Japanese Language Audio Books on iPad with Rye Studio

In an effort to boost my pitiful Chinese abilities… I got an App!

A company called Rye Studio makes a series of picture book apps for iPhone and iPad that read you a story while showing you the text in Chinese. Listening to target language text being read at native speed while reading along is a great way to pick up new vocabulary if you ask me.

What’s that you say? You’re not studying Chinese, you’re learning Japanese! Of course! Well, the kicker is that you can watch the story while reading and listening to it in a variety of languages… including Japanese in most cases! (Not that I’m spending all my time in China looking for Japanese language sources… no not at all… I just happened to notice this and decided to tell you about it… yeah that’s it…)

Mulan in Chinese!
Mulan in Japanese!

(Doesn’t looking at all the Chinese characters that appear in both the Japanese and the Chinese make you crazy?)

And rest assured, the Japanese seems to be being read by a native speaker as far as I and my Japanese wife can tell. So yeah, it’s high quality stuff.

The following Rye Studio stories are available in Japanese:
The Little Snail かたつむり
Mulan ムーラン
The Magic Brush and Maliang 魔法の筆と馬良
The Monkeys Who Tried to Catch the Mooon 猿とお月さん

There are lots more as well!

Also, these apps all run on your iPhone or iPod Touch as well. The screen shots in this post are all from the iPhone and iPod Touch screens. Note, it’s a universal app, so you only have to buy it once and you can run it on both of your devices.

Well worth a look!

Scars Borough

This music recommendation must be the most personal one I have ever done… Here’s the story.

So a long time ago in Japan I met a French dude. We became friends, time passed, I moved to Osaka and he was still in Tokyo, and we didn’t see each other so often anymore. Then a few years ago I was randomly back in Tokyo and we ended up seeing each other again at a big dinner party. He had a new girlfriend named Kyoko. She was this really tough looking Japanese girl. I remember she looked sort of metal and punk. Pretty hardcore. Anyway, apparently she was in a band.

Years passed…

Just about a week ago I had some friends in from Tokyo visiting and we got to talking about all of our peeps who were still in Japan. It turns out that my French friend and Kyoko are still together, and her band is doing live shows in Japan quite frequently and they have a few CDs out! My friends brought me their newest album as a gift. I’m liking it!

The band is called Scars Borough and they’re pretty awesome. Check out some of their videos:

Band Talk.


More Japanese music! And yeah so, I uh, had dinner once with the lead singer of Scars Borough. Yeah, I’m awesome. (hehe.)

Related Links:

Scars Borough Official Website

Bright Siren by androp

If you’re into Japanese rock and… camera flashes… you’ll probably find this to be pretty interesting. This is the video for the song Bright Siren by a Japanese band called androp.

They used 250 cameras to set this up. Pretty impressive in terms of scale!

Fun stuff. If you check their official website you can even add your own light message to the end of the video! Yippie!

Official website for androp Bright Siren.

Japanese slang: Bacchiguu

Time to learn some 90s Japanese slang!!!


I can hardly even remember why I wanted to blog about this phrase…

Ah yes, I do remember now. So I’m slowly working my way through Devil Survivor, a sweet strategy RPG for DS, and there is one character that says this phrase over and over again.

Bacchiguu. It's ばっちり + Good.


The rough translation of this phrase is, “very good.”

Now, to be honest, this is not “cool” Japanese slang. In fact, it’s a little lame and outdated. Using it will be sure to score you a few laughs the first time around, and maybe even the second time too… But if you live in Kansai you might just earn yourself a slap upside the head for using this phrase. Consider yourself warned.

Let’s learn the phrase, and the background!

This phrase is a combination of two words. The first is ばっちり. The second word is “good,” which becomes グッド (guddo) in Katakana.

ばっちり is a legit Japanese word that means something is “perfect” or just “great.”

Here are some other words that may help you out when talking about バッチグー with your Japanese friends.

死語 (shigo) a dead word.
合成語 (gouseigo) a compound word.
ふるっ! (huru!!!) a way to strongly emphasize that something is OLD and 古い (hurui).
もういいから! (mou ii kara!) “OK OK, would you please quit saying that already!?”

I read on some Japanese blog that the character from this old cartoon called BONOBONO says バッチグー a lot…
Watch it for yourself though.


Related Posts:

Unbelievable! Old School Japanese Slang

World Order: Japanese Street Performance Group

I don’t think I can add much to these videos. Just watch. Also check out World Order official website.


Actually… there is one thing I can add. Did you know that the leader of this group, 須藤元気(GENKI SUDO), was also a freakin’ incredible MMA fighter?!


You can read his official 須藤元気(GENKI SUDO) blog as well.

Also, please note that Genki Sudo has published several books.

Read about Genki Sudo on Wikipedia

Awesome. Awesome. Awesome.

Tadoku Again! What to Read?

Kafka! Again!

Tadoku is coming again!

I haven’t performed very well in the Tadoku competitions. I do read a lot of Japanese daily, because it’s my life, but I have trouble sticking to whatever novel it was that I picked for the contest. Also, I’m too lazy to record pages of games or random webpages that I read. So, I only record the books. Anyway, excuses over. I’m going to pick up where I left off in Kafka By the Shore 海辺のカフカ and join Tadoku again this time!

I think I need to learn to abide by this Tadoku philosophy from Professor Sakai of tadoku.org. (Saw this from Lingosteve’s blog, props!)

1) do not look words up in the dictionary
2) if you are stuck, move on, don’t ask questions
3) if you do not like what you are reading, get something else to read.

I have an OCD habit of writting down any unknown Japanese that I encounter, looking it up, and adding it to my Anki deck. This slows me down. I love it though… but I guess Tadoku is not the time for that. I’ll try to kick the OCD habit for one month and just read more (or die)!

Are you going to Tadoku? What are you going to read?

If you haven’t decided on anything yet here are some ideas…

Anything on Aozora Bunko.

Use Japanese Literature at Bedtime to get MP3s of famous Japanese stories available on Aozora Bunko, and read while listening. Awesome.

Get some of the readers from TheJapanShop.com. Full disclosure, I’m friends with TheJapanShop.com owner, but seriously, the stuff is legit. They are traditional Japanese stories, read by a native Japanese speaker, and you get the Kanji readings and English translation as well. The audio files are all separated so if you like you can listen to the straight-up no-help Japanese. Good stuff. For example, 注文の多い料理店 by Miyazawa Kenji.

Liana has also posted links to tons of great stuff. Check out her list of extensive reading material online.

Anyone have other ideas for stuff to read?? Do tell!

Related Posts:
How I use my Kindle
Podcast Recommendation – Audio for Ningen Shikkaku

TINA – I’ll be there


I was introduced to this song back in 1999 when I was living in Japan long term for the first time as an exchange student at Nanzan University. A pretty hip older friend turned me on to it, and later she also introduced me to a similar artist named Bird.

I remember I just loved Tina’s style. The majority of her lyrics were in Japanese, she pronounced her lyrics at an understanable speed, and it had her relatively deep voice and soulful style were in stark contrast to the other Jpop bands that my friends were listening to at the time.

Tina was awesome. I wonder where she is now? It’s been more than 10 years since she saw popularity in Japan.

Let me know what you think!

– Harvey

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