This book is great; The paper is great, the layout is great, the overall look is great, just from the feel and a quick look over the book you feel it should cost twice as much ^^. The content is awesome, Side-by-side Japanese and English with a dictionary underneath. You will need to understand a little Japanese to get the most out of the Japanese versions but the stories are interesting and rewarding even if you just read the translations. The illustrations and commentry complete this package, the only bad thing I can say is "Why aren't there any more books like this!"
Having spent several years studying Japanese without reading a single piece of literature, I bought this book and have found it very helpful. The size and layout of the book is attractive, with the short biographies of the authors a useful addition. The best feature is the way that all the vocabulary and kanji readings are given on the same page as the text, meaning you don't have to consult a dictionary or leaf through pages as you go. I've also listened to the sound files on the internet, which really add another dimension to the book. My only criticism is that it would have been nice to have had more variety in the stories selected, including some less Gothic in style, but this volume is well worth having. If only there were more books like this to simplify the process of reading Japanese.
Excellent book with only the one bad point. The reference numbers in brackets after the kanji at the bottom do not match up with "The Kodansha Kanji Learner's Dictionary" as claimed. I have the 2013 revised and expanded edition of the dictionary.
I fully concur with previous reviews. This collection of short stories is not only well-selected and annotated (some of the most famous and influential short stories and authors in Japanese literature are here), the format also makes it a very useful and enjoyable learning aid.
Since the stories are not recent works, the language is occasionally a little old-fashioned. However, anyone with a good grasp of the basics of Japanese grammar and a willingness to learn will enjoy this book immensely. Beginners will feel a rewarding sense of achievement at piecing together sentences and narrative, while more experienced readers will find the direct comparison of Japanese and English storytelling an enlightening experience, especially where idiosyncracies and colloquialisms are expertly rendered.
The stories themselves are well-chosen, both for their steadily increasing complexity of language and for their interesting representation of Japanese literature and historical culture. While the first few (from "Ten Nights of Dream" - Natsume Sooseki) are somewhat sombre - reminiscent of Poe, whose influence the editor recognises - all of them are engaging pieces. Even the very first story, barely a few hundred words in length, conveys a strong sense of emotion and powerful imagery, without being too florid or abstract for a relative beginner to understand.
This is a wonderful learning resource and I would strongly recommend it for all but the most basic or advanced students of Japanese - I hope to see more of its kind in future.
I've been learning Japanese for about 5 months, and although I wouldn't claim to be able to read the stories in this book in the original Japanese straight away with my level of understanding, I think this book is excellent. The way that each double page is set out means that it's very easy to refer to the English translation that sits alongside the Japanese. The Japanese is also written from left to right, rather than vertically, to make cross-referencing more efficient. All of the Kanji are written out in Hiragana and English in a mini dictionary beneath the text on each page so that beginner students like myself can look up the meanings of the characters. I think that providing sound files of the stories on the accompanying website is a great idea and I look forward to being able to listen to these and read the text fluently when my Japanese improves. The choice of short stories is interesting and varied, and biographies of the authors are provided to give some context. A real insight into the world of Japanese literature.
Well, if you do inist you want to begin to read Japanese stories, why not start with this volume where everything is there for you. The text is full of Kanji. The stories selected need little background, but there is a set uup for each section and the whole thing in English. There is some indication of the difficulty. The stories are all apparently online as read text, though I haven't availed myself of this yet, it should make a more challenging point. Listen for reinforcement, or listen and read or listen alone and try to write it out. Should be good. The stories are authentic and attractive. You have all of the words listed that you need in phonetic characters and translated, so you can read without having a wide vocabulary. Perhaps the trouble is to be discipllined enough to make sure you study/retain what you read. But it certainly seems a good method of beginning to read Japanese for language learners.
The best way to learn any language is to surround yourself in it. I found this book great for practising reading hiragana and kanji, as well as reading up on classic Japanese literature and culture. There's a website with downloadable Mp3 files that go with the book, but I haven't really looked at these. Overall a very good book.
In my life I have studied 4 foreign languages including Japanese and English and worked with a lot of reader books - both adaptations originals.
This is by far the best non-adaptation reading material I've seen in my life. For every two-page spread you get the original text for half a page, an English translation for half a page more and a dictionary with every single word encountered in that piece of text.
The selection of the texts is also terrific - the stories selected are naturally repetitive and naturally tend to use shorter, basic phrases as a suspense tool. Thanks to that, you still get simpler to read texts without a feeling that you're reading something for 4-year-olds.