Even as a guy who’s spent all of his adult life, and before that a good chunk of his juvenile one, studying Japanese, I’ve never been completely sold on the concept that the process of learning a foreign language has to be made “fun” at each and every stage. While you can break high-level linguistic concepts into intermediate ones, when you get down to a language’s most fundamental components, they’re really just a collection of arbitrary sounds that a group of people implicitly decided to use in the same way in order to give them meaning.

As such, there’s always going to be a certain amount of rote memorization involved with becoming actually proficient with a foreign language. But once those core concepts are introduced, they’re definitely going to stick in your memory better if they’re presented and demonstrated in a colorful way, which might be the logic behind this textbook for learners of Japanese that contains dramatic tales of romance, disease, and devotion.

The textbook was spotted for sale in Hong Kong by Japanese Twitter user Tanadei, who was so impressed by its unexpectedly emotional scenarios that he snapped a couple of pictures of its pages to share with his followers.


Let’s take a look at a sample of its unique lessons.

1. “I want you to ~” and “not ~, but ~”

To say “I want you to ~” in Japanese, you take a verb, change it to its –te form (so called because it usually ends in the syllable –te), and then add hoshii. For example, tsukiau (to date/go out with) would become tsukiatte hoshii.

The construction of “not ~, but ~” is even simpler, as it’s just “~ ja nakute ~,” so tomodachi kara janakute koibito kara would be “not starting as friends, but as lovers.”

And the book’s sample dialogue to demonstrate this?

Yasuhiro: Momoko, we can start as friends, but I want you to go out with me.
Momoko: No!
Yaushiro: What?
Momoko: Not starting as friends, but as lovers! Stay with me forever.

2. “too ~”

It looks like Momoko was able to convince Yasuhiro, because in the next scene, she’s calling him by the pet name Yak-kun. Meanwhile, the text is ready to teach us the pattern to say “too ~”, which is just to drop the terminal –i from the adjective and replace it with sugi. Hayai (“fast”) would become hayasugi.

Let’s check in on our young lovers:

Momoko: Hey, Yak-kun, wait up. You walk too fast.
Yasuhiro: Ah, sorry, sorry.
Momoko: I can’t walk anymore because I’m tired…give me a piggyback ride.
Yasuhiro: What? Here? All right, if you say so.

3. “I want to ~” and commands

Momoko and Yasuhiro aren’t the only couple whose lives we peek into, though. Next, we’re introduced to Hanako and her beloved Taro.

To say “I want to ~”, you change the verb to its –i form (so called because it ends in an –i) and add tai. Issho ni naru (to be together) would become issho ni naritai, for instance.

Meanwhile, for commands, you just use the –te form of the verb, which we talked about in Lesson 1. So shikkari suru (to be strong/pull yourself together) changes to shikkari shite.

Hanako and Taro demonstrate both. Oh, and by the way, Hanako has come down with influenza.

Hanako: (cough) (cough)
Taro: Hanako, are you OK?
Hanako: Taro…if I could live my life again, I’d still want to be together with you.
Taro: I think you’re overreacting. Pull yourself together, Hanako!

4. “like I’d ever ~”

Finally, we learn how to defiantly say, “like I’d ever ~!”, for those times when you want to shoot someone’s request down in no uncertain terms.

All you have to do is follow the verb with mono ka, so it’s pretty easy to transform yareru (to be able to give something) to yareru mono ka. Shaking your fist and angrily kicking over a Japanese folding table will really help drive the point home, but all you actually need is the tacked-on mono ka.

Getting back to Taro and Hanako, the good news is that Hanako pulled through and seems to have made a complete recovery. The bad news is that her dad doesn’t approve of her relationship with Taro.

Taro: Please, let me marry your daughter.
Father: What did you just say? Like I could ever give my daughter to a punk like you. Get the hell out of here!
Taro: But I promise I’ll make Hanako happy…Ow! There’s…there’s no need to get violent…What? It was all a dream…

Plenty of grammar examples, drama, and even twist endings? This textbook might just have it all.

Source: Hamster Sokuho, Twitter/Tanadei