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『The Manual who was not Loved』

September 25, 2009

preview9Turn your old Japanese manual into study material and learn practical Japanese! Read all about how reading everything, including the small print, can help you with your Japanese studies and reading ability. Also, learn what other tricks you can use to even make good use of 5 spare minutes!


I think everyone with interest in things Japanese has some sort of Japanese stuff lying around in their house or room, whether it’s your anime figurine that you ordered from the internet a while ago, your imported Nintendo DS or even your Japanese rice cooker. Japanese products usually come with a whole load of stuff in addition to your product in the form of pamphlets, flyers, questionnaires, stickers, warning sheets, advertisement you name it and ofcourse the actual manual.

If you’re like me, buying and importing Japanese stuff long before I actually started learning Japanese, chances are you’ve accumulated a good amount of manuals and all its extra’s without ever glancing past the pictures. Not that you would actually read it even if it was written in your own language, I mean, nothing can beat the excitement of your postman standing on your front porch with a delivery package for you that you’ve ordered months ago from the land of the rising sun. While you hastily sign for it, rush to your room and rip open the package reaching that estatic moment while embracing your little treasure, I’m sure little attention goes to the boring black-and-white manual that comes with it. Sure, you’ve probably glanced over it before shoving to the back of your drawer never to be seen again.


Fast forward to the day you’ve taken up learning Japanese, remember those manuals and little papers that came with you’re treasured product? It’s time to dig up the REAL treasure people! Now that you CAN read Japanese, those things will prove to be worth gold to you. Not only will you truly be able to understand (depending on your Japanese level ofcourse) and appreciate your product this time around, you’ll also get to practise lot’s of specific vocab and terms as well as getting exposure to actual used Japanese (depending on your manual). Reading is key, and this is what I’ve done:

1. Find and collect all your manuals including everything that comes with it such as pamphlets, flyers, questionnaires etc. Even that single warning sheet, collect it all.

2. Then give it a place where you won’t forget about it and have easy access to it like on the side of your desk or your top drawer or just like me, divide it up and put it in several places where you know you will see it.

Now, I’m not saying you should sit and read manuals or pamphlets all the time, but just grab them occasionally when you have nothing to do even if it’s for 5 min. or when you’re lying on your bed, and just read (confession: I sometimes grab one when I have to do a #2, hey make good use of your time right?).tip3c

All little bits will help and the more you read about everything the more power to you right? You’ll be amazed by how much you’ve learned actually shows up in those manuals and pamphlets. And if you find words or phrases that are new to you, make a note in your notepad (see my notepad article in Study Tips), it’ll be easier to grasp now that you have actual reference to usage in context.tip3d

Who needs to buy expensive imported books when you can read your manual! 😉  Thanks for reading again, また今度

(*This article is ofcourse in regard to people who don’t have a continuous flow of Japanese exposure and are not living in Japan.)

11 Comments leave one →
  1. September 26, 2009 5:21 am

    wow, I’m not ready yet to read game manuals.. for how long have you been studying Japanese? I’m currently learning with the AJATT method and doing sentences with anki.

    • Starsquid permalink*
      September 27, 2009 10:46 am

      I’ve been studying a little over two years now, though I feel I’ve not given it my best (I can be real slacker sometimes hehe). I’m sure AJATT over there in Japan should get your Japanese level up real soon 🙂 Also, keep posting new photo’s on your blog, I’m always curious to see new pics.

  2. xiaogongzhu permalink
    September 27, 2009 3:01 am

    This is actually a really good idea! I don’t know why I haven’t tried this yet, seeing as how I always translate the Spanish on my shampoo bottles.

    What I have done though, is buy and play Japanese videogames that only contain kana in them, and attempt to beat them. It really progresses your learning and comprehension if you’re not fluent yet, and is fun assuming that you like videogames. ^^;

    • Starsquid permalink*
      September 27, 2009 10:49 am

      I also do that with the shampoo bottle, when you’re showering and have nothing to do anyways (and I tend to shower a really long time haha). Read everything right? 🙂

  3. Koichiro permalink
    September 27, 2009 3:15 am

    Hello. I enjoyed your blog so much for studying English 😀 I have to study English seriously, like you learning Japanese!

    • Starsquid permalink*
      September 27, 2009 10:51 am

      Thanks! Really appreciate it, do you have a blog too (couldn’t figure out the link if you do)?

  4. September 27, 2009 4:53 am

    your study tips are always so insightful. Now every time I pass by the stationary store I’d go keep a lookout for those long ring-bound notepads, haha…

    I’ve always attempted to read the manuals, and perhaps reading manuals is better than reading novels – in terms of recognizing sentence patterns… I guess manuals use the more “standard” Japanese whereas in novels they could be using a more conversational/casual/not-taught-in-books tone… right? (that’s what I’m having trouble with the books I’m reading now *o*)
    but then manuals use technical terms so I’m just running around in circles, ho-hum!

  5. September 28, 2009 1:23 am

    Great advice.

    I love the graphics on your blog. Really, this is a work of art.

    • September 28, 2009 7:49 pm

      BTW, what do you use? Photoshop?

      • September 28, 2009 8:58 pm

        Thanks! Yeah photoshop among others (you know, the standard Illustrator, PS, Quark etc)

  6. September 28, 2009 5:46 pm

    I too am learning how to read and study japanese, I think this bog will be very informative to me. I have a asian film blog, check me out sometime 🙂

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