Category Archives: Reviews

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 »

Japanese literature review: “コンビニ人間” (Convenience Store Woman [Konbini Ningen]) by 村田沙耶香 (Sayaka Murata)

When I discovered the book “Convenience Store Woman” (Japanese title “コンビニ人間”) by Sayaka Murata had won the 155th Akutagawa prize (arguably the biggest prize for Japanese literature), I decided to check it out myself. I purposefully stayed away from reviews or information about the book, and all I really knew was the book was about a woman who… Read More »

Japanese literature magazine review: 小説幻冬 (Shousetsu Gento) 

These days rather than reading Japanese novels, each which can still take me quite a long time to finish, I’ve been reading a literary magazine called 小説幻冬 (“Shousetsu Gento”, where “shousetsu” means ‘novel’ or ‘short story’) published by 幻冬社 (Gentosha). [Gotta love the name “幻冬”, which is made up for the characters for “mysterious” and… Read More »

Japanese learning mobile app review: Sokuji (即時): Japanese Dictionary Browser

The other day I got an email from Megzari Raphael, the author of the app “Sokuji: Japanese Dictionary Browser” who asked me to check out this app which targets Japanese learners. “Sokuji: Japanese Dictionary Browser” is an iPhone app which tries to serve a single, important purpose: easy, fast lookup of Japanese words while browsing the web. The… Read More »

Japanese Site Review: カクヨム (kakuyomu) – a great place for free novels and short stories

Sometime last year I wrote a review of the site “syosetu.com” (小説家になろう) which is a nice place to get your fill of free (and legal) Japanese novels and short stories. Since then, I have been a pretty heavy user of the site, reading portions of a great many stories, and writing emails to handful of authors to get… Read More »