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Today's lesson:

Navigating a bookstore is much harder when you can't read anything.

Yesterday, the teacher recommended a Japanese bookstore that's about fifteen minutes up the freeway from here--said we could get the textbook a lot cheaper there than we could at the college bookstore. So I hopped in the car and drove up.

The teacher gave a name and said it was on Baker and Harbor, two major streets. In usual Brent fashion, I forgot the name but remembered the crossroads. So when I saw a Japanese bookstore, I naturally figured I'd found what I was looking for. A few minutes, a U-turn, and a parking space later, I was in the store.

The place was incredibly dense. Most of the books were smaller than American mass-market paperbacks, and the shelves were taller than I was. The aisles were fairly narrow and filled with people. I later realized that the place was an offshoot of what must have been a Japanese supermarket in the same center.

And everything--everything--was in hiragana. (Or maybe kanji--can't tell.)

After about fifteen minutes of wandering around looking for the textbook, I decided I'd ask someone at the front about it. But I also remembered AC's suggestion of learning hiragana from untranslated manga, so I paced the manga shelves until I spotted a familiar-looking panda. I picked up the first issue, checked the cover, and then opened it up to be absolutely sure. Yup--it was Ranma 1/2. So now I have both translated and untranslated copies of it. w00t.

So, I took it and my MT bag up to the counter to talk to someone. I showed him the textbook (it was in my bag) and explained that my teacher said I could find a cheaper copy here; he said that the store didn't sell textbooks. D'oh. I bought the $3 used manga and left.

Outside, I figured that there must be another Japanese bookstore around here. So I drove around a little. Sure enough, on the opposite side of Harbor and way in the back, there was another bookstore. I recognized the name, so I pulled in.

This one was much nicer, more along the lines of a B&N or something. Only five minutes of wandering around until I found the book. $30 later, I had a shiny new (cheaper) copy. w00tni.

Drove home and related the whole saga to Dad, who pointed out that I'd chosen to study a language where I couldn't fake reading it. *rolls eyes*

Anyway, I now have the book I wanted and another useful one too. And I know not to make that mistake again.

I also know that I'm not uncomfortable in an overwhelmingly Japanese environment like that. Confused as hell, but not uncomfortable. Probably all the time spent at 99 Ranch buying pocky.

Comments

( Read 6 comments — Leave a comment )
acdragonmaster
Jan. 18th, 2004 05:06 pm (UTC)
Yeesh, Japanese bookstores? Lucky. :p

Oh, and one note about manga- some publishers include what's called "furigana", basically little kana next to the kanji so you know how to read the kanji, but not all do. Anything from Shounen Jump should have it, or basically stuff that comes from publications aimed at school-aged kids/teens or so. But it's something to look for, because if there's no furigana, you're stuck with a lot of kanji you probably won't recognize at all, let alone know the proper reading for.
brentdax
Jan. 18th, 2004 05:09 pm (UTC)
This one has them, fortunately.
chiave_trust
Jan. 18th, 2004 05:13 pm (UTC)
This is why hiragana is your friend. *patpat* :P

I was lucky; I usually knew enough kanji and kana to recongize the signs I needed to, by the time I got up to Kinokinuya. There's an interesting story about a survey from Yomiuri Shinbun (Yomiuri-News(paper)) that I could tell you about sometime. *shrugs*

I'm thinking about putting Japanese language tips and such up on my sites too. Would this be a good idea? ^^
brentdax
Jan. 18th, 2004 05:15 pm (UTC)
No shit, Sherlock! :^P

(Or, as my friend who heard me say that one time too many put it, "No shit, Godzilla!")
chiave_trust
Jan. 18th, 2004 05:17 pm (UTC)
Well, it's not like I know Japanese.....

>.>

<.<

No, really.... ^^;;;
acdragonmaster
Jan. 18th, 2004 05:15 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I can't remember Ranma's publisher, but given the content I'd assume it would.

Bug me sometime about my scanning of my RuroKen manga. I have the entire first chapter done (about 1/4 of the first book) and will eventually get around to the rest. The idea being to give people something to compare the translated version to, since there are some noticable changes and all. But I'm scanning it at a resolution to make the furigana perfectly readable.
( Read 6 comments — Leave a comment )