Welcome, happy to have you! I haven’t read Shirokuma Cafe, but I did watch the anime a while back (to, uhh, questionable levels of comprehension). My understanding is that it is indeed a solid first pick, but just be aware that there are going to be some uncommon words that may not be too useful to you right now, because they love to do wordplay.
If you run into troubles or questions along the way, since you’re starting out, I’m sure someone would be happy to help
Oh also, this manga was read by a book club in the past! Highly recommend checking out the thread. There you’ll find already assembled vocab lists, lots of questions you might have already answered, and usually people watch those threads even long after the official end, so Shirokuma Cafe specific questions posted there will probably get a quick answer even now.
Time spent: 19 min
Today’s color: 媚茶 (こびちゃ) - I would characterize this as a…mucky brown? sorry if anyone likes this color but it’s not my favorite
While it’s not my favorite color, its name has a fun origin story - apparently it’s a mispronunciation of 昆布茶 (こぶちゃ) - kelp tea (which totally makes sense because this is a very kelp-y color).
I went on a learning journey today because I didn't understand how this color could possibly be characterized as flirtatious
艶っぽい (つやっぽい) - so, Jisho translates this as “romantic; spicy; coquettish,” which I thought really could not be correct in this context because…no offense but in what world is this color romantic, spicy, or coquettish? Kelp brown is not a flirtatious color? So I went to weblio for a monolingual take, which said " 色気がある。なまめかしい。" It seems like なまめかしい is not supposed to be like…~sexy sexy~ flirtatious (which was where my mind went when I read the English definition), but a more calm, elegant allure, which makes way more sense. So, J-J dictionary for the win here!
なまり - corrupted form (e.g. of word); mispronunciation
語呂 (ごろ) - sound (of a sentence); euphony
媚びる (こびる) - to flirt with (woman with a man); to make eyes at (a man)
重視 (じゅうし) - regarding as important; attaching importance to; taking a serious view of; putting emphasis on
Today’s reading was about 花びら餅 (はなびらもち) - which is sweet burdock (ゴボウ) and miso-bean paste covered with a thin layer of mochi. I have absolutely zero frame of reference for what that would taste like xD
What else did I read?
お前、タヌキにならねーか? Vol 1
Amount read: 20 pages
Time spent: 24 min
I finished it :o We came back to the first girl again and had some deeply adorable moments between her and こがね丸 - first, she falls asleep on him and he turns her into a tanuki to carry her home (:333333) and then she invites him in for some food and he ends up falling asleep in tanuki form on her floor and she gives him some calming head pats when he has a bad dream I am definitely buying volume 2 the next time I place an amazon.jp order!! This is a great manga lol, I’m so glad I picked it up.
送別会 (そうべつかい) - farewell party
立ち話 (たちばなし) - talking while standing; standing around talking (I suppose I could have guessed that one LOL)
至急 (しきゅう) - urgently; promptly; at once; right away; without delay; as soon as possible
Thank you! Having that to look back on will help me out a lot. How do people usually use vocabulary lists, though? Does one read over the vocabulary for the chapter, then read the manga; or should I just look to it instead of Jisho when I come across something I don’t know?
As it stands from looking through the first chapter today, it…looks like a lot of words I don’t know, haha. But, I think my best course of action would be to stick to it for a few days and judge how I feel after that.
I’ve been busy the last couple days renewing my driver’s license, but I managed to squeeze some reading in. I could have just counted the day at the 免許 center as a reading day from the quiz I had to take and the video we had to watch (thankfully with Japanese subtitles and furigana). Not to mention the Powerpoint with lots of difficult kanji but I also wanted to read for fun too. Glad I don’t have to go back for a few more years.
Also got my first library card in Japan yesterday, so I checked out 夜カフェ since it sounded interesting from the nomination post in the Beginner Book Club thread. I only started a page because I spent nearly a whole day at the library trying to look through things and figure out the system, but it’s easy to read so far. It feels nice that it’s targeted towards younger junior high school children, but the writing is still accessible to someone like me who hasn’t tackled a real book yet (besides the ones aimed at elementary school kids).
Pocket Monsters Special Volume 145 page of 200 (14 pages total - chapter 10)
As Red progresses to Kuchiba City, he meets the Chairman of the Pokemon Daisuki Club (We Love Pokemon Club) who forces Red to show his Pokemon so he can give 'em some love, especially Pikachu whom he seems very fond of (although Pikachu can’t reciprocate the feeling… to anyone really). We learn that Red has had Nyorozo since it was a Nyoromo, so it’s really fond of him and used to being loved (only proves that Red has a big heart for his Pokemon).
We also learn that Team Rocket has been stealing Pokemon in the area (I don’t think it was confirmed who it was, but Red probably has his suspicions) including the Chairman’s Casey (Abra) and another club member’s Nassy (Exeggutor). Red can’t help but understand their feelings of losing a precious Pokemon and returns to the ship with suspicious boxes in them to confirm what he suspects. Red unwittingly picks up something that looks like a Monster Ball only to be surprised by an electric shock from a Biriridama (Voltorb). Red’s Nyorozo jumps in to protect him and gets instantly KO’d from the super effective hit.
And guess who’s behind it? The gym leader Matis who specializes in electric Pokemon! Now that I think of it, it makes perfect sense for him to be in kahoots with Team Rocket considering his background. It also makes sense considering all those electric Pokemon traps in the games. If only they introduced subplots of the gym leaders being bad guys in the games! I think it would have made it more interesting.
Vocab for Reference - New words are bolded
迷い・まよい・hesitation; bewilderment; perplexity; doubt; indecision
腰・こし・lower back; waist; hips; lumbar region
奢る・おごる・to be proud; to be haughty (only written in kana for this meaning)
ますます・increasingly; more and more
中身・なかみ・contents; interior; filling
聞き分け・ききわけ・reasonableness (esp. of children); obedience
可愛がる・かわいがる・to be affectionate to; to treat tenderly; to dote on; to show one’s love (for); to cherish
会報・かいほう・bulletin (issued by a society); report; newsletter
注目・ちゅうもく・notice; attention; observation
慣れ方・なれかた・how to get used to
一向に・いっこうに・(not) at all; (not) a bit; (not) in the least
被害・ひがい・(suffering) damage; injury; harm
つまり・that is to say; that is; in other words
飼い主・かいぬし・(pet) owner; keeper
一気に・いっきに・in one go; in one gulp; in one breath; without stopping; without pausing; without resting; in one sitting; at a stretch; all at once
抱く・だく・to hold in one’s arms (e.g. a baby); to embrace; to hug
裏手・うらて・back (esp. of a building, etc.); rear; behind
気のせい・きのせい・in one’s imagination
紛らわしい・まぎらわしい・easily mixed up (e.g. similar words); easily mistaken; confusingly similar; misleading; equivocal; ambiguous
招く・まねく・to call in; to send for; to summon
与える・あたえる・to give (esp. to someone of lower status)
仕来り・しきたり・custom; convention; tradition; mores; conventional practice
お仕置き・おしおき・punishment (of children)
１月28日 ~ Day 28
Pocket Monsters Special Volume 159 page of 200 (14 pages total - chapter 11)
That was a really intense chapter! Matis is even more dangerous than Koga. He had no qualms about outright killing Red, but thanks to Nyorozo evolving into Nyorobon, they survived and got all the stolen Pokemon back. Unfortunately for the chairman of the Pokemon Daisuki Club, his Casey evolved into Foodin. At least he’s got a new strong companion to protect him! But it’s just not the same… the Chairman loves cute Pokemon after all.
We got to see a little more backstory hint when Red nearly drowned in the sea. Apparently his Nyoromo evolved in time to save him back then as well. What’s funny is Nyorozo couldn’t evolve unless it found a Water Stone somewhere in the sea. Since it’s not entirely impossible, it’s not so improbable that it touched a stone or a shard and evolved.
The other thing is Matis’s dialogue is a bit difficult to follow at times. The author chose to use a lot of katakana for some of his words. At least compared to the Japanese games where he’s straight up saying Japanglish in katakana (to show that he’s a foreigner), at least he’s using real Japanese. It still makes it hard when looking up words though. I don’t mind not seeing him for a while.
Vocab for Reference - New words are bolded
報酬・ほうしゅう・remuneration; recompense; reward
粋がる・いきがる・to be pretentious; to put on airs; to try to appear smart; to act brave; to try to look cool
一撃・いちげき・blow; hit; stroke
取り分け・とりわけ・especially; above all
凶暴・きょうぼう・ferocious; brutal; atrocious; savage; barbarous
侵入者・しんにゅうしゃ・intruder; invader; trespasser; raider
底力・そこぢから・hidden reserves of strength; latent energy; potentiality; real strength
大将・だいしょう・head; chief; leader; boss; kingpin
追っかける・おっかける・to chase; to run after; to pursue ああやって・like that; that way
退却・たいきゃく・retreat; withdrawal; retirement
誘導・ゆうどう・guidance; leading; induction; introduction; incitement; inducement
不可能・ふかのう・impossible コソコソ・sneakily; secretly; stealthily; on the sly
嗅ぎまわる・かぎまわる・to snoop around; to nose about
思い知る・おもいしる・to realize; to realise
数時間後・すうじかんご・several hours later
行方不明・ゆくえふめい・missing (of a person); lost; unaccounted for; whereabouts unknown
大活躍・だいかつやく・being very active; being very useful; playing a very active part; making a spectacular showing; great efforts; splendid work
１月29日 ~ Day 29
夜カフェ pages 5
I really only read one page to see if this book was doable, so there’s not much to talk about. The protagonist is at the computer checking her exam results for Ryusei Private Middle School. She enters all the relevant information and waits until to find a “Not Passing” result on her page. To be honest, this is a good first page. It makes you wonder what she’s going to do next now that she hasn’t passed. Will she be able to go to school? etc.
Vocab for Reference - New words are bolded
深呼吸する・しんこきゅうする・to take a deep breath
画面・がめん・screen (of a TV, computer, etc.)
置く・おく・to put; to place
中等部・中等部・middle school (esp. the middle school section of a school that also encompasses other grades); junior high school
合格発表・ごうかくはっぴょう・presentation on who passed the exam
きっかり・punctually; exactly on time
入力・にゅうりょく・input; (data) entry
飛び込む・とびこむ・to jump in; to leap in; to plunge into; to dive
不合格・ふごうかく・(examination) failure; rejection; disqualification
Yayyy I finally had another good reading day!! (Who needs homework, that’s a problem for tomorrow me lmao) I read about seven pages of 風つよ, still going strong; we finally met 王子!! I forgot how much manga he has, very jealous
Buuut lately I’ve been eyeing アゲイン！！ which has been sitting on my self since I got the whole set super cheap from mandarake, and today I gave in (despite the three other things I’m already in the middle of ahhh). And it’s wild, I barely have to look up anything in it. Honestly I could probably get by without looking up anything, but they’re so few and far between I feel like I might as well.
It’s weird though, somehow reading this which I can understand like 99% of without looking anything up is way more exhausting than even 錆喰いビスコ is. I guess it takes more brain power, since I’m reading more sentences more quickly without as many pauses to look things up? Like I can read 風つよ or something for at least a couple hours before I really start feeling it, but I only read アゲイン for about an hour before my brain was just done with it. I did read about half a volume in that time though, so the quantity is probably comparable. Idk, brains are weird
Regardless, today was good! I’m still really loving 風つよ with my whole heart, and I’m intrigued by アゲイン, so we’ll see how it goes!
炭水化物 - carbohydrate (this came up bc they were making both pasta and rice for dinner and 走 was like “…that’s a lot of carbs” lmao)
威厳 - dignity, majesty
うとうと - dozing off
代返 - answering a roll call for someone else (very specific but makes sense)
縁の下 - out of sight, unnoticed (I looked this up and was like “omg ennoshita haikyuu???” wild)
気詰まり - uncomfortable, awkward
Honestly, I think that’ll come down to seeing what works for you. I know some people, prior to a book club starting, straight up SRS-ed some vocab list stuff to be ready to read the book more easily. And that’s a strategy some people carry forward – there are a few sites (jpdb and I think koohi for example?) which let you pull words by frequency from native material and study them.
Personally, I started my reading with a bunch of volumes of manga, and whenever reading a book club one, I just had the vocab list right on hand to constantly refer to instead of looking things up myself. People usually make efforts to get the proper definition of the word on the list (for ones with multiple) and if you’re still at a stage where you’re struggling with parsing word boundaries (as I definitely was back then), the list can somewhat help with that too.
I have a theory! So the book I’m trying to finish right now (おやすみ、夢なき子) is for me a level (and topic) where I barely look up words. I get tired after ~30 pages which usually works out to ~90 min. I’m reading almost that entire time in Japanese. Other books I have read have (obviously) not been this easy with tons of pauses for lookups, making notes of sentences to ask my tutors about, etc. There the limiting factor is not brain fatigue but patience because in 90 minutes I have much less overall exposure to Japanese, if that makes sense. I’m typing words into my vocab doc, copying out sentences with a note about context and page number to ask about, trying to write kanji into my dictionary app or cobble it together by typing individual kanji I know of the compound, etc.
Weirdly, I don’t get this fatigue listening to easy Japanese anymore, but easy reading still drains my battery.
So yeah, whether my theory is correct or not brains are indeed weird.
I forgot to update but I’ve been reading every day.
Today I read 2 pages from a current affairs prep book for middle school entrance exams.
中学受験２０２０時事ニュース (from ジュニアエラ)
These yearly entrance exam prep books feature introductory articles about the big topics of the year, from politics to social issues to science or historical discoveries. They include 40 pages in the back with short blurbs about the big events from each month, and there’s a reading comprehension section with essays and questions. What I like about these Junior Aera articles is that unlike news, they don’t assume the reader has prior knowledge about the topic, and they explain some of the context and why it matters. The whole book has full furigana.
It’s super dense and hard for me to read, but I’m hoping to get through it eventually, even if it’s a tiny bit at a time. These books are literally designed for the specific purpose of teaching kids some surface knowledge about a really broad range of current topics. If I only read what I want there will still be big holes in my vocabulary, and I think if I can get through a book like this it’ll help fill those in.
I’ll read some fiction later after taking a break. I feel fried after the current affairs.
OMG it’s (also) me.
I have to keep putting books back on the shelf (either physical or digital) as my eyes are too big for my proverbial Japanese stomach.
Ohhh that’s awesome news, I hadn’t checked it out yet as I have already bought a few Ja games and not finished them but have been meaning to.
I’d love to know how you’re finding the game, both in terms of Ja difficulty and generally how it compares to your expectations.
I initially started by combining a few vocab sheets from series to find the subset of words which either appeared in all of them, or which seemed like they’d be common enough that it was worth learning them.
I also added words which I wanted to know even if they were kind of rare, for example 城 しろ castle and 塔 とう tower - as I want to consume fantasy media and I expect these to come up.
Beyond these, I probably wouldn’t recommend SRS-ing all the words, as many of them are likely to be pretty rare - possibly only occurring one time even within that series - when I have tried to do this the words have tended to not stick very well, so they chew up an inordinate amount of my time as I keep failing their reviews (until I either suspend them, or create a specific memory device for them if I really want to keep them).
When reading deathnote physically I have the vocab sheet open on my ipad next to me, if reading digitally you might be able to split your screen and have them open side-by-side.
Tonight I read the first third of the directions for a どんぶり recipe from my 食戟のソーマ cookbook. It is taking a really long time because I want to make sure I don’t mess up any of the steps due to inaccurate translations. I learnt a couple new words involving cooking processes.
I hope we get to see pictures! Wonder if the どんぶり is on the “easier” side? With it being at the very beginning of the story arc is all. Actually, they get pretty technical right away now that I think of it.
Happened to come across this manga series at Kinokuniya yesterday. I’d love to read it but when I saw volume 34 I thought about how much physical space those would take up. yikes.
Would really like to hear your thoughts on the cookbook though, I always make space for those, and following recipes in Japanese has been tons of fun.
Hey, I’m people! Not sure I’m usual tho. Anyway, I make one translation pass without help, then I start looking up words and grammar through Jisho and Google, and for whatever I can’t figure out through those (usually contractions, colloquialisms etc.) I look them up in the vocab list where they are usually explained and listed together with the standard expression (at least in the よつばと! one). As for grammar I’m not able to figure out I ask about that in my study log when I post my translation attempts. I find this to be an effective and enjoyable study method even though it makes me a rather slow reader. I definitely feel like I’ve improved in these last 20 days
I have created new dictionaries. The WK dictionary should now update itself every week (not your installed version, the file that you can download will update). However, to make it easier to maintain I have switched the type of tags to these seen below. One benefit is that you don’t need to install a whole new dictionary, just the tags.