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Issue 7: J-Book Review

February 26, 2010


Learn handy Japanese by reading comics and enrich your Japanese!

explanation-3awhiteor those who like a more enjoyable approach to learning Japanese, a fun way to spice up your Japanese is learning through reading comics. I’m not talking about your Naruto manga collection (or whatever is hot now in mangaland), but practical real Japanese explained through comics.

There are a dozen books teaching Japanese through manga but『4コママンガでおぼえる日本語 (Practical Japanese through Comics)』is imo worth getting since it teaches real practical stuff that you can use in everyday life. The manga follows a non-native Japanese mom who doesn’t speak Japanese that well and her Japanese born daughter (who is ofcourse fluent) and their funny everyday lives.

explanation-3aSet Up
The book itself has a fairly simple set up and is roughly divided into two sections. Part 1 teaches and explains various useful words and its derivative versions. It starts with an introduction page featuring words and phrases to be learned and a four-picture comic. Then it goes more in depth over the following pages, showing different usages that you’d normally won’t find in your standard textbook.

Explanation is done for the most part in English but the book also explains certain things using Japanese to promote comprehension of the language. I think this is very motivating and forces you to put in effort to understand it. The pages also feature a small Japanese reading section explaining various things related to the words just learned and you can even look up the translation at the back of the book.

Part 2 covers words with the same pronunciation explaining the differences between them and uses the same set up as in part 1. There’s a handy checklist at the back of the book letting you keep track which words you have learned and pronunciation intonation as well as kanji writings are provided.

explanation-3aWhy is it useful?
I was skeptical at first, because I didn’t thought those teaching-Japanese-through-manga kind of books were really adding something to my standard ‘study’ routine. But I wanted something light to read that wouldn’t feel to much like you’re actually studying, so I decided to give this book a try and so far I’m really liking it (if not, impressed). The comics and visuals add to the easy-comprehension and real practical (and I stress practical) is taught, you know, the kind that you can’t find in your textbook but your Japanese friends do really use.


The book says it’s aimed at intermediate and advanced learners (though I personally think lower intermediate to upper intermediate) and is a part of two volumes (didn’t get the other one yet since I was trying not to break my plastic with too many books I already ordered). I know the ‘manga’ doesn’t exactly scream Death Note-like quality, but don’t let that hold you back, it’s quite funny and more importantly, it’s about learning Japanese. Now this isn’t a substitute for your main study book but a pretty (damn) useful supplement that enriches your Japanese and takes the study out of studying!

Book Info
title: 4コママンガでおぼえる日本語 (Practical Japanese through Comics)
pages: 136
dimensions: 21 x 15 cm
extra: n/a
language: Japanese – English
publisher: ASK (
ISBN: 4-87217-406-2
special Chokochoko rating: 85%

used image source: 4コママンガでおぼえる日本語

6 Comments leave one →
  1. creativityjapanese permalink
    February 27, 2010 3:14 am

    I have book 2 of this, although I didn’t get the first one, but I do find book 2 extremely useful. It helped me to understand a lot of things in context. I personally love this series very much.

    • March 1, 2010 11:56 am

      It is very useful (and fun), actually, smart is more the right word. It just has a lot of those things that you never knew but should know.

  2. tictaek permalink
    March 14, 2010 8:14 pm

    This book looks tempting to buy. I don’t know if I am at the level it recommends yet, but once I feel I am, I’ll have to grab myself a copy.

    I like how you said “light to read that wouldn’t feel to much like you’re actually studying.” I really want a book like since everything I have is mostly “study” material. A casual read would be a nice change.

    • March 14, 2010 8:56 pm

      See the good thing about this book is that it’s very accessible and because it uses everyday common themes, words and phrases it feels easier than your regular study book. And it’s pretty straighforward WYSIWYG. Its one of those books you can just grab and read a page or two while doing no. 2 (笑).

      • tictaek permalink
        March 15, 2010 5:03 am

        Well, if that is the case, I should just get Vol.1 and see how it goes.

        It looks like something I could get a lot out of.

        Thanks for doing all these book reviews. Really helpful stuff.


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