Today I would like to introduce the manga Cooking Papa (クッキングパパ), created by Tochi Ueyama.
This is the first of hopefully many Japanese learner-friendly manga I’m planning to introduce on the blog. To me, beginner-friendly manga is either simple to read or offers an interesting insight into Japanese culture. Luckily, Cooking Papa is easy to follow and happens to be a very well known series in Japan.
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Name: Cooking Papa (クッキングパパ)
Author: Tochi Ueyama (うえやまとち)
No. of volumes: 155
Recommended for: JLPT N3
Anime/ drama/ film adaptations?: Yes, anime and drama adaptations
About Cooking Papa
The main character is Kazumi Araiwa, a senior member of staff at a food business. At work he manages to strike a balance between getting work done and caring about the well-being of his colleagues. However, what really catches his boss Higashiyama’s eye is his delicious homemade lunches, or bento (弁当)!
It turns out Kazumi’s wife is busy working as a journalist and is a terrible cook, so Kazumi is responsible for making his own bento. The manga spends a lot of time focusing on how Kazumi makes a series of amazing meals and lunches to treat his coworkers and family.
Why do I recommend Cooking Papa?
While there are well over 100 volumes (the manga started in 1985!), each volume is episodic so you do not need to start from volume one. This also makes it a good choice for shorter reading sessions and extra learner-friendly. Cooking Papa is a great manga if you want to learn more about cooking in Japanese. You’ll quickly familiarise yourself with relevant vocabulary such as:
煮る (にる/ niru) to boil, simmer
揚げる (あげる/ ageru) to deep fry
In addition, each volume contains a number of real-life recipes with hints and tips on how to bring out the best flavors. For example, the recipe for おにぎらず (Onigirazu, a kind of rice sandwich), has recently become a lunchtime favorite and there are plenty of videos on how to make it for yourself. This dish was first popularised in Japan after being published in Cooking Papa.
More importantly, I think most people would enjoy the story. Cooking Papa has Kazumi (and his wife) somewhat breaking traditional gender stereotypes, whilst keeping a fun and lighthearted tone.
Recommended Japanese language level
I would recommend Cooking Papa to a Japanese learner who is JLPT N3 or intermediate level. Since there is a fair bit of dialogue, it helps to be familiar with casual forms of Japanese before reading. Even though the manga is food-focused, this manga is very balanced in the kind of words you’ll learn from reading. As the manga takes place at both Kazumi’s home and workplace, you get to see the contrast between office Japanese and regular Japanese. On the other hand, this manga does not have furigana, which increases the difficulty a bit.
Fortunately, you can read a sample of this manga on the EbookJapan website by clicking on the ‘無料立ち読み’ button.
By the way, my other food-related manga recommendations include:
- Yumeiro Patissiere (JLPT N4/ lower-intermediate)
- Sweets Penguin (JLPT N4/ lower-intermediate)
- Shibata Bakery (JLPT N3/ intermediate)
See my full list of easy manga recommendations here!
If you do try reading any of the recommendations or have suggestions, please let me know in the comments. Happy Reading!
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