Do you like my first 分 分 title? (分 can be both read as fun and pun, you see)
Anyway, lame puns aside, I thought I’d share a few fun ways I practice Japanese. They might not be as effective as SRS or drilling exercises, but at least they’re fun. They also help keep me motivated (“Ahhh, so THIS is why I’m working so hard.”) and it’s nice to have a bit of a break from drills.
It’s also nice to feel like I’ve improved as each time I consume something in Japanese, I feel like I understood a little bit more and that I needed to look up vocabulary less.
First up, since it’s a recent release, is Pokemon Crystal in Japanese on the Virtual Boy. While it does not have Kanji and solely uses Kana, it’s a pretty fun game to play and the Japanese used is all fairly easy. Plus there are spaces in-between words so they’re easy to look up in a dictionary. In other games, such as Telefang, they don’t include spaces in-between the words and some words are harder to look up cuz you’re not sure when one word finishes and another starts!
You’ll need a Japanese 3DS to buy the game from the eShop (or, Gameboy Color + Pokemon Crystal if you’re going OG about it). I bought a cute physical version on FromJapan that’s set up to look like the original box. It comes with a magnet that looks like the original cart and a download code.
I’ve also been playing the Appmon 3DS game and the Japanese version of Animal Crossing New Leaf. Both contain Kanji with furigana so it’s a little easier to read in that way. They’re both a little more challenging than Pokemon Crystal, but I really actually love the Kanji now. New Leaf has a lot of puns which is fun too.
Both of these can be bought physically or on the eShop and will, as with Pokemon Crystal, will require a Japanese 3DS or 2DS.
As for older games, I’ve been playing Telefang (yes, the original version of Pokemon Jade and Diamond) and the Digimon Wonderswan games.
While I own the cartridges for this, admittedly I’ve been playing these on my phone instead of on my Gameboy or Wonderswan as they don’t have backlights and are harder to read, especially since it’s in Japanese.
I’ve always kind of been interested in Telefang as it seems like a cute little concept for a game.
You can buy the cartridges pretty cheaply on FromJapan.
I believe I mentioned the following application in my post about app resources for studying, so I won’t go into too much detail here, but I’m pretty keen on TangoRisto and its folklore tales.
I really like how you can toggle JLPT levels to hide furigana on Kanji that you should know. It’s a good way to benchmark where you’re up to.
Because I love Manga and English Manga is expensive in Australia, I’ve been trying to read some Manga in Japanese. The easiest one for my current level is ‘Shirokuma Cafe’. It’s pretty cute, there’s Kanji with Furigana, and it’s about a polarbear who has a cafe. It’s great. It’s still a little more complicated for my current level, but it’s good practice.
Another Manga series that has been recommended to me that I haven’t had a chance to pick up is called ‘Yotsuba’, apparently it’s really easy and fun to read. I’ve also considered picking up the bilingual copies of Doraemon, cuz I love that little blue guy.
After my speaking, my listening comprehension needs the most work, so to work on my listening comprehension, I’ve been trying to watch things in Japanese.
I’m a pretty big fan of Terrace House at this point. I’m almost done with the first season on Netflix and it’s really great to hear ‘real’ Japanese and not anime or textbook Japanese.
It’s about six strangers – three boys and three girls – who share a house. It’s like Big Brother except they can actually leave and go to work.
I watch Terrace House with subtitles on.
Sometimes I put my DVD of Digimon Universe Appli Monsters into my PC and slightly slow down the audio using VLC so I can work on my listening comprehension. I wonder if I could find Japanese subtitles or a script of the episode to help me read along…
Now, besides having fun watching, reading, or playing, it’s also usually a good idea to actually pay attention to the vocab used, so I like to write down anything that’s frequently used and unknown. If a piece of media has no Kanji and only uses Kana (such as Telefang), I like to try and find the Kanji for a word.
When I’m watching something, I also like to keep jisho.org open when watching something in Japanese so, when I hear vocab, I can look it up and write it down.
Hopefully that was helpful to somebody and hopefully it didn’t come across as too ‘train of thought’-y like my previous posts.
In terms of my current progress studying Japanese, I am still on level 8 of WaniKani, but I feel like I’ll be leveling up in the next two days or so, and, as for my Genki progress, I just finished Lesson 3 and I’m now up to Lesson 4 (though I might do a few more exercises from Lesson 3 so I’ve perfected everything in that lesson). Since I more-or-less wrote this post at the same time as my last post, there’s a little less time between this post and my last post, so I haven’t really made much progress.
By my next post (approximately a week from now unless I write it earlier again) I hope to be chugging along in level 9 (maybe around half way) and I’d like to be finishing off Lesson 4.