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Publisher's Summary

Unlike most Japanese language books that focus on formal and polite use, this introductory guide will help you to speak and understand Japanese as it is used in everyday life.  

If you are studying, working, or just travelling to Japan, this audiobook will help you to break down the language and culture into the real and everyday essentials. Use this guide to speak Japanese from day one while also laying down a solid foundation for more advanced study and an appreciation of Japanese culture.  

The culturally focused essays make the audiobook easy and enjoyable to listen to, providing pauses from the sometimes-challenging process of language learning.  

The essays and the stories they contain bring Japan and its culture to life, providing insights that allow the reader to understand the sometimes bewildering and impenetrable ways of Japanese culture.

©2017 Max Whittle (P)2018 Max Whittle

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A must read/listen

Both the book and audiobook are essential assets for the beginner learner and/or traveler to japan. If you want to learn the basics of Japanese language and Japan’s culture you’ve come to the right place!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Quietly profound in a surprising way

I'm going for a 10 day trip to Japan and I've found that one of my favorite things when when I travel is trying to achieve basic competency before I arrive. Not attempting to be an "expert," I'm always interested in understanding and being understood which requires both "bottom up" study (learning grammar like a beginning student would) and "top down" study (watching short cut videos, memorizing useful phrases, and other tips about common mistakes beginners make). Between the two, you can get a lot learned in a short amount of time.

So what does this have to do with this book? It really unlocked the "top down" part of learning Japanese for me. It opened a pandora's box which showed I could achieve a high level of comprehension by paying attention to general trends that are connected: an appreciation of the "particles" (ka, no, ga, etc), a hard distinction between "polite" and "friendly" Japanese, etc. Suddenly, I knew where to actually move my learning rather than simply memorizing vocabulary. It was a gateway to do a lot more free learning via Youtube, Duolingo etc.

But if it were only that, then I wouldn't be that gung-ho about this book. It's actually a very sweet story of someone finding their peace and "growing up" in a figurative (not literal sense) in Japan. And unlike most books that are marketed like that, it is *inadvertently* that. What seems like a series of vignettes / anecdotes that teach cultural ideas between each chapter actually become a memoir of sorts of a guy from a rough and tumble English youth who finds a sense of community in a new place after a few years of searching for that.

So from a language perspective, if that's why you're buying it: It also answered my question about learning watashi ("I") but it curiously being absent from so many phrases, it concentrating on themes (ka denotes a question, ta indicates past tense). It does a lot of great things that memorizing vocab won't do.

But I feel like you'll actually end up getting much more. There's something about the quiet, reflective, not-much-happens-but-still-feels-somewhat-more-profound-than-it-should-be-for-a-language-book quality to it that I was pleasantly surprised by. I'd recommend you buy parts 1 and parts 2. I didn't realize it was split up because they have very similar covers, but it is -- in fact -- in two parts.

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A great scaffold for learning!

Everyone has to start somewhere! I needed a starter to review after 8 years of disuse. I was expecting more of the actual language, however I have to say the stories and shared experiences made it well worth the listen. It was an enjoyable listen!

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  • Beth
  • 09-27-18

No really language learning

I tried to like this, but it is more of a tale of some fellows travels in Japan rather than a language guide