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[Lingo] [JP] Listening Practice

My technical level of Japanese is pretty sloppy, but I was able to get
used to the rhythm and feel of the language through a lot of listening
practice.  I bought a Y30,000 yen "Professional" Sony recording
Walkman in 1985 that I used to make tapes of children's books that I
listened to (nearly) endlessly while studying the books.  Typically I
would understand very little during the first severel times I listened
before having struggled through the book with a dictionary (getting
help from Japanese friends for parts I couldn't find in the dictionary
on my own), but then the meaning would come through loud and clear
after listening to the tape several times after having read the
relevant page in the book.

I made copies of the master tapes that I then listened to with
auto-reverse walkmans (walkmen?).  I had an auto-reverse machine for
my bag that I listened to all the time while outside - walking down
the street, riding the trains, etc., and I had one for when I was
sleeping.  Typically, the sleeping model would burn out every four or
five months from excessive use, and I went through a small mountain of
machines over the few years I was most intensively studying this way.
(I also had weird dreams where the Japanese would get itself into the
dream in strange ways!)

It's much easier now with MP3 players.  Recently I've gotten ahold of
some Japanese audio books that I like.  One by that famous actor
Taka... something Ken, that is quite entertaining and interesting to
listen to, and Botchan, which is great - particularly after reading
two separate English translations of the book (the one by the Japanese
translator is vastly superior to the one by the western translator -
who overtranslated it, doing stupid things like calling soba noodles
"buckwheat noodles") and half of the Japanese original.  Same as back
in 1985, I understand the part I read very well, but am missing things
in the last half, which I've yet to read (the Japanese original that

In the "Why am I doing this?" category, I've obtained recordings of
"The Tale of Genji" and "Heike Monogatari" (What's the English title
for this?  The Tale of Heike?  The Heike Tale(s)?).  These are useless
for modern Japanese, but since everyone here studies them, and even
has to memorize part of "Heike Monogatari", they are interesting to
listen to in a way (with very low compression!).

Just some random stuff I guess.  But I do have a specific question.
Does anyone have any information on available Japanese audiobooks?
The concept seems to be not nearly as popular here as in the US.  I
guess people prefer to actually read books (gasp!) than listen to
them.  Actually, I prefer reading books too, but I *can't* read things
like "Heike Monogatari" and in the sardine trains of the morning rush,
I can't even hold a book in front of my face, so audiobooks are the
only way to go!


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