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153 of 159 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally, something helpful and affordable!
Finding this book was a wonderful thing.

With so many books on learning Japanese out there, it's hard to find a couple of good ones that provide you with the means to learn the easiest way. That "easy" way is different for all people. I have always thought that fundamentals, basic building blocks, are essential in order to understand the way something works,...
Published on October 20, 2008 by Amazon Customer

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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It's OK
The thing I like best about this book is that it has everything it's teaching you in Japanese, Romaji, and English. It starts with Hiragana and quickly goes to Katakana. Then kanji starts showing up in the text. It's organized very well, starting with the basics then getting harder as you move along. It's a good book for learning how to speak and read/write Kana on your...
Published on December 21, 2010 by Matthew Brown


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153 of 159 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally, something helpful and affordable!, October 20, 2008
This review is from: Japanese Demystified: A Self-Teaching Guide (Paperback)
Finding this book was a wonderful thing.

With so many books on learning Japanese out there, it's hard to find a couple of good ones that provide you with the means to learn the easiest way. That "easy" way is different for all people. I have always thought that fundamentals, basic building blocks, are essential in order to understand the way something works, so that learning more difficult or involved concepts later is easier. For example, in my life, this applies to math, playing an instrument, or learning a language.

My requirements for teaching myself Japanese without the availability of local, affordable classes are as follows: First: it must be affordable. A $20 book is more my speed than an $60 or $80 one, for instance. Second: like most people, I want the most bang for my buck. I don't want to be lugging around 6 books if I can get the same information out of 2 or 3. Third: I would like it to contain Japanese writing so I can learn to read and write what I am saying. Fourth: I prefer some sort of self-test included so I know if/what I am retaining.

This book delivers all that. 445 pages of information, delivered in Japanese characters, romaji and English at the same time. Chapters 1-3 are pretty basic. I have the entire set of Pimsleur's Japanese lessons, which I love, and aside from some new vocabulary, it's about the same. Pronunciation, writing, names, titles, pronouns, particles and questions. The CDs teach you to speak, but explain nothing of the fundamentals of grammar or how the Japanese language works, nor do they explain the many verbs and their forms. I feel strongly that to learn Japanese well and thoroughly, these things are important in order to facilitate fluency as learning progresses.

I am really looking forward to using this book to augment my Pimsleur lessons. It gives me hope that I will someday be able to engage in conversation in this language with confidence. I get vocabulary, grammar, verbs and forms, and self-tests all in one book! I love that it is all arranged according to English grammar structure. This is familiar and helps me to understand the information.

For the really curious, there are 20 chapters arranged in four parts with a "final exam":

Part One is Identifying People and Things.
Including pronunciation, everyday phrases, questions, describing people and things, and expressing existence and location.

Part Two is Talking About Actions
Including coming and going, what you do (verbs), talking about the past, the Te- form, and asking permission.

Part Three is Stating Facts
Including your opinion, adverbs and adverbial clauses, comparing people and things, complex phrases and clauses, and indicating change.

Part Four is Expressing Implication, Attitude, and Perspective
Including implication, attitude, considering and planning your actions, changing perspective, and using honorifics.

At the end is a 100 question "final exam", followed by two Appendices (sentence predicates and verb forms {as a table}), two glossaries (J to E and E to J), an answer key for all the test and practices, and finally an index.

This is not the only book I plan to buy, or already own (my other favorite now is Japanese Step by Step). I highly recommend learning about Japanese culture while studying the language because so much of how Japanese express themselves is ingrained in their society and how they interpret things. It is a point of view that can be radically different from anywhere else. It is not enough to learn Japanese, you need to learn about the people as well in order to effectively express yourself in their language. Japanese Beyond Words is a wonderful book to start with.

In short, buy this book. I don't think you will be disappointed. Beginners, dive right in, it will help! Advanced students, this will probably serve more as a great reference book, or it may clear up something you've been struggling with.

Heck, for this price, you definitely get what you pay for, and then some. ^_^
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75 of 79 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It... makes... sense!, October 17, 2009
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This review is from: Japanese Demystified: A Self-Teaching Guide (Paperback)
After facing the horror of "Minna no Nihongo" (sorry fans of the book, but it proved not to be my cup of tea), I discovered that "Japanese demystified" made far more sense to me; it's friendly, you learn at your own pace, and it's not intimidating at all so buy it already! However, I strongly suggest that before you dive into it, (or any other Japanese learning books, by the way) you invest a few weeks into learning your hiragana, katakana, and a few hundred kanji as well, now that you are into it. It sounds like too much work but believe me, it will make your learning experience a more enjoyable one. Books from James W. Heisig (Remembering the kana, Remembering the kanji) can be of vast help to achieve this. Also, and to help "Japanize" your mind, Boye Lafayette De Mente`s "The Japanese have a word for it" can provide a rich cultural background, with dozens of words and terms that simply don't have a direct translation into western languages, and will help you "feel" the language from a native's perspective. I'm not going to lie to you; it's not going to be easy, it's not going to be fast, but... what the heck, it makes your brain a better one.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book, August 19, 2010
This review is from: Japanese Demystified: A Self-Teaching Guide (Paperback)
This was a great book, as a workbook to accompany my Japanese course.
I would say though, you can NOT use it alone to learn Japanese.
It has very clear explanations and is an excellent workbook for beginner students.

After using this book, you may want to check out "Japanese Sentence Patterns for Effective Communication: A Self-Study Course and Reference", which covers everything in this book and a more as a nice compact review.

Unfortunately, non of these books help with speaking or listening, its not something that is expected from these books but just keep it in mind.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It's OK, December 21, 2010
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This review is from: Japanese Demystified: A Self-Teaching Guide (Paperback)
The thing I like best about this book is that it has everything it's teaching you in Japanese, Romaji, and English. It starts with Hiragana and quickly goes to Katakana. Then kanji starts showing up in the text. It's organized very well, starting with the basics then getting harder as you move along. It's a good book for learning how to speak and read/write Kana on your own.

Edit: After having been studying Japanese for a while now, I started to get into studying kanji in-depth. This book is not good for that. There are a few things that I have found that were simply wrong in the book (Granted there weren't very many.) This book is good to get a basic knowledge on how to form polite verbs, how to form -te/-ta conjuctive/past verbs, and a few other things, but it doesn't give a good background on the language. The sentences never really get very complicated even towards the end of the book. This book is only good for people that have little to no knowledge on the language.

If you want to get a solid foundation on the language and want to become fluent in the language, I would recommend "Elementary Japanese" by Yoko Hasegawa. This book is good even if you don't know anything about the language, but it will take a lot more time in each lesson to actually learn the language.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent for learners of Japanese at any Level, March 14, 2011
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This review is from: Japanese Demystified: A Self-Teaching Guide (Paperback)
I've studied Japanese at University for three years using the Genkii series. This book is so much easier to follow and so much more practical. The explanations give the proper linguistic terms for features, so if you have a background in Linguistics you will appreciate that, however if you are unfamiliar with any terms the explanations are written clearly enough to still be accessible. Truly a well made introduction to the Japanese Language.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Things I've forgotten. Re-learned., March 8, 2011
By 
Carmine Zappala (Reading, Pennsylvania) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Japanese Demystified: A Self-Teaching Guide (Paperback)
I recently had to use my Japanese language skills. Although I had a good 12 minute conversation with a young Japanese family and TOTALLY surprised their young son when he said to his mother, in Japanese: "Mommy! I can understand the foreigner!" They were very impressed with my proper usage from two courses of Conversational Japanese that I learned from The Japan Society, in NYC! I asked them three times: "How is my Japanese?" They said very good. I felt troubled with my mind flying and frying to have a two way conversation. Drawing on memories almost 30 years old! So I ordered JAPANESE DEMYSTIFIED and immediately was able to learn (re-learn) the proper use of a particular grammatical particle, long forgotten. I have more confidence and although not finished with the book, I am learning the proper use of phraseology. Things I may have forgotten or never learned? I may not become fluent but, with THIS book and my Japanese dictionary, I am rebuilding my vocabulary. So, with my classroom experience and this book, I have a helpful addition to my Japanese reference materials.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great for Stepping to Intermediate Level, August 31, 2011
By 
Overtech (United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Japanese Demystified: A Self-Teaching Guide (Paperback)
I will preface by saying that this book is not for the absolute beginner. It is not anything like a Dummies or 24 Hour book. I would say this is for late beginner to intermediate users only, and it's primary function is as a study tool. I began the book already having learned hiragana, katakana, beginner level kanji, several audio lesson CDs, and a few beginner books.

The exact reasons that I love it may be a boon to others, but I find this book was exactly what I was looking for. The lessons are concise, to the point, and contain no fluff. They tell you precisely how grammatical rules work, why they work, offer examples, then quiz your understanding. This isn't a fun read for a casual learner, it's for someone who is serious about studying Japanese. The thing that surprised me the most was the broad reach of the book, and how it taught me things I had never seen anywhere else before. Explanations are minimal, but clear. Eriko Sato is a very good instructor and skilled at explaining things in a way that just "clicks".

One thing I will warn readers about: The author gives you the kana and kanji for everything you are asked to learn; however, not much explanation on the characters themselves is given other than to memorize the tables given in the first chapter. It teaches nothing about stroke order, stroke count, kanji meanings/pronunciations, radicals, etc. You will need supplemental books to learn that. This book is mainly for learning how to put the language together including verb and adjective conjugation, levels of politeness, useful words, particles, and modifiers. However, I wouldn't be surprised if you walked away recognizing some kanji based on repetition alone.

This is the perfect book to challenge a 1st year student of Japanese grammar, but should be used in tandem with supplemental books, audio, and flashcards.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent for self-study. Probably not for absolute beginners., November 6, 2011
This review is from: Japanese Demystified: A Self-Teaching Guide (Paperback)
I love this book, although I am probably the ideal audience for it: I prefer the self-study approach, my main interest is learning to read Japanese (not speak), and I have previously learned very basic Japanese.

If you are a first-time language learner with zero Japanese, definitely check out this book - but maybe wait until you have learned a little Japanese elsewhere, from a class maybe. At that point, this book would make a great review and a tool to learn to read real Japanese.

What I like about this book:

A) Every example sentence is given three times: 1) The first line is real Japanese - kana, mixed with kanji (Chinese characters) with no furugana 'crutch,' and no breaks between lines. 2) The next line gives the romaji (English alphabet version of the Japanese). So you can pick the level of difficulty you want to work at. 3) The third line is the English translation - I recommend you cover this while you read the Japanese lines above it.

The tests also give both the real Japanese and the romaji, so again you can choose which to look at.

B) Each new section is short and simple. You focus on one concept at a time. A short grammar explanation is given. Then examples. Then exercises for you to practice - with answers given at the back of the book.

Kanji are gently introduced throughout the book - a real plus if you want to take advantage of it. To really learn Japanese, you need to learn kanji.

This book does place a lot of the burden on you. It expects you to learn the kana on your own. I found a nice hiragana chart on the internet, and took it a line at a time (e.g. I learned all the K syllables at once, then the S syllables, etc.). I also found some great kana-practice mobile apps, to drill me until I knew them well. It took me about a month to learn the hiragana well. I have not yet learned the katakana, but I jumped into the book's lessons anyway.

This book also takes a somewhat deductive approach to vocabulary. Often the first time you see a new word will be in an example sentence, although the English is also right below it in a translated sentence. In at least one case I've noticed, these words don't appear in the glossary or index.

This book will teach you writing and reading and grammar. If you also want to learn to speak and listen, then you will want to supplement this book with a conversation course, where you have to listen and respond in Japanese. (Check out Japanese Phase 1, Unit 01-05: Learn to Speak and Understand Japanese with Pimsleur Language Programs - the first lesson is free on the Pimsleur website.) The best way to learn to speak is to practice speaking with someone else, an expert or native Japanese speaker being ideal. This book has no CD for hearing correct pronunciation - and it's a good idea to learn correct pronunciation from the start.

Also, when you learn the kana and kanji, you will need to find out elsewhere how to write them well, including the proper stoke order. This is also important if you want to really learn Japanese.

In looking at Japanese books here on Amazon, people really seem to like the Genki series, GENKI I: An Integrated Course in Elementary Japanese [With CDROM] (Japanese Edition). However, this is a textbook so it's more expensive. And I don't think the book gives any answers to exercises. There is a separate workbook. If you Google the Japan Times publisher's site, you can download a PDF of the first chapter.

If you want to use this "Demystified" book, maybe first do Japanese for Dummies AUDIO+CD. It's by the same author. It's cheap and it comes with a CD. I haven't read it myself, but I've seen it recommended.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Help, March 12, 2011
This review is from: Japanese Demystified: A Self-Teaching Guide (Paperback)
Before I bought this book, I used it for a few days when I stayed with my friends. The book seriously helped bestow some understanding in a lot of fuzzy areas. I use it along side my other study books. It really helps. This helps great for my review, and it actually makes me want to study.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars PROBABLY THE BEST!, May 23, 2011
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This review is from: Japanese Demystified: A Self-Teaching Guide (Paperback)
This book is probably the best book on Japanese grammar. It is by the author of Japanese for Dummies and it alos explains the honorific form and the plain/informal verb forms.

In my opinion you should have a seperate book for conversational Japanese to use with this book either Japanese for Dummies or The Complete Idiots Guide to Conversational Japanese are two of my favorites and I own them both.

For writen Japanese I recomend Kana and Kanji Revised Edition (TUTTLE).

Wonderful book on Japanese grammar.
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Japanese Demystified: A Self-Teaching Guide
Japanese Demystified: A Self-Teaching Guide by Eriko Sato (Paperback - May 6, 2008)
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