The Great Japanese

Hello everyone,

I started to read The Great Japanese - 30の物語(初中級):

It has 30 short articles about different more or less famous Japanese with different difficulty levels ☆ - ☆☆☆ and each comes with a vocabulary list, grammar references and questions to test understanding. The book recommends a certain method to approach the texts which includes reading it 3 times: first and third time just reading from start to end without stopping. You may also measure the time it takes to read to see if there is an improvement. The second read through can be used to check unknown vocabulary and grammar.

By now I completed 2 articles (both level ☆) and I really like the concept. Life is pretty busy with family and work so my Japanese learning usually just consists of listening to podcasts while doing something else, wanikani and reading stuff like graded readers and 10分で読める series (without worrying to much about words and grammar I don’t know). This book gives me a little bit of a more structured type of reading practice with a little bit of grammar explanation.

So far so cool. In the second article about the founder of Panasonic 松下 I stumbled across a sentence that does not make sense for me. Maybe someone can help:


So because the people that were scolded understood 松下’s reasons and what he wanted to say…the did not hate him? Or did they? The double negative ならなかったのではない confuses me. What does this structure express?

I plan to read one article every few days, maybe I just manage one in a week or so. Would be great, if I could ask questions here as I find more sentences that I cannot wrap my head around. Also, if anyone happens to have this book lying around, feel free to read along!


This looks pretty awesome. Unfortunately money is tight right meow, but let me know how this works out for you. I might get this book myself in a few weeks/months


Yeah, you got the meaning right the first time. The のではないでしょうか part at the end is basically just an especially long “isn’t it?” type of thing. just a softener for the preceding assertion.
A contracted, less formal version of the exact same thing would be “んじゃないでしょう?” and you’ll see it a lot with or without the でしょう, in slightly different arrangements, etc.

Here’s an article with some more detail in this area.


Ah that’s what it is. Makes totally sense now. I stumbled upon this quite a few times already and often find it difficult to understand if it is a real negative sentence or a positive statement with a little softening isn’t it at the end. Will read the Maggie-Sensei article when I have some more time later at lunch break. Thank you very much!


For those who are interested in this book I just wanted to add that they also provide audio files for each article. I haven’t checked them yet but definitely will do soon. I hope it is not artificially slow, as I am used to (almost) normal speed from the podcasts. And there is also a sheet where you can track your progress through the book. Here is mine so far:

So the orange bars show how much of the text I understood according to my feeling. The dots show the ratio of the comprehension questions that I got correct. So far I seem to get the gist of the stories on the first read through, while still feeling the improvement from working through some vocab and grammar points in between the reads.

However, I remembered there were two little unclear points left on the first text about 広岡あさこ:


I think it means that at the time of the marriage it was around the end if the Edo period? But what is the role of the も here?

Also a bit later:


Hmm. 広岡, even in such times, didn’t give up and didn’t think too hard, thought she has to do something herself and immediately started to act.
It actually makes sense now that I write it down. I was confused by the 諦める not being negative, as from context I learned she did actually not give up. But yeah, now I see the thought goes on until 考え込んだりするのではなく.

Next up is a level ☆☆ article, let’s see how I can deal with that :smile:


At first I thought perhaps this was tying in to previous omitted context (or was maybe a typo), but searching “も終わりのころ” brought up similar seeming results that did not have prior context.

After some searching not sure exactly what to look for, I went with definitions of も on Weblio, and that turned up this, which seems similar:


江戸時代といっても終わりのころ or 江戸時代のうちの終わりのころ seem to fit with what it clearly means in the sentence, so that seems to work for me (though I didn’t look carefully at the other definitions so perhaps one fits even better).

(Assuming that there’s no prior thing to associate the “also” sense of も with), I’m not sure if there’s any difference in connotation compared to using の in the same place. Maybe a little more emphasis? Or actually, I suppose it’s less ambiguous/sounds nicer than a の chain. just swapping in の wouldn’t really work in Weblio’s examples, although I feel like it might in yours.


Thanks again for your help!

In the meantime I managed to read text 3 about a japanese painter. At the first read through it felt indeed a bit more difficult than the previous texts. Here my stats:

First Read: 60% comprehension by feeling, time 9:50mins, comprehension questions 6/9
Third Read: 90% comprehension by feeling, time 5:55mins, comprehension questions 7/9

After working through vocab & grammar points there is actually no open point to discuss. I learned two expressions, その一方で and むしろ, both meaning on the other hand or opposing to that…
I was somewhat surprised about the amount of ようだ, そうだ and らしい expressions as I would think a biographical text is based on hard facts and not so much on what you heard or what seems to be.

I wonder if it makes sense to reread the texts after some weeks to see if the improvement in comprehension stays or if it just comes from short term memorization?

I finished text 4 about painter 藤田 (ふじた).

One sentence is not entirely clear for me:


My problem is the ではないか part.
My take is: The real reasons for Fujitas war drawing are not well known, but there are opinions, that he had the feeling that by drawing war pictures he wanted the Japanese to recognise his Japanese identity.

Is the ではないか pattern again just a little softening “isn’t it?” like in the example in the opening post?

Comes up pretty often as a softener for speculation like this here.

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Thank you! I guess I need to watch out for this expression until I get used to it.

Hello again,

after a long summer break, I finally got back to this book. The current text is about the composer 武満 とおる。While I feel like I understood the text quite well, I get two questions wrong. I don’t really get why, now I am thinking they might have mixed up the answers. Here is one of the questions. Without telling you my answer, what would you say?

Relevant text:


I would have said B.

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That was my answer too :slight_smile:, but the book says d. For the next question I’m pretty sure it’s d, but the books says b. So maybe the two answers got switched by accident.

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