📚📚 Read every day challenge - Spring 2022 🌸 🌱


Well yeah, very frequently different senses all arise from the same sort of core idea. Like how かかる, despite the nightmare it looks like, if you think super broadly has that same sort of “hang” idea in a lot of ways. Some a little too much a stretch to feel intuitive, but like I get it in at least a lot of cases. I don’t disagree; I was just speaking loosely.

The reason I call out long entries with lots of definitions is, I mean, I’m not that good at this. I’ve read a couple books and a lot of this super long VN but my roughly 6000 characters a day today came out to 534 lines. If that’s my stamina for a Japanese reading session, each Japanese definition entry I read is going to subtract from that (I mean obviously it’s not 1:1 per every line but you get the point). And for me, half the time it terminates in English anyway when the definitions have more words I have to look up. If I would go down the rabbit hole of Japanese definitions for words in a Japanese definition… well, the dictionary becomes the day’s project.

I know you’ve taken hardline no English and that’s impressive given when you did it but honestly I dunno how to read ANYTHING that way without just tolerating a ton of ambiguity. Which I prefer not to in the reading here; I’m going for the “intensive” style and looking up everything I don’t understand to try to follow new things.

The more I think I think about it the more I feel like Japanese dictionaries are more useful, for my purposes, to investigate words I already somewhat know. If I’m coming across a word the first time ever, I’m probably not going to even remember it. I mean, I might mine it and try to improve my memory of it that way, but if the definition isn’t basically free to me, is that the best time to devote that energy to making sure I’m getting the pure essence of the word? Some people would say yes… but I’m already always wishing I could read more than I do, and the times the English glosses fail to make sense when combined with all the surrounding context are vanishingly small. They’re worse when looking at a word in isolation, but when you just need to know what the sentence in front of you says? Hard to complain.

Basically, I won’t even disagree with you that using a monolingual definition probably speeds up the process of understanding a word’s “single concept,” but it comes at the cost of slowing down the process of actually immersing in content you care about. Does the benefit of the former actually outweigh the latter? Intuitively it feels like there is a time when it objectively wouldn’t (let’s say don’t use them at sub N5 lol) and a time when it objectively would (imagine someone near total fluency consulting Jisho for some reason). Where is the point on the line where the J-J wins out? Shame there aren’t quality studies on this kind of thing (well, to my knowledge).

more words J-J chat

Lol, from conversations we’ve had I don’t think @GrumpyPanda accepts much ambiguity at all, but is just a lot more controlled in only reading things at a more comfortable reading level in terms of vocab etc. Which for sure is a trade off, especially if you lack all self control and want to read all the things with no waiting (this is me making fun of myself here, to be clear).

A BIG caveat that needs said in this conversation (and I think grumpy already alluded to it) is that both of us got started with J-J using the (now sadly closing) Jalup decks. They are pretty much a tailored easy introduction to J-J definitions, and will introduce key dictionary terms and other vocab using simplified monolingual definitions where the only unknown word is the one being defined. I think grumpy started reading and mining in earnest after 3000 J-J Jalup cards - which doesn’t cover everything but certainly gets you to a place where standard monolingual definitions are generally okay. Of course, it is possible to make the transition without something like this but I think having that hand holding at the start was really helpful to get you past the ‘ah! I don’t know any of the words on this definition!’ stage.

Hahaha, yes this was my exact experience in 13 sentinels whenever they started talking medicine and genetics and cloning etc etc etc. Definitely faster to reach for the English definitions in those situations!


A bit late but I wanted to at least do an update with my reading progress for the 1st week. In any case I have a day-by-day summary on my main post if anyone is curious.

What I’ve managed to do this past week:

  • Read every day
  • Finished かがみの孤城 Week 21 (2 weeks behind)
  • Read 夜カフェ chapter 4 (up to date!)
  • Read 差がのがばいばあちゃん up to chapter 3 (2.5 weeks behind)
  • Finished オレンジ Vol.4
  • Played バリアブルバリケード ~5h which roughly translated to about 1/4 of a route (I think)

I’m still behind and haven’t had as much free time as I’d have liked butttt still trying! I’m still kinda doing a lot of different things and having fun so I’m not too bothered by it. Hopefully next week I can be up to date with at least one more bookclub.


I should really update my reading progress here, but instead I’m going to shamelessly ask @NicoleIsEnough if they’ve read any more Flesh&Blood. :eyes: I’ve been enjoying experiencing it vicariously while I grind away on my current books.


:tiger2: :books: Tanuki Den (aka Homepost): Date 20220509 :cherry_blossom: :raccoon:

Tanuki Scroll XXXIX: 毛生え薬 :barber:

Read today’s Edo tale, about a man with thinning hair. He goes to the drugstore to get some hair growth formula but he doesn’t have enough money to buy it and gets in a quarrel with the store clerk. During the fight some of the medicine ends up on the floor and the man falls on it. He doesn’t get any more hair on his head but now he has a luxurious flowing horse tail sprouting from his bum.

:seedling: Japanese found in the tall grass :seedling:

New Things

毛生え薬「けはえぐすり」ー Hair growth formula / hair restorer
天下一「てんかいち」ー Unique; best in the world
番頭「ばんとう」ー Head clerk
江戸っ子「えどっこ」ー A true Edo person - someone who was born and raised in Edo (Tokyo when the word is used today) and has the qualities and characteristics as such.

New Usage
「もん」ー currency used from the Muromachi period to the early Meiji period (1300s-1800s)

Ok one more little J-J related response

Perhaps I should just directly ask @GrumpyPanda what kind of thing they’ve been reading then because I’d consider myself to still be somewhat choosing reading material that is on the easier side, but to this day there is nothing I’ve read for natives that doesn’t have a new word every like 2 lines.

There’s still a part of me wondering if I’d benefit more in the end by pushing through using J-J more, but when I try it feels like kind of a drag relative to just getting on with the stuff I’m trying to read. Who knows.

That said, I don’t think I’d ever go entirely Japanese only. Medical/scientific terms are a good example. Even just take something like radiation – I have a pretty strong mental conception of the concept like everyone does, but if I were to even read in English that a word meant “the emission of energy as electromagnetic waves or as moving subatomic particles, especially high-energy particles which cause ionization” I don’t think I’m good enough with physics to link that back to what it is. If it was in Japanese I would probably struggle a lot through the sentence and even if I understood it, still not truly know anything by the time I finished.


Oh yeah sorry for the long silence, I was swept away by some super busy time at work :neutral_face: Despite that, I managed to read every day, but I could not find the energy to post here in between. Anyways, I’m now at almost 3/4 of the book and I am happy to give you an update :upside_down_face:

At first I was not sure how much of the plot I should give away, but since you’re asking for it, I will give you a little tour through the part that I’ve already read.

Flesh&Blood plot with not too many spoilers, I think

So our protag, the 17-year-old Kaito, lives in England because of his father’s work. He visits Plymouth because he wants to follow the trail of the famous pirates he admires, especially Sir Francis Drake, who lived in Plymouth back in the day. Kaito then time-travels to the year 1587, right after Maria Stuart was executed, and shortly before the English-Spanish war breaks out. The unconscious Kaito is found by some sailors who take them to a doctor, and subsequently the sailors’ boss, a [of course] very handsome and [of course] very gay captain, takes care of him and hires him as his cabin boy. [Of course] this captain is enthralled by our sweet 17-year-old Japanese boy and tries to win him over, but [of course] Kaito is very straight and [of course] also morally of high integrity, and so they clash big time. That’s basically how far I’ve got.

The whole story is decorated with explanations about history, and given that it is set at the time of the English-Spanish war, there’s a lot that needs explanations in order for the reader to be able to understand why this war will come about. So we get a rundown of the whole Maria Stuart - Elisabeth I. story, how Spain’s Philipp II. is involved and everything. The fictional characters also get a solid introduction, as well as the situation Kaito is in and his difficulties in explaining where he came from and such. So sometimes it feels a bit long-winding, but I generally like the author’s writing style a lot. The plot is well-built and his descriptions are phrased nicely, and sometimes they are a bit tongue-in-cheek which gave me a couple of good laughs. He also uses quite a few idiomatic expressions that I haven’t seen elsewhere yet, so that’s also a nice aspect.
So far we got some intimate scenes but they were as un-explicit as humanly possible, and no cheesy romance in sight so far (although one can of course start to speculate about that as we’ve already seen a (small) number of people that might be contenders).

What I think is a bit overdone is that the captain is really really nice to Kaito, even though Kaito is pretty rude (or even extremely rude) to the captain in some situations. So it’s hard to believe that a man of his standing would have tolerated a young boy’s behavior like that. I mean he likes him and all, but I’d expect him to draw a line at some point. And also from Kaito’s viewpoint, how can he behave like that in his situation? That feels really implausible.

Okay last reply promise

Not much. Probably way less than you have. Currently am reading かがみの孤城 and am 40% through. The beginning was a bit of a slog because this is the first book I’m mining from, had lots of things to figure out, but now it feels like I’m in a good place :3

I can’t tell if you if you’re in a good place to start J-J, I don’t really know what level you’re at and our situations are pretty different, but I can tell you that the whole J-J thing is way harder in the beginning than it is later on. For quite a few of the words I’m looking up now, reading and understanding the J-J definition barely takes more time than reading the English one would have taken.
Once you’re used to J-J, the only thing that’s really going to slow you down is if you don’t know multiple words within a single definition. And if you’re willing, you can just skip to the English definition for those… :man_shrugging:

… or suffer through intensive dictionary dives like a silly person.

I do agree with this, in part, but I also think it gets a bit exaggerated at times :thinking:
If it’s a concept like Radiation, reading a few keywords like “Emitting heat, light, radio-waves” or “α線・β線など”, having the context of the book and having example sentences within the dictionary, I think you could figure it out :thinking:
The most helpful thing about this is that different dictionaries will have very different definitions. Some are very detailed, some are very basic, some are in-between.
But while I’d argue you’d probably be fine as long as you’re willing to consult multiple dictionaries - I don’t think you need to :man_shrugging:


Ooh, thank you for the update! :slight_smile:

F&B Thoughts and Replies

I can see why this is a 20+ volume series, haha.

Hmm. Hopefully this isn’t drawn out for too long. One of my pet peeves is people acting unrealistically (especially if they’re a time traveler and completely out of their depth). :stuck_out_tongue:

Out of curiosity, is the language issue ever brought up? Does Kaito speak English going in?

monolingual vs bilingual

I think it’s interesting that folks have been discussing monolingual definitions in depth, referring to deeper understanding as the main benefit, and no one has brought up the benefit of eliminating translation …

Everyone seems to agree that your mileage may vary on whether or not you find monolingual definitions a useful learning tool (me too). But I think actually one of the main reasons to transition to monolingual dictionaries is to help you move from a place of understanding through translation to a place of … just understanding. In all languages this is one of the big milestones to aim for, where you stop translating in your head. And that’s something you can’t really force, it just happens when it happens. I dunno.

@Daisoujou, maybe I’m reading too much into it, but you seem sort of frustrated, and like maybe you feel a little pressured … I just wanna say that I think the only time that it’s “necessary” to transition to monolingual is when bilingual dictionaries start actually interrupting the flow of Japanese (or another target language) in your brain. At that point you’ll likely find that you don’t necessarily need to translate complicated concepts in order to understand them. (To be perfectly honest, I basically have no clue what radiation is except for it’s something scientific that’s real bad for you and happens in specific situations. If I learned that in another language, even if I didn’t know it’s English equivalent, I would still understand it.)

At least, that’s my experience going from learning Dutch from scratch to then studying at a Dutch university. I don’t think there’s any need to be precious about monolingual understanding either. Once you get there, it can make it extremely difficult to switch between languages, and the next thing you know you’re trying to get back to the point where you can easily remember which word in one language connects to which word in the other language. So I guess the moral of the story is … don’t sweat it … the grass is always greener … just take it as it comes …

Sorry for the ramble. Best of luck to all in all your studies, and thanks for the interesting discussion. :blush:

P.S. I also actually wrote a short response to the SRS discussion, but it was lost in a tragic copy/paste accident, and I didn’t have the heart to rewrite it. :joy:

More F&B

That already dawned on me as well :joy_cat: And you can see from my short blurb that we really did not get far story-wise.

Yeah, this time it’s even two of them (traveller and resident). Don’t know why the author does it that way - maybe he wants the reader to also realize how unsuitable Kaito’s behavior is?

Oh, I forgot to mention! This is actually solved brilliantly in my eyes. So we know that Kaito can speak English well because he already lives in the country for a few years, attends school and everything. When he meets the first person after the time travel, the author makes it clear that Kaito speaks English to them because he puts English-sound furigana on top of the Japanese phrase conveying the meaning. Of course only for two or so sentences because that would be quite painful otherwise. But it made the point very clear. He later also speaks one sentence in another language, which is also handled via sound-representing furigana. And then of course the other person responds to this to make it even clearer. I thought that was solved amazingly well, and it got the point across of who was speaking in which language, plus it felt very natural.


About how many pages is this first book?


It’s 300 pages.

This doesn't even count as a reply *pout*

Actually :face_with_monocle:

… don’t mind me though, I’m just being silly :rofl: Just mentioned it for like have a sentence.


Fairly short then, all things considered. Anyways, thanks so much again for the update~ I’m pretty excited to begin reading the book myself, though it’ll probably take a few months for me to get through all my current stuff.

Ok one more response since I'm specifically addressed


Appreciate the mention. I mean, I’m only frustrated in as much as I wish there was better information out there, like proper studies on language learning, cause the whole process is kinda just do whatever you feel and as long as you’re putting in time trust you’ll get there eventually. And I know it has to be at least somewhat individual but it seems there’s little evidence for what’s truly helpful and unhelpful to do beyond looking at what people did who accomplished it. But then they’re blinkered to only know their own experience (and lots of them very much assume that is objectively the way to go) and things are very confounding. As I’ve said, is the early monolingual transition a massive boost to Japanese learning or is it a thing people who are going to succeed anyway often do because the very act of doing it is evidence of a high level of commitment and tolerance for the hard work involved?

It’s just a thought I’ve been exploring because I did go “ooh maybe I can start using these” a little while ago, and found it quickly a drag, but I’m dumping so much time and effort into this, I’m more than willing to go through things that are a drag if they’re truly worth it. I’m just spending enough time on this I want to do it well.

I think a better characterization is that I just feel very uncertain. Who doesn’t, right?

Quick edit: I should probably add that that has probably frequently looked like me arguing against using monolingual so I understand why you say that and it’s not totally off. It’s just you know, at this point I’ve been kinda leaning away from it so “maybe it’s not so important” is the direction my thinking has gone. But it’s a real internal debate I’m having / have been having, regardless of if I’ve maybe presented a little too much… defensiveness? Unintentionally.


Oh, please ping me once you get around to reading it - then we can discuss things in greater detail! Also, maybe we could read Vol. 2 together? I will definitely not continue reading it straight away as there is a big wall of book clubs coming up, and I bought a lot of books that I’m keen to dive into, but a few months sounds like a reasonable time scale :blush:


Summary post :bookmark:

May 9th :cherry_blossom:

・薬屋のひとりごと (90% → 94%)

Finished chapter 30. There’s only like two chapters left? :eyes:


Aah, sorry Grumpyさん! I admit, I usually read these forums when either a) not yet caffeinated :scream: or b) tired from a long day.

@Daisoujou that makes sense! I am the type that is very comfortable to intuit (rather than logic) my way through a situation, which I only just realized must make language learning less frustrating for me, given how little scientific information on language learning is readily available. I will try to keep my eyes open, and if I see some good science I will send it your way! :slight_smile:


:eyes: :eyes: Oooh, music to my ears~ I’d love to read and chat with you about them! Having a reading buddy is always great motivation. :3 Should we aim to try to read book 2 in August? September? Whatever works best for you!

So close! I couldn’t do my weekend 薬屋 reading due to Mother’s Day activities, but I’m so excited that we’re so close to finishing the book! :slight_smile: Do you think you’ll read volume 2 afterwards?