An incredibly good book for expanding vocabulary and your comprehension of Japanese.
It's another great book from ASK Publishing, the same publishing company which produced the popular Japanese Graded Reader series.
The focus is on essential words like dekiru and motsu that most beginners are familiar with -- but this book teaches you ALL the various meanings and usages for each word.
For example, you might know that akarui means bright. It also means cheerful, or pleasant. And it means transparent - as in fair, free from dishonesty. On top of that, it also means to know a field, or a particular subject, well.
If that sounds like a lot to remember, don't worry: everything is explained so clearly and easily, and with such good and memorable examples, that if you read it all just one time carefully, you will remember and really understand far more than with a typical textbook.
See example pages below.
Mini-essays about topics that are related to the text material are included. The student is encouraged to try and read each essay. An English translation is provided at the each of each section. (See images below)
"There is a growing number of people who, once they have passed the elementary levels of Japanese and are able to carry on everyday conversations, have stopped studying due to various reasons such as schedule conflicts with their jobs, only to find that they have trouble improving their linguistic abilities. The mother in the comic strip of this book is precisely one such person. Unlike her two daughters who have entered a Japanese primary school and are fluent in Japanese, the mother, with a busy work schedule at a foreign-affiliated company and English as her native language, has found that her environment is not conducive to the learning of the Japanese language, despite the fact that she now lives in Japan.
Many people who successfully pass Level 3 of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test give up on their studies because they find the jump to Level 2 to be too difficult. I wrote this book with the hope that these people will be able to continue, and enjoy their study of the Japanese language as they work alone by taking it up and reading it at odd times such as on the train when traveling to and from work, and that in enjoying its contents they will have learned the many expressions and patterns contained therein. The book focuses on the particularly difficult study of vocabulary, and has been designed so that vocabulary can be mastered as interestingly, and effectively as possible
-Hitoko Sasaki (author, Practical Japanese through Comics)