Beginner Japanese Book Club (Currently Reading: 時をかける少女)


ブック・クラブ - 初級 (Beginner level)

Current Book: 時をかける少女

Past Books

よつばと! Volume 1 (now continuing in its own book club)
魔女の宅急便 (Kiki’s Delivery Service)
Aria the Masterpiece Volume 1 (Aqua Volumes 1 and 2) (now continuing in its own book club)
のんのんびより Volume 1
夏目友人帳 Volume 1


Welcome to our Japanese book club for beginners! In this club, we choose a Japanese book and read it together. We then discuss what we’ve read, whether that’s meaningful discussion on the content, questions about vocabulary and grammar that confuse us, or just motivating each other to keep moving.

Should I Join?

This club was created as a follow-up to the original Japanese Book Club, as a lot of beginners weren’t able to keep up with the pace there. The goal of this Beginners’ Book Club is to help you practise reading so that in the future you can take the jump to the Intermediate Book Club, where more advanced books are being discussed.

It’s important to remember that this book club is NOT for absolute beginners to Japanese. It is for people who are just beginning to read native Japanese material.

With that in mind, anyone is welcome to join in and read along - just grab a copy of the upcoming book (usually voted on 5-6 weeks before the end of the current pick) and join in the discussion when it starts! Additionally, you can always read previously selected books and get help from the past discussions; feel free to ask new questions too!

Proposed Books

Go ahead and suggest manga/books to read next; any book suggestions are welcome! However, we need to make sure that the books suggested are appropriate for relative beginners.

Guidelines for Proposing Books

Guidelines courtesy of fl0rm (with some tweaks).

  • Nominate only something you are ready to read.
    • If the thought of doing grammar or vocab lookups to help others seems daunting or you can’t read your suggestion’s sample-pages already, you might not be qualified to objectively judge its difficulty or help to motivate others when they get stuck.
    • Groups like this are meant to cooperate to learn together, but a minority always emerges to keep things moving; be prepared for that responsibility to fall upon you.
  • Try to pick something reasonably well-known.
    • There will be a greater chance that others will already have copies of the book or be interested, increasing the reader-pool.
    • The themes are likely to already be broadly understood, allowing people to more easily make inferences from context, reducing frustration.
    • More popular works are often written to appeal to a broader demographic, which may translate into simpler, more accessible writing without much esoteric vocab.
    • The likelihood of official or unofficial English translations is fairly high, providing some support for understanding passages otherwise too difficult for the group or future readers.
    • Some people will only be buying the first volume and popularity helps to give them a chance at resale or passing it along to another learner later.
  • Relatable slice-of-life and drama is safer than escapist fantasy.
    • While slice-of-life may not be what you ultimately want to be reading, its conversation-heavy nature and focus on human interaction provides a lot of natural context and transferable vocab, serving as a low barrier to entry for new readers with high returns on time invested.
    • If you know the book requires infodumps or long monologues to explain its ideas, settings, or characters, the added challenge of reading walls of descriptive text is likely to turn away many beginners.
    • There are always exceptions, of course; just don’t be surprised if a series you are passionate about gets voted out because it introduces new, world-specific terminology in every other panel/page.
  • Don’t nominate really long books.
    • Only nominate a novel if it’s 200 pages or less. Even that would take 5 months to read.
    • You could instead nominate a short story collection. This would allow the group to read book-like content without requiring many months to read since we could just pick a few stories.
  • The presence of full furigana does not imply that something will be easy to read.
    • Some magazines and publishers include furigana across all of their material, regardless of subject matter.
    • Conversely, the absence of furigana does not mean something is necessarily difficult; some publishers simply don’t ever include it (beyond names), even for very simple material.
  • Do not nominate anything clearly NSFW.
    • Without reading through every book ahead of time, we can’t be sure that everything will be appropriate for all audiences, and otaku-joke-centric or more-mature shoujo material might touch the PG-13 line, but if you’d associate the work with fanservice or gore, even if just by reputation, please don’t suggest it for this group.

Proposal Template

Copy this template into a new post when proposing a book/manga.

# Insert Title Here

## Summary
Insert summary from Amazon/Wikipedia/MyAnimeList/wherever here.

## Availability
Insert link to book on here.
Insert link to ebook here, or mention if an ebook is not available.

## Personal Opinion
Insert why you think this book would be good to read, either personally or for the book club here.

### Pros and Cons for the Book Club
#### Pros
* Insert pros here.
#### Cons
* Insert cons here.

## Pictures

[details=“First Three Pages of Chapter One”]
Insert images here.

[details=“Additional Pages”]
Insert a few more images here.

## Difficulty Poll
How much effort would you need to read this book?

[poll type=regular public=true]
* No effort at all
* Minimal effort
* Just right
* Challenging
* Impossible, even with everyone’s help
* I don’t know (please click this if you’re not voting seriously)

List of Proposed Books

Difficulty is scored by taking the average of the votes in the 5 option poll included with each proposal.

*Difficulty scores last updated on: 2018-10-10

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(Chi’s Sweet Home)
Manga Chi is a mischievous newborn kitten who, while on a leisurely stroll with her family, finds herself lost in a large urban park. Overcome with loneliness she breaks into tears… when she is suddenly rescued by a young boy named Yohei and his mother. Chi is quickly and quietly whisked away into the warm and inviting Yamada family apartment…where pets are strictly not permitted! Post Amazon JP
(16 votes)
(Shirokuma Cafe)
Manga A slice-of-life story about a bunch of anthropomorphic animals who regularly meet in a cafe run by a polar bear. The series focuses on the interactions between these regulars, but frequently follows them to their respective jobs, which includes things like taking up part-time work at the local zoo. Post Amazon
(15 votes)
(Girls’ Last Tour)
Manga The series follows two girls, Yuuri and Chito, as they navigate the ruins of civilization after an unknown apocalypse, and as they travel in their modified Kettenkrad, they seek food and supplies while surviving day-to-day. Post Amazon JP
(16 votes)
(Laid-Back Camp)
Manga Rin likes to go camping by herself along the lakes that provide a scenic view of Mt. Fuji. Nadeshiko is determined to see Mt. Fuji after just moving to the area. After they meet, Rin and Nadeshiko take camping trips, eat cup ramen together, and enjoy the scenery. Post Amazon JP
(16 votes)
(Is the Order a Rabbit?)
Manga Cocoa arrives at the cafe Rabbit House one day, excited for rabbits. She actually all but lives in that cafe. She meets lots of different girls there, including a tiny and cool girl named Chino, a tough and soldier-esque girl named Rize, a spacey and quintessentially Japanese girl named Chiyo, and the ordinary but dignified Sharo. Post Amazon
(14 votes)
(Wandering Son)
Manga The story depicts a young student named Shuichi Nitori, described by the author as a transgender girl, and Shuichi’s friend Yoshino Takatsuki, described as a transgender boy. The series deals with issues such as being transgender, gender identity, and the beginning of puberty. Post Amazon JP
(16 votes)
Manga Junior HS student Shōyō Hinata gains a sudden love of volleyball after seeing a national championship match on TV. Although short in height, he becomes determined to follow in the footsteps of the “Little Giant”. However, his dreams are destroyed in his first official match, where his team suffers a crushing defeat against the championship favourites, including so-called “King of the Court” Tobio Kageyama. Hinata vows to follow in the footsteps of the “Little Giant” and defeat Kageyama, only for the two to wind up as unlikely team mates. Post Amazon JP
(7 votes)
Naruto Manga With a richly detailed background, complex, sympathetic characters, superb action and a main character who somehow balances tragedy with comedy, this is a series that delivers in every way. So strap on your leaf headband and join the oddest ninja in town. You won’t regret it. Post Amazon JP
(12 votes)
Dragonball (The Complete Edition) Manga Dragon Ball, initially inspired by the classical Chinese novel Journey to the West, follows the adventures of the protagonist Son Goku from his childhood through adulthood. He trains in martial arts and explores the world in search of the seven Dragon Balls, which summon a wish-granting dragon when gathered. Along his journey, Goku makes several friends and battles a wide variety of villains, many of whom also seek the Dragon Balls. Post Amazon
Amazon(eBook) (might need to buy the first three volumes of the eBook to match the complete collection)
(12 votes)
(Great Detective Conan)
Manga Shinichi Kudou, a great mystery expert at only seventeen, gets into trouble after witnessing some disturbing illegal activity. Dosed with an experimental drug and left to die, he is astonished to live and wake up in the body of a seven-year-old. Hiding his identity, he takes on the alias of Conan Edogawa… Post Amazon
(12 votes)
日本昔ばなしアニメ絵本 18冊全巻セット
(Japanese Fairy Tales - Set of 18 books)
Book Set Classic Japanese Fairy Tales in a beautiful collection of 18 colorful books. Some of the most well known fairy tales from long long ago. Beautiful illustrations and stories as seen in the anime. Post Amazon JP
(16 votes)
(Scary Lessons)
Book A girl, Yomi - a creature without legs - leads us through a world of horror, which slumbers in the midst of everyday life and lies in wait to pounce on the unsuspecting. Terrible things will happen to anyone foolish enough to tangle with it! Post Amazon
(20 votes)
トラちゃん Book A book of 11 essays (short stories), average length 20 pages, about the different pets the author has kept or known. The back cover of mine has a blurb which says (my translation, could be dodgy): Humorous essays in which the behaviours and expressions of living creatures are captured vividly, woven together with family ties and tender love. Post Amazon
(18 votes)
ポレポレ日記いざ流星学園へ! Book Sometimes, I feel like I can’t understand myself. According to others, I may act really confident and then become timid right afterwards. I’m Asahina Yuzu and I have entered Ryuusei Academy Junior HS, which has the dance club I longed for together with Rin-senpai. Ooi-chan is really cool. Momo-chan’s smile is cute enough to make friends with anyone. Am I the only one who doesn’t have any confidence? But! I’ll do my best to be selected for the dance club’s “galaxy” team! Friendship, love, club activities… it all starts from here! This is the start of my junior high school life! Post Amazon JP
(15 votes)
(Kino’s Journey)
Light Novel In Kino’s Journey , the protagonist, Kino, accompanied by a talking motorcycle named Hermes, travels through a mystical world of many different countries and forests, each unique in its customs and people. They only spend three days and two nights in every town, without exception, on the principle that three days is enough time to learn almost everything important about a place, while leaving time to explore new lands. Post Amazon JP
(14 votes)

Where to Purchase Books

This section explains where to buy Japanese books in general. Please see each book’s thread for where to buy those specific books.

Purchasing Japanese Books

Before you buy, here’s a little tip on book types:
単行本【たんこうぼん】 means “stand-alone book”. They can be either hardcover or paperback, denoted by ハードカバー or ソフトカバー respectively. They’re slightly larger than their 文庫本 brothers.
文庫本【ぶんこぼん】 are small-format paperback books, cheap but usually well-bound.

Physical books:


  • Amazon JP (Kindle-compatible)
  • EBook Japan (doesn’t show tax until checkout; not Kindle-compatible)
  • Book Walker (accepts paypal)
  • Honto (mobile reader app is region-locked – on Android get an APK, on iOS use JP App Store; not Kindle-compatible)

If purchasing ebooks from Amazon JP gives you trouble, check out sirvorn’s wonderful guide on… purchasing ebooks from Amazon JP.

If you can’t find an online store that will ship to you, you can use a forwarding service like Tenso or White Rabbit Express to forward the package to you for a fee.

If you live in the right place, you may also be able to find the book at a local Japanese book store. For example, Kinokuniya.

Historic Polls

"Next Book" Polls

Other Polls

What level can I start reading books?
Genki Study Buddies - 「皆さんはGenkiを勉強しています」
Intermediate Japanese Book Club(Looking for recommendations!)
魔女の宅急便 (Kiki’s Delivery Service) Discussion Thread: Chapter 7
魔女の宅急便 (Kiki's Delivery Service) Discussion Thread: Chapter 1
魔女の宅急便 (Kiki’s Delivery Service) Discussion Thread: Chapter 10
夏目友人帳 - Natsume’s Book of Friends: Chapter 1 Discussion
Looking for some recommendations
Aria the Masterpiece: Chapter 10 Discussion
Aria the Masterpiece: Chapter 9 Discussion
Aria the Masterpiece: Chapter 8 Discussion
Aria the Masterpiece Home Thread (Beginner Book Club / Aria Book Club)
Aria the Masterpiece: Chapter 7 Discussion
Resources for Starting to Read Japanese Content
Aria the Masterpiece: Chapter 6 Discussion
Aria the Masterpiece: Chapter 5 Discussion
Aria the Masterpiece: Chapter 4 Discussion
Aria the Masterpiece: Chapter 3 Discussion
Aria the Masterpiece: Chapter 2 Discussion
Aria the Masterpiece: Chapter 1 Discussion - A Wanikani-friendly website for reading and vocabulary
魔女の宅急便 (Kiki’s Delivery Service) Discussion Thread: Chapter 11 [Final Chapter!]
Intermediate Japanese Book Club(Looking for recommendations!)
Trial Period Graduation
魔女の宅急便 (Kiki’s Delivery Service) Discussion Thread: Chapter 9
魔女の宅急便 (Kiki’s Delivery Service) Discussion Thread: Chapter 8
Feeling Unmotived
Trying to Get Fluent In Japanese?
魔女の宅急便 (Kiki’s Delivery Service) Discussion Thread: Chapter 6
魔女の宅急便 (Kiki’s Delivery Service) Discussion Thread: Chapter 4
時をかける少女: Week 1 Discussion
Aria the Masterpiece: Chapter 21 Discussion
時をかける少女: Week 2 Discussion
Aria the Masterpiece: Chapter 17 Discussion (+ Special Navigation: 社長の日常)
Aria the Masterpiece: Chapter 18 Discussion
時をかける少女 Home Thread (Beginner Book Club)
夏目友人帳 - Natsume’s Book of Friends: Chapter 2 Discussion
Aria the Masterpiece: Chapter 22 Discussion
時をかける少女: Week 4 Discussion
時をかける少女: Week 3 Discussion
My Journey of 368 days (+ The Ultimate Guide for WK :open_book: )
Aria the Masterpiece: Chapter 23 Discussion
Aria the Masterpiece: Chapter 19 Discussion
Aria the Masterpiece: Chapter 20 Discussion
夏目友人帳 - Natsume’s Book of Friends: Chapter 3 Discussion
魔女の宅急便 (Kiki’s Delivery Service) Discussion Thread: Chapter 2
魔女の宅急便 (Kiki’s Delivery Service) Discussion Thread: Chapter 3
魔女の宅急便 (Kiki’s Delivery Service) Discussion Thread: Chapter 5
夏目友人帳 - Natsume’s Book of Friends: Chapter 4 Discussion
Aria the Masterpiece: Chapter 16 Discussion
のんのんびより: おまけ (volume 1)
のんのんびより: ユメのユメ (volume 1)
のんのんびより: Chapter 9 Discussion
のんのんびより: Chapter 8 Discussion
Aria the Masterpiece: Chapter 15 Discussion
のんのんびより: Chapter 7 Discussion
のんのんびより: Chapter 6 Discussion
Aria the Masterpiece: Chapter 14 Discussion
のんのんびより: Chapter 5 Discussion
Aria the Masterpiece: Chapter 13 Discussion
のんのんびより: Chapter 4 Discussion
のんのんびより: Chapter 3 Discussion
のんのんびより: Chapter 2 Discussion
Aria the Masterpiece: Chapter 12 Discussion
のんのんびより: Chapter 1 Discussion
Aria the Masterpiece: Chapter 11 Discussion

A list of quick suggestions of books/manga for the first pool:

Please, if you have any suggestions, do say so. I made this list based on what I’ve seen considered as “easiest to read” around the Internet/Japanese learning community. I think it’s better to hear some suggestions from everyone before creating the pool that will decide the first book. I’ve heard that sports related stuff are also beginner friendly (Baby steps & Haikyuu!). Doraemon seems also to be a good option…

Also, feel free to let me know if there’s something that you don’t agree with :slight_smile:


Since I just ordered “The Girl Who Leapt Through Time,” but am also already committed to 秋の牢獄 for the next round of the other club, I guess I’ll just pop in and say hi now, and hope that “The Girl Who Leapt Through Time” doesn’t get picked right away. I may be nuts, but I’m pretty sure I can’t handle two book clubs at once.

I’m excited to see this starting, and I hope those who don’t feel ready for the original club will find a place here!


I have recently orderer yotsuba& and found it pretty entertaining and easily readable. I would be totally in for that one :slight_smile:


Since I just bough the whole series for 絶叫学級 I’m hoping it might be picked :wink:
It seems like a very good beginner book, with easy language and furigana (which is good only while on lower levels, which many of us still are)

I have been considering Yotsuba too though, as I’ve seen it on so many lists for beginners =)

Bought Yotsuba. Whether or not we pick it doesn’t mater, I have been thinking of buying it for so long anyway =) Found complete set at bargain price on eBay, free shipping!
時をかける少女 too, hey, if it is good for beginners, just as well grab it =) Got it of eBay for a fair price.
しろくまカフェ as well, I’ve seen it on more than one list of recommended mangas, founda set for a decent and low price on eBay.

4/5 (current suggestions) bought =) None in possession, though one bought before list :wink:
Himouto! I’m skipping on for now, and won’t have my vote as first book. Might be doable later when higher level due to not using furigana much.


I’ve seen the other book club, and always thought it looked like fun. I’m still super beginner, but if we were reading something easy I would love to do my best. I think I have a lot to learn before I can read without looking up words and grammar all the time, but even if I have to look up every other word, I still think want to give it a try! I think it would be good for my learning and very motivating for me to have something to read in Japanese laying around.

I’ll add myself to the members list for now.

I’m interested in Yotsuba because I’ve heard it’s one of the easier books, but I’ll try to read anything.

By the way, where do you think is the best place to order books for me living in Sweden? Is it possible to order stuff from and have them shipped overseas?


I’m able to buy from there, and I’m from Norway. I can’t seem to get free shipping anymore (always over 100Nok in shipping =/ )
I got Yotsuba of eBay instead, full series for 500Nok, free shipping.

I would like to recommend Chi’s Sweet home. It too, like Yotsuba, has easy language and a child as main character (the child is a cat, but still a child :wink: There’s an actual child too =P ) It has an easy yet fun plot that makes you feel for the characters, and the story is quite interesting. I have seen it on lists for beginners, and of my reading material it is one of the less strained readings I have without meaning to be (as in, it has natural language, yet is easy to follow) The language is about things happening around the house and family.

I would not, however, recommend Doraemon. I bought it cause it was made to be bilingual, and though made for Japanese people it could work the other way… No, not really. The Japanese text is very small and little to no furigana as it was meant for adults. I’m not able to read the Japanese part of those. The small Japanese text is set outside the frames while the English is in the text bubbles. I haven’t even gotten around to reading the English part of it yet. Much better to buy both versions of some other manga and read side by side.

Personally I love trying to read Naruto in Japanese. It feels t me just the same as Chi, cause I already know the lingo :wink:
For those not used to the series it would be much harder. They keep a lot of the Japanese parts in the scanlations of the mangas and in the subtitles of the anime, as well as being repeated so much that you end up knowing a lot of the phrases and specific ninja words they use in Japanese.


A good resource we could use to find something good might be, as it provides you with sample sentences of the work that you check so it tells you how hard it might end up being.


I wouldn’t be upset if we went with Yotsuba. I love manga and I hear Yotsuba is incredibly cute. Since I already love manga (I read a lot of manga but I’ve only read english translations so far), I think it’d be cool if my first book I read in Japanese (from cover to cover, anyway) is a manga. Plus, since everyone says Yotsuba is so simple, I would probably be able to have time to participate while still studying Genki like I want to. So if we go with Yotsuba as the first book, I’ll start participating now instead of waiting until next year. :slight_smile:

Though, I do also want to read “actual” books so I would want to go with something other than manga for our second book.

Whatever we decide to go with, I hope someone will post some links of good places to purchase from?


I checked out Himouto!, found photos of the actual pages. Since it doesn’t use much furigana it will be good for high levels but bad for lower levels. Didn’t buy it for now.

I do hope we try actual books as well, though I wouldn’t mind going with a manga as the first one and book as second =)


よつばと! is a very entertaining book. The grammar and the vocabulary are fine but it should be said that there’re some informal particles or sentence structures which should be discussed. Also, keep in mind that Yotsuba pronounces the words long so don’t be confused when you see strokes in words =)

Oh yeah, I know a website which ships for free (over 39 bucks). But keep in mind that the prizes for individual books are more expensive.


Sure! This isn’t supposed to be a manga club. The problem is that what we associate as children books in the West, 日本人 associate with manga. That’s also why it’s important that everyone shares any extra book suggestions they might have :slight_smile:

From what I researched on google/forums, seems to be the place to go to order books in Japanese. That’s why I linked only from Amazon in the suggestions that I gave. Not sure if there’s better places out there though.


Kiki’s Delivery Service (魔女の宅急便)might be nice!


I sometimes grab the same book through for a better price on shipping (doesn’t always work, but sometimes)
And eBay is always a good place to check. Not as easily linked as most will be one of, sold and gone. But do have a search there when looking =)


I’d be up for either よつばと or The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. Although I’m hesitantly skeptical about how easy TGWLTT will be to read for beginners, based on my hazy memory of the movie.


I voted for that one in the previous vote on the original Book club! =D
Just cause I know the story, which is a good bonus (Ghibli Movie)
I should grab it too, to check it out =)

Edit: bought the set just as well. Found it at decent price on Amazon jp


Only a small amount of items can be shipped internationally. But it is possible to get it shipped for an extra fee by choosing a seller for used books and mailing them for a international shipping request.


Really? Every book I’ve tried and bought (four so far) was easy to get through JP Amazon.


Omg, I’m sorry, I’m so dumb. I didn’t realize you already had provided those links in the other post… I read the titles but for some reason it didn’t click in my head that they were links to purchase them. xD

So, thank you, you already did what I was asking. xD My bad!


From what I remember reading the book (in Swedish) the movie and the book(s) are quite different. Ghibli (Miyazaki) usually deviates quite a bit from the source material when they do an interpretation. Nothing bad with that, just putting it out there.

I like both versions though, might have give the book a read in Japanese!