Silvie (who can also sense ghosts), Sasao, her boss, and a local policeman named Maki (真木) who tries very hard to help out while not giving away what a huge crush he has on the oblivious Rin.

Rin is a fun character to follow; she’s stubborn once she sets her mind on something (like keeping her new pet dog), and despite being terrified in some cases she pushes through to solve the mysteries she’s dragged into. And she is wonderfully oblivious to people attempting to flirt with her, which makes you cringe and laugh.

This is the first book in a series. Despite some sad themes, there are plenty of charming moments. More importantly, whatever happens in book 1, Silvie the dog is safe. As a dog-lover, I don’t like books or movies that show them getting hurt or killed; I’d like to reassure you that in this book, at least, Silvie always ends up fine.

This book is in all Japanese, but it doesn’t use a lot of technical terms nor are the plots overly complicated, so it’s a great opportunity to practice reading everyday vocabulary. Furigana is not often used, unless it’s to help you with the reading of a character’s name, so make sure you’ve got a dictionary handy if kanji is not your strong suit.

Have you read anything good lately?

 

Dream Clocks: A book review

I am one of those people who refuses to stop halfway through a book unless it is truly terrible. I’m talking about, “My English teacher assigned a list of really boring, really horrible old books to read during the summer in the name of ‘expanding our horizons'” type of terrible. So when I pick up a book and it merely ranks a “meh” on my interest levels, I will be determined to plow through it.

Even if it takes me six months.

Enter Karakuri Yumedokei (からくり夢時計), or “Dream Clocks” by Masayuki Kawaguchi.

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When you’re putting the flash cards away, make sure they’re going in the right pile,” I said in my best Japanese. “Sometimes they get mixed up because we have multiples.”

Understood,” the new staff member said, using the polite form, or keigo. “Should I do anything else after that?”

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The magic of enkais

One of my pet peeves is being used for English practice without being asked beforehand.

It’s one thing when I enter a shop and a staff member attempts to speak English to me–that’s someone who is just trying to do their job and make our transaction go as smoothly as possible. If you speak Japanese, all you need to do is tell them so and you can continue on as normal. And if you can’t speak the lingo or they’re asking you something complicated, it can be a godsend to have someone explain what’s going on in English.

It’s another thing when you’re in a hurry somewhere and you feel someone tap your shoulder… and upon turning around you’re confronted with someone who wants to go through the whole “Welcome to Japan”/”Where are you from”/”How long you stay in Japan”/etc. script with you to practice their language skills.

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Doing scary things in another language: the phone call edition

The other day, I received a flyer in my mailbox. This is not unusual as I get all kinds of ads in there all the time–usually for pizza places, the occasional “adult” venue, about condos I will never be able to afford in my life–that kind of thing. But this time I spotted the gas company logo at the top and figured it was important, so I had a second look.

First thing I noticed: the flyer mentioned a mandatory visit from the gas rep.

Second thing I noticed: the flyer listed a date and time I was not available.

In vain, I searched for an option to go online and reschedule. However, I eventually came to the realization that I would have to call and talk to a real, live person to change my appointment time, and it would all have to be in Japanese.

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