Breakthrough in Reading - キノの旅 (Kino's Journey)

Just wanted to share a positive experience.

I bought キノの旅 (Kino’s Journey) as an e-book from japanese Amazon last summer. I watched the animated version many years ago and liked it, so when I read somewhere that the books apparently weren’t supposed to be that difficult I decided to try the first volume.

I guess I must have been about level 20-25 on Wanikani when I bought it. I opened it up and… it was so slow. And I understood so little. It was a bit frustrating and I never got through more than the prologue and about half the first chapter over three or four reading sessions.

Flash forward to a week or so ago, I decided to try reading it once more. During this time I have reached level 40, I’ve done quite a lot of reading in Japanese through playing games, reading articles and some comics. I’ve also started refreshing/improving my grammar by putting grammar points from A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar into Houhou.

So I opened the book up again and it was a world of difference! Not only did I notice I could understand so much more of what was going on, I also noticed how much my reading speed had improved and how much further I could read before becoming mentally exhausted. In the first sitting I was able to read about as much as I had done through all of my sittings nine months ago.

Without any illustrations to assist me, I get to explore the journey of Kino and Hermes (A talking motorcycle. Yup.) into a mysterious city seemingly devoid of people where everything is managed by machines. As they explore, they begin to wonder if the city really is as desolate as it seems, and start to unravel the mystery. And I actually pictured it, through Japanese. The chapter is called 人の痛みが分かる国 - The Country of Understanding Peoples Pain and if it sounds at all interesting to you I recommend you try it.

Sure, I don’t understand every word, and I’m sure much of the finer details elude me completely, but still. The feeling is really quite extraordinary. My reading speed is also still much slower than ideal, but I can feel myself getting there. It’s like I’ve reached a tipping point for kanji and vocabulary, atleast for this particular book, where the ones I know outweighs the ones I don’t yet know in a large enough ratio.

So if you’re having a hard time and don’t feel motivated, know that if you persevere and keep learning you will get there. Read stuff, try things apporpriate for your level, as well as stuff that is beyond, or way beyond. Then return to them again and again. Every time you do you will understand more. And more. And more.

Thanks for reading and keep having fun with Japanese everybody!


Thanks for sharing! Stories like these definitely help. :slight_smile:


Hey, that’s amazing! Congrats!

I’m nowhere near your level yet, but I’m already starting to notice my reading speed and kanji recognition rate are improving too. In September I read the manga 聲の形 (A Silent Voice) by 大今良時 (おおいま・よしとき), and I’ve recently started to reread it. Like you mentioned as well, it’s already less taxing, so I’m better able to enjoy the story.

人の痛みが分かる国 sounds interesting as well – I think I’ll add it to my list of stories to check out in the future! :slight_smile:


That sounds great! Thanks for the reading tip. There seems to be a two part novel available from Amazon.

This is the part where learning Japanese becomes truly interesting to me. Being able to partake in all these stories without having to have them translated. Let’s keep going, one level at the time!

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That looks like it’s a novelisation of the movie adaptation that came out last year? I’m still waiting for the DVD to be released since there are no cinema screenings where I live. I bought the manga through CDJapan and really enjoyed it. It doesn’t contain any supernatural elements (and definitely no talking motorcycles ;)), but I loved the complexity of the characters – sometimes I rooted for them, while other times I found it hard to sympathise with them (I mean that in the best way possible).

And I completely agree – one of the things I’m most looking forward to is being able to read stories in the original Japanese as well! 勉強にがんばりましょう!

@vargsvans Does houhou include a J → J dictionary, or just J → E?

Also, if you didn’t know, they are making a new anime adaption of Kino’s Journey.

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Just J → E
All of the grammar items I add to Houhou is made by myself though, through importing a csv-file.

Thanks for telling me about the new anime. Might check it out once I get through the books. I mean, there’s only like 20 of them :smiley:

Oh, I didn’t check that closely. That makes the novels it a bit less interesting to me, since I usually prefer to experience the “original” version of things. Thanks for the information.

So do I understand it right that there was a manga originally, then an adaptation into a movie, then an adaptation into a novel?

so, this is just gonna be a “prettier” version of the old thing or is there any news that it will contain different arcs? I am coincidentally watching the anime at the moment and I don’t really feel like it would need a “prettier” newer version and the article didn’t shed too much light on what will be covered.

Yes, that’s right!

From a learning perspective, I think it might be interesting to give all three a shot, as the vocabulary will be transferable from one medium to the next. If the movie turns out to be as enjoyable for me as the manga was, I might see if the novels measure up as well (so thanks for bringing them to my attention!). But if you prefer reading the original, that would be the manga in this case.

Question - how was it buying an ebook from There’s nothing I would love more than being able to buy kindle titles (or really any other kind of format) to try my hand at reading. Kindle would be especially useful because it would allow to use a touch-screen dictionary to help with words/kanji I don’t recognize, but any format would be good.

I remember trying to buy anything electronic through amazon Japan was a bit of a pain, though. Do you have any tips? Or are you in Japan atm and thus don’t have to jump through so many hoops?

I recommend reading this excellent thread by sirvorn if you want to know, step by step, how to set up an account:

Basically, for Amazon you just have to create a separate account with a separate e-mail from any other Amazon account, then fill in a Japanese adress. Since your purchases will all be digital downloads, the physical adress doesn’t matter.

Once this part is set up, which is a bit of a hassle, but sirvorn explains it quite clearly, it is as easy as purchasing digital media from any other store. Just click to buy, download, read. Takes a minute at most and I really can’t recommend it enough.

I recently saw a thread about someone having trouble though and I haven’t purchased anything in the last month or so -

I use an iPad to read though, so might be a Kindle-specific issue?

If anything is unclear, don’t hesitate to ask!


Yeah that first link gets you set up easy and buying for kindle is actually really easy and straightforward once you have the account.

I use the kindle app on my laptop and ipad and was the one that had that issue buying awhile ago. The official explanation is on my thread since it is kind of long

Also @vargsvans congrats on your reading progress ^^ It is always so rewarding when you really see your progress.

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Kino no Tabi was the first thing I actually felt comfortable reading! I’m not that far into it and have been reading it for almost a year lol. I don’t read often, a page or two when I’m bored and have internet.

I love using the kindle app. That’s what I read everything in, even manga where the dictionary is useless. @vargsvans you sound like you’re doing really well. I’m really lacking in grammar so you encourage me to continue getting back into that!

Oh, thanks for sharing the information from your contact with Amazon, that is very useful! I guess I should have pinged you in to the conversation instead of just referring to a nameless person. Still getting used to the new forums I guess. I’m glad you found this thread in spite of how I handled it.

Incidentally, I looked up VPN:s and found this one: VPN Gate - Public Free VPN Cloud by Univ of Tsukuba, Japan
It seems to be a free VPN maintained as a project from University of Tsukuba in Japan. I tried it last night and it seemed easy enough. I’m suspicious of anything “free” but this seems trustworthy enough for me… or I’m just a big sucker :sweat_smile:

So I’m not alone in enjoying Kino, that’s great to hear! Even though I read quite a lot in my own language and in English, it takes a bit of preparation before I sit down with a Japanese text.

It’s like, when I look at the page my instincts still tell me that what I see before me is incomprehensible. Then, when I actually start reading I usually do well enough. Then I switch page and again my brain tells me: “This is gibberish”.

Let’s keep reading and improving, both of us!


This is the hardest thing by far for me to overcome. My brain doesn’t even try to read.

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@audball oho that is an interesting response indeed and makes a lot of sense lol. I used to never have to use a VPN (and I bought…way too many books…on a weekly basis lol) but relatively recently started getting hit with needing to use a VPN sometimes too. I still prefer Kindle overall because the quality of other readers (for novels specifically) is never that great in comparison.

Not all the novels I want are available on Kindle as soon as on other services so when I don’t use it I really rather like Honto. Out of the ones I’ve experimented with over time I’ve found it to be one of the best in terms of quality of its readers for both desktop/app versions and recommend giving it a check out if the Kindle-VPN-hoops aren’t to one’s fancy :stuck_out_tongue: The only minus I’d give it (because their interface really does look hella nice and feels great in the apps too) is it lacks that in-app dictionary Kindle gives you. It does let one highlight/search to yahoo dictionary which is pretty great actually (and a better dictionary than the default kindle one); one just needs an internet connection haha

(haha I’d update that thread, but I think I’ll just let it slowly die)

@vargsvans I use that VPN too when I have to engage in VPN-y required activities lolol Second the recommendation :ok_hand: (And Kino is so great. I love when I hear about people reading it! reading sci-fi in Japanese is always a cool experience to me :slight_smile: )

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@vargsvans Don’t worry about it, I actually got a notification from my thread being linked. But yeah I was hesitant since I never used a VPN, but it all went smooth and seemingly not malicious haha.

And I do the same thing reading still. Sometimes I see a big block of Japanese text and I’m like ahhh I can’t. And then I actually try to read and I’m like oh wait, I understand this, lol.

@anon75098302 Yeah the kindle UI just looks nice and works smooth. On ebook reader, I have a few books and its decent. Kind of clunky, but functional. I’ve never tried Honto, I will have to take a look.

In an ideal world, there would be just one great reading app and you could buy a digital book from anywhere and have it on that app. Yeah…:relaxed:

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Thanks so much for sharing! I am just a beginner, but I am so eager to learn that I constantly try reading stuff. Sometimes I understand; a lot of the times I don’t. Your post gave me hope :blush: Big congrats on your breakthrough!

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