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Read Japanese Today Paperback – 22 Dec 1997

4.7 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Paperback, 22 Dec 1997
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Product details

  • 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)

Product Description

Review

"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.

Book Description

"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
  • Rashomon
  • Yam Gruel
  • The Martyr
  • Kesa and Morito
  • The Dragon
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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4.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
A friend of mine recommended this book to me before I went out to Japan for six months, and it was a BOON!
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!
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Format: Paperback
I had read rave reviews for this little book and so I felt I had to get a copy and see what all of the fuss was about.

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.
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Format: Paperback
All the characters have meanings of their own; what could be an easier way for remembering the meanings of Kanji, than by learning meanings of these. Forget just learning by rote, trying to remember the sequence of lines; and expose yourself to the etymology of the characters. Some of the derivations are crazy, but that's the way it is; and it still makes sense than imposing another level of complication by trying to learn Heisig's misleading stories. Don't be put off by there only being 300 total symbols, or whatever it is; you'll get a grounding that far exceeds that number, compared to other "The first 10000 Kanji" titles, and allows you to better understand what's going on in all of them.
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By Spider Monkey HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on 15 July 2005
Format: Paperback
`Read Japanese Today' is a short, but brilliant, start to learning how to read Japanese. The descriptions of each word are very clear and as the author describes how the words are formed and also the roots of each word, you can visually see how the shape came about and so remember them easier. I found this to be interesting in it's own right, good for beginners to whet their appetite and learn the structure of Japanese writing in an accessible way and invaluable in learning to read Japanese overall. Worth considering.

Feel free to check out my blog which can be found on my profile page.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Firstly, I'll state the ONE problem I have with this book, it does nothing to help remember all the different readings of each kanji. You may pick up some of them, but remembering the readings will still take much effort. All the book does, is list a few of the common readings, but there's no easy way to remember them.
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).
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Format: Paperback
I found the book very fascinating and useful, the best "entrance door" if you want to go on studying Japanese, and a nice reading if you just want to know a little bit more about Japanese culture. It makes you learn the most important kanji in the easiest and funnniest way, better than many more expensive and difficult book.
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