When I visited Tokyo, my boyfriend and I took a lovely pre-pizza evening walk and stumbled across BookOff, which was a welcome surprise. (Yes – before you judge me as crazy, a pre-pizza evening walk is a fantastic way to savor the excitement of having a pizza!)
Recently he has been getting back into retro game collecting, so it was good fun to search through the treasures that BookOff holds. If you’re unfamiliar with BookOff, it’s a Japanese chain of recycle shops where people can trade in books, DVDs, video games and more. The condition of the items they trade in are usually close to immaculate, and unbelievably reasonable in price.
I bought this incredibly sexy looking Pokemon White DSi for a mere 3900~and it looks like it has been barely used. (Sorry you can barely see the design! It is sooo classy and a light design it doesn’t photograph well!)
You can sort of see the outline on here… better seen in person I guess!
I grabbed a copy of どうぶつの森 (Animal Crossing) on the DS pretty cheap and figured that this would be a good game to learn some Japanese from, since it’s a fairly simple game based around daily conversations, buying and selling things.. but it wasn’t a great idea!
Yes – it’s a simple game. But the characters all speak using individual dialects, slang based on animal noises, and there are some fairly complicated conversations that go on. So.. with my already limited grasp of basic Japanese, a fictional spin on the language made it even harder. Boo. I’ll save that for later.
The next day I picked up a copy of トモダチコレクション – the Japanese only prequel to Tomodachi Life, which came out in the west a couple of years ago. I figured for only 108, it couldn’t hurt. And surprisingly this game is a fantastic resource for an elementary-low level Japanese learner!
There’s a lot of kanji in the game but it all involves useful daily life vocabulary which you are likely to encounter whilst living in Japan. The dialogues are also very standard and every day, and I haven’t come across any unusual colloquialisms or phrases that have boggled the brain. The pace of the game is fairly slow too, and the dialogues are repetitive. I can imagine this game is fairly boring for native speakers (hence being so cheap) but as a learner, it’s proven to be an achievable challenge and one that I am enjoying.
Example: The city hall in the game has the kanji “市役所” (しやくしょ）, which is something you really do want to be able to recognize while living here to get important documents, handle visa issues..
I’ve used a number of spaced repetition applications over the year to help me memorise kanji – these have all been thoroughly helpful, but it is nice to finally have found something practical that I can use to apply the knowledge I have gained in a seemingly paced way!
If you’re coming out to live in Japan as part of the JET programme or otherwise, and are going to tackle Japanese at an N5-N4 level, I recommend トモダチコレクション. If you can muddle through the challenge, there’s a lot to be gained out of this!