- Paperback: 160 pages
- Publisher: Tuttle Publishing (22 Dec. 1997)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0804804966
- ISBN-13: 978-0804804967
- Product Dimensions: 20.4 x 13 x 1.2 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,742,168 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Read Japanese Today Paperback – 22 Dec 1997
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"A simple first step, learning to read the first 300 Kanji characters; the same way Japanese elementary school students do. It gives topical examples of signage and localities from around Tokyo, so it would be particularly helpful for the first timer language neophyte in Japan. Considering that acquiring just a few thousand Kanji takes most of a High School education, you can't really ask for more in an easy to read book." —Goodreads --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
"Clear-eyed glimpses of human behavior in the extremities of poverty, stupidity, greed, vanity… Story-telling of an unconventional sort, with most of the substance beneath the shining, enameled surface." —The New York Times Book Review
This collection of six short stories, most of which have never been translated before, includes "In a Grove", a psychologically sophisticated tale about murder, rape, and suicide; "Rashomon", the story of a thief scared into honesty by an encounter with a ghoul; and "Kesa and Morito", the story of man driven to kill someone he doesn't hate by a lover whom he doesn't love.
"There are enough Swiftian touches in Akutagawa to show his hatred of stupidity, greed, hypocrisy and the rising jingoism of the day. But Akutagawa's artistic integrity kept him from joining his contemporaries in the easy social criticism or naive introspection…What he did was question the values of his society, dramatize the complexities of human psychology, and study, with a Zen taste for paradox, the precarious balance of illusion and reality."—Howard Hibbett, from the Introduction of Rashomon and Other Stories
Classic Japanese stories include:
- In a Grove
- Yam Gruel
- The Martyr
- Kesa and Morito
- The Dragon
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Top Customer Reviews
It starts with the simplest Kanji (characters), and clearly explains their origins and meanings. Then it shows how these 'elemental' characters are built up into more complex characters, with more complex meanings. After getting through the book I found that I could understand lots of common Kanji in Japan, even though I wasn't actually 'reading' them. It was a bit more like seeing road signs - you understand them 'directly' without any sound entering your mind at all.
If you also get a simple book on the spoken language, and also learn the two phonetic alphabets (Hiragana and Katakana - not too difficult to learn), you'll find you can get along surprisingly well in Japan.
This was all twenty years ago, but I remember going through this book so fondly that I've just ordered a copy to go through again!
My initial reaction was one of disappointment as this the both the format and the writing style of this book is quite unlike any other textbook I have ever come across - However, once I began reading it I realised that this is precisely its strength !
Once I had settled down into a regular pattern of reading a few pages of this book I realised that I was suddenly increasing my knowledge and recognising basic Kanji with ease.
The small size of this book makes it the perfect companion for your daily commute or any other journey and belies the wealth of information that it contains - all of which is conveyed in a light and informal manner that makes learning the basic Kanji easy and enjoyable.
I have only a few very minor critisms:-
Firstly, the lack of index (although a free index has been written by another "fan" of this book and can be obtained online free of charge)
Secondly, the small size of the book means that there is no "stroke order" of the Kanji included. However the primary "Raison d'etre" of this book is remembering / recognizing the Kanji rather than the actual art of writing.
Finally, there are a couple of pages where the typesetting / layout appears to be slightly bizarre - but this does not adversely affect the content.
Therefore in summary, if you are seeking a good introductary aid to remembering the first 300 (or so)Kanji - then buy this book, read (and re-read)a few pages each day, and you will not be disappointed.
A superb little book that should be in the collection of all students of the Japanese language.
Feel free to check out my blog which can be found on my profile page.
However, where this book really shines, is remembering the meaning of the kanji. Once you start understanding each element of each kanji, they stop looking like random squiggles, and they start looking like pictures made up of smaller, simple pictures. Since I've started reading it, I'm finding that I remember a lot of more kanji than I used to, with little effort, and for a few, where I can't remember the reading, its a simple case to make sure I revise them a little bit extra with additional tools such as smart.fm
The book does exactly what it says, it helps you read japanese, just make sure you pair this book with other learning tools to help with the other aspects of the language (namely, writing, speaking and listening).
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Basically my favourite learning book, it is really simple, very simply explained all the mysterious signs and all made sense!Published 11 months ago by Kristiana Todorova
I picked up the kanji in the first chapter so quickly. Explanations can be a bit drawn out and complicated but a great way to learn the characters and make them stick in your... Read morePublished on 14 Sept. 2014 by Gillian
Very interesting book to read through, not set out like a textbook like many language book I have bought in the past. Read morePublished on 8 Sept. 2014 by Ms. K. Hay
I have the 60's first edition that I love most for its convenient pocket sizing. I thought this would be the same but disappointingly for me it's now a normal sized text book, no... Read morePublished on 7 Dec. 2013 by Mark M
Even though I had enormous fun reading this book and working with it, I cannot quite give it 5 out of 5 stars. Read morePublished on 11 Oct. 2013 by M. R. Munter
Don't get me wrong, this is a good book with mnemotechnics for remembering a good number of kanjis and it would be very useful for the ones learning Japanese or for those ones... Read morePublished on 17 Aug. 2013 by Dac
I'm not kidding, this book really does what it says. I can easily still remember what characters have what meanings and how to read them. Read morePublished on 25 Mar. 2013 by Jaleela