Amazon.in:Customer reviews: Learn Japanese with Stories Volume 1: Hikoichi + Audio Download: The Easy Way to Read, Listen, and Learn from Japanese Folklore, Tales, and Stories (Japanese Reader Collection)
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I don't think this book is bad for its price. The two stories are rather short, but that was to be expected. The kanji do tend to be a bit small, but I didn't have trouble reading the words I knew. (Granted, I've got two years of college Japanese under my belt and I'm studying Chinese on my own now, so I've got some experience with Chinese characters - which makes it easier to read them when they're small.) For the first story, the furigana (small letters written above kanji to show pronunciation) were as easy to read as the rest of the story. However, they were less clear in the second story (or parts of it) and might be difficult for somebody that's new to the syllabaries to read. The vocabulary lists gave romaji (these, Latin letters), too, though. So that should clear up any problems. Now, while I say the kanji are small, keep in mind that I mainly use my iPod Touch for Kindle books (although I think they look a little small in the screenshots that have been put up of a Kindle, too, but that might just be the screenshots - I don't have an actual Kindle). I loaded it on my laptop just to see how it looks, and the kanji are perfectly legible there. So I think this is really more about the device you have than the book itself. Also, while I can't find a way on the Kindle for PC, I can enlarge pictures (which is what the Japanese text is as I write this) on my Kindle for the iPod Touch. And, while the kanji wasn't always the clearest, they, and the furigana, always became legible if it wasn't earlier. My main complaints about the book are overuse of furigana and how the book was arranged, but these don't really affect the book itself much. Since furigana is provided in the section that lists the vocab under the sentences, I think it should have been left out of the Japanese only section: that way you can practice remembering how to read the kanji; plus, furigana can simply be distracting if you already know the kanji.
This series is virtually perfect for students of Japanese who have Hiragana and Katakana memorized but know few or none of the Kanji. The stories are from traditional Japanese folklore, which means they're interesting and clever, and most of it is presented in Hiragana, with Furigana for each Kanji character. I think there may be some sparse Katakana, but for the most part it's Hiragana.
It's not only an excellent way to improve your Kana reading, it's also invaluable for improving vocabulary, something recorded language courses like Pimsleur and Rosetta sorely miss. Reading new words in context of an interesting story assists greatly in visualizing and remembering them. In this sense the formatting of the book too is excellent:
Every page has the Kana at the top (with Furigana above whatever Kanji characters appear,) and phrase-by-phrase translations in Romaji (English phonetic) at the bottom of the page. Which means you can check a given word's translation instantly - a big, big help when you're using an e-reader like a Kindle or Fire, because you're thereby spared the necessity of doing endless page-flips to get to some general glossary located far from the page you're on. It's right there where you need it, but below everything else so you don't "cheat" with inadvertent glances while you read.
In the third volume of this series the author inexplicably omits the Furigana completely, which makes that third book (and presumably those subsequent to it,) useless to anyone without a large number of Kanji memorized. I'm currently at something like 28, total. Hopefully that odd decision will be corrected, but this and Volume 2 are indispensable for beginning-to-intermediate Japanese students looking to move from "stare-at-each-character" reading to fluid sight-reading of Kana and, eventually, Kanji. Just an excellently-conceived and -executed series with clever, interesting short stories.
I am a little past beginner in Japanese. Can read/write in both hiragana and katakana and know some kanji. A little rusty, but anyway....This book isn't bad. There are 5 stories, each a little more difficult than the next. All stories have 3 parts, one with the Japanese on top and a sort of dictionary of the words on the bottom of each page. If you have ever looked at any books similar to this, it is the same format. Most of these Japanese reading books for beginners have the vocabulary on the bottom. There isn't a lot of kanji, so nothing really out there. The second part of each story is strictly in Japanese. Then the third part is the summary. The summary is the only thing I have issue with. When I bought it, I though it would have been and actual translation of the story in English, but they are just summaries. So, just be aware of that when purchasing. If you are a beginner then this might be frustrating for you. I am a little further along so isn't a big deal for me personally. I would put the difficulty level somewhere between the various children stories, and the other Japanese reader books. That is not meant as an insult, but it seems to fit nice for a "next step" in reading.
This is a very good book for beginners, and by beginners I mean those who are familiar with hiragana, katakana I more than 100 kanji. Why did I mention kanji? Simply because when I started to learn the Japanese language, I tried to read it and it became a disaster for my self-confidence. So I waited for some time and studied hard so today I can open a book which claims to be for beginners and not to fall into depression when I realize that I can read it at once. Stories in this book are very lightly written, and if you had mentioned knowledge you will find unknown words, but you won't be so much disappointed in yourself - especially because you can mark those words, and study them after. There is a dictionary, and even some words, like Japanese phrases you can't translate literary, are translated not so good, the dictionary itself is of a great help. And those Japanese phrase I'm talking about are things someone who is not so much beginner will recognize and understand, so it is not a big problem. Another bonus is free audio you get with a book, which is always good to have.
DEU: Nur zum weiterempfehlen, super Verarbeitung. Audiodateien sind einfach nur genial und hilfreich (zwei Geschwindigkeiten [normal/langsam]). Viel Aufregung zum beigelegten e-book (was wahrscheinlich stimmt) aber ich habe in erster instanz ein Buch gekauft, e-book ist für mich nur ein nettes Extra. Mein Wunsch wäre noch, dass die Kanji einzeln angeführt und übersetzt werden, damit man ein besseres Sprachgefühl für japanisch entwickeln kann. Freue mich irrsinig über den Kauf!
ENG: I am recomending this book to everyone. Audiofiles are great and helpfull (two speedsettings [normal/slowed down]). Some people are dissapointed of the e-book (which might be true) but I was looking for a book. The e-book is for me just a nice giveaway. I would wish that the Kanji were explained by them self and afterwards in contaxt, to get a feeling how the japanese language works. I am very happy about this purchase!
The difficulty of looking up every word in the dictionary can be a barrier to language learners, but this book's running gloss goes far to solve that problem: it puts the definitions right on the same page. Just as important, the stories are engaging folk tale retellings that make the work of reading Japanese a reward of its own. I enjoyed the book for myself, and plan to use it with my kids.
Plus qu'un fantastique ouvrage, très bien fait avec furigana associés, vocabulaire et lien pour un support audio, une rencontre fantastique avec les vendeurs. Seul bémol pour moi, les traductions sont en anglais. Malgré tout, je recommande.
The content is really useful and the format is great, but there are only 4 short stories! Having said that you can read through it multiple times as I did and the vocabulary and concept learnt are very useful as a stepping stone to more complex texts.
It's not entirely worth the price but if I had the money I would buy all of the books in this series as I found it very useful.
In terms of difficulty I would say that you need to be able to understand most particles and tenses, and be able to read sentences with two clauses to get the full understanding.
It's great to have a book like this available for the Kindle. Japanese Reader Collection Volume 1: Hikoichi contains four stories about--you guessed it--a man named Hikoichi, a clever gentleman who outsmarts people in interesting ways. Each story is short but entertaining, and each is presented three times: once in Japanese with English notes at the bottom (these explain almost every Kanji and vocabulary word in the text), once in Japanese with no notes, and once in English. The notes are concise but very helpful, and there is an extensive glossary at the back of the book, which helps when reviewing words, etc. All in all, this book is a great way to practice reading real Japanese rather than relying on dry reading passages, and the stories and the different forms (Japanese w/ English notes, Japanese only, and English only) they are presented in make it easy to read each story multiple times, which is great for language study
I have purchased other Japanese readers but this is the first book I have started and finished AND comprehended! The four short stories are entertaining for beginners and I'd say even more advanced (I studied Japanese for 4 years and absolutely enjoyed these stories). The running gloss I love because as a learner I tend to forget a word even if I've seen it 5 times already, and with this gloss I can count on the word being included on the same page without going back to look for it. Reading these readers I think are a good foundation before moving on to the more advanced Breaking into Japanese Literature, Exploring Japanese Literature, A Japanese Reader (Miller), etc. I also love how each story 3 versions: Japanese with furigana and running gloss, Japanese with furigana, and then the English version. I finished this book rather quickly and wouldn't mind reading it again and again...I just ordered the Japanese Reader vol. 5....たのしみ！！＞＜