The one, the only, the "Hey that's a useful book/thing on Ja

Have a textbook or grammar book that you find particularly helpful? What about a learning tip to share with others?
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The one, the only, the "Hey that's a useful book/thing on Ja

Post by njt » Fri 08.19.2005 12:38 pm

Yay, for trendwhorism. (changed title for consistency~) Also added Kanji Power kanji book. As well as King Kanji for PDA

In my other thread, I talked about things that you can get over the net and mostly for free. Now it's time to make one thread dedicated to reviews of the material that you have, so that people have can have one neat, nice place to find it. I've acquired quite a bit of materials over the years and I'll let you know what I think about it all. (I’ll add a link to the book that I used, and an updated link for the product if available.)


A guide to reading and writing Japanese.

This book, sadly, is now with my friend. I left for Japan on my summer vacation not expecting to stay in Japan for two years, and thus why my friend has it and not me. However, I found it neat, full of kanji in a nice neat style. A few flaws though, pretty bland a bit out dated and there wasn’t really anything to motivate you to learn anything other than well, self motivation, not evaluation tests and thus was there only as a reference when I wanted to know what a kanji meant, or how to write it out. But none the less, for the price it’s really not a bad deal~

Pro: Kanji and how to write ‘em. (all of the kanji)
Con: not much more info other than the meaning and how to read it.

for a newer version the link can be found here…
A guide to reading and writing Japanese*Newer*.

Guide to Remembering Japanese Characters (Paperback)

I really really liked this book because it has ‘mnemonic' examples that actually fit the kanji and are helpful in remembering it. Sadly, this book too, is with my friend (kicks side of the wall :p) Anyways, more than the book above, I spent days upon days at just reading it. It has LOTS of information about each and every kanji, and lots of time has been put into making sure that you get the most out of what you paid for. So if you are struggling with remembering, then this really is the guide for you.

for a newer version the link can be found here…
Guide to Remembering Japanese Characters (Paperback) *Newer*

Pro: easy to remember method as well as interesting facts about Kanji.
Con: No stroke order. Few examples.

Kanji Power Handbook.

This is a book I’ll have to thank clay for. He helped me find it, by mentioning it. Anyways, like his description says, it’s an IMPORTANT tool in anyone’s tool box when studying for the JLPT. It’s helping me a whole lot, that’s for sure. My favorite part about it is how it compares kanji with the same sound, as well as describes why two kanji are put together and how it gets the meaning that it does.
Pro: Hand in hand with the JLPT, Tons of interesting facts and things to be careful.
Con: Small with lots of info all over the place, can look quite scary at first. (but that goes away as you get used to it.)

Kanji learner’s dictionary

With a unique style for looking up characters quick and easily, it’s sometimes even more useful to have than my pda. With TONS of work put into it to make sure that you learn the key meaning for each kanji, as well as helping you remember the structure of the kanji by the way it has you look it up. Seriously, if you are looking for a Kanji dictionary, and can’t afford a digital one(well even if you can afford a digital one) I suggest you get this. It’s made for those that want to learn more about the kanji they are looking for, while hardly even trying (That comes from the key points are in red, and it has useful frequently used kanji along with it).
Pro: Very well put together, easy and fun method to look up kanji.
Con: a bit big so hard to bring along with you every where… but not as big as it’s partner ;).

Kanji ga tanoshiku naru hon

For 1000 yen per book, I got 1-4.
These books are aimed at Japanese students wanting to make kanji learning more fun while providing different ways to memorize them. I figured I would try out the Japanese way as well to see if there are a few tricks they know that they aren’t teaching us in the other books. The way this book works is it focuses on the pictures that kanji are based off of and then uses those with stories so as, well a mnemonic way to remember. The only thing is, your Japanese has to be high enough to understand it. If you want to take the challenge, then try and get these books, they are cheap and fun. Not only does it teach you interesting facts about kanji but it also helps you create sentences instead of just showing you examples….

Pro: Learn like a native, while having fun!
Con: sometimes a bit childish (well it is for children) but yeah- for some it might seem too easy, and others (since it’s all Japanese) too much of a hassle to understand.

Kanji Power

By far one of the best put together teach yourself Kanji book. 240 characters, all with meanings, stroke order, to help memorization information regarding derviation is there, places to practice, example common compounds, reviews, quizzes and tests! Honestly, extremely well done :). But aimed at a more intermediate type level...

Pro: All of what I said above, provides you what you need to help make sure you are remembering what you are studying.
con: only 240 characters :(. Also on the tests, if you don't pay attention to the compounds then you'll not do well... so a bit challenging...


A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar


A Dictionary of Intermediate Japanese Grammar

I don’t know how I can give these two books enough credit that they deserve. They are by far, the best grammar books out there that I have found. They give plenty of examples, break everything down, give English explanations, tell you what to look at for. Gives very beautifully written lots of color in the places you need. You can pretty much consider these two books the godly dual. You will not regret getting them. Ah, and as the titles say, basic really is for basic… though covers LOTS of stuff that even advance learners learn tons, and Intermediate has few furigana so be sure to study up (TIP: Most of the kanji has furigana at least once so if you run up against something that doesn’t have it, if you check back in a previous example chances are it’ll have the kanji with furigana on it ;)… but it might be better/faster to just look up the kanji. )

[center]JLPT related material[/center]

I just bought the following three links today on Amazon, I’ll let you know what I think about them when I get them… which should be in the next 4 days ;).

Kanzen master1kyuu

Jitsuryoku up 1kyuu

High score bunpou 1kyuu


Nihongo nouryoku shiken jitsuryoku up. 2kyuu

A nice compact little book that takes some of the hard to understand grammar, breaks it down to simple grammar and tests it on you. With two CDs to boot, a great deal. All of the examples are nice and natural, and well not too bad to listen to. The CDs contain all the examples spoken by two natives a male, and a female.

Pro: Tests, little facts, simple and easy explanations with things to look out for, a must for the JLPT2.
Con: some color would be nice…?

Nihongo nouryoku shiken 2kyuu mondai shuu

Well, not much I can say on this… it’s a practice test for the test… so use it’s there to help you know what the test is going to be like instead of going in there not knowing what’s going to happen.


Japanese Vocabulary Cards

A set of 1000 cards with Japanese and English along with examples to go with so pretty much 1000 words plus tons of examples so you are looking at 3000+ words if you went through and memorized them all. Small in size and easy to bring with you, so it’s nice for those I don’t want to make cards on my own people. Another way you can go about using this is learning a new random word everyday. I used it for a lot of my early studying, but the whole box set just seemed too much for me to take in at the time, and thus got left on the shelf after only a short time used.
Pro: Great cards with lots of info neatly put on it.
Con: TOO much, can get overwhelmed if you don’t watch out :p. (or maybe that’s just me…)

[center]Teach Yourself Japanese[/center]

Master The Basics Japanese

One of the first books I bought when studying on my own. And something I don’t regret. It put Japanese in a nice easy to understand order, explained the basics about particles pretty well as well as included lots of helpful vocabulary as well as a nice guide on how to count objects. In other words, for those of you that doesn’t know what to start with and need some guidance in the beginning then this book is for you.

Pro: Lots of useful but basic information
Con: all romaji, but then again, it is for starters.

Teach yourself Japanese (a complete course for beginners)

Pretty much what the title says. It goes through giving you various situations that might happen in daily life. It shows you in a dialogue first then gives you vocabulary and then finally teaches you how to construct what just happened.
Great if you want a bunch of expressions to fit situations, but the way it teaches isn’t the clearest. (thus the reason for the above book’s purchase.) But none the less, it gives you lots of vocab and shows you how it’s used, so you can just take that, apply your situation with the vocab that fits it, and go from there.

Pro: Various situations so you can express yourself during those times.
Con: could have done a better job in teaching what was going on…

[center]Various ・ Slang ・ Dialects.[/center]
Being the nut about Japanese I am, and my hobby of translating, I often ran upon slang/ dialects that I couldn’t decipher, so I bought books to help in those areas… they are~~

Beyond Polite Japanese

Not really slang that you can use now really… mostly old phrases, but then again some of the manga I translated was old and needed it. I give this book a so so rating, but it was fun flipping through and learning various weird phrases. Each example comes with a definition and it used a few times for you to get an idea on how to use it.

Kansaiben wo eigo de shaberemakka?

An interesting book written by a gaijin, teaches you Fun kansai expressions along with translations into Japanese and English. One of my favorite books because, well, I just enjoy Kansai ben. The English can be a bit rough and I’d disagree on some of the English translations, but none the less the kansaiben translations provide the most help and very useful when dealing with the kansai dialect.

Pro: fun, and with hints on how to say the kansaiben the right way.
Con: some of the translations go way liberal… but ohh well ;).

The hougen book

A book on different dialects from ALL over Japan. 50 expressions in all, with one dialect region focused but also as a bonus the same word said in diff regions. You’ll be shocked at how diverse Japanese can get in one region to the other. Ah, and a side note, it’s market is targeted at the Gyaru people… But that doesn’t mean that it’s words only they use… ;).

Pro: FUN!!! Examples and hints when to and not use the expressions.
Con: a bit short, but that’s what I get from buying it at a convenience store.

2001 Japanese and English idioms

I bought this book expecting it to pull me out of tight situations when idioms show their face while translating, but nope… so far most of the idioms I have come across haven’t been covered. Which… makes me want to make another book that will cover the ones that this book doesn’t. But anyways, given that not all idioms are covered, 2001 idioms still is quite a bit, and it’s been very fun reading through the book.

Pro: idioms, their translations(when possible both lit and if they have a counter idiom matching that situation it’s also mentioned) is quite helpful, if not to use just as is, or well enough to get the meaning across so as to adapt what you are wanting to say to meet your situation.
Con: needs more frequent idioms.. (or perhaps my contact with Japanese is an area that they weren’t thinking much about…?)


King Kanji

A neat program for the PDA that lets you write and write and write Kanji all day. With a neat way to let you know if your stroke is right or wrong (they do this with color, red is bad, black is good, blue is close.) But anyways, it's a neat little program that will help you remember by writing and writing without ever worrying about pen ink or paper running out ;).

Pro: already made JLPT level kanji lists!
Con: Sometimes a bit TOO strict on stroke order... :(


Like Clay, I bought just about everything I could get a hold of, and I don't regret any purchase I have made~. I hope that this thread helps you on your way, and feel free to write about what you like/bought so that others can perhaps learn the way you did.

But like a person on this forum said(the one that talked about how to memorize I believe), it's best to stay with one method and stick with it, whithout trying TOO much stuff. So do what works for you. And don't give up :) have fun~ and let me know if there is anything I can help you with ;).
Last edited by njt on Sat 08.20.2005 3:00 am, edited 1 time in total.

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