How to get Japanese ebooks in the US

As a side note, if anyone’s interested and doesn’t know about it, the SoftEther VPN @Raionus mentioned also works for watching Japanese Netflix :wink:


I had issue with buying stuff on only once and ended up using a VPN for it. All purchases since have gone through without a hitch.

yay, happy to hear that. enjoy!! :slightly_smiling_face:

For me, even just being able to get sample chapters is so nice. I also had Kindle Unlimited for a month but I don’t read enough for that to make sense.

the first thing I usually do is extract them to text using Calibre

Do you have any special settings or such? When converting to text, I get the furigana intermixed with the normal text, which is a pain to correct later. Is there some setting hidden somewhere to ignore furigana or smaller text perhaps?

Why is that?
A few things maybe you could try to improve the functionality.
First, get more dictionaries :slightly_smiling_face: . I’m using 3 dictionaries currently, the eng>jp that comes with kindle, daijisen (also available for download in the kindle store), and then daijirin.

Of those, I do a quick lookup using the the eng>jp and daijirin (which has shorter definitions and also has many entries with eng definitions, though if you end up using more the eng defs Kenkyusha is better there). I’ve noticed that the Shogakukan dictionary in Kindle has much less words than Daijirin and Daijisen (which I think is the one with more entries).

Also worth mentioning that while reading the 小学生 aimed series, lots of words would came in hiragana or half hiragana and half kanji. That would really mess up the ability to pick up words for the dictionary. Now reading what I think is aimed at 中学生, it will use furigana instead and the dictionary is having no problem whatsoever.:+1:

For me Kindle has been a complete change in my reading habits, no eye strain, reading on the go and much better integration with my reviewing routine :star_struck: .

ProtonVPN is a good one that has a free option. It gives you a 1 week free trial and then downgrades you to a free option. ProtonVPN is decent for free if you are just online shopping or basic browsing the internet.

Use it to make a Japanese amazon account and then proceed to buy ebooks.

Yes, you need to add a regular expression in the export settings to remove the furigana.

Pasting this here since it comes from the koohii forum and will soon be lost when it shuts down🙁

  1. In Calibre, select Convert books
  2. On the left click the Search and replace tab
  3. You’ll be adding Regex expressions to match the stuff you want to remove, and replacing it with nothing (empty string). The markup looks like this:


If you’re a Regex guru, you may be able to write a pattern that removes it all in one go. What I did was add 3 patterns:

\<ruby\> - removes all occurrences of the opening tag - <ruby>
\</ruby\> - removes all occurrences of the closing tag - </ruby>
\<rt\>.{1,7}\</rt\> - removes everything that starts with <rt>, ends with </rt> and has 1 to 7 characters in-between. Why 1 to 7? Because the number of characters between <rt> and </rt> varies, and simple testing showed that the longest one in my text is 7 characters:


You can change the value to fit your needs. You need to restrict the length though, otherwise you’d match anything between any <rt> and any </rt> that follows it anywhere in the text - including between the very first <rt> and very last </rt> which would practically delete the whole book.

actually a small improvement should work with furigana strings of any length, not just 1-7 characters:

@Ncastaneda Thanks, I will try and give it another go! Maybe it has to do with using the Kindle app on iOS and it is limited in comparison. I could just never get the same great lookup as gives me. Conjugated verbs and things like that were problematic whenever I tried.

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Oh, thank you, that was surprisingly easy. Here is the regexp guru (ahem) version:

Search: <ruby>(.*?)<rt>.*?</rt></ruby>
Replace: \1


Is there an ebook site where you can buy ebooks without DRM or with easily removable DRM (I think Amazon’s DRM is the easiest to remove IIRC)? I’ve bought a lot of ebooks from and while it’s not a huge deal, their application isn’t the greatest, and if I could import the ebooks into my ebook reader app of choice, that would be great, but it’s all DRM’d and into their proprietary closed format that I can’t export to other apps.

Do you guys know any ebook store that’s more open? I just hate being forced to use a particular app. Maybe I want to put them on my Kindle, but there’s no way to do that with this site.

(Sorry if it’s sort of off-topic)

You’re not likely to ever find a legal website that has ebooks with no DRM.

On Google Play Books you can download a copy of the ebooks you have as pdf or epub, so I thought maybe some other sites have that kind of feature

Just wanted to follow up: because @Ncastaneda is so happy with his Kindle :wink: I also wanted to give it one more try.

I ended up buying this dictionary for 200¥:

There is a more expensive one on the store too but it is not better than this one as far as I can tell. I’m sure there are other ways to get a dictionary on there for free but for 200 Yen, I didn’t even bother trying.

The results so far:

  • The lookup functionality is working better now than before (still not as great as but close enough)
  • I still don’t like the experience on my iPhone: It is an XS Max so the screen is comparably large but the dictionary window is just tiny and a bit weird. works better on the small screen. But the app seems to have gotten slightly better than last time I tried it.
  • On the Kindle Paperwhite (an old version that was lying around here, unused), the experience is quite nice. It is of course slower than on iOS but still fast enough to not annoy me yet. Maybe it is a good reason to think twice whether you really want to look up a word or not :wink:

So while jio has a better user experience for me, gaining the benefit of having a proper “remember where I stopped reading” feature and not having to extract the books with Calibre and copying them over to is worth a lot too.
I will try to use it more from now on and hope I will get used to the UI and grow to love it because this would be a convenient solution. Time will tell…

(If I ever manage to finish the コンビニ人間 sample chapter, my first purchase via the Paperwhite will be this book so that I can join the book club later :slight_smile: )

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Glad to hear your Kindle is getting some use, in the long run I think is really easy to make it part of a routine, the books simply are there and reading is easy once you manage how to go over unknown words.

The vocabBuilder feature is far from perfect as offered by Amazon, but enough to make its way to Anki with the reference sentence been there, which adds the extra layer of reference when reviewing vocab.
Besides that I’ve found out about KindleMate, which will allows you to actually manage the vocab builder database (basically I use it to purge all the vocab once it’s been transfered to Anki), which was something it was really bugging me when I had to do it on the actual device.

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