よつばと!Vol 1 Discussion Thread (Beginner's Book Club)

Just want to say it’s not only physical appearance, but also stylish/cool and unstylish/uncool.


Tyvm, now we have digged into the deepest depths of the かっこいい :smiley:

You’d be surprised.

I can’t tell you the amount of times someone (especially Kazzeon) has replied to me with just a :eyes:, and it’s enough to make me think again and correct my mistake. It’s the best way to learn!






Now I know :slight_smile:


Hi all, not sure if this has been asked before. What’s the recommended amount of knowledge for starting よつばと? What I’ve got so far:

  • Currently level 16 on WK.
  • Finished Bunpro N5 grammar points (though my understanding for some of them is still a bit shaky). Barely started the N4 grammar on Bunpro.
  • Finished up to Lesson 6 of Genki I (haven’t got the time to continue further).
  • Read some free e-books on tadoku for Level 0 and 1.

I tried reading the first few pages of よつばと and found it challenging; I had to constantly rely on the vocab sheet from this Book Club. It kinda takes away the reading enjoyment. Am I too early to tackle よつばと? Should I switch to an easier book instead?


I would say that if you already started the N4, it’d be a good time, but if you’re struggling and it takes away the fun, I would come back with more vocab.

While it does get easier as you go, there’s always new vocab to learn because of all the situations they find themselves in. That’s just how it is until you know most common words.

If you have just read some level 0 and 1 books, this is certainly not the next step. There are other easier manga to start with. As this covers from Yotsuba talking with other kids, to adults talking with each other, and even Yotsuba learning new concepts like global warming (地球温暖化) and stuff, though that’s certainly the most extreme example. :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:

What are some words you didn’t know from the first pages? To better understand your level.

It eventually boils down to reading practice, as it’s a different skill than listening, and even understanding grammar sometimes, especially when it comes to casual conversations.


No matter what you start with, it’s going to be difficult. It gets easier over time as you get used to seeing the same common grammar and vocabulary over and over. Unfortunately, it takes reading to get good at reading.

Yotsuba gets recommended often for beginners, but there are a lot of things that make it not the best choice. It’s not bad to start off with, but you have to expect to be learning a lot more, which this thread helps out a lot with.

If you want to want to hold off on reading a little until you get a bit more grammar and vocabulary in, I recommend checking out the next two books coming up in the Absolute Beginner Book Club, Ruri Dragon starting sometime in February, and then Ookami-chan probably about three months later.

If you want to go forward with Yotsuba (not a bad decision if you’re up for it), I have a list of volume one’s vocabulary sorted by frequency, useful to target learning certain words.


It’s like in many occasions, I didn’t immediately get the meaning of a whole sentence just by reading it on my own. The meaning only sinked in after reading the vocab sheet, then slowly reading the sentence again. For example:

  • まあ腹減ったら帰ってくるだろ (I didn’t know 腹減ったら)
  • お前さ近所にあいさつで配る粗品とか用意してるか (I didn’t know 粗品とか)
  • ちなみに燃えるゴミは月木 (I didn’t know ちなみに and 燃える)
  • etc.

Yeah probably the adult conversation is what’s giving me the most trouble.

I’ve been seeing people said that reading something for the first time is always difficult. On the other hand, Tadoku says “when the going gets tough, quit the book and pick up another”. So I’m not sure if I should persevere with よつばと despite having to constantly flipping through the vocab sheet, or switch to an easier book. I found reading Level 0 and 1 books on Tadoku less daunting than よつばと but at the same time, I’m eager to start reading manga.


This is normal.

If you don’t know the grammar, that’s the top thing to focus on learning.

If you don’t know the vocabulary, and it’s common vocabulary, that comes next.

If you know the grammar and vocabulary, it means you need to do more reading to build up pattern recognition.

Reading falls onto a spectrum between “intensive reading” where you’re looking up most everything you don’t know (usually harder material for the purpose of learning more grammar and vocabulary) and “extensive reading” where you’re not looking up much (usually easier material for the purpose of improving one’s reading speed and for enjoying the material).

When you’re first starting out reading, it’s difficult to find material that you can both read easily and also be interested in. This is why you’ll see some people (myself included) go on about how the first manga you read in Japanese really will be intensive reading. Even then, it can’t really be called reading, as you’re actually deciphering your way through each panel or paragraph. (For me, it was more than a few manga volumes before I felt I started to be able to “read” an occasional sentence.)

The first manga I read in Japanese looks like this:


I knew 10s of kanji, and spent several months getting through 100 pages of material. (This was pre-WaniKani for me.)

The reason I was able to get through (after failing at trying to read manga in Japanese a few times in the past) was that I wanted to read this specific manga, and I decided I was going to learn every bit of grammar along the way.

Being at WaniKani level 16, do you feel you’ve yet moved past “I want to read manga in Japanese” to “I have decided to read manga in Japanese”?


This seems pretty fair, honestly.

That’s usually how it goes, and how it should go if you’re trying to practice and learn new words and not just read something easily, imo.

One-two words per sentence seems like a good level. If you didn’t know 50%, then it’d be a problem, but some people persevere even through that, so it depends.

I don’t necessarily agree with tadoku, but there are two ways of reading, intensive and extensive.

Intensive is trying to understand everything, and extensive is reading a lot and skipping what you don’t know, afaik.

If you feel it’s still too early to push yourself, then take a break to study more, but know that you’re going to have to do it eventually.

I didn’t start reading until I was almost N4, I think, and I didn’t have too much trouble with Yotsuba (my first book), but I still had to look up a few words a page.

You can probably still find things I had to ask because I didn’t understand them, only for them to be relatively simple.


Speaking of which.

1 Like

@Kazzeon @ChristopherFritz Thanks for the input, really appreciate it :blush: I guess what I’ve been doing with Tadoku is mainly extensive reading where I only had to look up a few words per book. Meanwhile, with Yotsuba, I felt exhausted having to look up a number of words per page (not to mention that I only viewed the free online version from the publisher; most of the kanji and furigana are very hard to read there).

Yes this is exactly how I felt when starting reading Yotsuba. I thought I was doing badly since my eyes couldn’t just glide over the pages comfortably like when I was reading level 0 and 1 books on Tadoku. :disappointed_relieved:


Welcome to the rest of your life. :grin:


You’re good to go. Just use the thread here to help you out. It’ll be painful, of course, but if you like reading Yotsuba, keep going, and if you don’t stop and find something else. Simple.


My first manga, I easily would spend two hours getting through four panels. This includes often looking up kanji by hand, and reading up on the same grammar I already learned and forget a few days earlier.

There’s a lot of very basic, extremely common grammar I kept re-learned back then that I thought “I’ll never grasp this”, and today I comprehend it in a split second while reading. It constantly doesn’t feel like you can get there until you’ve built up enough learning and repeated exposure to the material (pattern recognition) that suddenly you realize you’re then. (Then you start a new manga series with its own writing style, and you feel like you’re back to square one.)


The pain is real. I’ll get to the point where I think “hey, I’m pretty decent at reading novels!” but then I switch to a different author and it’s like



After 3 weeks I finally finished Vol 1 of this manga.
I feel like I could’ve been done with this much sooner, but I am just so very easily distracted :upside_down_face:

I remember trying to read this ~4 months ago and feeling completely overwhelmed and giving up as a result.
Having to look up literally everything was quite tiresome and my method of looking stuff up back then wasn’t terribly efficient either.
(Thank god for stuff like Mokuro!)

But now, after having studied a lot more since then, I was able to read this stuff at a fairly comfortable pace.
For those curious, here’s what I got under my belt when I started seriously trying to read this manga:

  • Level 24 on WaniKani
  • Completed 3/4 of N4 on Bunpro (A total of 268 grammar points (N5+N4))
  • Learned ~3’000 unique vocab words across WK and Anki (Core 2k)
  • Moderate amount of reading using NHK/Satori (~20 minutes a day)
    This has for sure improved my reading speed prior to reading yotsubato.

I enjoyed it a lot this time. I first tried reading this volume by myself circa 2018 and struggled way too much and gave up.
Today, on a rainy day I finished the volume having actually laughed a couple of times and enjoyed the chapters quite a lot.
Thanks to everyone that asked questions and for the extremely detailed vocabulary list! See you on volume 2.