📚📚 Read every day challenge - Spring 2022 🌸 🌱

I just finished “Hikoichi and the Young Lord”. After saying the young lord was the one with ink on his hand, the real young lord looked down at his hand, and the other children looked over at him to see if it was true. So HIkoichi was correct, and the old lord was amazed at Hikoichi’s wisdom, and gave him a huge reward. “And that is it. The End.”

So I learned in Japanese how to begin and end
a story:

昔々 有る ところ所に Long ago, long ago, in a certain place

所に です And that is it.

Other new vocabulary:

与え給う to bestow

褒美 reward


Excellent job! You’re only further stoking the desires I have to check out Soseki… maybe when I finish my current books it’ll be time to stop running away from older Japanese sometime.

Summary post

I did it, gang! Another route down. This time was ~7500 characters, just the amount needed to wrap it up. This leaves just Nomiki, Shiki, and then the true route. Now is the test to see if I can handle Nomiki, who I almost started on before veering hard away when her sentences were far too loaded with compound noun kanji words all about public utilities and social morality standards and whatnot.

This game is pretty. Today honestly wasn’t too bad, another of those confidence builder days. And I can see myself more comfortably reading some words and kanji I’ve been trying to learn not too long ago, so hey, more visible progress maybe. When Clannad was mentioned the other day I briefly booted it up just to see what I thought of its writing now, and hey, it looks pretty readable. It’s probably only a small step above Summer Pockets if they’re even meaningfully different – it’s just something that months ago had 5 new words every sentence and was basically overwhelming and incomprehensible. Love to see it. I should try Dragon Quest 11 again soon out of curiosity… that was a game I played VERY early, knowingly too early, just to see what I could manage. And I did get through a bit, but what an uphill struggle it was.

Cool new word! 胸騒ぎ (むなさわぎ), an uneasiness or feeling that something bad is going to happen. It’s chest noise. Fairly intuitive while also being quite evocative.


I read こころ (in the past, I mean), which wasn’t that hard grammar wise. The vocabulary felt a bit old, but you get used to it pretty quickly. level 39 on natively, which sounds appropriate.


Gotta admit I’d probably rate it like a 34-35 then :sweat_smile: I weigh grammar far more heavily than vocabulary, unless the scope of the vocabulary is particularly wide or it’s very obscure (not in my dictionary). But I haven’t read it so can’t say for sure. At some point I’ll get to the long form classics, but I do love my short stories.


Well, that’s fair. But at the same time, I feel that in that case, pretty much everything will end up in that difficulty range :sweat_smile: which, to be fair, is pretty much what is happening with things I am reading lately.
Still, I feel like an average learner would need more dictionary lookups than usual (due to being less familiar with the vocabulary). That should be factored in some way, especially for people reading on paper (like I did) making lookups time consuming. :thinking:


Summary Post

Day 39: May 9th
What did I read?: クマとカラス
How much did I read?: 19 pages
How long did it take me?: 31 min

The journey continues~ They must be really out in the middle of nowhere, how the heck did the crow get all the way out there?? Maybe we’ll find out eventually? But for now, they’re going to go see the volcano~ Bear is sparkling with excitement :heart:

A couple words
  • 吠え声 (ほえごえ) - bark; howl; roar; bellow
  • 水浴び (みずあび) - bathing (swimming) in cold water
  • 手っ取り早い (てっとりばやい) - quick; prompt; without delay​; simple; easy; effortless

:heart: Congrats on finishing! :grin:

:star_struck: So pretty!!


The pure, goofy excitement of the bear in this panel is really selling me hard on what you’re reading.

Grading discussion

I suppose my thought process is that most native material does fail within the ~28-39 range and outliers on the higher end are just that, outliers. For me N1+ means “would be challenging for someone with only a high school education” because based on what I’ve gathered from people who have taken the test and impressions of Japanese people who took practice exams, it’s roughly testing comprehension at the level of a high school grad. This could be wrong, but it’s what I’m basing things on.

With that said, this means very old and hard to read texts, things with very specialized ways of writing, and writing that is “college level” so to speak. The only thing I’ve read that I want to push into the 40s is 芥川’s 遺書 which I don’t recommend because it was depressing as hell.

I sometimes read paper, sometimes digital so I try to weight vocab fairly across both mediums. Hence scope of vocab and difficulty of looking up are the weighting options for me. It’s why I rate some short story collections higher even though I personally didn’t find them too difficult, because the spread of their vocabulary was quite wide.


Days 37&38

  • ジョジョの奇妙な冒険


Last night I wanted to finish the volume, but I was like, I’ll get decent sleep instead. Heh. I woke up at a good time and then accidently fell back asleep. I was pleasantly surprised to not be late for work today.

JoJo Thoughts

So these pages finished up the fight between JoJo and Tarkus. It was an interesting fight and I’m glad they drew it out more in the manga. I can’t help but feel a bit cheated though. Araki spends several pages talking about Zeppeli’s training and how he asks to know how he’ll die. It’s obvious what will come next. Speedwagon tells him to take care, and then Zeppeli dies literally after 1 move. I think it’s after the one move that bothers me the most. He’s supposed to be a well trained guy and he’s been taking everything so seriously, but then it’s just one move. I would have loved to see it more drawn out or depicted as either more clever or brutal. I just feel a bit cheated after all that build up to have it feel so anti-climatic.

Oh well. At least there should be more Dio again soon.


Turns out, I didn’t have as much time to read as I thought I would, so I “only” read 10 pages today. :slight_smile:

Your comment reminded me of something! A while ago I ran a book club on another forum where our discussion was in Japanese, and I’ve been wanting to try to put one together here as well, but was putting it off in order to focus on reading for a while. Maybe it’s getting about time to start asking around if folks would be interested in such a thing …


May 9 :cherry_blossom: Home Post

Writing essays is very bad for brain energy as it turns out; definitely looking forward to being done with that :joy: I got some reading in though! A bit of ZTD, a bit of ラストゲーム in a (failed) attempt to refresh my brain, tried watching some stuff, etc. so not the most productive reading day I’ve ever had but hey it all counts! I’m almost free lmao

In adjacent news I’m very much set for reading adventures this summer; I may have picked up some more golden week things :eyes: but I’ll be finishing Zero Escape in the near-ish future so that’s an excuse right? :stuck_out_tongue: But yeah I still have AI: The Somnium Files lined up, and I also got the STEINS;GATE bundle that was on sale bc why not, people have been bugging me to watch it for ages so I’ll just play it instead! I also gave in and figured out how to buy that バディミッションBOND game so that’ll be interesting. Hey what am I working for if not to buy ridiculous visual novels?? :laughing:

So yeah between that and the games I already had lingering around (looking at you Persona 4 and also all of my manga I haven’t touched whoops) and 海辺(うみべ)のカフカ, I should have no problem finding stuff to read :joy: I’m excited to have more time to do all of it! Soon :muscle:

Congratulations, that’s a great accomplishment! I certainly hadn’t registered it was a graded reader from the bits you’ve posted so clearly don’t underestimate graded readers :joy: It’s definitely something to be proud of! :tada: :tada: :tada:

Oooh that sounds really cool! It’d be real challenge for me for sure, but I’d be interested to try :grin:


I’m tempted but also semi horrified at the idea of my grammar errors being so openly on display :joy: Depending on the book I might bite. I wonder if a purposefully easier read might be better, so the difficulty of discussions is lessened? Sometimes even describing my thoughts on hard Japanese writing in English is difficult.


Sounds like what the sentence a day challenge is in practice. Most of the regular posters have conversations amongst themselves and invite newbies to join them :slight_smile:

Unless you mean like a book club discussion all in Japanese?

Grading discussion

Ah, I meant the 34-35 range. I thought your point was that the vocabulary difficulty doesn’t matter much (as long as the word is in the dictionary).

That’s pretty much my standard as well. And by that standard, 39 would be the level of someone who finished (or is close to finish) high school versus 34 the level of someone entering high school. At the end of the day, that’s not that much difference, but I still think it’s more 39.

A fun development: I got curious and googled a bit, and found the notes of a student who read part of こころ as a mandatory assignment during their second year of high school. So we are at least in the correct ballpark :joy:
I didn’t know such note sharing website existed, but it’s pretty cool!



Well, I had thought at first that I was doing better today (even got to bed relatively early last night and woke up relatively late this morning!), but I spent most of it lying down and needing copious breaks. And then I developed a knot in my shoulder, because of course I did. I feel like I’m developing one in either my neck or my shoulder every few weeks lately, it’s annoying. I never used to but occasionally.

I read 1 pg of 2.43, putting me on pg 83. Unfortunately, after that is when the knot developed, and I decided that something where I wouln’t have to move as much would be better.

I finished the challenge to unlock Urbosa in ゼルダ無双 today! I think Koga-as-Urbosa speaks a little bit differently than Urbosa herself does, which I didn’t pick up on when playing in English. But then again, you only see Koga-as-Urbosa use “だい,” while you can hear Urbosa using “だ” in similar contexts. Also, TIL that Sooga’s name in the original is スッパ. I totally didn’t hear that at all the first time I played! I thought it would be スガ or possibly スーガ, but nope.

Before I reset, I’d been playing with English text and Japanese voices. I wasn’t even the slightest bit inclined to see what they sound like in English. DQXI, on the other hand, I did get a bit curious after I wrote my first (and still only, at least finished) fic for it and found that I feel like Erik would be the type to drop his g’s in English. He doesn’t in the text, but then, a lot of people don’t do that it writing except to show a strong accent (which I don’t see him as having, and also, I am not one of those people lol), so that doesn’t necessarily mean he wouldn’t in speech. So I made a new save file and set voices to English, since I felt like starting at the beginning. At first it was fine, up until present day. I can’t remember whose voice it was that made me switch back to Japanese—Gemma’s, maybe? Right before the second cutscene with Erik, I switched it back to English, and pretty much the moment he opened his mouth, I was like, “Nope, nope, skip cutscene! Skip cutscene!” So I still don’t know what he sounds like in English, and I am no longer inclined to find out.

Well, I’m off to bed soon. Hopefully a good night’s sleep will help my shoulder feel better, and not just make it worse. And hopefully tomorrow I’ll finally get to read at least the next ch of クールドジ男子 and the next two of 夜カフェ…


May 9th (Calendar Post)

Completed the only volume of 魔女が恋する5秒前 today and started my next manga.

魔女が恋する5秒前 => 12 pages (23 minutes)
Hello, Melancholic! => 63 pages (75 minutes)

Some fun panels from today:





And ran into this interesting word:



I was going to talk a bit about this in my next study log post, haha, but I feel like maybe there’d be more interest in the topic here? It would certainly have more readers :sweat_smile:

I actually went down a bit of a rabbit hole a couple weeks ago because the library I work at had this book available digitally:

Tono, Yukio. Research on Dictionary Use in the Context of Foreign Language Learning : Focus on Reading Comprehension . Reprint 2012. Tübingen: Niemeyer, 2001.

It’s from 2001, so new research might have supplanted it, but I was curious enough about the subject, haha, I ended up skimming my way through most of the book.

Here are some thoughts

From what I read, there’s unfortunately not a whole lot of research on the difference between monolingual and bilingual dictionary use (at least, as of the time that this book was published). Overall language ability was a much more accurate predictor of how proficient the students were at using dictionaries and comprehending what they were reading. Bilingual dictionaries were by far the most popular among the students, but some advanced readers appreciated monolingual dictionaries

Many of the subjects in the various studies had their own dictionary preferences, but it didn’t seem like the monolingual dictionaries gave them a particular advantage. In one 1998 study, there was no clear task difference in the results, though the author of this book remarked that it’s possible that the tasks were too easy for them.

Of course, these studies were all testing short-term stuff, like the ability of students to complete specific tasks, and didn’t really examine regular dictionary use over a long period of time. Though it did seem pretty clear that using any dictionary was better than going without, at least in terms of general reading comprehension of any given passage and ability to successfully complete tasks. Using a dictionary provides superior comprehension compared to trying to understand purely through context.

Apparently this philosophy has at times been controversial (many language teachers focused very heavily on learning through context and discouraged extensive dictionary use), though I think most of us self-learners here are pretty lax haha and recognize the value of reading intensely and using a dictionary. You do still learn from extensive reading, but not as much as you learn from intensive reading where you make an effort to look up words instead of just guessing from context, it seems.

The author of the book also pointed out that your first language has a huge effect on the ease of using monolingual dictionaries. If your native language is very close to the language you’re learning, it makes it way easier to use a monolingual dictionary.

Of course, plenty of other stuff affects this. Like not only monolingual/bilingual dictionary, but the specific dictionary being used and the information it contains (like providing context sentences usually does more to help students understand how words are used rather than simply specifying part of speech and such), as well as the reader’s ability to know how to effectively navigate the dictionary.

I guess my conclusion from what I read (which, granted, was not the whole book, haha) is that there’s a much bigger difference in reading comprehension between reading with a dictionary and reading without one than there is a difference in comprehension between reading with a monolingual dictionary and a bilingual one, so I’ve decided to prioritize ease of dictionary use above any other factors. I want to make it as easy as possible for me to (intensively) read as much as possible. As my language skill improves, monolingual dictionaries will get easier to use, and I’ll probably find myself wanting to make the full shift eventually.

I do wonder if any new research on the topic of dictionaries and language learning has been published after the book mentioned above, and if any of it specifically addressed bilingual vs monolingual dictionaries in terms of long term benefits to language acquisition, or even addressing newer technologies like popup dictionaries like Yomichan, which undoubtedly change the entire process.

My thought is that probably no matter what you do, there will be trade-offs, and it’s just up to the individual to decide which trade-offs are worth it and which ones aren’t. For me and you, perhaps the time/energy trade-off to go monolingual currently just isn’t worth it, whereas for others in the thread, the costs aren’t as frustrating. I think whatever method gets you looking forward to reading, and which doesn’t make you dread doing your flash cards, is probably the best method for that person. Once you reach a high level, it all pretty much evens out anyway.



Also I read 19% → 24% of モテ薬 tonight. It’s…fine. Like the audiobook is good, the writing style isn’t bad, the topic is interesting enough but I’m just not that drawn in tbh. I only have 5.5 hours left in the audiobook though (160 pages) so I’ll probably just finish it out as quickly as I can.


Thank you, @pocketcat, @omk3, @Daisoujou, @windupbird (you always read the cutest manga), @natarin!

It is so easy to be dismissive of the difficulty because it is a graded reader, so thanks for affirming that it wasn’t weird for me to struggle (even after reading some native material).

Well, your comment might be even better at validating my feeling that this one stepped up a notch in difficulty. :joy:

Japanese Classics, Soseki, plus more historical/classic stories in graded readers

@pocketcat congratulated me on my first Japanese classic finished, and that got me to wonder if any of the other stories in Ask Graded Readers are considered classics. Because there are others.

To be clear though, all of them are simplified to some degree. How much isn’t made clear anywhere. Also, I’m not sure if any of them are cut for length.

The ones I’ll mention are all in level 4, meaning:
クラス = 中級
語彙数 = 1300
文字数 /1話 = 5000 ~ 10 000
(Which if I understand it correctly, means that it uses 1300 different vocabulary words, and each booklet is 5000 ~ 10 000 characters. (Possibly each booklet is more like 10 000 characters but any one story (when there is more than one) is at least 5000.) That is what I figure after trying to look up those terms multiple times.)

So 坊っちゃん was two booklets which probably makes it around 20k characters? Don’t know if that is close to the original or not.

Anyway, lets list some of the others that might be classics that I’ve read (but all of them (in this graded reader form) were easier than 坊っちゃん):

走れメロス by 太宰 治 (according to wikipedia this is a classic read widely read in Japanese schools)

杜子春 by 芥川 龍之介 (recognized that name before I looked it up, Akutagawa story! No idea if this one is considered classic, beyond being written by this author)

雪女 by 小泉 八雲 (plus more stories by him) (this is an interesting one, he isn’t Japanese, and I can’t even find out (through quick wikipedia checking) if he wrote the stories in the graded readers in Japanese; but his collecting of Japanese fairy tales and folk lore stories seems to be liked in Japan? So is these Japanese classics? I have no idea :joy:)

野菊の墓 by 伊藤 左千夫 (pen name) (is anything written before a certain year considered classic? I honestly don’t know what defines a classic from just a work written long ago.

森鴎外短編集:高瀬舟、最後の一句 by 森 鷗外 (pen name) (Also seems to be a classical writer, although none of these stories were mentioned on English wikipedia, and no I’m not about to brave Japanese wikipedia. :joy: )

So I guess I have read a few different classical authors in simplified (and probably modernized) versions.

While I liked some of those stories mentioned above. I’ve liked none as much as I did 坊っちゃん. So I look forward to getting better at Japanese and being able to tackle Soseki directly. Perhaps even reread 坊っちゃん in its original state. Not something I’m planing anytime soon. But I’ll have to remember to revisit Soseki.

So can heartily recommend.

Huh, I might have to check out the sentence a day thread. Maybe not exactly right now, but when I want to dive more into producing again. :slight_smile:

Dictionary use, study methods and tangents from yours truly

Interesting, thanks for sharing! <3

I’m about to use what you wrote here to talk a bit about things I think about. Don’t feel like I’m opposing you or even necessarily saying these things in direct relation to what you said. I just kinda got up on my soap box and digressed all over the place. :sweat_smile:

I feel this (being dictionary use or not) also depends on the difficulty of material, but the research might not have gone into that too much.

I guess it also depends on what kind of reading. Intensive vs extensive, easy vs hard. Where those two scales both are would probably decide for me whether I would use a dictionary, and how much to use it.

I know for me personally, the breadth of my English vocabulary comes from reading extensively and mostly without a dictionary (life before smart phones and such). So there is certainly a point where reading without any dictionary becomes possible with little or no loss in comprehension.

But this might have been a bit of tangent. I’m prone to those. :sweat_smile:

I think it is also important to also take into account that we are not all the same. That one tool might work better for A than it does for B from all kinds of reasons (how each person’s brain works, previous experience, current situation around them (high stress/low stress for example), etc.).

Sometimes I feel like people talk about efficiency like it looks exactly the same for everyone. That there is this one optimal (time-wise) way of learning. If that existed, and was that universal, I feel like school/college/university would probably have found the method by now and all learning would be done the same. Instead I feel like it is becoming clearer and clearer, the longer we have standardized ways of teaching, that in fact not everyone learns the same way. That one method might be more effective for person A than person B.

I often call myself good at taking tests and good at school, like it is/was a skill. And it is. I could figure out what teachers meant to ask in their tests, even when they fumbled the question. I had high grades in school and barely had to study for tests. Not because I’m this genius, but because the way things were taught in school makes me learn really well/easily. So I retained and learnt the material super well during lessons, and didn’t need the extra repetitions before tests.

I recognize that this is not a universal skill. That most people had to study for tests. I might have been a bit arrogant in my youth about it. (Look at me getting the highest grade and I didn’t even study. Hahaha… me = idiot; to be a bit fairer to myself I mostly said that to good friends who were also pretty good at school, but still :sweat: ) But the higher I went in education, the more I had to struggle because teaching methods changed. At the same time, I met more people, seeing how they might understand something well but be poor at taking tests. Or how they thrived with the new teaching methods, or struggled worse than I did. (Experience adds to understand apparently. :joy:)

Anyway, I’ll finish this digression. (Have I mentioned I’m really good at relating things to my cherished topics? No? Man, I swear I did… :rofl:)

So back to the topic more specifically. It might be trade-offs, but it might just be that one thing works for A and not so well for B. That is why a learning community like this is so valuable because we can learn how other people do things and try them for ourselves to see if those methods help with our learning. But we have to remember that there is no method that are superior to all others.

Some methods might in general be more efficient, or faster, or more comprehensive, but they are only those things if that method works for you. And if it doesn’t work so well for you (or stopped working as well), then consider trying something else without feeling guilty for not using that method anymore.

*gets off soap box*

Next booklet in volume 3 of level 4 Ask Graded Reader is telling/retelling of 四十七人の侍. I look forward to reading it even though I’ve read it before (but not in Japanese).


So I don’t know if my understanding matches what’s generally understood by “classic”, but in my mind there are two “levels” to this: The first level would be texts written in kobun, i.e. classical literary Japanese that’s pretty different from modern Japanese so I wouldn’t stand the slightest chance in understanding it. The second level would be texts written before the major script reform in 1945/46.

For your list of authors:

太宰 and 芥川 are of course super-well known authors.

小泉 八雲 (whose name at the time of birth was Lafcadio Hearn) lived in Japan for 15 years (until he died) and allowed the West go gain a deep glance into the old Japan.

Also, look what I have on my shelf!

My neighbor gave this to me because “you do Japanese, right?” :joy_cat:

(the subtitle says “Life and experiences/adventures in old Japan”)

伊藤 左千夫 is unknown to me. But he seems to be a poet rather than a writer, so there’s that. (Not going to touch poets any time soon, if ever :sweat_smile:)

森鴎外 is also a very well-known author, although he was a medical doctor by profession. He spent some time in Germany and was a bit of the inverse of Hearn in that he opened the Western world to his Japanese readership. I just listened to a talk about him where it was mentioned that he wrote like crazy, and until today not all of his writings have been covered academically yet :sweat_smile:
I know him because I read 高瀬舟 with a reading circle at some point (and liked it a lot; I found it to be quite thought-provoking). That one was not too difficult actually.

Regarding whether a certain text is a classic or not: I think many of these authors produced many many texts (short stories are still popular in Japan nowadays, but I feel like back in the day there were hardly any authors who would write really long books - Soseki might be an exception there). So I wouldn’t worry too much whether a given text is actually a classic or not. The authors definitely are.

Bookwalker features some editions and they are around 250 pages, so… it was probably shortened slightly :laughing: