Two years of Japanese self-studies!

Japanese studies calendar 2012

My second year of Japanese studies kicked ass! There were ups and downs of course, but more importantly, there was consistency. I can’t remember when I last, if ever, kept up with an interest for a whole two years.

I’ve relied on Elementary Japanese and Genki for textbooks this year (too), but chose to delete the latter from the graph since I lost count on which chapters I was studying. And since I don’t actually own Genki as a book – I use a printout.

I still pay for Iknow and still fucking love it. It’s far better for vocabulary than the text books, which are quite limited in that area. What I really hate with Elementary Japanese is that in the word lists they don’t write the kanji for words where you haven’t learned the kanji yet. I hate it because I’m convinced it’s good to see the kanji even if you haven’t actually learned it yet. Unconscious repetition, or something. In total I have now started 2405 words and mastered 2210 of them at Iknow.

A new means for my kanji studies are the flashcards from White Rabbit Press. I’ve conquered the first volume and just opened the second one. The cards are stylish (always important for me) yet correct (even more important). I have so far learned by heart 12 cards from the second volume. Only 738 to go.

As you can see in the graph (yes, you can click on it to make it bigger), I don’t have any paid conversation sessions anymore; this year I only met with my tandem partner Kohei (he’s the green head in the graph) and – since two weeks ago – Daisuke (the blue head). I had an amazing 63 tandem sessions over the last year. Of course, we sometimes do more than just talk. Last week we had a gaming night:

And this is what we played:

In December 2011 I took the Japanese Language Proficiency Test – JLPT, level N5 (the easiest level). I passed. In July I went to Hamburg and took the next level, N4. Still haven’t got the results for that one.

But the real killer of my second year of Japanese studies was the four (!) Japan trips I made: In October, December, March and June. Here’s a map to show how I roamed Honshu, the main island, in various ultracool Shinkansen trains:

Discovering Honshu

And here’s a little summary of each trip:


Japan trip 1: October 2011

My first visit to Japan! I spent one week in Tokyo and one traveling around with a Japan Rail Pass. And I spoke Japanese from the moment I set foot in the country. Of course it was crappy as hell, but at least I could speak, and that was amazing. It’s sympathetic and practical for a Japanese student that most people in Japan don’t speak any English at all. I made many friends on this trip – friends that I’ve continued to meet on the following trips.

Blog posts from this trip:


Japan trip 2: December 2011

With my second trip so short after the first one, I decided I didn’t want another typical tourist trip. Instead, I wanted to do business, which in a way is the real way to discover a country. I managed to schedule two meetings with Japanese manga artists: A publishing meeting with Tsukumo Gou, and an interview with Arino Hiroshi.

An image from a comic by popular manga artist Arino Hiroshi had surfaced in an infamous court case in Sweden:

The image (yes, the one above!) was considered child porn by a local court, but a regional court said it was not. I contacted Arino Hiroshi, and despite he was very busy, I was allowed to interview him at a café in the Saitama prefecture for half an hour. All in Japanese of course! When the case was to be decided by the supreme court, Sweden’s biggest newspaper Aftonbladet published the interview and the controversial image – read it here (in Swedish).

The meeting with Tsukumo Gou also turned out well, with me translating and publishing in Europe one of his manga.

Last but not least, I recorded a music video with my friend Petter, who arrived after half my stay. I was “head of cinematography”, or, in plain English, “the cameraman”. The video has not been released yet, but it will be really fantastic, and we had great fun recording it, as you can see:

Here are the blog posts from my December 2011 Japan trip:


Japan trip 3: March 2012

Time for some travelling again: I went to the hot spring area Hakone, close to mount Fuji, with my friend Yusuke. I met Tsukumo again, and even stayed at his home for some nights, plus interviewed him for the next issue of Mums magazine, which is released, actually, today! Get it, Swedes – it’s for free! (Update: Read my post about the magazine here.)

And I finally got to meet Freija, a friend with sort of exactly my interests, thus she was spending a year in Japan. We went to Tokyo Anime Fair together:

But ended up eating conveyor belt sushi and shopping for shotacon in Akihabara:

The absolute highlight: Seeing Sexy Zone in Yokohama Arena together with my male friend and 17,000 screaming schoolgirls. This is actually a clip from the very concert we saw on the 29th of March 2012:

I caused some chaos among the girls next to me since they thought I was the father of one of the performers: Marius, 11. He apparently has a German father. They thought I was him because I answered “yes” when they asked me. (I didn’t understand the question, I just replied yes cause I wanted them to stop bothering me!)

The blog posts from my March 2012 trip:


Japan trip 4: June 2012

This was a shorter trip – just a week, and I was partly a bit sick. But it was great to travel to the west coast and meet another manga artist, whose work I’ll be publishing this autumn – I’m currently translating it. And it was extremely fun to go up in Tokyo Sky Tree – the world’s tallest tower, that had opened only in May – together with Yusuke. I also spent a lot of time with my friends: Bowling, darts, dinners and games, mostly.

On one of my last days, an early typhoon passed. I followed it on the news from my hotel room, but before I got there I shot this photo. It doesn’t look that severe, I know, but at least you can spot an abandoned umbrella:

I love those plastic umbrellas that you buy at Seven-Eleven. But they’ve been too big for my luggage to take home.

Here are the blog posts:

And for the record, here are my previous calendar posts on the progress of my self-studies:

Let the third year begin!

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