Book cover

TL;DR: I can recommend this book to intermediate learners as a solid introduction to japanese pronunciation, and a great guide on how to practice it by yourself using shadowing and the Praat software.

ひとりでも学べる日本語の発音 (Hitori de mo manaberu nihongo no hatsuon) is an introduction to japanese pronunciation written for beginner and intermediate learners. The book is written in japanese, but the language used is fairly simple. Furigana are written for all kanji, so it is easy to read for an intermediate learners. You can buy the book on Amazon JP in hard cover or Kindle edition.

The book does a great job at introducing the specifics of japanese pronunciation, such as pitch-accent. It starts with 2 general rules:

  1. each sentence part is pronounced with a pitch roughly corresponding to a 「へ」shape (slight raise on the second mora then slow decrease)
  2. pausing between sentence parts, with a longer pause between sentence

From this basic framework it goes more into details, explaining the different pitch-accent patterns or how to properly pronounce each vowel and consonant. It is not an exhaustive resource though, for example for verbs only the most common conjugations are included (~ます、~ない、~た、~て), and the reader is directed to the OJAD website for further details.

This book is valuable as a guide on how to practice your pronunciation. For example, using the audio content that comes with the book, it advises you to perform the following shadowing exercise:

  1. First read the transcript while listening
  2. Shadow the speech, without reading
  3. Repeat it, without reading

Then, it explains how you can use the Praat software to compare your recording with the native’s speech. Praat shows how the intensity (volume of the voice) and pitch change over time. This make it easy to check your pronunciation, in particular for pitch-accent which can be difficult to hear if your native language does not have such accent.

This kind of practical advices is typically what is missing from Dougen’s Japanese Phonetics course.