Learning a language is very similar to exercise in many ways. The best type of study is the one that you’ll do regularly. Which is why finding things you enjoy doing in Japanese is so important. So here’s a list of some of my favorite stuff in Japanese.
(Updated with more links and videos)
Things like 鍋パ with friends is a blast. Japanese people actually stop and listen to you when you talk. Something which seems far too rare here in the States.
My favorite Japanese artist is 椎名林檎. I also love the band 東京事変. Please get back together and make more songs!
I’m also amazed at the collaborator efforts of amateurs online such as Vocaloid and 東方.
タンポポ – Oh man, this film is so awesome. Just watch it.
Other films I liked:
After Life （ワンダフルライフ）
Sanjuro – My favorite Akira Kurosawa film.
Man, Woman & the Wall – Creepy, sexy, funny (not for kids)
Trick (TV series and movies)
The Great Happiness Space – Not really a Japanese movie but still a fascinating (and disturbing) documentary.
Is it just me or do Japanese movies all seem like either art films or crazy horror?
I definitely need to read more books so please give me some suggestions! Of the very small number of books I’ve read, I liked:
涼宮ハルヒの消失 (my favorite out of the series)
Dragon Ball – I first read this in Korean back when manga was virtually non-existent in the US. I didn’t really know what was going on but it was still awesome (by the way, my dream job was to work at a 만화방). I also watched Dragon Ball Z in English on Adult Swim (Vegeta’s voice was pretty good). I have since read parts of it again in Japanese, and it’s still good, after all these years.
Others I enjoyed:
攻殻機動隊(Ghost in The Shell) Stand Alone Complex – My favorite anime of all time.
Others I enjoyed:
Serial Experiments Lain
Darker Than Black
涼宮ハルヒの憂鬱 (Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya) Season 1
My first Japanese console is a PS2 so I have not played that many games in Japanese. I am meaning to replay classics like Chrono Trigger in Japanese when I get my hands on it. Until then, of the limited games I’ve played so far in Japanese, I liked:
逆転検事２ – The story is brilliant.
MG3 Snake Eater – Metal Gear Solid is my favorite in the series but Mei Ling’s English voice was annoying. Hoping to try it in Japanese sometime.
Disgaea (haven’t gotten to 2,3,4 yet)
What’s on your favorite list?
A big giant YES to anything Shiina Ringo and every single one of those movies. Tampopo is straight up food porn.
I’d recommend the Japanese re-releases of the SNES Final Fantasy games for GBA. Great for reading a lot of Japanese, plus all the DS/GBAs out there are region free.
I’m thinking of getting some FF on Android since it looks like Google play is basically region free for games as well.
Death Note is my favorite manga so far, though the plot may be a bit too complex to read in Japanese! The Zelda games are awesome for the DS – you can tap on any word to see the furigana – & I’ve been really enjoying the Professor Layton games lately.
Yes, Death Note is definitely one of my favorite, but I couldn’t really get into the latter half.
Interesting, I didn’t know Zelda games for the DS had that feature! Definitely need to check that out. I’ve heard good things about Professor Layton. Seems like adventure games are making a come back. Haven’t played one since Full Throttle.
Here are some of my favorites.
Music – Meiko Kaji, Rip Slyme,
Movies – Tanpopo (I made the mistake of watching this on an empty stomach my first time.), The Magic Hour
Manga – Uchuu Kyoudai, Dragonball, Urayasu Tekkin Kazoku, Akira
Anime – Darker Than Black, Excel Saga
Games – Danganronpa, Monster Hunter
Though I’m usually more into story, Monster Hunter has become a such a huge hit I almost feel like I need to play it to get cultural references, kinda like 動物の森 and Pokemon.
I recently bought 涼宮ハルヒの憂鬱 but I’m having a really hard time with it. Guess I’m not quite at the high school reading level yet.
Yes, the sentences can kind of drag on and the vocabulary (like 矜持) is definitely beyond conversation Japanese.
Some time ago I looked for Japanese subtitles of Japanese animes. These are really rare, unfortunately, but I eventually found the gold mine: http://kitsunekko.net/dirlist.php?dir=subtitles%2Fjapanese%2F
Since then I watch one episode a night. I usually take 45 minutes to watch a 20-minutes long episode, because I often look up words in a dictionnary, but that’s still enjoyable. And so far it works great for my level.
Cool, thanks for the link!
As far as books are concerned my favorite Author is 伊坂幸太郎, the novels I’ve read so far have all been very entertaining. Some of my favorites were
陽気なギャングが地球を回す a very entertaining story about a group of bank robbers and ゴールデンスランバー which is kind of like turning the JFK assassination into an really good story which is happening in Japan. Though this novel was quite a bit harder to read than the other one.
The trilogy written by 奥田英朗 : 『イン・ザ・プール』, 『空中ブランコ』 and 『町長選挙』 about an eccentric psychiatrist were really funny. These books are also available as audio books which can be purchased on http://www.febe.jp/
which I thought was neat, since audio books of fiction seem to be rather rare in Japanese. I thought the audio book version were really well done. I had a great time listening to them.
I wanted to recommend this drama it’s called JIN. I’m sure you’ve heard of it? there’s japanese subs out for both seasons and i for one am not into jidaigeki and this was sorta isn’t ?? (depends how you define that) but this drama was awesome.
There are some good choices there – I really recommend the Anime Samurai Champloo, if you haven’t seen it already.
I love 東京事変 too! Asian pop fan all the way! 😀
Hi it’s not clear whether or not you’re not learning korean. you wrote about mandarin and you have no time or whatever. but if anytrhing i’m sure the hanja/kanji must give you motivation. at least it does for me.
there 2 links have information about “converting” the kanji reading to the hanja reading… like it gives you patterns and probability and whatnot lol. for me, this is motivating. the kango words are 70% or 60% of the vocab. the other 40 % obviously is just pure-korean so the hanja won’t help but 60% is a lot right!?
and did you happen to come across anything similar for mandarin because I don’t want to waste my time when i start mandarin lol… I would like to be aware of patterns and whatnot from the get-go.
I love “Departures”!! I shed buckets of tears over that film.
I teach English literature for a living, so Kurosawa’s adaptations of Shakespeare are always a big favourite. I have a small library of verions of Macbeth from around the world to show to my students. I am fascinated by Japanese modes of story-telling because they are so different from our typical western structures, especially in the way they are comfortable with ambiguity and lack of a definitive resolution. But it seems difficult to get really good translations of Japanese literature. I bought the Penguin translation of Mishima’s True Colours and it was a real dog’s breakfast. I could barely make sense of it in places; there was no way it could have been doing justice to the original Japanese.
My favourite game hands down is “Final Fantasy VII”. It was my introduction to RPGs and literally changed my life, taking me in all sorts of new directions and allowing me to meet people I would never have met otherwise. I also love Chrono Trigger, and Lost Odessey although I never got to finish it because my XBox broke down 2/3 of the way through. Dragon Quest VIII was a lot of fun. Obviously, I’m a Square Enix girl!
this is as well were my favorites in Japan xD.. Especially the anime… I studied Japanese because of this stuffs, and it’s all a lot worth it… 🙂
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I know I am almost a year late to the party, but I have to put in a vote for 転々, a great movie. It’s even on Netflix (Adrift in Tokyo is the English title) if you don’t mind having subtitles.
Books – One of my favourite authors is Haruki Murakami. I’d recommend Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.
If you want to read some books and like crime stories with fun elements, try the nice “三毛猫ホームズ” series.
Summary: policeman with lot of phobias (blood, height, women) only gets his cases solved because of the help of his three-coloured-cat (三毛猫) which is named “Holmes” (ホームズ) – like the famous Sherlock Holmes.
For LNs, I like 狼と香辛料 – economics and flirting.
Since you have a PS2 and it seems you like JRPGs, have you ever tried any Tales of games? There’s several available, including Tales of the Abyss (which is my second favourite game of all time). I find Tales of games especially helpful to use as study material, because of the ‘skit’ conversations – these are short conversations between the party members that become available at various points, they can be about the main plot, or just everyday stuff like the the characters complaining about one of the party member’s cooking, and they’re often very funny. I was actually studying using them just now, learnt a few new words. : )