N2 fail!

JLPT N2 test results

Not only did I fail the JLPT N2 that I wrote in Berlin in December 2014. I failed hard.

To pass I would have needed 90/180 (I got 67) and at least 19 in each of the three sections where I got 22, 15 and 30.

Weighted scores. But the B’s reveal that I answered between one third and two thirds of the questions correctly in each section. That is, unweighted scores would be somewhere between 20 and 40 out of 60 for all sections. Still low, but I knew N2 wasn’t my level yet and wrote the test mainly to see what it was like. You can have that attitude when you live in an JLPT city! Plus I got yet another confirmation that my reading sucks.

Did you pass, Freija?

Magazine Monday: パチンコ必勝ガイド


I bought Pachinko Hissho Guide in Japan last autumn because of its cover. I didn’t realize until later that it’s a pachinko magazine, apparently first published in 1988. I’ve never tried pachinko, and none of my Japanese friends do it. But the cover is amazing. Just as bustling as the pachinko parlours, like this one in Sendai:

Pachinko parlour in Sendai, Japan. Photo by Karl Andersson.


The content too is a rush of light and color, just what you need in the autumn. Various pachinko machines are explained in a mix of editorial content and ads. The ads that are not pachinko-related are for penis enlargement, prostitution and – quite sweet – cat cafés.


  • 必殺仕事人 = deadly working men (contract killers?), a Japanese drama from 1979 that had a remake in 2014
  • お祭りわっしょい = Festival, yippie!
  • ST & 通常時 = ST (?) & normal hours (ST = special time?)
  • 演出数値 = performance value? (something pachinko specific, according to my tandem partner)
  • 100連発!! = 100 gunfire/bombardment (jackpot?)


The nationwide introduced important action “Festival, yippie” quickly becomes naked (?!) (explained in a way that leaves nothing uncovered = naked?)


There’s definitely no way to avoid accomplishing the performance value of the starmine’s 100 gunfire! (?)


We also offer a premium performance introduction!

There’s a website too:









This is an ad for Hills Tower Clinic, a “male clinic” which offers various penis enlargements. My tandem partner explained that the guy on the photo is famous AV actor Taka Katou (加藤鷹), who according to wikipedia has a 17 cm long penis when erect. The offer in the middle is for extending the length of the penis by 3 to 8 cm (!), which costs 150,000 yen (currently 1,042 euro).

Six points explain the advantages of the clinic:

  1. It’s a male clinic and the staff is all male.
  2. Phone and email consultation, as well as counseling, are all free of charge.
  3. By appointment only and private rooms protect your privacy.
  4. Examination and treatment are finished in one day, no need for a hospital stay.
  5. Before the treatment we will explain clearly about the appropriate costs.
  6. After the treatment we offer a thorough 24 hour “after care” free of charge.

A little manga featuring Mr Katou explains the four steps to a longer penis:


  1. 無料電話相談 Free phone consultation
  2. 予約・来院 Appointment, visit the clinic
  3. 無料カウンセリング Free counseling
  4. 施術治療 Surgery treatment

There are 10 Hills Tower Clinics, you can visit them here. The three words in their slogan or motto is 安心、安全、満足 = peace of mind, safety, satisfaction.



Up to 60 minutes for free


Wives exclusive use 2 shot dial (?)


Meet nearby wives


They are hiding from their husbands …


These slutty wives are flowing over with elegance and will fulfill your dreams.

According to my tandem partner, both the sex line and the male clinic may be enterprises run by the yakuza.


Last weekend, it was Comitia 109 in Tokyo. It’s a doujinshi event for original works only (no parodies). I visited Comitia 106 last autumn and met my favorite bicycle mangaka Akira Yomoyama there. He usually releases his new works in time for Comitia, and I’ve come to like them very much. So I ordered the fourth part of his “自転車男子に恋をした” from the kind folks at Alice Books – carefully packaged as you can see. They shipped it on 22 August and it arrived 2 September after being cleared by German customs (that’s the green sticker). Always a happy day when a parcel from Japan arrives!


  • 印刷物(いんさつぶつ)printed matter




The series is very down to earth and focuses on the everyday life of a male bicyclist, Soma-kun.

Each volume contains three chapters of about 10 pages each. It takes me about one hour to read one chapter. That’s when I do this close-reading and write down all the words I don’t recognize, and also many words that I know, but whose kanji I didn’t recognize (like 怪我 and 奇麗), or which I need to repeat (like 人間 and 秒).

There is no furigana, but nowadays it’s so easy to draw kanji in for example Kanji Recognizer or Google Translate. In fact, since my kanji studies started at the same time as this kanji recognition revolution, I’ve never used a kanji dictionary. I use my Wacom board since drawing with the mouse is tedious. Here is the last part of 怪我:

Google translate Japanese kanji recognizer

Chapter 1

In the first chapter, Soma-kun’s chain breaks.

  • メンテ=メンテナンス maintenance
  • 切れそう about to expire
  • 兆候(ちょうこう)sign, indication
    • 「チェーンが切れそうな兆候なんて無かったけどなあ」The chain didn’t show any signs of being about to expire
  • 地面 the ground
  • 水面 the water (surface)
  • 怪我 injury
  • 人間 a human
  • 反射(はんしゃ)する to reflect (compare 反映する)
  • 奇麗(な)beautiful

Some frames were perfectly readable without look-up help, like this one, where a bicyclist with a badly adjusted light comes closer:


“Bright is good, but … turn it down a bit towards the ground please … or else I won’t be able to open my eyes …”

Chapter 2

In the second story, Soma-kun goes to Akihabara and realizes that the road is closed for traffic since it’s Sunday (I learned this too). Note Comic ZIN, a famous doujinshi shop:


He meets another bicyclist with a TT frame but drop bars – an unusual combination.

  • 艦(かん)ship(戦艦・せんかん battleship)
  • 新刊(しんかん)new title/issue (compare 週刊)
  • 秒(びょう)a second
  • 嫁(よめ)daughter-in-law
  • 盗難(とうなん)theft (盗む+難しい!)
  • 現る=現れる(あらわれる)to appear
  • 珍しい rare
  • 知名度(ちめいど)name recognition, awareness

Soma-kun compliments him on his radical choice:

  • 常識 common sense
  • 定説 dogma, established theory
    • 常識や定説を疑ってみる To try to question common sense and established theories

My tandem partner taught me how to use the new word 拘わり(こだわり)properly:

  • 「僕は自転車に拘りがある」Bicycles are precious to me/I’m a connoisseur in bicycles
  • 「このフォントは拘りだから、変更しないでください」I like this font/This font is precious to me, so please don’t change it

Soma-kun ultimately gets to try the other’s bike. He is excited when describing its qualities afterwards:

  • 真剣(しんけん)(な)earnest, serious
  • 加速(かそく)acceleration
  • 減速(げんそく)deceleration, slowdown
  • 巡航速度(じゅんこう そくど)cruising speed
    • 「巡航速度はイメージ以上」The cruising speed exceeded my expectations
  • 素直(すなお)straightforward, obedient
  • 安心感(あんしんかん)sense of security
  • モデル名(モデルめい)model name

As for the realism of this manga, here’s the TT bike in the story’s Akihabara:


And here is what I shot in Akihabara in December 2011, maybe Soma-kun in winter gear:


Even the three bars of the fence are the same! And the girl is in the same position. I guess that’s the standard position to make her fit in the wheel, but still. (I think I want a TT bike. My Tempelhof friend Robert S has one and says that it increases his “top average” speed for a lap with about 2 km/h.)

Chapter 3

In the only slightly romantic story in this volume, Soma-kun meets his friend/date Hoshino-san, who has bought a cute jersey, white with red dots. Soma-kun explains that that is the jersey awarded to the King of the Mountain in Tour de France.

  • 衝動買い(しょうどうがい)impulse shopping(衝動買いをする)
  • 衝動的にXをする to do something on impulse
  • テンション feeling
  • 山岳王(さんがくおう)”king of the mountains”

Learning Japanese with Youkai Watch and Nintendo 3DS

Youkai Watch - level up!

Youkai Watch is a children’s game for the 3DS. Your task is to collect ghosts. Not unlike Pokemon, they say. The game has become extremely popular in Japan, and the sequel Youkai Watch 2 was just released (in July 2014). There is also a manga and an ongoing anime. A movie is scheduled for December 2014.

I bought the game (and the first volume of the manga) in Japan last autumn but haven’t started playing until now. The Japanese is easy to understand and the kanji has furigana. The game itself is sweet of course, but not really my thing. But who cares, I play it mostly to learn more Japanese.

In my first 3 hours and 19 minutes (the game keeps track of your time spent with it) of the game, I took notes of new words, and words I needed to repeat. The first half of them I’ve tested on my tandem partner, the second half I will test on him tomorrow.

  • 妖怪(ようかい)ghost
  • 主人公(しゅじんこう)hero
  • 性別(せいべつ)sex (gender)
  • 地名(ちめい)place-name
  • 団体(だんたい)organization
  • いっさい x ない not any x
  • 可能性(かのうせい)possibility
  • 可能 possible「予約する可能ですか?」
  • 進行 progression
  • 別荘(べっそう)villa, holiday house
  • ボクんち = 僕の家 my place
  • 昆虫(こんちゅう)insect
  • レアもの rare (thing)
  • 自由研究(じゆうけんきゅう)independent research (summer project in elementary school)
  • 採集(さいしゅう)collection (same kanji as 探す)
  • 一匹(いっぴき)one animal
  • ダンゴムシ wood louse
  • めくる turn over (but not entirely), lift a bit to look under, browse
  • 期待 expectation
  • 期待せずに without expecting
  • 捕る to catch ・ 捕まえる to catch ・ 捕まる to be caught
  • 見返す(みかえす)to look back, to triumph「クマを見返してやるぞ!」
  • 虫アミ(虫網?)insect net (håv)
  • 夏休みの日記 summer break diary
  • 状態(じょうたい)state
  • 観察(かんさつ)する to observe (to check?)
  • 用務員さん(ようむいんさん)janitor
  • 黒蜜(くろみつ)black honey
  • アブラゼミ large brown cicada ・ ミンミンゼミ
  • お坊さん(おぼうさん)monk
  • 封印(ふういん)する to seal, in the sense “to close forever”, “försegla”
  • アンビリーバボー unbelievable
  • レーダー radar


  • 分析(ぶんせき)analysis
  • 周囲(しゅうい)perimeter
  • 表示(ひょうじ)display (表示する、表示される)
  • 満タン(まんたん)full tank. Jfr 満足 satisfied (filled up)
  • 仕返し(しかえし)revenge (する)
  • ご覧(ごらん)する to see (polite) ・ ご覧なさい ・ ご覧ください
  • 怒らす(おこらす)to provoke (something) ・ 怒らせる provoked (by something)
  • 返信(へんしん)する to transform ・ 返信(へんしん)a reply
  • 証(あかし)proof
  • 手加減(てかげん)allowance
  • はりきって up and coming (?)
  • 勝手気(かってき)own mind (?) ・ 勝手気ままに licentious (lacking restraint) (?)
  • 必殺(ひっさつ)(な)deadly ・ ひっさつわざ deathblow
  • 見所(みどころ)highlight
  • 指示通り(しじどおり)as instructed


  • いきなり suddenly
  • 襲う(おそう)to attack ・ 襲ってくるんだ
  • 執事(しつじ)butler
  • 鼻(はな)nose ・「鼻が高いです」(?)
  • 収納(しゅうのう)storage ・ 収納する to house, accommodate (store?)
  • 狂い(くるい)crazy
  • ひつじ sheep
  • 役目(やくめ)role
  • 世話(せわ)care, aid, assistance, looking after (世話をする)
  • 構う(かまう)to care (about), to be concerned about
  • 居候(いそうろう)freeloader (?!)
  • 起動(きどう)する to start (up) something

Oh my god, I just realized that a really sweet video I saw long ago is for this game:

And here’s one from the release of Youkai Watch 2:

The Youkai Watch dance. I should try that next time at Berghain.

This was the second post on Japanese studies by way of Nintendo 3DS. Here is the first one (with loads and loads of pictures – you are warned).



I used my Wacom Bamboo to look up kanji (no furigana here!) while reading the third part of Akira Yomoyama’s doujinshi series 自転車男子に恋をした (“I fell in love with a male bicyclist”). It took 2,5 hours for me to finish it, but then I was simultaneously watching Nacer Bouhanni get a double puncture, catch up again and finally win the very slippery Stage 4 of Giro d’Italia (so many people fell in the end!).

Very nice, sweet and simple story as usual, and perfectly drawn. They went to the same bicycle shop (chain?) that I visited last autumn: Y’s Road:


Bicycle shop Y's Road in Ueno, Tokyo

Soma-kun’s date Hoshino-san wanted to buy a road bike, but Soma-kun was reluctant to help her so she was afraid she would buy the wrong bike. But Soma-kun assured her that there wasn’t a single bad bike in this shop, so whatever bike she chose, she wouldn’t make a mistake.



  • 巨人(きょじん)giant
  • 体育会系 athlete
  • 罰(ばつ)punishment


  • はた迷惑・な nuisance to other people
  • 原付(げんつき)moped
  • ノーヘル = ノーヘルメット no helmet
  • 逆走(ぎゃくそう)running backwards (?)
  • 野郎(やろう)ass
  • チャリンコ(チャリ)bike
  • しなやか・な supple, flexible (limbs)
  • サラサラ silky (hair)
  • ツヤツヤ glossy (skin)
  • 体型(たいけい)body type
  • 適度(てきど)・な moderate
  • つき方 ?


  • 超(ちょう)ultra- (例:超目立つ)
  • 派手(はで)・な flashy
  • 律儀(りちぎ)に dutifully
  • 高橋 尚子
  • 野口 みずき
  • 有酸素(ゆうさんそ)運動 aerobic exercise
  • 日焼け (sun) tan


I looove realism!


  • 用途(ようと)use
  • 予算(よさん)budget
  • …に応じる depends on …
  • 種類 type, category
  • 試乗車(しじょうしゃ)test car/bike
  • 原稿(げんこう)manuscript
  • 輝き(かがやき)sparkle

And here’s when I read the second volume:

デュエルマスターズ・FIGHTING EDGE Vol. 5 第1話

Spending an hour or two in the hotel room reading this card game manga before we’re heading out for a day trip.

It seems the structure of the chapters is similar to that of Usotsuki Gokuoh-kun; there’s always a sudden crescendo, in this case a card game fight, where the everyday setting disappears and gives way to supernatural effects. Probably the standard recipe for boys’ manga.


反応 reaction
衆 (しゅう) masses?
扉 (とびら)  door?
はぐる to get lost
無礼者 (ぶれいしゃ) rude people (lit. man without thanks)
慎む (つつしむ) to abstain from


求道者 (きゅうどうしゃ) investigator
破壊 (はかい) する to destroy


称号 (しょうごう) title?
任されし者 (まかされしもの) person in charge?
知恵 (ちえ) wisdom
選別 sorting
捨てる to throw away




Chapter 4: Tenko in hell

Tenko asks Gokuoh why he has taken her with him to hell. He says that it’s because she has found out his true identity, which apparently is that he is the Lord of Hell.

  • 正体 identity
  • むりやり by force
  • 「丁寧(ていねい)に扱え(あつかえ)よ」 handle with care/treat her carefully/say hello politely (?)

While Gokuoh was on earth, his job in hell has piled up. His job is to judge souls.

  • 魂(たましい)soul
  • 裁く(さばく)to judge
  • 裁き judgement

He has written down a list of all their wrongdoings during lifetime.

  • 悪行(あくぎょう)wrongdoing (also: 悪事 = wrong, wrong thing)
  • 記す(しるす)to note, write down
  • (お)見通し(みとおし)(your) outlook/prospect/forecast
  • 生前(せいぜん)in life/during lifetime

The first soul belongs to a thief. Gokuoh sentences him to five thousand years of torture in hell. Next!

  • 盗る(とる)to take/steal
  • 火責め(ひぜめ)= 火を使ってする拷問(ごうもん)fire torture
  • ビシバシ without mercy?
  • 見事・な(みごと・な)beautiful

One soul is temporarily changed into human form. It’s a thief who claims to only have committed shoplifting in a candy shop.

  • 一時的 temporary
  • 肉体 body
  • 禊(みそぎ)purification ceremony (?)
  • 宝石(ほうせき)jewel
  • 宝石店(ほうせきてん)jewelry store
  • 駄菓子屋(だかしや)candy store
  • 万引き(まんびき)shoplifting

But Gokuoh produces a magic mirror which lets us see exactly what was going on in that candy store five years ago when the thief claimed to have shoplifted a candy bar. It turns out the thief had an ulterior motive.

  • 魂胆(こんたん)ulterior motive

The mirror shows that what the thief really stole were two lottery tickets worth 400 million yen!

  • 宝籤(たからくじ)lottery
  • 億(おく)hundred million

Gokuoh looks up the crime in the table for sentences. It says that the sentence for thefts above a hundred million yen is eternal hell. (What a nice children’s book this is.)

  • 金額(きんがく)amount
  • 無限(むげん)infinite, eternal, without limits
  • 苦しみ suffering
  • 千倍(せんばい)a thousand times


But the thief protests and says that he’s a “clock maniac” and that what he actually stole was the table clock that the lottery tickets were hidden under. He argues for a less serious punishment than eternal torture in hell.

  • 値打ち(ねうち)value

Gokuoh uses the magic mirror again and zooms in on the tickets. They turn out to be discount coupons for ramen noodles.

  • 拡大(かくだい)enlargement, magnification
  • 割引券(わりびきけん)discount coupon

You’re lying! Gokuoh exclaims while summoning his Lord of Hell persona. The thief makes an attempt to take Tenko hostage, but is crushed under the foot of Catcrow/Nekokarasu, who in hell is a three-headed wolf.

  • 人質 hostage

The lord of hell grabs the thief’s tongue with his iron claw (as we’ve seen in previous chapters) and swings him around. He adds an attack called 1000 needles, in which he sends a thousand needles into the thief’s mouth. The impact is so strong that the thief falls backward into the entrance of – eternal hell!

  • 堕ちる、落ちる to fall (how to they differ?)
  • 結局(けっきょく)after all
  • 信用(しんよう)credit, belief, faith

Then Gokuoh turns to Tenko and says that since she now knows his secret (that he is the Lord of Hell), he will have to silence her forever by erasing her memories.

  • 秘密(ひみつ)secret
  • 記憶(きおく)memories, storage

He asks her repeatedly if she didn’t think it was scary and if she regrets joining him to hell, and when she refuses to say that it was scary, he calls her a liar and extends his iron claw towards her. Tenko starts crying.

  • 後悔(こうかい)する to regret
  • 二度と…ない never again
  • 一方的(いっぽうてき)unilateral (?)
  • 正気(しょうき)sanity

Then they leave hell. “What about the silencing me forever thing?” Tenko asks. “Oh, that was just a lie!” Gokuoh replies. Which sends Tenko crying again.


I like this manga, but what surprised me in this chapter was that Gokuoh didn’t produce any proofs that the thief was lying. I think that was unnecessarily cruel, but at the same time it shapes his character I guess.

This chapter took about 2 hours to read.