Real Japanese

An Introductory Guide to the Language and Culture of Japan, Part One
Narrated by: Max Whittle
Length: 2 hrs and 2 mins
4 out of 5 stars (67 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

In contrast to formal Japanese textbooks, Real Japanese is an easy-to-listen-to collection of short stories about Japan, blended with useful phrases and language learning tips. If you are a casual learner or planning on traveling to Japan for a trip, this book will help you break down the language and culture into the real and everyday essentials. This audiobook gives an opportunity to hear all the phrases read by a native Japanese speaker, and provides pauses for you to repeat them yourself. 

Use this guide to build your understanding and appreciation of Japanese culture while picking up usable key phrases that will open doors and so deepen your experience of Japan. The author’s stories bring Japan and its culture to life, providing insights which allow the listener to understand the sometimes bewildering and impenetrable ways of Japanese culture.

©2017 Max Whittle (P)2018 Max Whittle

What listeners say about Real Japanese

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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.

8 people found this helpful

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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!

6 people found this helpful

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  • JN
  • 12-23-18

Fun and educational

The book finds a great way of letting you learn it with out being stressed and, tells an amazing story about the Japanese culture and his experiences. This is probably my favorite book I have ever read.

1 person found this helpful

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Great for Preparing a Visit to Japan

I am relocating to Osaka soon to pursue a career teaching English, and this book was a great help in preparing me. I have been studying Japanese for a few months and this book helped me quite a bit. It’s especially useful, because the author arrives in Japan as an English instructor as well. His insights are especially useful for my situation, but this book is a great book for anyone wanting to prepare for a visit to the land of the rising sun. His descriptions of various aspects of Japanese culture have made me even more excited to live in Japan. I highly recommend this to anyone interested in Japan, the Japanese language, or Japanese culture, whether you want to visit Japan or not.

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An invaluable resource for beginners

A great complement to any Japanese program. What more formal programs tend to lack is instruction in the nuances of how native speakers actually use the language. This book provides an introduction to the nuances of "real Japanese." It's not a stand-alone program; to make real progress, you will have to study systematically. But it will help you to avoid learning "robot Japanese," and to make use of whatever you learn.

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Great Prep for 1st time in Japan

A good introduction to Japanese . A great narrative, excellent explanation and annunciation. I plan

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Helpful

Helpful beginners introduction to a complex language. Would be helpful with the printed book in hand at the same time.

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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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Good content, bad narration

As a book, I'm sure this would've been a good read. The content is good and the approach to learning Japanese is a little bit different than traditional methods, and I found it helpful. As an audiobook, I found it difficult to listen to. The narrator is not a professional narrator but the author himself, who mumbles at times, speaks too softly at times, breathes loudly at times. It's distracting and I can only take so much of it. I'll get the eBook if there is one and ditch this audiobook.

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His story...

More of an autobiography and less a language text. Interesting if you have never visited Japan.

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  • Sally Tomlinson
  • 10-18-19

Enjoyable listen

As I'm considering going out to work in Japan I enjoyed Max's stories of his experiences there.

This is very much just an introduction to the language. I had the Kindle version as well as the audiobook, which I recommend - particularly for the Kanji.

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  • David Hill
  • 08-17-19

Enjoyable but with issues

Considering this is 2 hours long and there is a sequel, this feels like a cheap tactic to get you to pay twice for the content.

While I did enjoy the insights into the Japanese culture, the audio quality wasn't perfect which isn't great for a book trying to teach a language. It also has a significant amount of detail that doesn't translate well into audio, most notably the last chapter which focuses on kanji.

That said, I have gotten some good tips from this as someone just starting to learn Japanese about language structure and common components of the language and it isn't a bad place to pick up some tips on how to prepare for a trip with minimal Japanese or how to approach learning the language for beginners

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  • gorgclaud
  • 07-27-19

Not the best for in depth learning

This audio book is fine if, like me, you want an alternative and fresh perspective on Japanese language learning for the hell of it. But for clear simple language learning this isn't the one.

It certainly has some interesting parts, and provides a starting point for understanding that there is casual Japanese and polite Japanese speaking, which can be confusing if you are hearing Japanese conversations in real life or in media.

Otherwise, I wasn't impressed with the speaker's voice, nor the many unnecessary anecdotal, subjective areas of the book with his personal experiences, though curious enough.

The language part is not easy to hear or understand, it's too quick, promises too much, and doesn't really allow you to form a sentence, rather it gives you common phrases and visiter-style phrases. If you have learnt some Japanese before, like I have, this might be OK, but if you have not the language he let's you learn is daunting, hard to distinguish and confusing.

I like his idea of a personal perspective style language book but this didn't help me much more than a video on you tube or an Internet article.

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  • BuffyG
  • 03-05-19

Great listening

Great listening. Clear pronunciations that are easy to repeat. I would recommend this to friends

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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