JLPT BC 130 | Adding in a Little Fun

JLPT BC 130 | Adding in a Little Fun post image

Okay so I officially failed the exam again. I had a bit of a hunch that I wouldn’t pass but it is good to get the official results, so I can start planning out how to study this year. I want to make a few changes to how I’m doing things for a variety of reasons.

First, I want to stay motivated. I’ve done some intensive grammar practice in the past and although it was helpful it’s pretty darn grueling. I will eventually make my way back to my trusty copy of Kanzen Master N1 Grammar for some more review, but not after I take a bit of a detour.

I’m continuing to write new sentences using the grammar that I have learned as much as I can. I’m finding this to be really helpful to be honest. I also want to drill some listening a bit more but I will probably hold off on that until shortly before the next test.

Right now I want to focus on something different and more interesting. I’ve started watching Hanzawa Naoki, a really popular drama here that came out last year. Most of the vocabulary is pretty difficult, it is a drama based in the banking industry and they don’t hold back on the jargon. But, the basic plot is simple enough. As in any jDrama the bad guys are always clearly identified with threatening bass-filled music and it is filled with the usual characters.

Other than that, I’ve ventured into buying my first Japanese eBook, which was a bit of a mess. I have also been testing out my Nexus 7 that I got for Christmas. I still haven’t found many good Japanese apps outside of the regular suspects though (Anki and Memrise). Does anyone know of any good Android apps?

My First Japanese Ebook

So, I have two Amazon accounts. One is for the US store and the other is for the Japanese store. This usually doesn’t cause too many problems. I just use the particular store I need to accomplish what I need without issues.

However, the Amazon kindle app is just one app for all countries, which causes problems galore because if you use the same email address for both accounts it won’t know what account you want to use and also you can only register a device to one account (as far as I know).

So, this is where I thought I might be out of luck and not be able to purchase Japanese books. But, alas, there is a solution to this mess. What you have to do is go to your Amazon account in your home country then go to kindle settings. There you should be able to find an option to switch countries. It will prompt you for an address in Japan that you just punch in and presto, you can not only buy kindle books at co.jp, you can also consolidate libraries if you have books at both sites.

This will allow you to buy books from the Japan store as long as you can provide a Japanese address. Keep in mind you don’t have to actually ship anything to that address. You just need an address. You can switch back to your home country at any time as well.

Now, there are some issues with this. If you consolidate your kindle account from some countries you might lose your movies, music, or magazine subscriptions due to that pesky regionalization crap big companies pull. However, books seem to be okay. Anyway, Amazon should warn you before anything drastic happens.

In other words, use at your own risk. Double check everything before you consolidate, but generally it’s a pain free process.

Generally anyway, for me, it was a different story. For me, it didn’t automatically consolidate my accounts. Instead, it gave me a warning and told me to contact customer service. But, while I was awaiting for a response I got impatient and ended up buying the book I wanted through Rakuten.

Rakuten uses a reader called Kobo which behaves very much like the Kindle app. It has a different layout of course and different features, but it is basically the service that Rakuten uses. I’m okay with it except that I downloaded it from the Google US store which means it only has an English dictionary. So, I can’t easily look up Japanese words.

Overall, it is all right though. The book I bought, 七王国の玉座 (Game of Thrones) looks beautiful and is fairly easy to read. I should note that there is a free manga set also available as well for both Kobo and Kindle. It’s called ブラックジャックよろしく. I haven’t been able to read that much of it, but it looks like it is about a young doctor in a hospital. Vocabulary seems a little difficult but might be worth a try if you’d like to practice reading.

Classic Japanese Gaming

When I was a lot younger than I am today, I used to spend many hours playing video games on my SNES, especially RPGs. I was a bit of a geek, but it was usually a social experience because my brother and I would take turns until we finally beat the game.

One SNES game that I have played off and on for the last 15 years or so is Chrono Trigger, which a lot of people say is one of the best RPGs ever. I’m not sure about that but it is definitely fun. My new goal is to try to beat it in Japanese.

Thanks to a really awesome SNES emulator on Android called Super Gnes, I can try to make that dream a reality once again. I’ve only ever managed to make it about halfway, so should be a little bit of fun I can squeeze in here and there.

I really like the fact that with emulators, you can save the game at any time. This makes it a great little thing to whip out and play for a few moments while waiting for something or just to veg out a little before going to sleep. I still don’t know how much free time I will have, but it is worth a shot.

I should mentioned that SNES emulators are available for just about any platform out there even other game consoles like the Playstation 2. It’s just a question of how to get the emulator up and running and finding the roms you need, which I’m sure Google can help you with.

Having enough fun?

What are doing to put fun in your studying? Are you tired of the drilling? Let me know in the comments.

{ 13 comments… add one }
  • John February 12, 2014, 3:46 pm

    I’m studying for the N1 at the moment too. I haven’t sat for the exam yet. I currently hold an N2. I must say, it’s a huge jump, isn’t it? I do feel it is doable though. I’m using the Unicom books as they came highly recommended. I study about 3 or 4 days a week, about 45-60 minutes at a time.

    I read the passages until I understand everything in them. Unknown words get searched for on my android (WWWJDIC app), then I export them to AnkiDroid (you can do that in-app fyi). When I leave my place of study, I review the words on anki on my phone on the train. The next session, I read the same passage again. I notice each time I read the passage I understand much much more. I’m using a technique I’ve used before… and it seems to work for me. It may be boring or whatever, but I’m a believer of “no pain no gain” when it comes to language learning… luckily, I like the pain… all depends how you look at things.

    At the beginning of the book, I had to read some passages 8 or 9 times to get the details… the last passage I read, I managed with only about 5 or 6 times. I aim to get faster with each new reading material I get. It’s just a process. The more new words you learn, the better you get, and the quicker you should get.

    Sometimes, the best ways to improve aren’t always the direct ones either. This exam requires an integrated approach to learning I believe, so getting as much speaking, writing (or typing) and listening practice is also very important.

    Familiarizing yourself with legal type material is also useful. Getting a newspaper, or local paper, sussing out local events for yourself, following Japanese tweeters, fb pages (go for news, weather, current affairs, economics, cooking, etc etc).

    There are some good books out there which focus on frequently used vocab and grammar too so if you can get your hands on something like that it can help too.

    Don’t know if I’m gonna sit the July one… might just be a waste of money… I have a feeling I won’t be ready by then… then again… it might be a good opportunity to gt a taste of the real thing and also figure out my time management strategy… I was lucky to pass N2… I really cut it fine with my timing…

  • Virginia February 12, 2014, 3:02 pm

    Hi Mac!
    There is a LINE app for iphone and Android that’s called LINE Manga. It’s only available for Japanese market. I cannot install it on my samsung phone due to region restrictions, but I was able to install it on my iPad (which I use entirely for Japanese studies).
    Not only you can purchase digital manga, but also every 1 or 2 weeks you can find free manga volumes. You can download them for free, but many of them have expiration date so if there is a manga you find interesting, you have a specific amount of days to read it for free, after that you have to purchase it.
    I’m also still defining my study goals for this year, 頑張りましょう!


    • Clayton MacKnight February 13, 2014, 2:23 am

      That’s pretty slick. I guess it is kind of the electronic version of 読み立つ that you always see people doing here at the local convenience store. I’ll have to check it out.

  • Marcus February 13, 2014, 2:38 am

    There’s a whole lot of not very useful apps but I’ll name a few which I found worth looking at.

    First of for Kanji and Goi there’s the “The・検定 漢検 For Android” series which has all the types of questions you would see on the Kanken (Kanji test for Natives) and also allows you to write in the app which most of the other kanken apps wont let you.

    For Kanji I’d recommend the “手書き漢字ドリル” series.

    For reading there’s “MFラノベ☆コミック” for novels and Manga and for the “adults” there’s also “Hな話” which is a collection of erotic short stories.


    • Marcus February 13, 2014, 2:42 am

      I forgot a few‥

      For listening: NHKラジオニュース

      and the best way to look up kanji: Kanji recognizer

    • Clayton MacKnight February 15, 2014, 12:04 am

      I’ll have to check those out. It looks like the kanji apps are pretty handy. I might grab a kanji kentei app as well. Those are sometimes interesting to practice with.

      I agree with the pile of useless apps. I get annoyed sometimes by Apple’s walled garden, but sometimes it would be good if there were some filter.

  • kyano February 13, 2014, 6:26 am

    Aedict3 is an offline dictionnary with sentences examples and kanji recognition.

    • Clayton MacKnight February 15, 2014, 12:05 am

      Oh, right, I need to pick that up. I have the equivalent for my iphone, but would be handy to have good dictionary on my Nexus as well. Thanks for the recommendation.

  • Lucía March 9, 2014, 1:44 am

    I’m probably near L3 (I don’t really know) and sometimes also play games in Japanese. I can’t help to like this method because it helped me to learn a lot of English. I plan to spend this year translating stuff (probably an RPG) as a study method. I don’t know if that’s fun, but is rewarding. I don’t drill and I don’t have a good relationship with study books either.

    I also want to play Chrono Trigger and some others RPGs I like in their Japanese versions (I also want to read ハリー・ポッターと賢者の石 and all the books in the series) . It is super confusing to play the same RPG with another person, unless you’re both looking at the screen most of the time. I remember I did that along with my brother, but I got lost in the storyline. I Wish you luck in your quest ;).

    Thank you for your site and for keeping us motivated.

    • Clayton MacKnight March 10, 2014, 2:51 pm

      I read the first book in the Harry Potter series. The first part is a little confusing, but once you get used to the writer’s style it gets a lot easier. There are also audiobooks available for the first two books. I’m going to be working through them here soon. I think they are a great resource.

      • Lucía March 10, 2014, 3:46 pm

        Does that means that you’re gonna comment on the grammar and vocabulary and stuff of the Japanese book? That would be great. If that’s the case I’ll be looking forward to it.

        • Clayton MacKnight March 10, 2014, 11:01 pm

          Yeah, I already have a Memrise course built, that I’ve been slowly adding to piece by piece if you are interested:


          I’ll probably comment more once I start working my way through the audiobook.

          • Lucía March 11, 2014, 2:39 am

            Yes, *_* I’m interested. I’ve been looking for a study guide for the Japanese version of this book for a long time. I totally love it, it’s one of my favorites.

            It’s cool to know that other people are also interested in learning through modern fantasy books like Harry Potter (I believe it’s a book that adults as well as kids can enjoy very easily, right?). And that there are well-organized resources out there.


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