I am very pleased with my recent acquisition of “Living Japanese Through Comics: Culture in Japan“! Make no mistake, this book is not your typical “learn Japanese by reading manga” kind of book.
The book is broken up into 5 parts. Each part corresponds to one of the four seasons with the last part left for miscellaneous items. Each part has roughly 9 short comics (usually about 4 panels). Each comic will appear on the left side of the book with a full grammatical and cultural explanation on the right side.
The beauty of this book is that each short comic has been carefully chosen by the author to teach the read about a specific part of Japanese culture. At the same time, relevant vocabulary words and grammatical constructions are taught in their proper context. Using comics that show characters leading a normal life and taking part in typical Japanese customs is the crucial element to this book which makes it different from other books teaching Japanese through manga.
For example, do you know why and when Japanese hang their futons in the sun? Do you know what the Tanabata festival is? What does it mean if someone calls you a “nichiyoudaiku”? All of this and much more is revealed in “Living Japanese Through Comics: Culture in Japan“.
I feel like this book is good for both beginners and intermediate readers. Beginners will find natural Japanese conversations with a full and easy to understand explanation of the grammar while intermediate readers will learn many cultural aspects about Japan they may have missed. Also, if you feel like you need to work on your reading and pronunciation skills, a “romaji” or alphabetical transcription of each comic is provided below the relevant panel. A list of vocabulary words with pronunciation and meaning is also provided in the footer of each page.
No matter what your level, this book is a great one to add to any Japanese learner’s library.