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Read Real Japanese Essays: Contemporary Writings by Popular Authors 1 Free CD Included [Abridged, Audiobook, Box set, Illustrated, Large Print] [Paperback]

Janet Ashby
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
RRP: 15.99
Price: 14.94 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

7 April 2008 1568364148 978-1568364148 Pap/Com
There is a dramatic difference between reading Japanese that is tailored to students, and reading real Japanese that has been written for native speakers. The concocted variety tends to be insipid, flat, stiff, standardized, completely lacking in exciting and imaginative use of language. Read Real Japanese Essays, and its companion volume Read Real Japanese Fiction, allows readers to experience the work of several of todays foremost writers as if they were lifelong Japanese speakers.
The pieces in Read Real Japanese Essays are informed by the personalities of the writers: Haruki Murakami, Banana Yoshimoto, Mitsuyo Kakuta, Junko Sakai, Yoko Ogawa, Kou Machida, Keiichiro Hirano and Hideo Levy. By turns humorous, serious, beautiful and biting, they have been selected on the basis of their appeal. All are stimulating works that will motivate readers to want more.
Just like real Japanese books, the text in this collection runs from top bottom and from right to left. For those needing backup, the essays have been supplemented with facing-page translations of the phrases used therein, often with notes on nuance, usage, grammar or culture. In the back of the book, moreover, is a built-in Japanese-English learner's dictionary and a notes section covering issues of nuance, usage, grammar and culture that come up in each essay. Best of all, the book comes with a free audio CD containing narrations of the essays, performed by a professional voice actress. This will help users to become familiar with the sounds and rhythms of Japanese, as well as the speed at which the language is normally spoken.

Frequently Bought Together

Read Real Japanese Essays: Contemporary Writings by Popular Authors 1 Free CD Included + Read Real Japanese Fiction: Short Stories by Contemporary Writers 1 Free CD Included + Short Stories in Japanese: New Penguin Parallel Text (New Penguin Parallel Texts)
Price For All Three: 41.92

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Product details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Kodansha America, Inc; Pap/Com edition (7 April 2008)
  • Language: English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Danish, Hindi, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Welsh
  • ISBN-10: 1568364148
  • ISBN-13: 978-1568364148
  • Product Dimensions: 20.8 x 14 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 322,229 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

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.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent range of topics with audio 10 May 2009
This version of 'Read Real Japanese' far surpasses the previous, which has become somewhat outdated and used Romaji.

The editor's advice to listen, read and listen, then read and pronounce, is commendable.

The texts are wide-ranging, from lifestyle type columns to academic topics to contemporary issues.

I had some reservations having purchased the earlier (same titled) version two years ago but highly recommend this replacement.

The text should suit students who have achieved JLPT 3 onward. More advanced students (JLPT 2+) will find the readings easier but good practice. The audio is professional and almost at newsreader speed. Recommend ripping this to your favourite audio player codec and listening when commuting.

- full audio provided (CD)
- copious grammar notes
- simultaneous facing translation
- full Furigana provided (at first mention)
- stimulating contemporary topics
- true layout (vertical text)
- no Romaji

- relatively few essays
- prefer the Giles Murray 'Read Real Japanese' layout (which has dictionary and basic grammar instructions at base of page not at back of book)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great purchase 7 Jan 2010
The essays featured in this book really are fascinating and provide a wonderful insight into Japanese culture and contemporary thought. Although it's aimed primarily at intermediate speakers, the dictionary (containing every word used in the book) and grammar guide (which is quite good although does omit some sentences that I thought should be included) both mean that even lower-level learners such as myself should be able to learn from it albeit slowly at first.

The CD is a great addition and is very useful if you don't get a lot of exposure to spoken Japanese otherwise.

However one slight problem is that the layout of the translation page seems quite messy, and can be difficult to understand as it is translated rather literally instead of into natural English.
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Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  15 reviews
33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stellar Reader 31 Aug 2008
By ARK - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
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.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good study material 9 Sep 2008
By Kaodake - Published on Amazon.com
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!
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing! 6 Sep 2008
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
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!
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kodansha does it again. And again. 13 Jan 2009
By KanjiHanzi - Published on Amazon.com
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. And despite all the changes in the learning environment over the years, there still aren't many intermediate reading materials available, especially ones that can be used for independent study."""

That's a perfectly honest assessment. Why people get upset by telling them that Japanese is extremely difficult, is really beyond my understanding. I am currently focusing on Mandarin, so I am not ACTIVELY studying Japanese. But if I did, this would be one of the books I would focus on. And also don't forget the companion book "Read Real Japanese Fiction" by Michael Emmerich.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The perfect Japanese reader 31 Mar 2009
By Zack Davisson - Published on Amazon.com
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 (Kitchen) Ogawa Yoko (The _Professor's Beloved Equation). Some of them are more obscure, like short-story author Mitsuyo or poet/novelist Machida Kou. Each author is given a short biography, and there is a nice breadth of style and subject. Probably my favorite essay was Machida's, where he showed how important the ~masu, ~da and ~de aru sentence endings were in Japanese by putting the lyrics to the Sex Pistols' Anarchy In The U.K. in polite ~masu form. Mitsuyo's essay on why men shouldn't cook was also very funny.

The eight essays are:

Murakami Haruki - Little White Lies
Sakai Junko - Admonishing Young People in Trains
Kakuta Mitsuyo - On Cooking
Yoshimoto Banana - On Beauty
Machida Kou - No Matter How he Writes, a Creep is Still a Creep
Ogawa Yoko - Concerning "The Professor's Beloved Equation"
Hirano Keiichiro - Thoughts on Mutability
Levy Hideo - Living in the Land of the Bungakusha

All of the essays are challenging and interesting. The pages are split with the original Japanese on the right, and a break-down translation on the left. Kanji are given with hiragana readings only once, which force you to learn the reading rather than rely on the furigana. The end of the book has a dictionary of the intermediate and advanced words for you to refer to.

I also really enjoyed having the CD to listen to while reading through the essays. It sets a challenging pace, being read at normal speed, and is excellent training for anyone looking to pass a JLPT exam.
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