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Best-selling authors attract a crowd at the Japan Foundation London
Hebizo-sensei signing autographs
Hebizo-sensei signing autographs

Over 100 guests visited the Japan Foundation on 30th September to hear a talk in Japanese with the authors of the best-selling manga essay series, ‘Nihonjin no Shiranai Nihongo’ (‘Japanese that Japanese People Don’t Know’).

Japanese teacher and writer, Nagiko Umino, was inspired to write the book by her experiences of teaching Japanese as a foreign language, and the difficult questions her students asked her. She was encouraged by and collaborated with illustrator and manga artist, Hebizo, and since last year, their two books have sold over 1.4 million copies and even been turned into a TV drama.

Umino and Hebizo spoke about their collaboration, their desire to write a visually appealing and fun manga book rather than a dry textbook, and the responses they have had to their books. The authors also revealed some of their favourite anecdotes from the classroom, such as the student who, asked to describe the word ‘tenshi’ (‘angel’), said “a person with ‘teba’ (chicken wings) on their back”.

To conclude the talk, Hebizo demonstrated how to draw manga and inspired the audience by revealing that she had only decided to become a professional manga artist in her mid-30s.

“The authors were fantastic speakers!” said one learner of Japanese who attended the event. “Both of them had great presence and were able to relate very interesting stories verbally. I really enjoyed the opportunity to listen to natural Japanese in a lecture style.”