Learn Japanese with Poop and Ready Player One! Japanese Book Reviews #2

Click here for the previous installment of Japanese Book Recommendations.

I’ve spent the past 3 weeks in Sapporo, Hokkaido and from my first hand experience I can honestly say that Japan is amazing. I’ve never eaten such delicious food and met such a high standard of hospitality before in my life. The country is just crazily different to England and western culture, and I love it.

Unfortunately I’m heading back to the UK on the 18th of September, then a week later I’m heading to Germany. I wish I could stay in Japan a little longer!!

Anyway, enough of my premature post-travel depression, let’s get into some book recommendations…


日本一楽しい漢字ドリル うんこ漢字ドリル

Japan’s most fun Kanji Drill book – Poop Kanji Drill

This could be a massive breakthrough for learning Japanese. This book is designed to teach Japanese primary school kids Kanji by using example sentences. There is just one thing, every single sentence has the Japanese word for “poop” (うんこ) in them.

The example sentences use many different methods to help learn Kanji which may or may not be useful to you depending on your learning style. Personally I would just take the full sentences and add them straight into Anki.

Here is an example sentence that is used in the book:


In this particular example you have to correctly fill in the reading for 対. In other examples you get given the reading and have to write the Kanji. For example,


In this case you have to fill in the Kanji where the question mark is (in the book it’s just a blank space). The reading is たい so the answer would be 対, which would then make 対戦相手.

The main points of these books are:

  1. Although the books may sound a bit silly, they are made for actual teaching in mind and include all the Kanji that are required to be taught at Japanese primary schools.
  2. Each book has a “list of all the Kanji in the best order for children to learn each Kanji’s meaning and shape naturally.” (子どもが自然な流れで漢字学習できるよう、漢字の意味や形を踏まえた、最良の順序で並べています。)
  3. 見やすくて書きやすい!Easy to read, easy to write. Kanji are shown either 1 per page or 2 per page to make it easy to read and break down each character to prevent making mistakes when writing them.
  4. Extra tips from うんこ先生 (Mr. Poop). For those really hard to learn Kanji, or Kanji that are easy to mix up with other Kanji, the book provides extra tips for helping to remember these particularly difficult characters.
  5. Includes a 学習証明書 (Study Identification Card) to prove you have learnt all your Kanji! Woo! (This is a bit childish but goals are useful :p). This card also has a large list of different Kanji on which you can use to revise anywhere you are.


There are 6 books, 1 for each year of Japanese primary school making up all the Kanji that are taught up to middle school.

Title: 日本一楽しい漢字ドリル うんこかん字ドリル
Format: Paperback (around 100 pages per book)
Author/Editor: 文響社
Furigana: Yes
Genre: Children’s
Color: Colour
Illustrations: Yes
Reading Level: Beginner to Intermediate
Get the books on Amazon:
Year 1: 日本一楽しい漢字ドリル うんこかん字ドリル 小学1年生
Year 2: 日本一楽しい漢字ドリル うんこかん字ドリル 小学2年生
Year 3: 日本一楽しい漢字ドリル うんこかん字ドリル 小学3年生
Year 4 (JP): 日本一楽しい漢字ドリル うんこ漢字ドリル 小学4年生
Year 5 (JP): 日本一楽しい漢字ドリル うんこ漢字ドリル 小学5年生
Year 6 (JP): 日本一楽しい漢字ドリル うんこ漢字ドリル 小学6年生



Yotsubato! is a brilliant, funny manga full of short stories about a crazy girl called Yotsuba. The book takes you through her weird daily adventures, creating mischief and discovering new things for the first time, like air conditioning.. and global warming…

The book has furigana for Kanji and tends to keep Kanji on the relatively low side, making it slightly easier to read for beginners.

It’s a hilarious, easy to read book perfect for a beginner starting to learn Japanese.

Title: よつばと!
Author/Editor: あずまきよひこ
Furigana: Yes
Genre: Comedy
Type: Fiction
Color: No
Illustrations: Yes
Reading Level: Beginner
Get the books on Amazon: よつばと! コミック 1-12巻セット


ゲームウォーズ (Ready Player One)

This book is a nerd’s paradise. This was originally recommended to me by a friend of mine, so I searched to see if there was a Japanese translation. I found a copy on amazon, read the reviews and knew that this book would be insane.

If you are a gamer or a geek that loved the 80’s then you will LOVE this book. In a way it is like Sword Art Online (Amazon) with the virtual reality aspect, so if you’re like me and fantasize about the endless possibilities of VR then definitely give this book a read. It is incredible.

Title: ゲームウォーズ
Format: Paperback, 400 pages
Author: Ernest Cline
Furigana: No
Genre: Sci-fi
Type: Fiction
Color: No
Illustrations: No
Reading Level: Advanced
Get the books on Amazon:



If you find yourself always procrastinating, not feeling like you want to do anything or your life is nothing but work with no play then this could be an ideal book for you. The cross-overs with this book and learning a language are huge. In fact, the big man from AJATT, Khatzumoto, highly recommends this beauty of a book.

It’s a self-help book that explains the cause of the problem that is procrastination and provides a way of overcoming it. It isn’t just a “oh hey here’s why you are shit at life” it’s an “okay, you have a problem, here is why and here is the solution.” Actually taking Fiore’s advice could literally change your life for the better. 

It’s one of those books that when you read it, you constantly get those “oh ma gawd! that makes so much sense!” moments. It really woke me up and made me start thinking more about who I am and who I want to be. Before I read this book I was very much a “floater”, just getting by in life and not really thinking that much about myself. I just sort of kept going, like a machine doing the same tasks everyday.

Along with some other similar books, blogs, and podcasts, I finally begin to think about myself more and what I wanted out of life. 

I would even recommend reading the original English version instead of the Japanese version to make sure you really understand the content and get what the book is about. I wouldn’t normally recommend doing this as it kinda goes against my language learning principles, but this book is one of those exceptions to the rule. If you do this then at least listen to Japanese while you read or get the Japanese version as well and use the translation to your advantage.

This is one of my favourite books that will probably never leave my book shelf. If you have a procrastination issue, whether it be large or small, I highly recommend giving it a read.

Title: 戦略的グズ克服術―ナウ・ハビット (Japanese)
The Now Habit: A Strategic Program for Overcoming Procrastination and Enjoying Guilt-Free Play (English)
Format: Hardback, 239 pages
Author: Neil A. Fiore, PhD
Furigana: No
Genre: Self-help
Type: non-Fiction
Color: No
Illustrations: No
Reading Level: Advanced
Get the book on Amazon: 戦略的グズ克服術―ナウ・ハビット


Hopefully that lot will keep your reading satisfied for a while!

I’m off to go get some 鰻 for dinner・・・ Ahhh eel is just great, I’m really going to miss it(泣く)

As always, thanks for reading!


By Matthew Hawkins

北海道札幌市 – 2017/09/14


Here are some of my favorite tools and sites for learning Japanese

Thank you for reading this blog post, which I hope you found useful for learning Japanese. Here are some of the most useful websites that I’ve found for finding Japanese content to use for immersion as well as some really useful learning tools to help you through your Japanese studies. Some of these are affiliate links which just means that if you decide to use these sites by clicking the following links, then I will earn a commission. But honestly speaking, these are the sites that I use and recommend language learners, even my friends, to use anyway.

Anki Tools: To get started, I really like Migaku for Anki. By itself, Anki is already a super useful tool for language learners but Migaku allows for integration with websites like YouTube and Netflix, allowing it’s users to create flashcards from the shows and videos that they are watching, as they are watching them. If you use my link you can get an extra month for free.

Speaking Practice: For this I absolutely love iTalki. There are thousands of Japanese teachers on the platform that are available at all times of the day to have conversations with you, in Japanese. Some teachers take a more traditional approach while others are just there to chat, these are the ones I would recommend if you are looking to improve your conversational Japanese. Lessons start from just $5 and there’s no long term commitment, I highly recommend them.

Immersion: I’ve used a lot of different earphones / headphones over the years but by far the one that has come out on top is the NENRENT S570. This is a singular in-ear earphone that matches your skin tone to keep it discrete, meaning you can listen to the language you are learning while at work, or school. For a full list of tools and gadgets I recommend for maximizing your immersion time, check out this blog post.

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