Finding the time to study Japanese can be difficult, and it can be even harder to stay motivated enough to keep going. Thankfully there’s a new book series that could solve the issue. Say hello to Unko Sensei!
Unko, or poop in Japanese, is a favorite word for a lot of little kids. With a target audience of Japanese elementary school kids, these dooky-inspired kanji character drill books are well-poised to be a hit with the young’uns. The series includes six books altogether and it covers all the kanji learned from elementary grades one through six. What sets these study books apart is that each example sentence contains a reference to poo. Considering there are three sample sentences for each kanji character studied and 1,006 kanji characters to be learned through elementary school, that means there are 3,018 sentences involving Number Two.
While it may seem like a bad idea to encourage toilet humor in an age group that’s already obsessed with it, the appeal of these books is that they aim to make studying fun and encourage kids to study independently. With example sentences like the ones below, it’s easy to see why that would work:
Take 六, the kanji character for “six” from the grade one drill book. Here are the example sentences, from left to right:
- I won’t poop until June.
- Let’s combine these six poops into one.
- I had a poop with the same shape as one I had six days earlier.
This page from the grade five book shows how the kanji characters become more complex, but the humor level stays low:
(Bonus points for translations of the example sentences in the comments!)
Each book comes with a plastic erasable board for writing practice and a small ID card, showing all the kanji characters learned from that book.
While the books are aimed at kids, there’s nothing to stop non-natives with a penchant for toilet humor from using these drills to improve their Japanese – but it may be a good idea to avoid bringing up the topic during dinner.