Japanese Immersion: October week 3

This week, I mostly read magazines! I bought the autumn edition of the 趣味の文具箱 and a magazine called Sapio.


This magazine is all about fountain pens and ink. The issue 47 is called 『万年筆インクの知りたいこと』and is all about ink. You will find in it interesting charts and analysis, as well as the new colours available in Japan. I particularly liked the “user’s ink life” section where are displayed how people use their ink to write, draw and keep ink journals.

It is not the best magazine to practice reading because it is often enough to look at the many pictures, charts or writing samples. I try to force myself to always read the captions and additional explanations. But even without a heavy reading practice, I think that there is nothing better than associating one’s hobby with the language you are learning. You will naturally feel motivated to read and understand something if it is about your hobby, and the language will be associated with positive feelings as well.

The site ei-publishing has a lot of magazines that cover all sorts of hobbies. You can buy the digital version if you can access one of the e-book platform mentioned here. I haven’t tried it myself, so I don’t know if it works well.


I bought this magazine because it was about the Emperor and the end of Heisei, a topic that interests me. However, I didn’t know if Sapio was a right or left-wing magazine, a progressist or conservative one. On Wikipedia, I read that the magazine is mainly about international issues, but will occasionally talk about internal politics or affairs. They say that the tone is conservative and that the editorial line adopts a critical position against China and Korea when it comes to human rights, freedom of the press or the anti-Japanese movements. They also often write about North Korea. Indeed, looking at the past issues shows a focus on China and North and South Korea.

Yemeni refugees in Jeju Island

The issue I have confirms what I read on Wikipedia. The first article is about the Yemeni refugees who have landed on Jeju island in South Korea at a time when Yemeni could enter the island without a visa. Since then, the government has removed Yemen from the list of countries whose nationals could enter Jeju island freely, and the population is demonstrating in Jeju and in Seoul against the presence of some hundreds of refugees on the island.

The magazine gives voice to the ones who support and help the refugees and the ones who are against them. The latter call them “fake refugees” and display mistrust against Islam. Someone said that accepting refugees is a duty if they are real refugees, but the Yemeni are “fake” ones and the government should think of the citizens’ “safety”. A woman says that she is afraid for her 9-year-old daughter because she knows that it is common to marry early in Yemen… (seriously?)

Among the ones who help the Yemeni, someone mentions that inhabitants of Jeju island themselves have sought asylum after the Jeju uprising in 1948. At the time, 10% of the island’s population died, and around 40,000 inhabitants sought asylum in Japan.

Further reading: an interesting article on this topic in The Guardian.

Dossier on the Emperor

But of course, the main topic of the magazine is the Emperor. I have just started the dossier so I cannot say a lot about its contents. The dossier contains several articles each written by a different academician. This makes it a little difficult to read because you have to get used to a different writing style for each article.

The first article is about Emperor Akihito (other articles are more historical) and shows how important each of the Emperor’s words is for the people. If I understood correctly, the article says that Emperor Akihito addressed the nation on a television broadcast after the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. It was the first time since the capitulation of 1945 that the nation heard the Emperor’s voice on a broadcasting system. The author of the article says that Emperor Akihito’s voice embodied the description of Japan as “the land where the mysterious workings of language bring bliss” as found in an ancient poem.

This is only one example of the interesting things I found in the article. It is a little hard to read, but reading on paper allows me to take notes and write down vocabulary. I don’t know why, but I always feel more confident when I have a pen in hand and can take notes.

There are seven articles in the dossier, I make it a challenge to read them all!

I’m learning Japanese, Korean and Chinese to read detective novels in these languages. I post about my reading progress and language study here. Best way to get in touch is on Mastodon 🙂

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