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* 8 stimulating essays with translations of all the complex passages * Japanese-English dictionary for quick lookup, tailored to your needs * Notes explain subtleties of nuance, usage, grammar, and culture * Free CD with audio narrations performed by a professional actress * Profiles of the individual writers place the works in context
About the Author
JANET ASHBY is a freelance writer and translator who has lived in Japan since 1975. She has written a long-running column in the Japan Times on Japanese books, and has a particular interest in Japanese popular culture. She is the co-author of Japanese: The Spoken Language in Japanese Life and the author of the original Read Real Japanese, of which this book is a remake.
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
Once I read the Fiction version in this series, I jumped for the Nonfiction as quickly as possible. This little series is absolutely top-notch for those who have taken advanced Japanese classes. I can't help but repeat myself in this review: "This reader is the one I compare all others to."
It goes above and beyond in every respect. It features enjoyable stories, furigana by every kanji, a dictionary wherein every term is listed, a line-by-line "literal" explanation, and in the back of the book the grammar and cultural points of each line is discussed in depth. And as icing on the cake, there's a fabulous CD wherein an actress reads each story aloud. How can it get any better than this?
Frankly, I am being spoiled rotten by both of the books in this duo. It's going to be hard to go back to other readers that lack comprehensive dictionaries and feature complex kanji with no furigana.
Still, don't be fooled by all the goodies it gives you -- it's not holding your hand. Furigana is only listed once, forcing you to recall it when the kanji is repeated later in the story. Any new devotees of the Japanese language will probably be bowled over -- it's definitely for the intermediate students, who will benefit most from seeing all of those grammar forms they only previously knew in textbooks.
If you're a student of Japanese, you'll find this reader helpful and fun. It's definitely worth the money -- you're paying for some wonderful features that many other readers skimp on. I suggest getting the Fiction version of this set as well, as it features all of the same perks.
This is a great book for advanced students. It presents real written Japanese and breaks it down into bite-size segments. Everything you need (except for a note book) is right there. The CD is an excellent aid for listening. No dry reading and grammar points. I find it is best to make photocopies of the section you are working through so you can lay it flat (the hadrcover version won't always stay open). You can also increase the font size and make notes whithout marking up the book (I'm a nitpicker).
Best to use the CD with mediaplayer on a computer. This way you can break the tracks down and focus on the individual sentences, without having to sit through the entire track (big time saver).
You must still work at it though. The best materials in the world do nothing if you don't use them. This book makes language study a little less painful!
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For anyone disappointed by the fact that the Japanese language books in the book store are too easy, but Japanese books are too hard, this is the book for you. It's definitely a great tool for students that are interested in gaining more reading comprehension strength while being able to enjoy what they are reading. The length of the essays are short which prevent boredom and since they are written by authors instead of educators they leave you wanting to read more! I love the literal translations on the side that still let me think of what the author is saying instead of telling me what it says! I can't wait to buy the short stories book too!
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Kodansha is simply the best publisher of this kind of books. Period. No other publisher gets even close. I have bought almost every title from them, starting with what was called Power Japanese Series at that time, now published again in new editions without the power label.
I have the previous "edition" of this book, but it's actually not at all the same book as this one, since the stuff there is totally different. (Get both!) The major difference is of course the better format of this book. AND THE CD! It's great to have the text read by a professional actress, even if she does like ALL native Japanese talkers do: break the speed limit. Even if I have been listening to spoken Japanese on and off for almost ten years, I still have to repeat and repeat until WORDS start to appear from the machine gun syllables :-)
I am currently engaged in really weird discussions on the net by simply asking "Is Japanese the most difficult language (for English-etc-speaking persons) to learn?" Part of my argument - apart from my own experiences - is found in this particular book. Quoting Janet Ashby:
"""[...] Yet Japanese remains a deeply frustrating language to study. So much so that I remember finding it positively encouraging when my Japanese professor remarked one day that it took seven years to learn the language - I had despaired pf ever being able to pick up up a Japanese magazine or newspaper and read it more or less easily.
The problem is not only the kanji barrier, high though that can be for Western learners of Japanese, but also the differences in the spoken and written language and the unfamiliar vocabulary, set expressions, sentence patterns, and even the way of thinking.Read more ›
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This is one of two books in Kodansha's excellent "Read Real Japanese" series. Whereas the other book, Read Real Japanese Fiction focused on fiction stories by popular modern Japanese authors, this one focuses on non-fiction essays, including some that are about the nuance of the Japanese language itself, so you are learning about Japanese in Japanese.
Basically, any student of Japanese needs both of these books. For a long time there was a dearth of quality Japanese readers. Some, like A Japanese Reader are so dense and academic as to put off all but the most dedicated student. Some, like Mangajin's Basic Japanese Through Comics, are fun to begin with but don't get you very far. The biggest problem has always been that middle ground, that 2-kyu level where you need some help getting over the hump from constructed text and into the real world. Even the previous release from Kodansha, Read Real Japanese, relied too heavily on romaji.
Most of the authors in "Read Real Japanese Essays" will be familiar to anyone who reads Japanese literature, like Murakami Haruki (The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle) Yoshimoto Banana (...Read more ›