You have probably seen these white and red cat figures somewhere as decoration. They generally have one paw raised or sometimes it’s moving back and forth. Also, they usually either hold a sign with calligraphic characters or it’s hanging from their collar. They are called manekineko and this book tells a legend of their possible origin.
If you are interested in Japanese linguistics or want to have a bit more insight into how Japanese works, this series of short articles for upper intermediate learners is absolutely invaluable.
This book tells the real story of Tonky, an elephant at Ueno zoo. A keeper named Shinichi takes care of Tonky during the 1920s and 1930s, but when the war eventually breaks out, he has to make a difficult decision regarding the elephant…. The tragic fates of the animals at Ueno zoo during the Second… Continue reading [N4] 象（ぞう）のトンキー
At the start of each day, many schools in Japan have a time slot, in which students can freely read their own books. Today's recommendation is a book for first graders and intended to be read during this reading time. The short stories in here are - as the title suggests - based on true… Continue reading [N3] ほんとうにあったお話 1年生
donburi is the Japanese name for a large bowl of rice where the main dish (e.g. meat or fish) is served on top. Depending on these other ingredients on top of the rice, those dishes are called different names, but all of them end in ～どん. This text written by Kondo Maiko at the Japan… Continue reading [N5] どん、どん、どん
Iida Kunihiko was born in Manchuria in 1942, but was soon brought to Hiroshima by his mother. There he experiences and survives the atomic bombing in 1945… This story was created by the NPO 平和(へいわ)の大切(たいせつ)さを伝(つた)える日本語教材(にほんごきょうざい)をつくる会(かい) which I would translate as 'Association for the creation of Japanese language teaching materials to convey the importance of peace'.… Continue reading [N3] 飯田（いいだ）くん
This non-fiction text by McPherson Tanaka Naemi is about bento - what types of bento there are, when the food culture around it emerged and how the discussions around it are also socially linked. This was very interesting to read! The reflections on social issues around bento were particularly interesting for me and I was… Continue reading [N4] お弁当（べんとう）って面白い
What sound does a sheep make? Baaa! Or in Japanese, 「メー」. In this case, English and Japanese differs, but the German word is very similar: määäh! How about a dog, a rooster or an elephant? Find out in this text by Seto Toshihiko on Nihongo Tadoku Dōjō. This text has many pictures and audio embeddings,… Continue reading [N5] 動物(どうぶつ)の声(こえ)
Umino Nagiko is a teacher at a Japanese language school and shares through comic essays some anecdotes from her everyday teaching life while answering questions on Japanese language and culture posed in her classes. There are both comic parts and essay parts for each chapter. When I read this first book, I mostly read it… Continue reading [N2] 日本人の知らない日本語 #I
Around the street Takeshita Doori in Harajuku there are several popular crêpe stands, that made the area famous for this tasty treat. This article on matcha.jp provides a closer look at 3 of these shops and describes the crêpes you can buy there. Unfortunately, I'm not one for that much whipped cream, but Harajuku crepes… Continue reading [N4] 原宿（はらじゅく）のクレープ店