Saturday, July 2, 2011

キノの旅 Kino no Tabi by 時雨沢恵一 Keiichi Sigsawa

Title: キノの旅 ―The beautiful world
Author: Keiichi Sigsawa
Illustrator: Kouhaku Kuroboshi
Publication Year: 2000
Publisher: メディアワークス
Pages: 238

I actually read this book a while ago, and am currently on the second volume, but the first volume left such an impact on me that I  flipped through it again recently and thought it would be good to do a review.

First a little background information: I picked up this book because I loved the anime adaptation, and wanted it to go on, but I don't think it matters whether one has seen the anime or not, as the book stands on its own. Indeed, the anime may be very loyal to the novels, but I consider the novels the superior work (and I adored the anime, so I'm not saying this lightly!).

Summary: A traveler called Kino, and a talking motorcycle travel from country to country, experiencing   both the beautiful and not so beautiful sides of human nature.

Plot & Characters: There are really very few main characters in this book, mostly because it involves traveling, which demonstrates the state of everlasting newness a traveler might feel well. The basic plot is not unlike the one of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's The Little Prince, as it is more concerned with showing sides of human nature than describing any real place. This lends it a dark, story-like quality which is easy to lose oneself in. In fact, once I began a chapter, I found the book was hard to put down, and the endings always left me thinking. It wouldn't be exaggerating to say that it changed my world view more than once.

Prose & Readability: I am pretty sure that this is the first time I fell in love with an author's literary style.
The prose is clear, yet descriptive, and the frequent use of older kanji (with furigana) gives it a rustic feeling. Like with most light novels, all non-jouyou kanji have furigana. It isn't the easiest book I have read, but it isn't the hardest either. It is however, the most interesting.

Who would I recommend this to: Everyone! But particularly those who like dark stories which leave them thinking.

First Paragraph (chapter 1):
道の真ん中を、一台のモトラド (注・二輪車。空を飛ばないものだけを指す)が走っていた。後部にあるキャリアには、薄汚(うすよご)れた鞄(かばん)がくくりつけられている。

The first paragraph provided for readers to help judge for themselves whether a book is a good fit for their current level, and is presented with all furigana shown in the actual book.


  1. Hey!!
    Finally my little parcel arrived with Kino no tabi vol.3. I suppose it is relatively the same from which volume you start reading and obviously that one was the only one available. Anyway.

    The prologue seems to be quite easy in prose (grammar/vocab) and I could "skip" again in order to understand 'what's up', but the first chapter has a massive amount of - yet - unknown compounds (not kanji. compounds in form of vocabulary I have never seen.) used in order to describe - it seems - the landscape, the nature and the environment.

    I also can confirm that Sigsawa's style of writing is a really pleasant one to read.. Perhaps like Otsuichi's? I have stopped reading the dumb manga.. perhaps I will come to read the light novel in time instead. (Now, since I've been a week in Berlin, I still have to do hellishly lot of reviews in Anki, orz)

    I just wonder if core6k will be "enough" to understand these books @bokusenou?

    I wonder if there is a list with all these "combinations" like それでも それに それはそれは それでは and so on.. they confuse me and I'd like to have them srsed in anki.

    Regards, T.

  2. Yeah, I haven't read volume 3 yet, but if it's like 1 & 2, it should be pretty similar.
    The prologues are usually easier than the chapters.

    I think that Otsuichi is better at showing character's feelings , which is why he usually writes in first person, while Sigsawa is better at making atmospheric passages, which is why he usually writes in the third person, but that's just the feeling I got while reading both. (Anki reviews 頑張っってね!) 

    I think core6k and reading novels each use a different sort of general vocabulary. core2k/6k is really good for understanding the news, but not as useful for reading novels. Yes, it helped a bit, but I think going through the Anki JLPT N2 vocabulary list helped me more. That, and looking up certain words that showed up frequently until I no longer forgot them. In that way, starting a novel is sort of similar to starting a new premade SRS deck. At first it's kind of hard, but after a while you've seen the words so often it is easier. Of course, SRSing words that show up a lot can work too, and I sentence mine novels a lot. Having finished a lot of manga before I started novels made the dialogue parts very easy, all the description is just what hit me hardest at first, but after a while you notice that there are a lot of words novelists love to use for some reason, like 表情. It was really easy to not forget that word because it showed up so much.

    As for a list of "combinations", the closest thing I can think of is a book called "Japanese Core Words and Phrases", which may or may not be found by searching 4shared.com. XD

  3. Hey, Bokusenou!
    It seems like Kino and Hermes get invited by some cool folks smoking (weed?) lol Anyway.

    I like Otsuichi and Sigsawa really much to be honest. But perhaps the latter more since I'm someone paying attention to atmosphere and so on more than on character's feelings.

    Just 1800 cards in CORE to go, so I'm quite close at the end. I wonder, if there is a chance I could get your anki cards tagged with this "JLPT2 list". (Which list from where did you take? I thought with core6k all JLPT2 vocabularies are covered? What did you do with the uncovered kanji? -> see the plugin. It says a few will be left, even if you complete it.)

    I would reread passaged once, twice or even three times in order to understand what was said without a dictionary. Some great improvement I recognise that I would not look up words like 客人 - my feeling just tells me it has something to do with a "guest"!

    I in a way have to get used slowly to these partially long descriptions that troubled you, too, as you wrote above. Seems like they are just enumarations, long ones.

    For my listening comprehension: I don't understand a word yet. I like reading books, that motivates me, but when I listen to fuji-news I'd not understand anything :((

    Thanks for that book!!! That was the thing I was looking for. I will quickly dump it into my grammar deck~ Jaaaaaaaaaaa--

  4. Hm, the "Japanese Phrases" book is quite useful, but I was rather looking for some list/spreadsheet containing these それでも それに それで それから それはそれは このころ このごろ このところ and so on~

  5. Ah, sorry if that book wasn't quite what you were looking for, it was just the closest thing I knew of, and it does contain a lot of stuff like このころ and such. Sorry I couldn't be of more help. m(__)m

    Yeah, I like them both a lot too. At first, descriptive passages where hard to handle, but after a while I began to relax and enjoy them after I got used to reading them.^-^

    Core covers a lot, but not all of the JLPT N2 words (See here: http://forum.koohii.com/viewtopic.php?pid=68590#p68590).
    I took the Playsay N2 list and deleted all the words I knew from Core or somewhere else (plus the about 13 words I didn't know from the lower levels, then merging those decks with the N2 one) and left all the words I didn't know or didn't know well. Then I replaced all the words with sentences containing those words from the Kenkyuusha "大" J-E dictionary. And last I replaced or supplemented the EDICT like English definition with Kenkyuusha's, or Meikyou/Daijisen's if it was simple. I often didn't change the the cards of the words I sort of knew much, if I kept forgetting how to write it, I replaced the kanji with hiragana on the question side.
    The GoogleTTS plugin wasn't around back then, or I would have added audio like I'm doing with my N1 vocab and grammar decks. Oh, and sure you can see my modified N2 deck (http://www.mediafire.com/?9hl9oxzs8l9qcz5), it's not the best, and I hadn't gotten into the habit of tagging things yet, but it, Core and sentence mining were the main reasons I did well on the JLPT vocabulary section.

    Yeah, I love repeating words like that. I lot of times I can tell what words mean from context, or from the kanji, so a dictionary is just good to make sure I guessed the meaning/reading correctly.

    Really? Core helped a lot with my listening comprehension. A lot of what's said on the news is like the sentences in core. Maybe you just need more exposure after you finish Core.

  6. Well, the phrase book will get mined, since it contains worthwhile information(s get a plural of that word, you are in such a need, Englishmen!!), right?

    Thanks for the deck. Are the N5-N3 all covered in core6k? And if not, are they all included in the deck you uploaded below? I wonder what you did with the yet uncovered Joyo-kanjis from core, especially their kun and on-yomi (like a few words appear in sentences, but don't get on their own card, f.e. 鉱水 = ミネラルウォーター). Ah, just opened it and had a look through it. There are Genki tags and so on, but which tagged cards do I need only if I went through core6k completely (I'm thinking about doing the core10k, but that one seems rather a) incomplete b) there are few mistakes/errors in it, I heard. Tanuki-Ultima is not my favourite choice, since it is monolingual and I'm not a monolingual learner..)

    Concerning the listening comprehension: I switched off the sound in my core6k deck. That means, if I had to listen to the audio of one card, I perhaps know the expressions' meaning and reading, it is pretty possible I'd understand pretty nothing what was said/asked.

  7. OK, cool. Glad I could help a little.^-^

    I uploaded my N2 deck since you asked to see it, but I wouldn't recommend other people using it for studying, as I deleted a lot of words I knew (not only from Core, but from other sources as well) , and didn't make the cards I sort of knew as detailed, so it's too personalized to be of use for anyone else.

    As for Core JLPT coverage, if you check the koohii link I sent before, it said that over 90% of the old 3kyuu and 4kyuu were covered. So it's pretty good with that. As for the uncovered Joyou kanji from Core, I didn't worry too much about them, and I think most of them ended up getting sentence mined from other sources like books. In other words, I was too lazy to care. XD

    As for doing core10k or Tanuki-Ultima, I haven't really tried either, but as long as you can keep motivated I don't think either one is a bad idea...

    Ah, OK. Maybe you just need to watch media where people speak slowly or something...