Any experience with Poplardia, a Japanese kids encyclopedia?

Hi all,

I Just started but I am rushing through Wanikani so I can hopefully soon start reading things. In my free time I really like reading things on Wikipedia and to see on at what level I can read how many kanji on Wikipedia is rather motivating. I was looking if Wikipedia had something like Simple English Wikipedia - Simple English Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia but for Japanese. Alas, I could not find it. However, I did find Poplardia! It seems to be a comprehensive encyclopedia (18 volumes of ~300 pages each), of which the last edition was launched late last year.

More info can be found here: ポプラディア第三版の特長 | Hello!ポプラディア | ポプラ社
And updates to the content are published for free and thus seem to provide something of a free sample: &

Unfortunately, it’s rather pricy, although you do get 18 volumes * 300 pages, so well over 5000 pages of great learners material that also teaches you about Japan (at 5 pages a day, that would give you 3 years of reading). So I am wondering if anyone here has some experience with Poplardia or can get a bit of an impression from the samples (unfortunately my level of Japanese is currently too low for that). Could you recommend it? At what level in Wanikani / JLTP do you think the encyclopedia will be somewhat doable to read without to many vocabulary search interruptions all the time (e.g. be able to read 80-90% of kanji/vocab)?

According to the website (as translated by Google):

Comprehensive Encyclopedia Poplardia" is a comprehensive encyclopedia for elementary, junior high and high school students. The first edition was released in 2002, when the “Comprehensive Study Time” began. As an unparalleled comprehensive encyclopedia in book form that continues to be revised in the world, it is used as the first step in “investigative learning” and “inquiry learning” in schools and public libraries nationwide. The new revised edition” and the “third edition” in 2021 have been completely revised.

This seems ideal for language learners. Their website provides some companion books and digital tools as well to incorporate the encyclopedia into classroom learning. Though I think it is mostly aimed at young native speakers / teachers.


Unfortunately you’re still going to have to do a ton of lookups until you get your vocabulary up to par. While you may know more Kanji than a 9th grader by doing WK, they will have a vastly bigger vocabulary.

Kanji is only half of what you need to be able to read comfortably.

As for the JLPT, it’s fairly targeted in the situations it presents. When reading native material, especially something as comprehensive as an encyclopedia, there will be a ton of words you’re going to have to lookup.

This does seem like a pretty cool way to immerse in native material. When I was a kid we had the Compton’s series and it was fun to just look through when I had nothing to read.


Oh, btw, you can find it here:

For Wikipedia, on any page, just hit the languages button and pick Japanese.

It’s not exactly the same since it’s the Japanese version of the English pages, but I browsed few articles and it’s easier than the regular Wikipedia in Japanese so you can have a go.


Well, I do aim to keep my vocabulary up. I hope to go fast for the first 8 or so levels and then slow down a bit with wanikani (and Genki) and branch out into some light/graded reading. But I’ll see how I manage. It seems learning the vocab directly is a great way to reinforce the kanjis. Right now, as I am progressing through level 3 radicals/kanji, I am learning some new level 2 vocab every day, and I hope to keep this up that my vocab lessons lag 1 level at the most. But I’ll see how it goes :slight_smile:

Considering that the encyclopedia is also aimed at elementary school kids, I guess that the level of vocab needed is relatively low compared to a typical encyclopedia / wikipedia article. Grade 6 on wkstats is basically an elementary school graduate in the Japanese school system, right? With Grade 9 being a junior high grad.
But you are right that kids still have a large advantage on vocabulary, and the entire set seems to have Furigana so there’s not too large an advantage in knowing more kanji. They have an advantage on grammar too as native speakers.


Yeah, for sure. I think diving right in and just dealing with lookups is a good way to go. Bonus points if you have a way of getting those lookups into some kind of SRS system. I personally only did WK and some basic grammar and then just started reading.

Yeah, I think 5k-10k words isn’t a bad guess at how much vocab a 5-year-old can understand. So if you finish WK you’ll be ready start 1st grade. :wink:

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Do you know where I could find just one book? This seems interesting, and I’d like to check it out, but I don’t want to pay for 18 books, and I can’t find just a single book anywhere. Maybe I’m just not looking in the right places…


I couldn’t find an option to buy a single book (I was hoping for the same). I noticed that in Japan, Amazon has some used sets for sale of the previous edition (which is from 2011). They are significantly cheaper, though again, no single books.

Does anyone happen to know some online stores for used books in Japan, ideally one that ships internationally?.

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It seems that old versions (e.g. from 2004), can be found online in used condition for about 5000 yen / 35 dollar. Might be interesting for some people looking for reading material and that live in Japan.

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