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1. Japanese Demystified: A Self-Teaching
3. Diego Collado's Grammar of the
4. Japanese, Basic: Learn to Speak
5. Making Sense of Japanese: What
6. Japanese for Dummies AUDIO+CD
7. Japanese Sentence Patterns for
8. Japanese, The Spoken Language:
9. Japanese Grammar (Grammar series)
10. The Ultimate Japanese Phrasebook:
11. Japanese: The Spoken Language:
12. Japanese, The Spoken Language:
13. Beginner's Japanese with 2 Audio
14. Business Japanese: Over 1,700
15. Beginning Japanese (part 2)
16. Common Japanese Collocations:
17. A Japanese Reader: Graded Lessons
18. A Guide to Remembering Japanese
19. Japanese Vocabulary (Barron's
20. Dirty Japanese: Everyday Slang

1. Japanese Demystified: A Self-Teaching Guide
by Eriko Sato
Paperback: 496 Pages (2008-05-06)
list price: US$21.95 -- used & new: US$12.56
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0071477268
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description

Say sayonara to your fears of speaking Japanese!

Interested in learning to speak Japanese but feel intimidated by the complex characters and pronunciations? No need to worry! Even if your only experience is ordering sushi, Japanese Demystified will have you saying konnichiwa to your new language skills in no time.

Beginning with a review of Japanese writing systems, basic pronunciation, and everyday expressions, this book covers key grammar fundamentals such as particles, nouns, verb forms, and honorifics. You'll build your Japanese vocabulary with essential words and phrases and quickly master this challenging language. Test yourself at the end of every chapter for reinforcement that you're fast on your way to speaking, writing, and understanding Japanese.

This fast and easy guide features:

  • Clear and straightforward explanations of Japanese grammar fundamentals
  • Numerous examples of simple and complex sentence structures
  • Japanese hiragana, katakana, and kanji with phonetic transliterations for all Japanese words
  • Helpful writing and speaking exercises that bring the Japanese language to life
  • Coverage of everyday topics as well as conversational expressions
  • Quizzes at the end of each chapter to reinforce new material

Simple enough for a beginner, but challenging enough for a more experienced student, Japanese Demystified is your shortcut to mastering this complex language.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (11)


4-0 out of 5 stars Great book
This was a great book, as a workbook to accompany my Japanese course.
I would say though, you can NOT use it alone to learn Japanese.
It has very clear explanations and is an excellent workbook for beginner students.

After using this book, you may want to check out "Japanese Sentence Patterns for Effective Communication: A Self-Study Course and Reference", which covers everything in this book and a more as a nice compact review.

Unfortunately, non of these books help with speaking or listening, its not something that is expected from these books but just keep it in mind.

5-0 out of 5 stars modern and easy to use but lacks abit in vocabulary
When a friend of mine asked me which beginner book on Japanese to use, I recommended this one. The focus of this book is on explaining Japanese grammar as clearly as possible, from basic to complex structures.

Like most self-learners I have a stack of books on Japanese at home, including: Japanese For Everyone, Japanese For Busy People, Genki, and so on. This book 'Japanese Demystified' is one of the best for beginners who struggle with Japanese grammar.

The reasons are many:
1. the grammar is explained in a simple way
2. the chapters are arranged according to grammatical concept
3. the book uses the real script from the start
4. it is roughly equal to a one-year course at university (as far as grammar goes)
5. it is modern and teaches you all sorts of words and does not focus on college-life or business use
6. it has a wide variety of exercises in each chapter
7. all the text are in both script and romanization
8. it is fully aimed at self-learners and have no class or group excercises

The exercises include:
1. translations
2. putting the correct word into a sentence
3. building sentences
4. transform a word into the correct grammatical form
5. reading exercises

If you are thinking about buying this book you should be aware of a few things:
1. there's no audio material
2. it does not show you how to draw the Kanji characters
3. the book has no system for teaching you the Kanji

You can easily find information on the web on how to draw characters so that's not really a problem. The book has no system for teaching you the Kanji - it is up to you to write them down on paper and practice them yourself.

A minor complaint I have is that the glossary is too short and does not list all the words taught in the book.

Another complaint is that the vocabulary covered is quite small compared to other textbooks. 'Japanese Demystified' only covers about 500 words (excluding verbs), while other books such as 'Japanese for Busy People (I-III), Japanese For Everyone, Genki I & II' etc. cover at least 2000 words.
I think the author deliberatly did this so that the learner can focus on understanding the grammar really well without being stressed by learning new vocabulary.

I still rate this book very highly because the way it covers grammar is just excellent, I think it outweighs the negatives.

In short, the book is easy to understand, modern, shows you the complete script, and will teach you basic vocabulary.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great Book
I got this for my son and he is getting good at Japanese he will use what he learn in finding a job in Hawaii

5-0 out of 5 stars It's Awesome!
This book was the best japanese book i got to learn out of b/c it teaches how to write in the first chapter and also has oral exercises with english pronunciation to make sure that you get it. i'd recommend it if you are itching to learn a new language! ... Read more

2. SPEAK JAPANESE TODAY -- A Little Language Goes a Long Way! (Volume 2)
by Boye Lafayette De Mente
Paperback: 190 Pages (2009-10-10)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$9.93
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0914778463
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
Speak Japanese Today is designed for anyone who comes into contact with Japanese and wants to communicate with them in their own language. It includes basic greetings, farewells, telling time, everyday expressions about the weather, giving directions, telling distances, counting, money, telephoning and much more.

Speak Japanese Today is unique in that it also provides vocabulary and sentences for airline pilots, stewardesses, Immigration officials, Customs officials, hotel staff, restaurant staff, bartenders, shop clerks, taxi drivers, tour guides, doctors, people hosting Japanese students, and more.

With a little practice, a person can communicate as many as 500 key concepts using only a 100-word vocabulary. Speak Japanese Today contains more than 700 key words -- which is close to the total number of words most people use in their own language in the course of a day. All of the words and expressions in the book are given in Romanized Japanese along with an easy-to-master pronunciation phonetic system that uses standard English. Just pronounce the phonetics as if they were English, and the sounds come out "in Japanese!"

Whatever your contact with the Japanese, you'll find this book of enormous help in being a goodwill ambassador through their language! ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars on "Speak Japanese Today"
This book is perfect for beginners and the advanced alike. It gives clear explainations on everything from japanese sentence structure to advanced communication. I would strongly recommend this book to anyone aspiring to learn japanese.

5-0 out of 5 stars How to Quickly & Easily Speak Japanese Today
This now well-worn book is evidence of its usefulness in both business and pleasure trips to Japan.The author is a master of the language and has designed a unique and wonderful "home-course" that will enable you to learn how to instantly pronounce and communicate 500 key concepts utilizing only 100 key words. The 700 key words in the book are organized for the reader's benefit, and the author delivers on his promise that you will be able to communicate in Japanese on day-to-day topics.A necessary and highly recommended book for anyone who needs to be able to communicate in Japanese.Fern Stewart Welch is the author of "Your Heart Knows the Way -- How to Follow Your Heart to a Conscious Connection with the Divine Spirit Within." ... Read more

3. Diego Collado's Grammar of the Japanese Language
by Diego Collado
Paperback: 116 Pages (2010-03-07)
list price: US$20.68 -- used & new: US$20.68
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 115375987X
Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
The book has no illustrations or index. Purchasers are entitled to a free trial membership in the General Books Club where they can select from more than a million books without charge. Subjects: Japanese language; Foreign Language Study / Japanese; ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

3-0 out of 5 stars Ancient Book
This is a translation of a 16th century Latin grammar of Japanese. (This isn't even the good 16th century Latin grammar of Japanese; this is the shorter one summarized by someone stuck in the Latin model of grammar.) If what you are expecting is a modern grammar, look again. If you want a view into the how the 16th century Jesuits described Japanese, this is just the book for you.

1-0 out of 5 stars Only useful as a novelty
This is an anachronism.It's free, which is good.It's not at all useful, which is bad. ... Read more

4. Japanese, Basic: Learn to Speak and Understand Japanese with Pimsleur Language Programs (Simon & Schuster's)
by Pimsleur
Audio CD: Pages (2005-11-01)
list price: US$24.95 -- used & new: US$13.52
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0743550722
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
This Basic program contains 5 hours of audio-only, effective language learning with real-life spoken practice sessions.


What is the Pimsleur® difference?

The Pimsleur Method provides the most effective language-learning program ever developed. The Pimsleur Method gives you quick command of Japanese structure without tedious drills. Learning to speak Japanese can actually be enjoyable and rewarding.

The key reason most people struggle with new languages is that they aren't given proper instruction, only bits and pieces of a language. Other language programs sell only pieces -- dictionaries; grammar books and instructions; lists of hundreds or thousands of words and definitions; audios containing useless drills. They leave it to you to assemble these pieces as you try to speak. Pimsleur enables you to spend your time learning to speak the language rather than just studying its parts.

When you were learning English, could you speak before you knew how to conjugate verbs? Of course you could. That same learning process is what Pimsleur replicates. Pimsleur presents the whole language as one integrated piece so you can succeed.

With Pimsleur you get:

  • Grammar and vocabulary taught together in everyday conversation,
  • Interactive audio-only instruction that teaches spoken language organically,
  • The flexibility to learn anytime, anywhere,
  • 30-minute lessons designed to optimize the amount of language you can learn in one sitting.

Millions of people have used Pimsleur to gain real conversational skills in new languages quickly and easily, wherever and whenever -- without textbooks, written exercises, or drills.

The 10 lessons in the Basic Japanese are the same as the first 10 lessons in the Pimsleur Comprehensive Japanese Level 1.

The 10 lessons in Basic Japanese are also the first 10 lessons in the 16-lesson Conversational Japanese edition.

Pimsleur learners progress from either the Basic or the Conversational to the Comprehensive Level 1, and not from Basic to Conversational edition. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (24)

5-0 out of 5 stars Small investment to give audio Japanese a try
I was looking for a way to learn Japanese while I commute, and I settled on Pimsler.Pimsler offers three first level Japanese courses:

1.) Basic Japanese - 10 lessons (13 dollars + shipping)
2.) Conversational Japanese - same as basic, plus 5 lessons (19 dollars + shipping)
3.) Japanese 1 - same lessons as conversational + 15 more lessons (160 dollars + shipping)

Basic Japanese is very inexpensive, and it's a good way to give the method a try without investing a lot of money.I'm very pleased with the CDs after the first 7 lessons, and I've decided to invest in Japanese 1.

I find it takes 2 to 3 times listening to each CD before moving on to the next lesson.While I haven't learned that much Japanese yet, I feel even the little bit I have learned will come in handy on my vacation in Japan in a couple of months.

The lessons are entirely audio-based, so they're perfect for listening to on your commute.They definitely demand one's full attention.

3-0 out of 5 stars useful
this was handy for learning Japanese while driving, a useful way to spend my time driving.

4-0 out of 5 stars Beginning Japanese
A good way to start getting the language and some helpful phrases into your mouth and brain. Some discrepancy in the pronunciation of a couple sounds/words between the male and female speakers. Not clear if this is a recording issue or what.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great product at an even greater price!
I highly recommend this product. I used it prior to a trip to Japan and it was a big help. I won't lie and say it made me fluent but it definitely knocked the edge off my fear. I felt comfortable around Japanese-only speakers and could always tell what was going on. I have a friend that bought the Spanish version after I bought this one because she liked it so much.

5-0 out of 5 stars Just like described, highly recomended
Really good. I was studying with my little cousin, and in just 20min I have learned the first lesson and my cousin half of haha. Good product to do in your dead times or while doing activities requieres monotony. ... Read more

5. Making Sense of Japanese: What the Textbooks Don't Tell You (Power Japanese Series) (Kodansha's Children's Classics)
by Jay Rubin
Paperback: 144 Pages (2002-03-01)
list price: US$16.00 -- used & new: US$8.91
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 4770028024
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
Making Sense of Japanese is the fruit of one foolhardy American's thirty-year struggle to learn and teach the Language of the Infinite. Previously known as Gone Fishin', this book has brought Jay Rubin more feedback than any of his literary translations or scholarly tomes, "even if," he says, "you discount the hate mail from spin-casters and the stray gill-netter."

To convey his conviction that "the Japanese language is not vague," Rubin has dared to explain how some of the most challenging Japanese grammatical forms work in terms of everyday English. Reached recently at a recuperative center in the hills north of Kyoto, Rubin declared, "I'm still pretty sure that Japanese is not vague. Or at least, it's not as vague as it used to be. Probably."

The notorious "subjectless sentence" of Japanese comes under close scrutiny in Part One. A sentence can't be a sentence without a subject, so even in cases where the subject seems to be lost or hiding, the author provides the tools to help you find it. Some attention is paid as well to the rest of the sentence, known technically to grammarians as "the rest of the sentence."

Part Two tackles a number of expressions that have baffled students of Japanese over the decades, and concludes with Rubin's patented technique of analyzing upside-down Japanese sentences right-side up, which, he claims, is "far more restful" than the traditional way, inside-out.

"The scholar," according to the great Japanese novelist Soseki Natsume, is "one who specializes in making the comprehensible incomprehensible." Despite his best scholarly efforts, Rubin seems to have done just the opposite.

Previously published in the Power Japanese series under the same title and originally as Gone Fishin' in the same series. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (34)

5-0 out of 5 stars First I thought this was a totally useless book
Okay I was very cynical. Flipped through this book in the store. Concluded that it was written by another gaijin who has been in Japan (teaching English) for some time and now wants to make a quick buck telling his story. I thought I could spot such trash very quickly. Then I looked at the number of five star amazon ratings and I concluded that they must be wrong too.

But next time in the store, I still decided to take another look at the book and I was now positively surprised. There are actually interesting things in the book. It is not mindless at all. Learning Japanese can be heavy, so sometimes you need to read something different. This books has essays/short chapters and it is not at all heavy reading, but it is still quite useful. Perfect for reading five minutes at a time or something like that.

Is it really worth five stars? Maybe not because the book is quite short and it is quickly finished, but since I was so hard on it in the beginning, I've decided to err in the other direction. So the book is worth four or five stars. Recommended and can be read in the first year of your Japanese studies

5-0 out of 5 stars Just What's It's Entitled: Helps Understand the World Behind the Language
This book is fun, extremely clear and well-written, and really does help understand the Japanese mindset, philosophy, world-view, and pattern of thinking that all underlie its language. Without this kind of stage-setting, Japanese is likely to just seem inpenetrable to many Westerners.

5-0 out of 5 stars Best of the Power Japanese Series-
I distinctly remember the sense of relief I felt when I read Rubin's Making Sense of Japanese: What the Textbooks Don't Tell You (Power Japanese Series) (in its earlier incarnation under a better title as "Gone Fishin'"). I usually loathe grammar explanations, but this was a fun read, and I finally understood some of the Japanese grammar structures that I had been struggling with for years! Shortly afterwards I managed to pass the first grade of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test. He doesn't get all of the credit for my success, but I know I couldn't have managed it without him either.

The book is a collection of mini essays divided into two parts. In the first part he addresses various problems related to the subject in Japanese. The second part is a more loosely organized collection of thorny issues.

The writing is hilarious. Take this phrase, for example: "Japanese is not even vague. The people of Sony and Toyota did not get where they are today by wafting incense back and forth." It still cracks me up.

His explanations for the following concepts remain the best that I have encountered:
-wa and ga
-yaru, ageru, sachiageru; kudasaru, kureru
-morau, itadaku
-the causative (The best part of the book--"Honjitsu wa yasumasete itadakimasu....As the great Zen master Dogen himself might have translated it, "Gone fishin'"--I remember when I FINALLY got it here, and everything clicked into place)
-passives, passivication, and the passive-causative
-the natural potential
-kara da, wake da (I used to be completely befuddled by this one), no da
-kanji (hilarious--he says he has nothing to say about the world's most clunky writing system here, and that explains why he left the Japanese out of his book)
-shiru, wakaru
-kimeru, kimaru
-early warning systems for upcoming grammar structures, because the language works backwards
-why Japanese is fun to read (I totally agree)
-aru, de aru
-going and coming with the command form (this section is too short)
-word order + counters
-how to anticipate what is coming next (similar to the early warning system above)

Like most of the books in the power Japanese series, it works best in small doses, and does not need to be read cover to cover. As clear as his explanations are, it took a while for me to let go of my preconceptions about some grammar points and wrap my head around what he was saying. If you don't get it the first time, just move on and come back to it later. He's addressing some of the toughest problems in Japanese, so it's no surprise that they put up a struggle before you master them.

It never bothered me a bit that there is no Japanese in the text. It usually does, so I sympathize with the sentiments expressed by other reviewers, but this time I was OK with it. Unlike the rest of the books in the power Japanese series, which typically collect examples of Japanese on a certain topic (idioms, emotions, verbs, etc.), and therefore do have Japanese, Rubin is talking about grammar, and troublesome concepts are his main focus.

As mentioned above in this review, he explains on pages 92-93 why he doesn't have the maddening writing system in this book. Of course, what book on grammar would be complete without some rule-breaking? From 119-129 he includes Japanese. This essay was added to the book later. Perhaps he read everyone's views and took them to heart!!!

Every minute I have spent with Rubin's book has been as productive as spending hours agonizing over grammar in classes, doing drills, and struggling with other books. The other works in the Power Japanese series have their merits--see my Listmania List for more of these ("Power Japanese Series")--, but this is the best of the bunch!

3-0 out of 5 stars Making Sense of Making Sense of Japanese
This is a perplexing, frustrating book.My issue with it comes down to one thing, which other reviewers on this site have already pointed out: the Japanese examples are written in romaji.

Every intermediate Japanese student should be working on and pushed to understand the Japanese writing system if they don't, and folks, this book is definitely for intermediate students of Japanese.While it's fine that Rubin may believe Kanji are stupid (I'm not-so-grotesquely simplifying his very brief section on Kanji...) this book is written for--as far as I can tell--determined learners of Japanese, not for dilettantes.

In fact, I relish coming upon new words (when they are written in the Japanese writing system) so that I can look them up and add them to my vocabulary.And because I've been through Heisig now (a semi-related product plug...I love Remembering the Kanji), I don't find new words intimidating--often I can glean the meaning from both context and Kanji, and it is relatively trivial, and educational (!) to look up new words.With romaji this skill I've built up is lost.

At first I thought I could tolerate it.I even re-wrote a few of the shorter passages in, you know, Japanese.But after hitting the section "The Explainers," where he presents a long section by Murakami in romaji, I gave up.I just can't read long passages of romaji.Maybe someone with Rubin's advanced skills finds it easy (could it be true?), but I just don't get why he didn't at least include the actual text in addition to the romaji.

All that aside, what about the actual content?Well, honestly, I think it's fantastic.I've read few (er...that is to say, no) books which so lucidly explain the distinctions between "wa" and "ga," for example, and "The Explainers" section was, despite my complaints, an epiphany for me.For Japanese learners at a more advanced stage this may all be child's play, but for me, it really helped with some thorny details that I just hadn't figured out yet.It is one of the books that has helped me think in Japanese in ways I wasn't able to before.Rubin clearly has a deep grasp of Japanese and--this is where he distinguishes himself--the English writing skills to cogently transmit his deep comprehension of Japanese.

So it is a great disappointment to me that he placed this artificial barrier up in this otherwise great book.I don't know if he or his editors made this choice, but it makes no sense to me and really made the book frustrating.The Japanese don't use romaji the way it is used in this book.So why should any serious students be expected to read this way, and why should any true teacher of Japanese--as Rubin clearly is--use romaji in this way?

5-0 out of 5 stars An incredibly stepping stone
But not necessarily for everyone.

I purchased this book sometime between during my 2nd year living in Japan. I've since been 3 years, and thanks to a lot of sources, this book perhaps most of all in its regard, I've been able to reach a level of fluency I didn't think possible. This book is not a resource for beginners, but rather, for a student of the Japanese language that have not yet mastered forms such as the passive, causative, the giving and receiving forms, and all of the combinations thereof. His explanations assume the reader has some university level experience of Japanese linguistics, although you don't need to have a 4-year degree to benefit from this book.

My only complaint, and I know he did this only to lower the mean-ability-level of accessible readers, is that all Japanese sentences and phrases are written in Roman characters (excluding the very last chapter). This is incredibly problematic for a serious student of Japanese. Roman letters do not, in any way, represent the Japanese language. If you have had a competent teacher or have adequate experience with the language, this is a no-brainer. I personally wrote in the "Japanese translation" of all of his Roman letter Japanese-examples in order to make them accessible to me as a study tool. I suggest you do the same, if you can. While this is, in my humble opinion, a big problem, Professor Rubin likely discourages, or even out-right bans (as my professor did) the use of roman characters when representing the Japanese language. That change was likely one that happened on the editorial side.

Also, and this is something I wished he had stress more in his book, his method of translation in the last chapter is a gem beyond all. He talks about how certain words trigger others, how set phrases are often, or almost always, followed up by others. For example, if you start a sentence with a time, you'll likely follow with where an action happens/happened. If you start with comparative conjugation, you'll (almost always) finish it up with what will happen if those terms are met. As you likely know, Japanese is almost completely backwards in terms of grammar.

Overall, an incredible resource and a vital step to mastering the grammar forms that would otherwise be too strange to wrap your mind around.

Andrew ... Read more

6. Japanese for Dummies AUDIO+CD
by Eriko Sato
Paperback: 408 Pages (2002-05-15)
list price: US$24.99 -- used & new: US$9.59
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0764554298
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
Speak Japanese – the fun and easy way!

Packed with clear explanations and real-world examples

Your friendly guide to understanding Japanese – quickly and easily!

Whether you’re a student, a traveler, or you just want to pick up basic Japanese, this unintimidating guide will help you start speaking the language in no time. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (29)

5-0 out of 5 stars very good learning tool
this book has been extremely helpful, and I have been a beginner-intermediate with japanese for a bit. this has many helpful tools for grammar and sentance structure and more.this is great for all begginners through intermediate for sure!

the CD could have had more than conversation but it in and of itself is also helpful for those that do not understand the conversive quality of the language!

5-0 out of 5 stars Great Learning Aid!
While there is the setback that it is all in either English or romaji, Japanese for dummies is a great learning aid if used along with other Japanese methods. If this book is the only way you plan to learn Japanese, then you really are a DUMMY. This book gives you a basic understanding of the language you are about to immerse yourself in. For additional Japanese (or any language) learning visit [...], this book will help you make sense of basic Nihongo (Japanese)

2-0 out of 5 stars Wouldn't recommend.
I'm a person that takes learning foreign langauges VERY seriously, and all I see on the market are products that encourage you to learn one "the fun or easy way" or "quick and easy". There's is NO quick/easy way to learn a language, although I do consider verb conjugation and kanji fun (literally). A good Japanese language book for beginners would HAVE to include heavy use of Hiragana/Katakana and at least introduce Kanji! Learning a language is a long process, and unfortunately, it's not always fun. This book, along with other Foreign Language for Dummies books (especially Russian For Dummies!) romanizes all of the language you are trying to study, with doesn't provide "the basics" of a language at all. It's impossible to LEARN Japanese without Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji, just like it's impossible to LEARN Russian without the Cyrillic alphabet.

Go for a specialized coursebook if you want to seriously learn a language such as Japanese. Make sure it's not romanized, and some even come with audio companions to help you with pronounciation.

5-0 out of 5 stars Very Helpful
Although I haven't actually finished the book yet, I can say it is very good. You do get a basic understanding of the japanese language as long as you stick with it and practice often. It is very clear and well organized. You may feel a bit goofy while speaking out loud with the CD but hey its part of the fun. The japanese to english dictionary is exactly as they say, mini, but you shouldn't really be expecting anything much bigger since this is just a starters book so its all good. I'd recommend this to anyone who is planning on traveling to japan, it'll make you feel more confident speaking to the locals.

4-0 out of 5 stars Great!
I bought this book just to learn the basics of the Japanese language. I own a travel package that I use to travel the world and my next trip is going to be Japan. The CD is great and the book is easy to follow. I know some basic Japanese with just casual readings of the book. ... Read more

7. Japanese Sentence Patterns for Effective Communication: A Self-Study Course and Reference
by Taeko Kamiya
Paperback: 320 Pages (2005-12-01)
list price: US$22.00 -- used & new: US$12.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 4770029837
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
To be able to speak fluently in Japanese can take hundreds of hours of intensive study. But the ability to communicate effectively—to say what one thinks, to ask and answer questions, to describe events in the past, present and future, and even to create with Japanese based on one's knowledge of it—can be achieved in a much shorter time. And now shorter than ever with this book.

JAPANESE SENTENCE PATTERNS FOR EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION presents 142 essential sentence patterns for everyday conversation—all that is needed to get by in most uncomplicated social situations. These patterns represent the basic building blocks of sophisticated speech, and are mastered by all intermediate students. Each is given first in the form of a full-length English sentence, so that one can quickly understand its meaning and intent, then is followed by a Japanese translation, a short, precise explanation, several example sentences, and a practice section that allows one to test one's comprehension. By familiarizing oneself with these patterns and practicing them out loud, and inventing new sentences with them, one will quickly gain the skills necessary to effectively communicate one's thoughts in Japanese.

With page after page of sentence-pattern practice and straightforward explanations of grammar, this book is ideal for ambitious beginning-level students who wish to up their oral proficiency quickly. But it will also usefully serve intermediate and advanced students in need of solid review material, or anyone with an interest in the workings of the Japanese language. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (11)

5-0 out of 5 stars Best book ever
I got this book because I lost the copy I had from Borders. I was satisfied about this book's results; Therefore, it was very helpful to read about proper communication in the Japanese Language. It is also very perfect and fun for beginners and those who want an excellent start on their journey to learn Japanese fluently. Also, The book was a bit cheap to get from this site since at Borders it costs up to $22 to get plus shipping and handling. That is too much for me! :S

This book is the best to have when you want to learn japanese perfectly. Guaranteed. :D

5-0 out of 5 stars Exactly what I was looking for.
This book is the perfect compilation of basic Japanese - master this book and you'll have built a fine foundation to stand upon to build further study.Before I bought this book I already had quite a bit of basic-level Japanese ability.Chapters one and two, for example, were a breeze to get through as far as grammar structure.However, I'm still studying chapter one diligently to absorb all of the new vocabulary and to make the sentence structures absolute second nature.

It's great that every structure has several examples and several practice sentences.It's through these examples and practice sentences that the book introduces so much new vocabulary.Reviewing the material is very easy.The first few pages of the book have all the structures in English on the left pages and Japanese on the right.To practice, you just cover one side with a piece of paper and see if you can translate properly back and forth.

Since this book is focused on grammar specifically I found it helpful to create a notebook of all the new vocabulary introduced so that I could memorize and practice it easily without having to flip through the book constantly.My particular weakness at this level is vocabulary and since so many words are introduced so often, it's a good idea to keep track of it all.For example, just in the first chapter (20 sentence structures) I had to compile a list of over 50 nouns and adjectives to study.Bottom line - if you have the desire to build a foundation for Japanese and you're willing to study and work at it, this book is a fantastic aid.

One last thing, though - if you're an absolute beginner this may not be the book for you yet.It starts at the most basic level, yes, but doesn't give you an idea on pronunciation, how to write or read kana, etc.Therefore, I would mostly suggest this for people like me who are very familiar with Japanese but for one reason or another haven't been able to move beyond the beginner level into the intermediate.

5-0 out of 5 stars Exactly what I've been looking for
I started learning Japanese with audio lessons, read a few beginner books, and was looking all over the place for the next step; this book is it. I actually skimmed through it at the bookstore and thought about buying it, decided not to, and ended up buying it online a few months later.

Not only is it a good review of the basics I've already learned, but it's a consistent building of new vocabulary along with excellent examples and various forms of speech (polite, neutral, etc). I finally feel like I'm moving forward in my progress again as opposed to reading the same things over and over.

My only CON is that there is no dictionary in the back of the book. I think it would be really convenient to be able to look up the new romaji words I'm learning and which chapters they're used in, but instead I have to hunt for them.

Anyway, thank you for this book!

5-0 out of 5 stars One of the best japanese learning books out.
well this book is perhaps the best japanese learning books i own but i wouldn't call this a stand alone book if you get this book you should also get "japanese step by step" by gene nishi or "japanese grammar" second edition by carol and nobuo akiyama or both if possible.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great reference
I use this series as a reference for my Japanese lesson.Couple of my students bought their own.Must have item if you are learning Japanese.

... Read more

8. Japanese, The Spoken Language: Part 2 (Yale Language Series) (Pt. 2)
by Professor Eleanor Harz Jorden
Paperback: 371 Pages (1988-05-25)
list price: US$41.00 -- used & new: US$28.26
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0300041888
Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

Customer Reviews (16)

5-0 out of 5 stars JSL Book Purchase
I was very pleased with this purchase. The book was in great condition- no writing, marks, tears, or creases. Delivery was speedy. Thank you.

1-0 out of 5 stars Awful
I have had to learn from several textbooks as I hop from college to college but this is by far the worst. Never have i spent more time hearing my teacher correct the book than I have actually learned from the book. The companion writing book is no better. The words and phrases are outdated. Our native Japanese teacher's assistant has had to tell us "that... doesn't mean that" or "no one says this anymore... if you do, no one in Japan will understand you."
Frankly, the book is good at one thing and that is how to not offend anyone in Japan by being too informal. Otherwise, it isn't worth the paper it is printed on. Teachers love it though and I am still not sure why.

2-0 out of 5 stars Teachers Vs Students
I am a college student approaching my 4th year of Japanese study and from my experience, the people who like this book are the people who don't have to learn from it. Teachers love the ideas that E. Jorden (RIP)tried to get across when writing this book. The reality is, learning from this mess is unnecessarily difficult and other textbooks do a better job. There are numerous typo's that could easily be fixed but are not, often native Japanese people say the grammar/vocabulary used in this text is weird or not used "unless talking to an emperor in the 19th century", the romanization is good in theory but hard to grasp, easy to make mistakes with (even teachers) which therefore makes it counterproductive, the vocabulary is severely out of date (including the English), and lastly the binding of the book sucks too it falls apart after a while because this book is cheap. On the good side though, your speaking ability will improve, even though you will talk like a secretary from the 70's.

1-0 out of 5 stars Please, don't buy this book.
I have studied Japanese at 4 different institutions, from a large high school, to a small private school, to large colleges abroad (including in Japan). During that time I've used all sorts of textbooks, the best of which was Genki in my opinion.

The worst? This book series ( I am using the 2nd and 3rd books). It is no exaggeration that I have seen manuals for toasters with better text layout and smoother ENGLISH, not to mention the extremely stiff and formal Japanese that this book presents (the likes of which I hardly ever heard during my time living in Japan). The weird romanization has already been touched on, but combine that with a reliance on the 'core conversations' as opposed to drilling grammar to make it your own and you have a product that is almost as bad as its cover art.

I am eternally grateful that I have gotten most of my major and Japanese education out of my way before using this book- if I had started with it I probably would have committed . Some professors seem to love this book, but I've never met a student who did.

DO NOT BUY THIS BOOK. If your professor requires it- change schools or take up Spanish; anything to avoid this insult to the Japanese language and any living being that can claim to have a soul.

4-0 out of 5 stars Excellent Textbook
I've found this book to be extremely helpful to learn the spoken part of the Japanese language, but only because I've been using it as a textbook in college. The book provides good explanations and everything in the book is taught in a very logical order, but you do need to use it with the supplemental audio tapes in order to really learn. Another important thing is that you should be trying to learn the written part of Japanese using other resources (such as the "Japanese, The Written Language" book) since this book is all printed in romanization and doesn't use any Japanese characters.

The layout of each unit is the same. Each book of the series has 12 Lessons, and each lesson is divided in two parts that include core conversations, vocabulary breakdowns, and practice drills. To really master each lesson you need to memorize the 'core conversations', which are short conversations that can easily occur between two people in Japan. After the core conversations in each part there is a breakdown of all the new vocabulary used (assuming you've learned all the vocabulary from all the previous lessons, including book 1) and the translations to English. The books then includes drills for you to practice answering and speaking Japanese out loud. The audio tapes are very important for this part. At the end of each lesson, there's an eavesdropping section, a utilization section, and a check-up section. These are the three sections you'll use to determine if you really mastered the lesson.

In eavesdropping you'll listen to conversations in Japanese and answer a few questions about what was said. In the utilization section you'll be asked to say certain things in Japanese given a specific circumstance. The check-up section is the one that helps you see if you've really learned the material in-depth and can talk about the Japanese language in general, and not just do the drills.

This book series is the one being used as textbooks for the Japanese classes at MIT, and usually lessons are taught at a rate of one part per week (i.e. one full lesson in two weeks) and, to ensure students are learning, the classes are very interactive and students speak only Japanese in three out of 4 weekly classes.

If you're studying Japanese on you're own I suggest you only use this book in a similar way, making yourself practice constantly and memorize the core conversations and vocabulary. It's the only way you'll really learn things the right way. And definitely buy a kana/kanji book so you can also learn the Japanese writing system while learning to speak it. ... Read more

9. Japanese Grammar (Grammar series)
by Carol Akiyama, Nobuo Akiyama
 Paperback: 215 Pages (1991-08)
list price: US$6.95 -- used & new: US$70.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0812046439
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
A concise summary of Japanese grammar is presented for beginning students of the language. Topics include parts of speech, sentence structure, idioms, and pronunciation advice. All Japanese words are presented phonetically. Important points of grammar or vocabulary, as well as subject heads, are printed in a second color as a quick-reference aid for students. New to this edition is a Japanese-English vocabulary list. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (40)

5-0 out of 5 stars it's a good small book
i like it. it's full of good information and examples for those who don't understand just by reading and need to see.

5-0 out of 5 stars Concise...great for beginners!
This is one of the best books I have found that logically teaches the different verbs in a way Westerners can understand.I have used Minna no Nihongo, and Japanese for Busy People, but this book was a great supplement as it explained the grammar very well.

5-0 out of 5 stars Tiny Book Worth It's Weight In Gold
I'm terrible at learning languages, and have been trying to learn spoken Japanese for quite a while, with pathetic results.Most books are either at the very beginner level - essentially phrase books, that teach you how to say "Where is the toilet?", with no explanation of grammar, or advanced grammar books for people who who are either studying Japanese in university, or are in Japan and need native level speech proficiency.I find learning vocabulary not that difficult, but grammar throws me for a loop.This is an excellent guide to learning the basics of grammar.

5-0 out of 5 stars THE Essential Japanese Grammar Guide!
If you can only own one Japanese grammar book - get this one.
It's such a great reference book. You read through it once or twice, then use the index or chapters to reference to anything you need a little reminder on.

It has fantastic examples!
It is so easy to understand, it makes Japanese grammar look simple. It takes confusion and mystery out of Japanese grammar!

* Awesome points:
- Simple.
- Not overdone, doesn't overload you with useless information.
- To the point.
- Color coded.
- Explains both English and Japanese grammar terms and has examples for both. Trust me, if you're like the average individual, there are probably a few English grammar points you've forgotten!

It gives you a thorough and yet easy to understand starting place for verb, adverb, and adjective conjugation and commonly used particles.
It also briefly discusses word order / sentence structure, nouns, and pronouns.

Some Handy Sections:
- Pronunciation Guide
- Hiragana and Katakana charts
- Numbers
- Telling Time
- *Classifiers* (Important to remember, easy to forget!)
- Days, Months, Seasons, the Weather
- Family Relationships
- Useful Words and Phrases
- Borrowed Words
- Synonyms
- Antonyms
- Short Vowel, Long Vowel
- Double Consonants
- Same Pronunciation, Different Meaning
- Pitch Accent: Different Pitch, Different Meaning
- Japanese-English Vocabulary

I highly recommend this book. I definitely think it needs follow ups (such as All About Particles) if you want to advance your knowledge and understanding of Japanese grammar.

4-0 out of 5 stars Japanese grammar
I bought this book for my girlfriend. She really wanted it since she is really excited about learning japanese. So here are her thoughts: It's nice to have a pocket sized japanese grammar for quick search, it's very clear to explain and it seems to cover the basics. Just one thing that really bothered her, that it uses only romanji and no furigana. Other then that it's a great acquisition. ... Read more

10. The Ultimate Japanese Phrasebook: 1800 Sentences for Everyday Use Incl. CD
by Kit Pancoast Nagamura, Kyoko Tsuchiya
Paperback: 320 Pages (2010-02-01)
list price: US$24.95 -- used & new: US$14.21
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 4770031009
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
How do I say it in Japanese? No matter how long you've been studying the language, no matter how many words you've memorized, do you ever stop wondering?

The Ultimate Japanese Phrasebook, the world's first compendium of colloquial Japanese phrases, has been designed to answer this question. Going beyond the scope of standard phrasebooks for tourists, this compact volume presents all the expressions a student, businessperson, teacher, homemaker, or other professional will need--not only to get by in Japan but also to set up a life there and make Japanese friends.

The book contains 1800 sentences organized into 19 chapters, covering almost every situation a visitor to Japan is likely to encounter, from meeting people, shopping, and getting around, to finding a place to live, getting a job, and having kids. A chapter on social interaction teaches you how to initiate a chat, agree and disagree, and express your thoughts on matters of importance, while another, on feelings, guides you through the various ways of expressing emotion in Japanese. There is even a chapter on romance and sex, "The Private Zone," which introduces key phrases for hooking up and bedding down.

Included with the book is a free MP3 audio CD containing all the sentences read aloud--first in English, then in Japanese--by professional narrators and actors. Just download the files to your iPod or other MP3 player, and you've got Japanese on the go.

The Ultimate Japanese Phrasebook--practical, insightful, and fun--will make getting on in Japanese easier than ever. Just look up what you want to say, and say it! ... Read more

Customer Reviews (6)

1-0 out of 5 stars This book is only for someone looking for sex in Japan
I purchased this book based on the recommendations and boy did I make a big mistake.I never really took a good look at it and when I did I found this book offensive.It tells you how to pick up members of the opposite sex in Japanese, how to ask if someone is a virgin, and other phrases of similar intent.I actually threw it out after I started searching for useful phrases and found that 90% of the book is dedicated to finding someone to have sex with or talking about how to say you had too much to drink last night.Avoid this book like the plague if you are seriously looking for a phrase book to use while in Japan.

2-0 out of 5 stars The Ultimate Japanese Phrasebook
I was disappointed with the content phrases of this book.It's not mean for children who would like to learn
conversational Japanese.

5-0 out of 5 stars Outstanding, real-life, must-have guide!
This is all you need to get started on your path to getting along in Japan.Each phrase is chosen by the authors with deep sensitivity to language that will not only get your needs met, but also present you as a polite human being to your listeners in a country where that is very important.

It is filled with information that allows you to reach towards more than superficial relationships.You will have ways to express yourself effectively on an emotional and even sexually intimate level.Goes where no other guide has gone before in this area.The presentation is humorous and well organized making it fun, readable, and easy to find what you need quickly when you are on the spot and need help!

5-0 out of 5 stars Helpful book
I recently got the book and started reading it, it's amazing how easy to understand it is, I've already learned some Japanese. If you're trying to learn some useful daily life expressions, this is the one to get.

5-0 out of 5 stars Ultimate is an understatement.
Not only practical and authoritative, it's so entertaining you could use it as a mixer at a party! Soon everyone is shouting Japanese phrases at each other across the room... ... Read more

11. Japanese: The Spoken Language: Faculty Guide (Yale Language Series)
by Associate Professor Mari Noda
Paperback: 104 Pages (1998-05-25)
list price: US$16.00 -- used & new: US$15.97
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0300075685
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
This interactive CD-ROM programme is a tool for novice learners of Japanese. It is based on the popular textbook "Japanese: The Spoken Language, Part 1" (Yale University Press, 1987). The two-disc set - available in Macintosh and PC formats - reflects "Japanese: The Spoken Language"'s sound methodology and, in a multimedia environment, complements the textbook with an interactive and user-friendly design. It contains 125 "Core Conversation" video clips, activities for practice in context, explanations about language and culture, and tools for student review and assessment, with native conversation models throughout. Whether used in the classroom or for self-study, the CD-ROM programme should help students to communicate successfully in Japanese and make learning both enjoyable and rewarding. A "User's Guide", included with the CD-ROM (and also sold separately), offers clear, concise instructions for the programme's most effective use. In addition, it provides comprehensive guidance for learners of Japanese and answers to some of their commonly asked questions.A "Faculty Guide" is also available to help instructors incorporate into their curricula the components of "Japanese: The Spoken Language", Multimedia Collection - a grouping of new and previously published text, audio, video and CD-ROM materials that together form a complete package for learning and teaching spoken Japanese at the beginning level. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (65)

1-0 out of 5 stars Obsolete software disguised as new
I can't speak for the efficacy of the material because I wasn't even able to get it to function. The product description deftly avoids mentioning that the program isn't compatible with anything newer than Windows XP, though it's plainly on the cover of the product itself. Of course you won't see this until you've already paid for it.

Without getting the program itself to function it's possible to watch the conversational examples. The sound quality was very poor and made it more difficult than necessary to follow along.

It's very disappointing that such an expensive piece of software doesn't even function on any computer less than 5 years old.

4-0 out of 5 stars good although the book is quite lately arrived.
good, but the notice was not sent to me when the item was shipped, which means i didn't know when it would arrived.

1-0 out of 5 stars This is clearly the worst textbook ever produced...and, that's an understatement.
Why doesn't the Amazon icon let you put no stars? It forces you to choose at least one star.This is unfortunate because I do not give this book one star.I give it no stars.Zero.None at all.

With this textbook, in addition to attempting to learn Japanese, you will need to learn to use romaji correctly.For those, especially students, who value the scarcity of available time to pursue studying Japanese, spending that valuable time learning another language pronunciation system is not very efficient. And don't start talking about the effectiveness of romaji or how it is linguistically correct or how it is for "upper level" language learners or whatever other BS explanation you can come up with.Sadly, this book is used at some universities in the country and this is absolutely alarming.These books are over TWENTY YEARS OLD!Learning a crutch skill such as romaji is a COMPLETE waste of time.For example, do you really look at "ame" and the hiragana spelling of it, but enunciate the two differently?!?!Of course not, what kind of dumbass would do that?!So, why not just learn THE JAPANESE version!?!?!Is there someone who would choose to learn the romaji instead of the Japanese?!On top of that, you will HAVE TO, at some point later on, learn to stop using and relying on romaji, because, you know, when you are in Japan, you are not going to see things written in romaji, ever.Of course, if the academic field creates a ROMAJI major or ROMAJI JAPANESE, then this textbook will be fantastic.

For example, when you go out to catch a train, you don't see schedules written in romaji.You don't walk through the subway and see ads/flyers, etc. written in romaji.You don't walk down a street in Japan and see a "Tookyoo ryokan".You will not be staying at the "Ookura Hoteru" where they will serve you "koohii" along with a "Nihon no sinbun" in the morning.

And, if you are in public, and let's say you're writing something "in Japanese" on a notepad, if you are writing in romaji and a Japanese person sees you doing this, they will normally think you are just some idiot foreigner writing in some other ridiculous language in an attempt to learn Japanese.Or, at other times, they will just think you are some kind of mental patient.

Please people, do not buy this book.Forget that it even exists.

5-0 out of 5 stars ideal for those who can't stand romaji, but like JSL
The JSL series is arguably one of the best series for learning Japanese (despite the text-heavy pages and lack of design). Unfortunately, the books are all in romaji, and not even Hepburn romaji, but a different variety that the author has her reasons for. For those of us who believe that romaji is not Japanese (it isn't, and is rather a crutch to learning the language) this can be frustrating and tedious. In this book, however, all the Core Conversations, Extra Vocabulary, and Drills are provided, typeset in kana and kanji, so it is the best solution you can get to that problem. For the most part, this book works great.

You may run across a few little annoyances though. The "book" is something more like a thick pamphlet. It is bound with two staples in the spine and the covers are no thicker than the interior pages, all just paper, so it can't take a lot of punishment. Additionally, there have been a new edition or two of JSL since this typeset pamphlet was produced, and the pamphlet has not been updated (at least, the one I bought hadn't been) to match some minor changes in CCs--but neither have the audio files, so actually, it's the JSL books that come out seeming inaccurate. I have also caught a few typos, but they are fairly minor. And, sometimes in the Supplementary Vocabulary section, there will be a word in the pamphlet that isn't in the JSL book, or vice-versa.

If you want a Japanese version of the CCs and Drills to study from, this book is the solution. I never practice out of the JSL book. I always use the typeset. Doing so makes me read real Japanese text more fluently, and I learn my kanji better. I highly recommend this book.

3-0 out of 5 stars Best Used For Classes
One of the major strengths of this book is the grammar descriptions. They are generally thorough and easy to understand, particularly when you read them and practice the excercises on the accompanying CD (which you should be doing if you are using the book correctly).

While romaji is a bit disappointing, the series does have an accompanying set of books to teach katakana, hiragana, and kanji, so it's there, just not in this book.

I can't really imagine this book being very useful for an INDEPENDENT learner of Japanese. The book relies heavily on memorizing the "Core Conversations" and practicing with them. The text is only supposed to be a supplement/aid to help you to better understand the conversations and grammar points used in the conversations. Unless you have others around to practice the conversations with and take the conversation beyond the book, you may find yourself a bit reluctant to try out your own sentences, and even if you do try to use your own sentences, it is still important to have someone who is able to correct you if you make a mistake (either with the new grammar or other parts of your sentence). Those who are entering a school/university that uses this book will be able to understand and use Japanese grammar confidently by the end (if you use it correctly), but those who are looking for a good independent study book may find it too difficult. ... Read more

12. Japanese, The Spoken Language: Part 3 (Yale Language Series) (Pt.3)
by Professor Eleanor Harz Jorden
Paperback: 416 Pages (1990-09-10)
list price: US$41.00 -- used & new: US$30.85
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0300041918
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

Customer Reviews (10)

1-0 out of 5 stars A nightmare, absolute nightmare
I have been using the Japanese Spoken Language books for about two years now at my college using 1st, 2nd, and 3rd parts of the series.I'll start with some positives and go on to why I gave this book a low score.

The book is overall good for grammar.It gives a thorough explanation of particles and usage of words. It provides `everyday' conversations and clarifies the usage of such things as particles, nominals, ect. However, I will indicate now, that unless you are quite good at understanding some advanced English language structure terms (such as predicate, adjectival, verbal ect.), this book will be a bit difficult to understand, at least quickly. Otherwise, the explanations of Japanese sentence structure are very thorough in letting you know all the rules to constructing your own Japanese sentence.It also provides a variety drills, exercises, and even "check up" questions to make sure you understand the grammar.

Now onto the bad stuff and this will be lengthy. First, the book was actually written in the 60's. The author, in fact, died a year ago at the age of 88. This book was republished in 1990, as you can see, but the words and even a majority of the sentences are EXTREMELY outdated (I think 1990 is still too old). Many of my Japanese friends indicate that when I talk in Japanese I sound like their grandmother. So, if you want to sound like you're a 70-year-old grandmother; then this book is for you.Next, this book contains absolutely NO writing like hiragana, katakana, and kanji. It's all in romanji, which in case you didn't know, isn't used in Japan. Thus, the "Spoken Language" part of the title. You'll have to get the "Japanese Written Language" by Jorden and Noda as a supplement (which doesn't follow the lessons in the Spoken Language so it gets confusing).Most language books that I've had experience with provides the CD with the book or at least a website that gives you access to audio. For gem of a textbook, you have to purchase the CD separately (if you can locate it) for a lovely $68.00. The CD itself is awful. It provides some videos of the speaking conversations, however the audio and the video are of such poor quality (my two year old nephew makes better videos), you can't really understand anything. The only other thing it provides is some listening conversations with questions and a grammar quiz. The CD is worth about $5.00 in quality, but if you want to spend the $68.00 on this, please do.

As someone mentioned earlier, you cannot rely solely on this book. Your Japanese will be incredibly poor and outdated to the point where Japanese natives won't even be able to understand you.People in my class who relied solely on this book, even after two years of study, could not speak to our Japanese students at all while the other students who only used to book for homework were able to hold themselves in a conversation.Many of our Japanese students hate this book themselves and refuse to use it when they help us. We've even noticed, compared to students of other languages at my school and even students of Japanese at other schools, that the individuals that use this book are not where they should be in the time they're studied.

Learning a language is fun, and should be fun. But this book destroys any amount of excitement and fun you could ever have in learning a language and it's especially noticeable when you try and speak to Japanese natives.It's to the point where I am almost embarrassed to talk to them (they are nice about it, I just know what I'm saying sounds awkward to them).

Quick round-up: Decent for understanding grammar, a horrible nightmare from the bowels of hell for anything thing else.

2-0 out of 5 stars Should not be used as a core Text
When learning a language, it is important that class time be devoted to learning, not rehashing forced conversations that are supposed to emphasize grammar points. This makes students memorize things people normally do not say or phrases that are not commonly used. The most useful learning experiences in my opinion, were the times when the teachers threw in extra information/phrases and made use change up the conversations using added vocabulary. This book would do better as a text for a Japanese grammar class taught it English, rather than a Japanese Conversation class. The over analysis of the Japanese language is best suited for that type of environment.

1-0 out of 5 stars Horrid - a bad memory that won't go away...
After learning Japanese on my own by living there, I came back to the US and enrolled in 3rd and 4th year college Japanese.I was hoping that formally studying the language would help to polish-up my skills.

When I flipped through the pages of this required text at the bookstore, I was dumbfounded.How in the hell do the authors expect students to be proficient in Japanese when they write all of their Japanese in Romaji?

I ended up buying a used copy of the teacher's manual (actually written in Japanese), and then I was frustrated repeatedly, week after week, at the accompanying JSL audio tapes that we also had to use.They sounded like they were recorded in a submarine with generators humming in the background on a hand-me-down tape recorder from the Kennedy era.

I complained to the the Japanese department about both the complete lack of written Japanese and the terrible, inaudible soundtrack, but the department head was a "disciple" of Eleanor Jorden, so nothing changed.Our instructors had to heavily augment the 4th year text with reading, writing, and cultural examples from other sources.

Sadly, several of us noticed a disparity between those students who learned solely from the Jorden series and those who had began either with another text or who had studied abroad.The Jorden-only group, for the most part, had a much more difficult time with reading, and their written Japanese looked a lot worse, according to some of the Japanese assistants who I worked with.One of these Japanese grad students said overall the Jorden-only students had no concept of the correct stroke order of Kanji characters, which contributed to, at times, illegible handwriting.

You can learn more Japanese from reading a short novel or a newspaper article than I learned with the entire 3rd and 4th year Jorden texts.I am being sincere when I say that this series was not at all helpful to me as a student of Japanese.I'm sorry I wasted my time and money.

The bottom line is that the teaching methods employed in this series are a serious obstacle to learning, so why does this series go on? Absolutely terrible.Time to lay this pathetic series to rest once and for all.

1-0 out of 5 stars Buy Genki or Yokoso instead
I have studied Japanese for over 7 years at 4 different institutions , from a large high school, to a small private school, to large colleges abroad (including in Japan). During that time I've used all sorts of textbooks, the best of which was Genki in my opinion.

The worst? This book series ( I am using the 2nd and 3rd books). It is no exaggeration that I have seen manuals for toasters with better text layout and smoother ENGLISH, not to mention the extremely stiff and formal Japanese that this book presents (the likes of which I hardly ever heard during my time living in Japan). The weird romanization has already been touched on, but combine that with a reliance on the 'core conversations' as opposed to drilling grammar to make it your own and you have a product that is almost as bad as its cover art.

I am eternally grateful that I have gotten most of my major and Japanese education out of my way before using this book- if I had started with it I probably would have committed . Some professors seem to love this book, but I've never met a student who did.

DO NOT BUY THIS BOOK. If your professor requires it- change schools or take up Spanish; anything to avoid this insult to the Japanese language and any living being that can claim to have a soul.

3-0 out of 5 stars Pros and Cons
Pros: Good grammatical structure, and just enough vocabulary necessary for a beginner to learn japanese. The book starts with a conversation in Romaji, then the translations, including vocabularies that must be memorized. The onversation is thouroughly explained later. Sentence structures and grammar lessons, and drills comes afterwards.
Cons: Too much unecessary information about the conversations sometimes, and... the vacbularies and book itself could be more organized. Overall, I give it a 3, or a four. ... Read more

13. Beginner's Japanese with 2 Audio CDs (Hippocrene Beginner's Series)
by Joanne Redmond Claypoole
Paperback: 290 Pages (2006-05-15)
list price: US$29.95 -- used & new: US$18.51
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0781811414
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
The Hippocrene Beginner’s Series offers basic language instruction, presenting grammar, vocabulary, and common phrases in clear, concise lessons. Review questions and exercises accompany each section, while historical and cultural material gives insight into customs and everyday situations. Books in the series are an ideal companion for students, travelers, and businesspeople.

Beginner’s Japanese with 2 Audio CDs teaches the basics of Japanese grammar, vocabulary, and conversation in 25 easy-to-follow lessons. Ideal for classroom use and self-study, its unique approach combines dialogues, easy-to-follow explanations of grammar, and practical cultural information. Sidebars feature vocabulary and helpful tips for travelers and businesspeople. The audio CD feature complements the dialogue and vocabulary sections of the book, aiding the reader in understanding the language as spoken. The book also includes guides to the hiragana and katakana writing systems, as well as Japanese/English and English/Japanese glossaries. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (9)

5-0 out of 5 stars Japanese book
I love this book i brought it with me on the way to japan very helpful this book proves itself!

2-0 out of 5 stars Umm...Read Please Before Buying!
Okay, So I'm no expert on Japanese but I took it high school for two years and have self studied since (five years ago). I noticed in the 'look inside this book' that they say {amazon cannot process japanese script}is 'motte' when it is actually 'mottsu'. And I asked others before posting this... So that it wasnt a spur of the moment post and I wasnt wrong. So take that into consideration when and if you get this book that it should only be used as an aid and/or reference not a sole media for learning japanese.

4-0 out of 5 stars A very "effective" beginning of learning Japanese
Very concise, well-organized learning material on Japanese in the audio format; especially well suited for people having tight working schedule.

4-0 out of 5 stars Easy to follow!
The book uses a really easy way to follow for beginners. I am really interested in learning Japanese but didnt know anything besides Arigato and Sayonara.

I would recommend this book for anyone who is looking to learn Japanese on its own. The only reason Im giving it a 4 stars is because the audio only repeats words without its translation so unless you memorized them before listening to the CD, there's no way you understand what they are saying.

4-0 out of 5 stars good but not great
Beginner's Japanese is a very useful beginning text but has some problems.While katakana and hiragana are introduced and used, the text relies on romaji and doesn't introduce any kanji.Using only this text, students can only go so far - you could only improve in speaking and listening, but you would not be able to read or write Japanese very well after using this text. ... Read more

14. Business Japanese: Over 1,700 Essential Business Terms in Japanese (Tuttle Language Library)
by Reiko Suzuki, Are Hajikano, Sayuri Kataoka
Paperback: 456 Pages (2006-03-15)
list price: US$22.95 -- used & new: US$7.74
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0804837805
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
Business Japanese is for students of the Japanese language with a special interest in business, finance, and economics. Appropriate for self-study or classroom use, it teaches more than 1,700 kanji frequently used in Japanese business and economic newspapers and magazines. Written in both Japanese and English, this book is designed for students with a basic level of Japanese language skills. Students will be able to learn enough kanji to read and digest even the most arcane or technical business articles.
Business Japanese is an invaluable learning tool for anyone who wants to do business in Japan or keep up with important developments in the world’s second-largest economy.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful resource if you are fairly fluent in Japanese.
This is an excellent book if you are an advanced reader of Japanese. Lots useful business terms. If you can't read Japanese, don't bother with this book. There is very little English other than a few introductory pages. It would be an excellent resource for the advanced student and professor of business Japanese. Wish it had been available when I was at Thunderbird.

5-0 out of 5 stars beauty japanese
it is comrpised of 50 lesson units.In my opinion, it is not designed for elementary learners. it is far from that. Every unit contains new japanese words and compound words and then their equivalents in English supplied with example sentences for every new kanji. And you find reading exercises only in Japanese and it rest with your level of Japanese proficiency to translate them into English. No key for translations whatsoever. However this bokok deserves 5 stars and I recommend it for at least intermediate learners. ... Read more

15. Beginning Japanese (part 2)
by Professor Eleanor Harz Jorden, Hamako Ito Chaplin
Paperback: 423 Pages (1963-09-10)
list price: US$30.00 -- used & new: US$26.06
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0300001363
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
Japanese is the language of approximately 125 million people. This course, developed by Eleanor Harz Jorden of Cornell University, is concerned only with spoken Japanese in the "standard" dialect of educated inhabitants of Tokyo. Learning to speak the languageat normal speed is emphasized next since the aim of the course is to teach the learner to understand and speak the everyday language just as it is spoken by the Japanese ... Read more

Customer Reviews (21)

3-0 out of 5 stars no companion cd
yale university press no longer produces the CD and a lot of the text is companion listening. many words are pronounced phonetically different than written and the CD would be useful.i had no luck finding it.

3-0 out of 5 stars Very academic, not very useful.
Let me start by saying that this is my favorite Japanese learning text.But then I'm not a typical Japanese learner.I'm an amateur linguist and like my language materials to be full of detailed explanations of how the language is used.Details that others would find boring or difficult to understand, I find fascinating and enjoy exploring.If you want to learn the spoken language well, then this is the text for you.If you want to learn the language quickly or easily, then this is not the text for you.Also, if you have never learned a foreign language before, then skip this one which is full of unexplained linguistics terms.

The most unique thing about this book is that it marks tone.You may have heard that Japanese does not have stressed syllables (as English does), but instead varies pitch.This book explains how that works and every word and sentence is marked to show you how to alter your pitch.If you just want to learn to communicate and don't mind having an accent, these marks just make things more complicated.But if you want to perfect your pronunciation, these marks are invaluable.

One of the problems with this book is that there is no introduction, of any kind, to the written language.In fact the romanization used here is a very rare style.The author made a specific choice to use a romanization designed to reflect the categorization of the kana (the characters that the Japanese use to spell out words).Unfortunately, this style of romanization used in this book never caught on and is quite different from the romanization used in Japan (it's not even used for computer input, for which it seems ideally suited).

Based solely on explanation and practice of the rules of Japanese (pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary, etc.) I give this book 5 stars and rate it as a must for any serious Japanese learner's library.However, as a means to learn how to "get by" in Japan, this book is terrible.

1-0 out of 5 stars What the?!?
Why is this ancient artifact still on the market? I dropped a Japanese class after using this book for a couple weeks. No kanji or hiragana, this book consists of words, words, and more words crammed into each page with weird accents and intonation markers(not even a small picture). The method of transliteration in this book is inaccurate. How in the hell can anyone learn Japanese from this? Please look inside this book and see how lousy it is.

3-0 out of 5 stars Brilliant idea, but...
This is the most brilliant "teach yourself Japanese" book I've ever seen. A perfect read for all lazy people. Unfortunately, the author choosed to make up his own spelling of Japanese words and letters. Instead of official spelling of letters like "chi" and "tsu", the author writes "ti" and "tu"! The book author would write "tunami" instead of "tsunami" and "patinko" instead of "pachinko". The book is very efficient if you are aware of these incredible mistakes.

5-0 out of 5 stars A serious and very effective way to speak Japanese
This book(and its second volume), when used in conjuction with Reading Japanese by the same authors, is amazing. Together they contain 35 lessons. They start off with an introduction that teaches you thoroughly how to pronounce Japanese sounds, and a lesson containing some useful phrases like sumimasen-excuse me. They start with dialogues at the beginning of each lesson, which are great because in between the sentences they show vocabulary and explain well enough how the grammar constructions in the following sentence work. After the dialogues they sometimes have specialized vocabulary that is usually separated for a reason and is of the same subject(e.g. family, languages). Then there are notes explaining peculiarities in the dialogues. After that, Grammatical Notes explain in depth some new constructions, all of which are used in the dialogue; there are usually between 5 and 10 of these notes in a lesson. Then, the drills! There are a load of drills and exercises that solidify the grammar and vocabulary into your head. They start out with around 8 drills in the early lessons, but in the later ones, they sometimes have as many as 15!(and these are long drills, mind you, at least 8 questions each)But don't be discouraged; you just have to say the answers aloud, since the book doesn't teach any writing and there's no point in practing roumaji. Finally, following the drills, there are exercises. One exercise is usually about as long as a drill, but there only about 3 of them per lesson, so every time I start a new lesson, I can repeat the exercises from the previous one without taking too long.
If there HAD to be anything to complain about, it is certainly NOT the romanization--that's easy to get used to--but that the font(all of it; Enlish/Japanese) is ever so slightly annoying, but nothing to worry about at all. If you want to become fluent at speaking and have a great foundation and basic knowledge of writing(using Reading Japanese) that can be continued with other books, this is a great choice. ... Read more

16. Common Japanese Collocations: A Learner's Guide to Frequent Word Pairings
Paperback: 256 Pages (2010-07-01)
list price: US$19.95 -- used & new: US$11.33
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 4770031238
Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
Collocations, or natural word combinations, exist in any language, but until now there have been few resources for learners of Japanese on this important yet difficult subject. Common Japanese Collocations is the first book to answer the question, Which word combinations are the most frequent in everyday Japanese speech? Through six chapters covering all aspects of daily life, this groundbreaking volume introduces more than 3,200 collocations--word pairings the Japanese use all the time--with which students can refine their speech and enrich their vocabulary. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

1-0 out of 5 stars Not worth getting
Take some topical vocabulary from a dictionary and then present it using some kind of fancy title. I've never heard the terms"collocation" before. The potential reader is probably supposed to think that he is missing something and the get this book. Get a good learners dictionary that has a lot of examples and you are much better off. I'd recommend Kodansha's Basic English-Japanese Dictionary (Japanese for Busy People).

I have given the book one star because you only need that many books to learn a language. You can't have one book for each little thing or at least that is what I think. There are clearly ten other books about the Japanese language that are much better than this book. Get them first and if you actually read them I don't think you'll go out and buy this book.

As a side, the editor has written some books on her own. I've reviewed a few (check my page) and some are actually very good. It just goes to show that even a good author will overstretch and just produce useless repetitions after a while.

4-0 out of 5 stars Good but not enough.
This is a pretty good book for the most part. It gives lots of words for different situations and shows their common connections. I just wish there was more example sentences as well as an index for what pages the words are on. The words are still easy to find given the situations of Home, Daily life, People, School & Work, Travel and Entertainment in the contents. Overall I would recommend this book to any one who can read hiragana and katakana the formatting is much nicer than the authors other titles and you can just flip through any section when your board since there is no structure to follow. ... Read more

17. A Japanese Reader: Graded Lessons for Mastering the Written Language (Tuttle Language Library)
by Roy Andrew Miller
Paperback: 250 Pages (1990-12-15)
list price: US$18.95 -- used & new: US$8.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0804816476
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (10)

2-0 out of 5 stars Small print
Although it is true that some of the material in this book is old (conversations about rotary telephones), my most serious complaint lies elsewhere and has to do with the fonts used in the printing. When the book was reprinted, a smaller format was chosen which means that the kanji are very small and difficult to read. In the advanced section, there are newspaper articles where the print is so tiny it becomes unreadable. It is almost impossible to count the strokes in the characters to look them up in a dictionary. In short, you need a magnifying glass to use this book once you get out of the elementary section. That is a pity. Learning Japanese is great but not at the expense of one's eyesight.

5-0 out of 5 stars can be used by absolute beginners
What makes this book different to for example Breaking into Japanese Literature: Seven Modern Classics in Parallel Text and similar Japanese reading books, is that this book by Miller can be used by beginners of Japanese, whereas the others are strictly for intermediate students with around 1 year of study behind them.

This book starts by teaching you Hiragana and Katakana, very thoroughly I might add. So even people completely new to Japanese can start using this book, together with their main textbook.

Next, the book starts to introduce Kanji to the reader.
In each lesson the student has a list of words (Kanji) to learn andcorresponding reading passages.

In total 1850 Kanji are taught in this little book, with their most common on/kun readings, this comes very close to the ~ 2000 Kanji required for everyday use in Japan.

There are 75 lessons in this book, each with its own reading passage(s).
The book will not show you how to draw each Kanji, nor will it explain any major grammatical points, although it will show you a few verb-conjugations and such.

The Kanji taught are not introduced in a graded manner; most other books would start with simple Kanji, meaning those containing the minimum amount of strokes, and build upwards to those containing many strokes.
This book does not do that, which could be a problem to some beginners, but nothing persistence won't cure.

The book shows you the context of words and will give you a very broad vocabulary range: besides everyday words it includes words specific to; Shintoism, Japanese theater, military, politics, business etc.

A particular thing that I like about this book are the notes, they are a wealth of information into both Japanese script and Japanese culture.

As mentioned by a previous reviewer, this is not a book you can progress in at your own choosing, it has to be matched with the grammatical knowledge you get from your regular textbook: as your grammar skills improve, reading-passages in this book will be unlocked.
Think of it like a game - you can only get to certain areas and do certain quests once you have enough skill-points.
In this case, your skill points are your "development of grammatical understanding", i.e. how much grammar you understand.

What all this means in the end, is that for a very small cost you get a book that you can use for years to come. You don't have to be a financial wizard to figure out that you are getting a bargain with this book.

It is true that some of the Kanji are out-of-date, but if you have an equal interest in the country's culture and if you are thinking in the long-term, then you will need to know these expressions and Kanji at some point or another.

Besides, your regular textbooks in Japanese should be the ones responsible for teaching you modern Kanji and expressions, not a book like this: this book and others like it are not substitutions for your textbooks but complements to them.
If you are at the intermediate level or above then this should also not be your only source of Japanese reading material on your shelf.
So I think some previous reviewers put unwarranted responsibility on this single book.

There are very few books like this one available - a truly graded reader for all levels, and that cover almost all the Kanji you need to know in daily life - and I have yet to find a modern one.
So you can either wait and hope that one day a modern updated book will be published, or you accept the limitations of what is available and make the best of it.

4-0 out of 5 stars A useful but challenging tool for gaining reading fluency
The first thing you have to ask yourself before picking up "A Japanese Reader", is just how serious are you about reading Japanese?If all you want is to be able to whip through some manga, then this isn't the book for you.If want to be able to handle a Japanese newspaper, or read Kawabata Yasunari and Mishima Yukio in their original language, then this is going to be a tool that will help get you there.

Roy Miller's book is definitely university-level study, and is academic in nature.He references Florence Sakade's classic "Guide to Reading and Writing Japanese", and this book really works best when the two are used in conjunction.He gives Sakada numbers for much of the new kanji when it is introduced, so the reader can reference and practice the unfamiliar characters..

The range of articles goes from the very basic level, with reading practice for hiragana and katakana, and works up to the very advanced level, such as doing academic research in Japanese.In the introduction, Miller states that he assumes most students learning Japanese to that level will be interested in Japanese culture as well, and all of the articles are Japan-themed.It starts to get serious around the Elementary level, with articles such as "The essence of the Bunraku puppet theater" and "Genre painting of the 16th and 17th centuries".The real fun begins with the Advanced:Fiction section, where the student tackles literary masterpieces like Mishima's "The Sound of Waves", Kawabata's "Snow Country" and Tanizaki's "The Makioka Sisters". The Advanced:Non-Fiction section will challenge almost any Japanese learner, and is representative of true fluency.Articles on finance, politics and T'ang poetry are typical.

The main complaint with "The Japanese Reader" is that it is outdated, and this is true.The book comes from a different, more demanding period and that style is thick and heavy, different from a more modern "user-friendly" style of educationHowever, that can be overcome.To me, the real problem lies in its length. This should really be a series of graded readers, rather than a single book.Either you have a high level of ability meaning the earlier beginner lessons are unnecessary, or you are at an earlier stage, unable to make use of the majority of Miller's lessons.I have found that it is not a book to be read straight through, but to be studied, reading the same sections over and over again until mastered, then put aside to be picked up again when that level is reached.

This is something really lacking in Japanese studies.This same style of graded reader would be an absolute must if it were split into three or more volumes, each one providing several examples at the appropriate level.However, this necessary reference does not exist, and "A Japanese Reader" is one of the few, if not the only, Japanese readers that does graded reading exercises.

2-0 out of 5 stars Avoid....outdated
One of the problems of someone like me, and probably you, is finding a Japanese reader that wasn't written over 40 years ago!

The Japanese government established a standard set of Kanji, around 2,000 in 1981 (? not positive about the date) so anything written much more than 20 years ago will contain Kanji that you won't find in a dictionary, and that are not used.

Also, not only are the Kanji no longer used but the expressions are antiquated.

So a suggestion for an alternative?I don't know, someone tell me...I'm still looking...

3-0 out of 5 stars Would be a wonderful learning tool if it was updated
I gave this book 3 stars because it is a great concept and filled with material - however it is so outdated that it should simply not be used by the beginner/intermediate level student.

As previous reviewers said, this book is filled with archaic terms. Some of the vocabulary in this book is simply an old-fashioned form of modern commonly used words. I would worry about using this book to study vocabulary when I'm sure there is much more important, more modern vocabulary I should be learning.

I bought this reader because there are very few similar books out there - readers are scarce to begin with, and this one seemed so comprehensive. I thought I could get passed the fact that it was outdated - I mean, English wasn't so different in the 1960s. But it turns out Japanese was, and even the simple texts are filled with terms I won't need to know until I'm far more advanced - if ever. I wish I had saved my money and bought something more modern.

I don't know why Tuttle continue to publish this book, when a more updated version would be relatively easy to make. The only people who should buy this book are very advanced learners, who are just looking for reading practice. And if that's the case, a Japanese novel would work just as well. ... Read more

18. A Guide to Remembering Japanese Characters (Tuttle language library)
by Kenneth G. Henshall
Paperback: 704 Pages (1995-01-15)
list price: US$29.95 -- used & new: US$6.84
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0804820384
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
This authoritative reference aid to mastering the Japanese writing system makes learning kanji and kana a quick and painless process. In clear, large-sized entires, A Guide to Remembering Japanese Characters details each of the General Use Characters--the 1,945 characters prescribed by the Japanese Ministry of Education for everyday use. Both Japanese readings and English meanings are given, along with stroke-count and stroke-order, examples of usage, and suggestions for memorizing. The components of each character are detailed. The kanji are graded according to Ministry of Education guidelines, allowing the student to prioritize them and track progress.

Comprehensive and clear, A Guide to Remembering Japanese Characters makes Japanese writing accessible to everyone. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (56)

4-0 out of 5 stars Helpful
This is helpful for studying Kanji, but some of the mnemonic devices are not helpful at all and can't be used.
The format is easy to read and the kanji are organized by Japanese grade level, which is helpful.
It would be better if the example words were written in hiragana and/or katakana instead of romaji, as I feel that it would help more.
Overall, it's a pretty helpful book to have around for references to kanji.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent approach to learning kanji (but a bit too academic for some readers)
This review has been written after completing around 600 kanji. However, see update at the bottom.

To learn kanji I recommend this book and Kanji Cards, Vol. 1 (Tuttle Flash Cards), which really comes in four volumes.

Henshall's book presents around 2,000 signs, around 3 per page. He gives a historical background of the sign to help memorisation. If you like the historical focus depends on your own personality and needs. Some would like to know a bit of the origin, some are just focused on the current meaning. Try to know yourself. The author provides one short English phrase to remember each kanji. This is very good as an idea, but after learning a couple of hundred kanji you are likely to make up your own memorisations. This is fine too.


1. HEISIG (purely an alternative to Henshall)

Another similar approach in learning kanji is represented by Heisig's Remembering the Kanji, Vol. 1: A Complete Course on How Not to Forget the Meaning and Writing of Japanese Characters. The objective of that book is exactly the same so it is useful to compare the two books.

Heisig's book does not contain anything about the history of the kanji. Instead it starts with the sign as it is written today. Heisig then designs a rather elaborate memorisation system to memorise each kanji. It is all about creating very vivid imaginations. In a way Henshall does the same but his memorisation tools are closer to the signs and less fancy. I can see the point of Heisig that a vivid memory will make it easier to remember the kanji. This makes Heisig's book less academic and squarely focused on memorisation - nothing else.

Heisig's book only contains the kanji, one translation to English (chosen by Heisig), and a short description to memorise the kanji. There is nothing about kun or on readings, stroke order, or examples of vocabulary.In other words a very focused book.

The key problem with Heisig is that you have to buy into his way of memorisation. You start from chapter 1 and move one. This is because his memorisation tricks build on each other. It is difficult to go to Heisig book and get help remembering a specific kanji that you have trouble with. You have to buy into the whole thing. (With Henshall you can just look up any kanji and get help with memorisation.) This is the main drawback of the book, but I understand that it is necessary for his system to work. Having said this it is amazing how well thought out his system is. Some of the early keywords might seem a bit off in the beginning, but it all makes sense when you move along the chapters.

So which book is best depends on your personality. If you want a more historical and modular approach go for Henshall. If you just like to learn the kanji and have the patience to just stick with one book to learn, go for Heisig.

2. HALPERN (could be used either as alternative or complement to Henshall)

Another option is The Kodansha Kanji Learner's Dictionary. While Heisig's book is a clear alternative to Henshall, Halpern's book can be consider either an alternative or a complement.

Halpern is very good at identifying the core meaning of each kanji. That makes this book very suited for learning the kanji. You don't get Henshall's etymological focus, so that is why I will still stick with Henshall. Having said this Halpern is also a very good complement to Henshall and the kanji cards. This is because Halpern lists a lot of essential vocabulary, i.e. the next step after learning the kanji.

UPDATE (Sept 2010)
Deciding on which system to use is clearly a trial and error if you are not enrolled in a course and forced to use a certain system. Right now, if I could start over from scratch I would do the following:
1. Buy The Kodansha Kanji Learner's Dictionary and A Guide to Remembering Japanese Characters (Tuttle language library).
2. Make my own flash cards in Excel with information from the above. I would use a kanji frequency table of the net and just get started. Alternatively buy "Japanese Kanji Flashcards" (for some reason hyperlink doesn't work), which seem to have much less problems than the Tuttle Publishing cards referred to above.

4-0 out of 5 stars My Favorite Kanji-Learning Book
I like this book for a few reasons
- It uses the Joyo kanji.
- It has great explanations and three example compounds for each Kanji
- It is sorted by grades.
- The memorization techniques usually work, when they don't, the explanation will.
- It helps you see Kanji in a different way.
- It explains everything in the beginning of the book, including what ON and kun are, which I didn't previously know.
- You can look up Kanji in the back of the book by ON or kun prununciation.

It's far better than a workbook, in my opinion, for starting out your Kanji journey.

If you're looking to learn how to write Kanji, this isn't your book. It includes stroke number, and basic/typical stroke order, but does not show stroke order for individual Kanji. The other downside is it doesn't include hiragana/katakana but instead uses romaji.

It's more of a beginning teaching Kanji book than anything else. You could use it as a reference, but not as easily as a dictionary or other Kanji books. It also seems to be somewhat outdated, but still a useful and important book that will last.

Most likely, you won't be able to use this book alone. I'd like to buy White Rabbit Press / Max Hodge's flash cards if I can get the money, but for now I'll be supplementing it with Crazy for Kanji, A Guide to 250 Very Basic Kanji, and Essential Kanji.

5-0 out of 5 stars Understand and memorize with Henshall
I started off my incredibly interesting kanji journey with Heisig with some degree of success. Some of his stories indeed helped a lot to memorize a character. However, it was only when I discovered the true etymology of a character, that the real fascination with kanji began.

I assume it is easier for some people to think of their own stories when learning a character, but personally I think the true origin of the kanji is far more interesting (and logical) than anything I could imagine. Henshall does a great job providing the etymologies of the Joyo kanji and summarizing any differing interpretations concerning the origin of a given character. I found his mnemonic tricks confusing at best and I simply ignored them. He does not provide stroke order, but one can easily find these elsewhere. I use Henshall as a complement to Lawrence J. Howell's Online Kanji Etymology Dictionary since sometimes one has a clearer description of the story behind a character than the other.

Thus far the etymology method has worked great for me. I really cannot begin to imagine learning a kanji by repetition without understanding it, but as another reviewer has pointed out, it really depends on what kind of learner you are. The most enjoyable part is when you know all "parts" of a kanji you've never seen before and try to guess its meaning. There is no way to forget something you've learned with lots of fun.

5-0 out of 5 stars In Great Shape - On TIme
All I care about is that it arrives timely and is in the shape described.Both of these were perfect, so 5 stars. ... Read more

19. Japanese Vocabulary (Barron's Vocabulary)
by Carol Akiyama, Nobuo Akiyama
Paperback: 352 Pages (2008-09-01)
list price: US$8.99 -- used & new: US$4.61
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0764139738
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
This pocket-size book lists approximately 6,000 words in English with translations into Japanese. Words are divided into several different categories and listed alphabetically within each category. Categories include greetings, numbers, measurements, moods and emotions, driving situations, travel situations, sports, foods, shopping, phoning, and many others. All titles in BarronÂ's foreign language Vocabulary Series include pronunciation guides and a bilingual andalphabetical quick Wordfinder section.BarronÂ's Vocabulary books are useful studentsÂ' classroom supplements as well as handy travelersÂ' aids. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (6)

5-0 out of 5 stars Very Useful, but Missing Two Key Elements
This handy little vocabulary covers so much it is incredible. However, I have two little complaints. While there are characters for all the words, they are in the summary glossary in the back instead of on the main pages. So, everytime I read a word I have to flip to the back to see the Japanese spelling. That gets annoying when I'm trying to cover a lot in my limited time. I also have noticed that, like almost all the books on Japanese in America, this one follows the trend on omiting any details on the Japanese pitch accent system. The book does indicate long vowels with an accent mark, but that isn't the same thing. I'm talking about the method by which one indicates the difference between words with meanings keyed to the pitch, like hashi (bridge) versus hashi (chopsticks). Lots of students know this phenomenon exists, but most books don't tell which sounds within these words should be louder. It would be nice to see a vocabulary that does address this. The only published work I have found that explains it is the Oxford Pocket Kenkyusha Dictionary. All its entries have marks indicating appropriate pitch.

5-0 out of 5 stars great addition
I picked up this book because it breaks the world down in how it should sound. Great learning material for such a great price ^_^

4-0 out of 5 stars English Orientated
This book is good but it has two flaws.One the vocabulary is extremely English orientated.Basically they took a English vocabulary book and wrote 'near' Japanese equivalents for the words.For nouns this leaves out a ton of important Japan only cultural words.For adjectives and phrases there are forced translations like 'Thank goodness! - Arigatai.'

As mentioned before, there is no kanji except for in the index.Why this book was orientated towards travelers and why travelers might need to use words like "nuclear proliferation," and "unemployment compensation," is beyond me however.

There is another book called Japanese Vocabulary for Speakers & Readers ISBN 4-590-00706-1, I don't think it is printed in the US.In terms of volume, it is inferior to this title, but it is very Japan orientated and contains the actual kanji for each entry.

5-0 out of 5 stars Can't beat it for the price
This book is superb. It has vocabulary for various diverse categories(e.g. "Animals", "Characteristics and social traits", "The hotel room", "Hardware", "The changing world", "Computers", and dozens and dozens more) and a brief but very useful English-Japanese dictionary at the end. Most importantly for a beginner like me, the pronunciation of every Japanese word in the book is given and the dictionary presents the Japanese translation of English in romanized letters and Japanese characters. Therefore, if you're going for the gold like me and trying to learn the spoken and written word, you have an excellent ... book to start with. It will take you awfully far for just a few bucks. *****Highly recommended.

2-0 out of 5 stars Just another Dictionary
This book is a dictionary that is catoragized in subjects not alphabeticly. There is no kana or kanji in here, instead there is some rediculous pronunceation. I have been living in japan for 6 months and bought this book to help me BUILD my vocabulry. Unfortantly it doesnt help you learn anything. I recomend this book for travelers not for anyone actuly learning japanese. ... Read more

20. Dirty Japanese: Everyday Slang from "What's Up?" to "F*%# Off!" (Dirty Everyday Slang)
by Matt Fargo
Paperback: 128 Pages (2007-04-26)
list price: US$10.00 -- used & new: US$5.07
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1569755655
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description


Next time you're traveling or just chattin' in Japanese with your friends, drop the textbook formality and bust out with expressions they never teach you in school, including:

  • Cool slang
  • Funny insults
  • Explicit sex terms
  • Raw swear words

Dirty Japanese teaches the casual expressions heard every day on the streets of Japan:

♦ What's up?Ossu?

♦How's it hanging?Choshi doyo?

♦I'm smashed.Beron beron ni nattekita.

♦I love ginormous tits.Kyo'nyu daiskui.

♦Wanna try a threesome?Yatte miyo ka sanpi?

♦I gotta take a leak.Shonben shite.

♦He's such an asshole.Aitsu wa kanji warui kara.

About the Author

Matt Fargo has worked in Japan as a writer, translator, and musician, subsequently earning his Master's degree in Japanese Literature at UC Berkeley. He lives in Berkeley, CA. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (31)

5-0 out of 5 stars Great fun!
I bought this book more for a joke as my husband and I were trying to learn basic Japanese. Alot of ahem, interesting words fully interpreted. We had great fun with this book and so will anyone else with a sense of humor.

3-0 out of 5 stars Funny, but not a good reference book
If you wanna laugh, then this book is great for that, but I really don't reccomend using it to learn the language itself. There are far better books out there for that. I bought it simply because i did want a good laugh, should I want to learn actual Japanese, I'd get actual textbooks (should that be possible) or maybe an up-to-date dictionary to start out.

5-0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended
My son is using this in Japan...even his best Japanese friend wanted a copy!Sent one over for Christmas!

5-0 out of 5 stars Cmon dudes, this is a good book
I'm Japanese, and I had a good look through most of the pages.
Some are wrong, most are correct, and most are very creative and make you lol.
This is not a book for ppl to learn Japanese.
It is simply just for fun, all or most of this book is slang so do not buy this book for academic reasons.
I would recommend it to ppl who want to talk to Japanese teenagers.
Do not use this kind of language to ppl who are older than 30.
If you do, be prepared to get karate chopped.

All in all, it's a very good, creative book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Japanese for real people.
While the book does have some actual dirty Japanese, for the most part, it is a practical phrase-book that reveals Japanese as a rather easy to speak language. It is a short and fun introduction to Japanese. A great first book on the subject. ... Read more

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