Category Archives: Reviews

Japanese novel review: “Little Bird”(ことり) by Yoko Ogawa (小川洋子)

Generally when I pick a Japanese novel to read, either the story itself caught my attention or there was something else about the book (for example, it won one or more awards) that made it seem a worthy read. In the case of the novel “Little Bird” (ことり) by Yoko Ogawa (小川洋子), it was clearly… Read More »

A review of Skoo (スクー): Japanese online classes, streaming or live

Thanks to the nearly infinite resources available on the internet, studying a foreign language like Japanese on your own has become much easier than ten or twenty years ago. You can learn about many of the finer points of the language, including grammar, and even enjoy online media in that language using things like novels… Read More »

Babelcube review: taking books global (Japanese to English)

I’ve spent some time doing translation work at Gengo as a side job, and while lately I’ve reduced my time there, I still think they provide an excellent service with a well-optimized workflow and great customer support. One of the reasons I’ve gravitated away from Gengo is because they don’t focus on content that requires… Read More »

Japanese children’s book review: おしりたんてい (Bum Detective) by トロル (Troll)

Many children seem to go through a phase where they are delighted by gross or disgusting things like boogers and farts. I guess you could some of us adults still haven’t grown out of it. (: There are books for young readers that take advantage of this by including these types of gross topics to… Read More »

Japanese Literature Review: 「蜜蜂と遠雷」(Honey Bees and Distant Thunder) by 「恩田 陸」 (Riku Onda)

Because of how long it takes me to read Japanese novels, I’m generally very picky about what I commit to. But once I start reading a book I almost never give up, regardless of how tough things get. When I heard that music was a central theme of “Honey Bees and Distant Thunder” (蜜蜂と遠雷) and… Read More »

Japanese children’s book review: 「とうさんのあしのうえで」 (tousan no ashi no ue de) [At daddy’s feet]

In several past posts I’ve mentioned how children’s books are a great way to help train your reading skills in Japanese, one of the main reasons being you usually don’t have to worry about knowing kanji (or even katakana for that matter) since furigana reading hints will be comprehensively used. While you can run into… Read More »

Mobile App Review: Manabi Reader: a nice assistant to help improve your Japanese reading skills

Recently I got a tweet from Alek Ehlke asking me to try out his new iOS app “Manabi Reader”. In case you didn’t know, “Manabi” (学び) comes from the verb “Manabu” (学ぶ) which means “to learn”. While it’s not a very creative name, it’s easy enough to remember. The purpose of this app is quite simple:… Read More »

Japanese book review: “その日本語、大人はカチンときます!” [That Japanese is offensive!]

The other day when browsing Kinokuniya’s Beaverton store (near Portland, Oregon), a book titled “その日本語、大人はカチンときます!” (“That Japanese is offensive!”)  caught my interest so I decided to try it out.  It was published in 2016 by 青春出版社 (Seishun Publishing Company), edited by  ビジネス文章力研究所 (Business Bunshoryoku Kenkujo), and is a little under 200 pages. (Note: the title technically literally says… Read More »

Japanese Book Review: “Poverty Lessons” (ビンボー魂) by Toru Kazama (風間トオル)

When I read for pleasure in either Japanese or English, I tend to go with fiction, and the book reviews I post on this blog reflect that pretty well. But over time, I’ve still read my share of non-fiction books, including those about stock investing, technology, and science. There is one genre, however, which I’ve never… Read More »

Ramen Ryoma: One of the top Ramen restaurants in Portland, Oregon

Last year, I had posted a review of Kukai (also called Kizuki) Ramen, mentioning it was one of the best places I had Ramen in the United States. While tastewise, I still hold to that judgement, putting all things into consideration, there is another serious contender for the Ramen throne. The restaurant is called “Ramen… Read More »