I was reading a light novel series around level 30 (very, very slowly). By no means did I understand the whole thing, and I didn’t look up everything because I knew I’d give up if I took all the time to do that. But there was a marked difference in speed and comprehension between the first book and the last!
The series was 妖怪アパートの幽雅な日常 - it has an anime adaptation as well, which I watched before reading - That helped prime me for the start of the series, too! It was a fun series, I recommend it.
I also recommend コンビニ人間 and 木曜日にはココアを. Both are short-ish, interesting, and not too difficult in terms of grammar and vocab!
Oh Tales of Destiny DC, I should try that one some day, too
Thank you for all of the helpful replies, everyone! Lots of reading material I haven’t heard of and some software, too - Torii looks cool, especially.
It sounds like everyone finds their own mix of WK and reading. I have done some intensive reading but am starting to think that adding extensive reading might be the thing for me at the moment. Definitely feel the need to plow through many, many pages in order to lock down the kanji and vocabulary I have learned so far.
I started reading early, using the graded readers from ASK publishing, which are great and come with audio. I have worked through Genki I and Genki II with the help of an online class through a local college. I’ve read Charlotte’s Web and the first volume of Kiki’s Delivery Service in Japanese and I have a shelf full of manga. Learning song lyrics has also been a great source for me. The songs of カネコアヤノhave a ton of great vocabulary - I did a rough estimate and her songs use at least 800 or so unique kanji.
Machi looks interesting - hadn’t heard of it! What system are you playing it on? The PSP?
The Percy Jackson books seem like a good choice. I am going to try your approach of extensive reading. I also use paper books but have mostly been reading intensively, which can be torture. Currently on the second volume of “Kiki’s Delivery Service”, which is 400 pages long! It’s been taking months to get through.
I think it was like level 25ish I was comfortable with Satori reader and would read a few pages a day until I done with that site. I don’t read every day, but if I do it’s usually around 3k characters give or take. Around the length of a moderately short web novel chapter and about halfish of a normal chapter in the Loopers VN book club. Put in a different context I start wearing out after about 20-30 minutes and usually call it a day by the 1 hour mark.
I prefer Kōsuke Fujishima’s Tales games, but this one’s pretty cool. I like it much more than the PSX version. The encounter rate’s more reasonable and it’s really pretty! I’m hoping I can play this game and its direct sequel because I hear that the two together provide closure on Leon!
I own the PSP version as well, but I’m playing the PSX version on ePSXe because it’s easier with the way my stuff is set up. It’s a spiritual prequel to 428: Shibuya Scramble, my favorite visual novel that I’ve ever played. Machi has been a weird journey so far. I’ve been playing it as my Japanese has grown, so even though I’ve been at it for well over a year, it’s gradually become easier to follow. It’s kind of surreal getting better at Japanese and having a game world unfold in parallel!
I want to read more, but I feel like I’m at an awkward stage where most things are either way too easy or way too difficult to read. Like nothing in between, so it doesn’t feel rewarding to try reading a bunch. Wanikani is also starting to get pretty difficult so I’ve slowed down on that too.
The main thing keeping me motivated is I can learn more from playing video games in Japanese than I could before, and it feels nice to feel like you get the gist of what you’re reading. No where near reading a novel though.
This is the set of books that got me up and running, in terms of being able to understand novels for younger people and a lot of manga:
The Level 0 books are super, super easy - on a “See Jane Run” level, with a sentence
per page. Levels 2 - 4 are progressively more challenging, with Level 4 being full stories
with lots of kanji and intermediate-level grammar.
Level 30 is around when I started reading (tbh I should have started earlier, especially since I’ve been studying Japanese for much longer than I’ve used Wanikani, but oh well, しかたがない). I was reading things like Tadoku graded readers and Satori Reader.
But while I was still in early level 30s I started reading manga with the Beginner Book Club here on WK. That’s also around the time I slowed down in Wanikani. There were lots of outside factors too, but introducing a reading habit into my routine was definitely a big part of why I slowed down.
I’ve noticed that after about a year of reading that vocab/kanji aren’t what’s holding me back, but grammar, so I’ve been more focused on that these days. So that’s another reason reading has made me slow down WK; it’s made me realize I don’t need to prioritize kanji anymore.
I’m a low level compared to you and everyone else, but I read everyday. I practice reading on Japanese twitter, read graded readers, Crystal Hunters, otome games, and manga. There is an otome game where you can toggle between Japanese and English so I just see what I can understand and ignore unknown words then switch to English.
Crystal Hunters manga has a Japanese (easier version) and Natural Japanese (harder version). The easier version guide has grammar explanations which has been the only thing that has stuck for me and the harder version’s guide only has vocabulary list no grammar explanations so if you haven’t tried it yet try Crystal Hunters Natural Version as that is meant for people who are intermediates. Just keep in mind the Natural Japanese version does have some vocabulary that are not on WaniKani at all
There is also a video game coming out next year that teaches kanji, vocabulary, and grammar up to intermediate level so you could just in the settings set it the fluent just to see how well you know everything. (Assuming you are at N3 level grammar.)
I couldn’t get into Anki either. Feels more punishing than WaniKani. I saw someone in the forums mention LingoDeer and I probably should get back into it. I’m not going to punish myself if I can’t remember fully everything I learned I just need to go through to get lessons to get them unlocked so when the Japanese language learning video games come out I could go to the LingoDeer lesson for extra practice/review of that grammar point as unfortunately LingoDeer it’s locked unless you finish the lesson before it.
Thank you for mentioning LingoDeer I haven’t touched that app in awhile! Lol
I just finished doing a lesson on there and wow I must say I really like the new look on LingoDeer.
What’s the name of the upcoming video game? Sounds interesting! Maybe I should give Crystal Hunters a try.
I have a bunch of Nintendo Switch games in Japanese - it’s very cool that it’s not region locked, so you can play games direct from Japan. The main problem I have is that the kanji is tiny when you play it in handheld mode, and the furigana is microscopic.
The video game is called Shujinkou on Steam, but they plan on also coming out on the PS4, PS5, and the Switch. (I plan on getting the Switch version of the game.) I definitely recommend going on their website to read more about it and they have a discord too.
The only Japanese games I have played on the Switch is 乙女ゲーム。I haven’t tried on the handheld as of yet, but have played while looking at the TV which I can visually see just fine. (It is nice to have a platform that isn’t region locked.) It would be really nice is every Otome game that comes out has the toggle feature as a lot of them you can only play in Japanese or in English not both unless you buy the same game twice.
Shujinkou definitely looks worth checking out - thanks for letting me know about it.
Yeah, I only have a Switch lite, which you can’t plug into a big screen. I might have to upgrade
so reading isn’t so difficult. I agree that the toggle switch option is a big help.
There are also a couple of games that have been released outside of Japan that have a ton of language, with English subtitles. I played Fire Emblem: Three Houses during the lockdown and it was like watching a 100-hour anime. Tons of dialogue.
I think the big thing with getting into extensive reading is being ok with not understanding everything. Especially in the first book, there were huge chucks of fight scenes where I was like “ah, yes, they’re fighting. They seem to be…moving. uh, vigorously. And maybe hitting each other? Anyway moving on.” I’ve been reading along with a podcast about the books (shout out to The Newest Olympian for any PJO fans) and that’s been useful for checking my comprehension, since they do a pretty detailed recap of each chapter.
That’s exactly what I’ve been learning from recent attempts to do some extensive reading - you have to be willing to let some sentences go by without being understood completely. Reading along with something where you have a recap to give you the general shape of the story is a great idea.
I started NHK Easy News and Tadoku Readers at around level 10; then novel at around level 40; before giving up reading, reading mostly manga where I feel comfortable. (And I started grammar before WaniKani. I think I started grammar immediately after remembering all Hiragana and Katakana somewhat. I’ve never feared Kanji in the first place, just inefficient to learn outside WaniKani.)
However, looking back, it’s probably best to pick materials that can be studied well as well, and pick up common vocabularies and grammar first. The aim is to understand better and less guessing. Hold back a little before getting into materials you really want to read.
I consider reading to study a different dimension from reading tolerably to understand somewhat. Both methods might be needed, with different goals.
Holy hell that is such a long eroge. How many routes are there???
There’s 6 routes, each ranging from 2-3 light novels worth of text. The common route is about another light novel worth of text. It’s not so much about the amount of routes as it is the fact that each girl basically gets 3 books worth of content. Tsuki no Kanata de aimashou is another tone works game which has 7 routes instead of 6 and only has 1.2 million characters in comparison to hoshioris 1.7. meanwhile gin’iro haruka also has 1.7 with only 5 routes.