Japanese Reference Books +


A few weeks back a Tuttle Publishing were kind enough to send over some Japanese books for me to look over. These are mainly reference books for learning Japanese with an eye to the JLPT tests. There is also a picture book more aimed at some ones first ever exposure to Japanese, possibly an interested child.



I've spent a little time with the books and I'm happy to share what I thought!

These are the books
I think I'm at stage were in theory I should know most of the content of these books (in practice I imagine it's quite a different story). They definitely all seem useful for getting a solid grasp on the core of the Japanese language.

Japanese Kanji and Kana

This book is a reference book for the kana and all the kanji you need to know for the JLPT tests. Check out the inner picture below.

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I used Heisig to learn the kanji but I know my writing and reading has atrophied a little. I learned the writing and meaning first ~2500 kanji but I never explicitly studied the readings. Instead I tried to pick up the readings from words as I encountered them in the wild. This has worked pretty well for me but I know I don't have comprehensive knowledge of every reading. The kana and kanji book has the most common readings for each character which could definitely be worth memorizing.

It also has stroke order which is useful and common words using that kanji which is very useful. These words would make great source material for flash cards and I'm sure it's not too hard to find samples sentence using them.

Essential Japanese Grammar

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This book introduces a lot of common Japanese Grammar in a way that's suitable for drilling. I think it covers JLPT 4 - 3 (perhaps not all of level 3). There are a good number of example sentences which can be used for flash cards. I'd prefer no romaji, at this level I think it should all be in kana. If I was choosing a grammar book I'd still go for The Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar, as it seems to be more in depth and has really awesome appendices, But when studying grammar I think everyone's receptive to a different method of teaching and it's important to try a number of sources, to find that explanation that "clicks" with you.


600 Basic Japanese Verbs

Verbs are usually the key to understanding a sentence or part of a text, so it's well worth emphasising them. This book seems pretty good to me, lots of examples, good transformation tables. Again I'd rather have kana than romaji at this level but I think it's a good book. If you know these 600 verbs that's really going to help unlock a lot of Japanese for you.
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My first book of Japanese Words

This is an illustrated children's book with a single Japanese word per page, one for each letter of the English alphabet. An excellent book to ignite an interest in learning Japanese early on.