Japanese Reader Collection

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I am attempting to make my way through the first Japanese reader by Clay and Yumi Boutwell.  Essentially, it is simple stories based on actual Japanese folktales, written in Kanji but with a running gloss that defines words and explains meanings and constructions.

To give you an example, the first part of the first story looks like this:

むかし、 むかし、 あるところに彦一さん というとても賢い若者住んでいました。

And underneath that you get this:

むかし、 むかし mukashi mukashi – a long time ago

あるところに aru tokoro ni – in a certain place [Together with mukashi, mukashi this is the most common way to start a fairly tale.]

彦一さん Hikoichi san – Hikoichi (name)

とい to iu – by the name of [the following describes person]

とても賢い totemo kashikoi – very wise

若者 wakamono – young person

住んでいました sunde imashita – lived

So there’s your running gloss. I guess we can put that together to get something like: Once upon a time there lived a very wise boy named Hikoichi.  Whew!  What a construction!  I think it was Tae Kim of grammar guide fame who said, “If you don’t already know how to say it in Japanese, you don’t know how to say it in Japanese.”

Later in the book you will find each complete story without the running gloss, so you can read it in pure Japanese.  I have the ebook, and that version includes a link to mp3 files of each story being read by a native speaker.  I haven’t listened to them yet, so I can’t tell you how they are.

This is clearly not beginner stuff, but I am working my way through the first story phrase by phrase, and I think that it will be useful in the end.  Of course, if you were more advanced than I am, you might find the stories to be too easy or possibly even just right, no Goldilocks reference intended.

Use your Japanese every chance you get.  Listening is good, but active use is better.  Read, write, speak.  And have fun.

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