Never Give Up


So everyone knows that I failed the level 2 Japanese Language Proficiency Test (日本語能力試験・JLPT) in December. Also let it be known that I refuse to give up. Today I took Mari-chan to the store to pick up a few application packages (受験案内) for the tests in December this year. Normally the packages are available at the beginning of July, but for some reason they were delayed until the 15th. We had dropped by on the 7th and got news of the delay, so I showed my determination by going on the first possible day. Applications are accepted from August 1st to September 12th, so I will aim for mailing my app on the first. Need to keep that energy level up.

Researching things a little today, I found out two interesting changes in the JLPT procedures. Starting next year, the test will be executed twice a year (at least in Japan) in July and December. Also starting next year there will be five levels instead of just four. It has always been baffling that from four up to one, the difficulty of the levels pretty much doubles with each step. They finally decided to smooth things out a bit, so people don’t get trapped in no-man’s land; not knowing which test to take.

I promised to write a post about how to pass the test based on everything I learned last time. I will make it a point to write that up before the end of August; and, will probably update it after I actually pass the test.

At the bookstore I also picked up a copy of Kitchen (キッチン) by Yoshimoto Banana. It was recommended as a good book to prepare for the level 2 reading. I have some Natsume Soseki and Akutagawa Ryunosuke, which my friend said is more like level 1 and above. I was surprised to find out that Banana is a woman. For some reason I thought only a man would choose such a silly name, but maybe she’s had it since birth. Anyhow, I have heard recommendations about her work before, so I am looking forward to reading her work.


10 Responses to “Never Give Up”

  1. Unfit Mother Says:

    Hi, I come to via Fighting Windmills – just reading today.
    I live in the US, but travel to Japan every couple of years – big nipponophile.

    I really enjoyed reading Natsuo Kirino’s, “Out” (in English; I’m only on the “Nonton” level in Nihongo. And Yoshimoto “Mahoko” chose the pen name “Banana” because it is both “cute” and “purposefully androgynous.”

  2. びっくり Says:

    You have saved me some trouble. I was planning to search out her birth name and, if possible, her reason for her pen name. I like the “purposefully androgynous” label. I wonder if Bikkuri fits that. I hope some of my posts are useful or entertaining for you. I write about so many different topics that I don’t know if I will ever have regular readership, but here it is for the world to see…

  3. Unfit Mother Says:

    Hi Again,

    Even though I live in the US, much of my life is surrounded by Japanese influence. My children attend a Japanese immersion school and one of the teachers (interns here for one year) lives with us. I am dutifully learning Japanese so I really appreciate your Soundcheck Sundays.

    New Surprise Blog? Do tell more.

    Very glad to stumble across your blog; I am enjoying reading about your experiences. I’ll be back!


  4. びっくり Says:

    Bikkuri Chocolates are a chocolate candy sold in brightly colored packages. Their draw is the brightly colored stickers of characters inside. They created a series of heroes and villains and promoted a concept of trying to collect them all. This started more than 20 years ago, so I think they predate the Pokemon “gotta catch’em all” idea.

    Anyhow, in order to promote the chocolates further, they created the Bikkuri-Man cartoon series. A few years later, still wanting to push sales, they created the Shin Bikkuri-Man series: new characters, new stickers. This was around the time that I originally visited Japan. I came 11 times in three years for business and had a silly addiction to the show. At the time, my impression was that there were three pantheons of powerful beings: one good, one evil, and one that could be swayed if it benefited them.

    I think I liked the concept because it struck me like heaven, hell and earth. Two years ago I picked up the newly released DVDs of the two shows and found that maybe I read more into it than was there, but it was still fun.

    Anyhow, since that time, I often use bikkuri as a tag online. My first blog was Bikkuri Blog and the server crashed irreparably. I started a second blog on a public server called Shin Bikkuri Blog and eventually found that WordPress would serve me better. When I created the third blog, in a very anime way, I named it Neo Shin Bikkuri Blog. I like the fact that this uses Roman letters, Kanji, Hiragana, and Katakana: something about that just seems right.

  5. Stefanie Says:

    Way to keep a positive outlook! I’ve seen Banana’s books here in the States in English. Haven’t read them, but been curious. If you end up liking them maybe I will give one a go. In English 🙂

  6. fightingwindmills Says:

    Bikkuri, the first time you commented on my blog I thought you were a girl because you offered to babysit! (So sexist of me, I know.) Then I figured it out, but your name is definitely androgynous. I love the things you write about!

  7. verbivore Says:

    Somehow I missed the fact that you didn’t pass the test this year. But I’m sure you’ll get it next time around. The Level 2 is hard!! I know I said I would study and take one of the tests here in Switzerland sometime but of course I haven’t done it – so many projects! And sadly, my Japanese study gets pushed to the bottom of the priority pile. But I also love Sunday Soundcheck, so keep up the good work!

  8. びっくり Says:

    The next Soundcheck is queued up and ready to appear on Sunday. This is good since I should be sleeping or hiking up a mountain all day Sunday. I hope you find the time to take one of the tests, but they really aren’t that important and you have to prioritize things.

  9. Cabbage Says:

    You’ll very likely enjoy Kitchen. Her books are both enigmatic and comical, with very earthy descriptions. That would make them ideal for 2kyu, I think. I have read the first chapter of the book in a Japanese class, and the challenge is juicy. (Of course, I had read the book in English a few times, which takes the sting out of trying to read a novel in foreign language) Would have finished it in japanese, but my big crutch is kanji, and I hate looking them up when I’m trying to actually enjoy the reading.
    If you do like it, I highly recommend Amrita, as well. Another good author for high intermediate reading is Haruki Murakami. Anything you read will be excellent, but if you try his short story collection “After the Quake,” it is easier to get through one short story at a time than to follow a novel-length plot.
    I’m very interested in the division of the JLPT into 5 levels and if you find more info, please post it!

  10. びっくり Says:

    We were discussing this afternoon how the tests will be implemented next year. I’ll read up on it again and post a little summary here soon.

    Thanks for the other book recommendations.

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