Achievement unlocked: Completed a Japanese book! 📖 🥳

Good evening, good evening :new_moon_with_face:

After many failed attempts, I am happy to announce that I have officially read my first book in Japanese from beginning to end! :jp: :open_book::partying_face: Perhaps it is encouraging for some of you, so I thought I´d write a post about it.

Straight to business: the book is titled 「知識ゼロからはじめる起業の本」(badly translated: A book about starting a business from zero knowledge).

I began slowly in the beginning of June with a goal of finishing it within 24th of August. After reading about 60%, I had a 1 month break from end of June to end of July due to being a busy salaryman. Luckily, I forced myself back on track :face_with_monocle:

While reading, I looked up all the words I did not know, then I wrote down the reading and meaning on the page itself. To make sure I did not write the same word twice, the words were registered in a spreadsheet where I noted if the word/kanji is being taught in WK or not. If I encountered the same word twice or more, I just wrote a page number reference to the first place I discovered it(大変だけど・・・:sweat:

Some stats about this journey:

- My JP knowledge for reference:
Kanji-wise around WK level 40-45. Never took JLPT, but think I would pass N3, possibly N2 as well if I cared to study grammar. Living & working in Japan (3 years+). Use Japanese on a daily basis.

- Book title: 知識ゼロからはじめる起業の本
- Author: 中野裕哲(NAKANO Hiroaki mr)
- Genre: Business
- Pages: 175 pages divided on 67 lessons with a good deal of explanatory diagram​s(図解)
- Unknown words: 324 (average of 1.85 new words per page)
- Unknown words NOT in WK: 266
- Unknown Kanji: about 32 (some I might have briefly seen somewhere before)
- Unknown Kanji NOT in WK: 24

Previously I tried to read several history books, but they all ended up with 15-25 new words per page. It was a pain and extremely demotivating. I found this book to be in the perfect sweet spot with 約2 new words per page.

For those interested, you can see the list of non-WK kanji and the words they were in below.
  • む(つかむ)- to understand; comprehend
  • 護(ひご)- patronage; protection
  • える(とらえる)- to catch/capture 2) to grasp (e.g. meaning); to perceive
  • 好(しこう)- taste; liking; preference
  • 玉石混(ぎょくせきこんこう)- mixture of the good & bad
  • 出(ねんしゅつ)- working out a solution
  • 本(とうほん)- certified copy; transcript
  • 躊躇(ちゅうちょ)- hesitation; indecision
  • ぐ(またぐ)- to straddle
  • (てんびん)- (balance) scales
  • 密(ちみつ)- fine; delicate; accurate; elaborate
  • く(つまずく)- to stumble; to trip 2) to fail
  • (あしかせ)- shackles
  • い(おさらい)- review; rehearsal
  • 俯瞰(ふかん)- overlooking; looking down at; bird´s eye view
  • (しんし)- sincere; earnest; serious
  • 付きう(つきまとう)- to follow around; to shadow; to tag along
  • (ふっしょく)- wiping out; sweeping away; dispelling
  • 鵜呑みにする(うのみにする)- to swallow (e.g. a story); to accept without questioning
  • 一(ちくいち)- one by one; in detail
  • じる(とじる)- to bind; to file

The end of the book, the あとがき (afterword/postcript), said some encouraging words about starting a business. I figured these words would apply to Japanese learning as well, thus I thought it would be nice sharing it with you guys (excuse my terrible translations skills…):

There is no age or gender, fast or slow in starting a business (or learning Japanese). Do or do not, that’s all there is. What is essential is 「to be interested」, 「to take action」, just those 2 things. If you want to start a business (or learn Japanese), it does not matter if you take half a step at a time, or one step at a time, go ahead and keep preparing (read: DO YOUR REVIEWS :angrykoichi: :baka: )!

On a serious note. WK is an amazing tool. Keep up the hard work and you will find yourself reading your favourite Japanese book eventually. The feeling of achievement is beyond this world!


Awsome!!! I’m waiting to be able to make such post in the future.
Thanks for putting this detailed information here as well!!!.
おめでとうございます! :tada::confetti_ball::champagne::champagne:

So far I’m having a “similar” experience with books aimed at 小学1〜3年。 1-2 words per page, dictionary by my side, and Anki routine with those words … :nerd_face:

How many words under your belt before starting with the book? Going from greaded readers to children books, vocab has been the number 1 issue for me; I’m glad I started by mixing both material, but I’m kind of afraid to know how much more vocab would it take to pick up a book aimed for adults. :disappointed_relieved:


Are you going to start a Japanese business now?


Thank you!

Thank you!
Seems like you have a good routine going on there! If you keep going like that, you will be at more advanced books soon I believe. There is of course a huge difference between adult books as well. As mentioned, any kind of history book is impossible for me still, but business seems like a well balanced topic as you won’t encounter the crazy names and words not used in every-day conversation. I feel this business book gave me a lot of useful words to function better as an adult in Japan.

Unfortunately I have no idea how many words I know. Looking at WK stats for lvl 40, perhaps 4000-5000? :thinking:
When you get to around lvl 40 I think you will have enough Kanji knowledge to start reading books aimed at adults, however as you say, the problem is the amount of vocabulary. It seems endless and every day there is at least 1 new word in my life. When will it stop?! :sweat_smile:

Lastly, you have to reinforce the new words you learn, or they will fade away. I think Anki is great, but if you don’t see it in context you will probably forget it or not understand its true meaning. Thus, keep reading! There were a lot of words from WK I saw in this book which I knew the meaning of, but not how to use. Words such as 公示 (only example I remember now :sweat_smile:)

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If everything goes to plan, yes :crossed_flags:


Congratulations! I literally just finished my third manga volume an hour ago so we can celebrate together! :tada::confetti_ball::cake:
It’s nice to remember how one year ago, I would take 20 minutes /page due to lack of vocab and grammar, but now it only takes 2 minutes maximum. Keep up the good work!


I could almost assure you that you know more words than what you might guess. :smirk:

As a reference, I do keep somewhat of a count for my current vocab, using Anki and having a notepad file with the vocab in WK that turns out a bit obscure too. Putted together that adds up currently to somewhat like 4,500 words, which fits accordingly; I’ve heard on an extensive reading presentation that kids around 6-8 years knew something like 5-7k words, hence my current strugle :sweat_smile:

I’m aiming at tackling sucessively books aimed at 小学 , 中学 and then 中学以上 . Forntunatly japanese books are easily found with a correspondant target audience mark, so I can trace a path in my next readings.

Anyway, best of lucks with both your next reading and business proyect :blush:

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So dedicated :dizzy_face:

Aww, now I want to know how many words I know (← many ´w´ in there). But I guess there is no way to figure out now. Good luck to you too! And let us know when you reach a milestone!!!

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I remember someone mentioning an online test evaluating that.
There was also an online quiz shared on the forum, but that one was not done by natives, so it was a bit weird.

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Here is a website for testing vocab and getting an estimate number

Among extensive readers circles it is told that it usually takes something like 9,000 words to read an unsimplified book, and still bump into 2 new words per page… so I’m guessing you could be moving in that range.

My next post reading milestone wise will be for reviewing all the graded readers that I’m curently about to finnish. I’m running out of those… it will be the first resource I’ve exhausted so far :blush:

That’s the weird one I was talking about. Not sure how accurate it is, though.
Does it give you the same numbers than what you would expect from your own count?

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Multiple choice test, so, overstimated in my case.


ps. sorry for hijacking the post :sweat_smile::sweat_smile::sweat_smile:

It gives me 6400, and I don’t have much trouble reading Japanese novels without a dictionary, so it does not sound right :woman_shrugging:

if that’s the case you might well be far above 10K … I consider “nose in the dictionary” time a better indicator :smile:

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Don’t know how accurate this is…

I don’t think it is…

This one looks nice, though: Œêœb—Í’²¸‚̃y[ƒW

You can choose how many questions you want to answer, with the associated error margins, AND you can choose to say that you don’t know.


I would say it’s much less accurate in the lower levels. The 10 questions put me in a 18,000 vocab (+/-4.000). Good thing though it tells you how much estimated guessing there’s (in my case, quite high)

Congrats !!

I just placed my first order for a 絵本。

And just thought I share this cool place in 渋谷 for those living in / visiting 東京:


Tried a JLPT level checker: JLPT Level Checker - Test your Japanese vocabulary, kanji and grammar
Dunno about this either… :sweat_smile:


Haha, does knowing synonyms and antonyms of a few words actually prove that you know a language though? Especially since those kanji in the quiz had like a kazillion strokes XD