Language learning journal: September-October

I haven’t updated the section “language learning journal” of my blog for a while… It was mainly because the JLPT took most of my time, but I think it’s time to start again!

Got my N1 certificate!

First of all, I received my JLPT N1 certificate this week! I will take the test in December as well, but to be honest, I am not studying as much as I should, I am especially lazy with vocabulary…

Since I have more or less decided to take the test every year in December, I don’t feel under pressure anymore. Some months ago, I was thinking “this is the last year I take the JLPT, I must give it my all”, but now I don’t feel that it’s “now or never” anymore.


I have Netflix for some time now, and even though I didn’t take the subscription in order to learn Japanese, it is undeniably a good way to practice listening.

I think that the catalogue is different depending on your region. On Netflix Korea, there is a ton of anime, but few films and dramas.

I don’t usually like anime and there are a lot of series that I started but didn’t finish (for some, I didn’t go past the first episode). There are some, however, that I truly enjoyed, the best being Aggretsuko. I love fiction about work, and this anime is just so relatable and so funny. I watched the two seasons and I think that I will watch them again in a more “learn Japanese” approach. I don’t always have Japanese subtitles for Japanese series on Netflix, but they are available for Aggretsuko, so it’s perfect to study.

I also enjoyed watching the drama series Erased. If you are looking for good Japanese TV shows on Netflix, have a look at Kotobites’ recommendations!

Hobonichi: Life の Book

I am a stationery enthusiast and journaling is my second hobby (with Japanese). I have been using a Hobonichi techo (ほぼ日手帳) for two years now. If you don’t know it, the hobonichi is a planner notebook using a very thin paper of high quality. Every year, they release a lot of covers to go with your agenda, and their lineup is a feast for the eyes and a nightmare for the purse.

This year I ordered the guide book (ほぼ日手帳公式ガイドブック) which contains interviews of different people and how they use their hobonichi techo. It’s easy to read in Japanese, it contains a lot of illustrations and it’s interesting for me both as a Japanese learner and as a stationery/journaling fan. I recommend it if you like journaling and if you are looking for some light, interesting reading in Japanese!

By the way, I highly recommend the daily column (今日のダーリン) that Shigesato ITOI writes for the ほぼ日刊イトイ新聞. This is perfect if you are looking for a daily reading practice. If you use the hobonichi app, you can easily access the column on your phone.

Currently reading

As usual, I am reading several books at the same time!

A while ago, I started the project to read the whole Harry Potter series in Japanese. Well, I am progressing very slowly, but I am still at it, as you can see:

I have reached chapter 6 (out of 22) of the Prisoner of Azkaban (finally arrived at Hogwarts!), and it might take me months to finish it because I only read it from time to time, mainly when I want to relax and read something with furigana.

The main novel I am reading at the moment is 追憶の夜想曲 by Shichiri NAKAYAMA (中山七里). It’s a legal thriller (in Japanese, it is called a 法廷ミステリー), and it’s both thrilling and… difficult to read. I am progressing slowly on this one, but legal thriller is definitively a genre I wish to read more.

I am also reading a self development book called Output (The Power of Output: How to Change Learning to Outcome). I saw it mentioned on Twitter and wanted to read it since then. I find the general idea very interesting and the first chapters have motivated me a lot. However, I am a bit struggling to go through all the concrete pieces of advice to better communicate orally with your co-workers (I mean, I don’t think that I need them), but I am almost done with this part, and I can’t wait to start the one on “Writing”.

“嫌韓本”… What?!

I am interested in the relationship between Korea and Japan, and I wanted to know how South Korea is seen in Japan, what Japanese think of Korean demands for apologies and so on. I live in Korea, so every time a dispute breaks up, I mainly see the Korean side of it.

I picked up 今こそ、韓国に謝ろう by Naoki HYAKUTA (百田尚樹) because it is a bestseller on Amazon and has a lot of good reviews. Naoki HYAKUTA is the author of “The Eternal Zero” and is well known for his revisionist positions.

I thought that if this book is a bestseller and has got so many good reviews, it certainly means that a lot of people in Japan share the author’s view. Reading it seemed a good way to progress in my understanding of the complex South Korea/Japan relationships.

So I have read this book and wow, I was so shocked!! When Japanese authors spit in Korea’s face, they are serious about it! I also learned that there is a word to describe this kind of books: 嫌韓本. I am surprised because I know that there are anti-Japanese feelings and movements in Korea, but I didn’t know that there was a similar feeling in Japan.

To sum up this book, let’s say that it has two main purposes:

  • Justifying Japanese annexation of Korea
  • Despising Korea, Korean people and Korean culture

Reading this book gives the reader an acute sense of Japan’s superiority and encourages contempt and disdain toward South Korea.

I don’t know whether I should write a review of it because I feel that I would rather spend my time reading something else. This book is so obviously written in the aim of despising Korea (and assert Japan’s superiority) that it’s not even worth my spending time criticising it.

I also read in Mainichi that TV programs on Korea politics are booming at the moment, especially to mock the recent scandal in the Korean government. I am referring to the article 「嫌韓」あおるテレビよ、これでいいのか クレーム来ないからやりたい放題? (paying access). This article cites journalist Soichiro TAHARA (田原総一朗) who explains why anti-Korean feelings are so strong at the moment:

なぜ『韓国たたき』を喜ぶか。結局、日本人が自信を失っているからなんだ。(…) 日本人もそのコンプレックスで (being economically challenged by China and South Korea)、中韓、特に韓国の悪口を言ったり、強そうな態度を取ったりすると気持ちが良いんだろうね。その裏返しか、『日本スゴイ』みたいな番組が人気だし、テレビだけじゃなくて『嫌韓本』も売れている。情けない現象ですよ、本当に。そんなことしても、何も良いことないのに。

That’s interesting because I would have thought that the “嫌韓” feeling was motivated by Korea and Japan’s shared history. But Soichiro TAHARA gives a more interesting explanation with the loss of confidence (in Japan being economically superior than its neighbours) and need to reassure oneself.

Well, in any case, it’s an interesting issue, and I am glad that my Japanese level allows me to tackle it.

That’s it for this month. This language learning journal is both about what I have been up to in September and what I will continue doing in October so I called it “September-October”… I hope that I can write this kind of post once a month, we’ll see!

Thank you for reading!