How to start reading?

Hey there,
this is my first post on the forum and I’m not a native speaker so please excuse any major mistakes :smile:.

So I recently leveled up to Level 10 and I really want to read a book but don’t know where to start.

Can you guys recommend any good beginner books? And how exactly do you go about looking up foreign kanji or unknown grammar constructs? I feel like pluggin them all into Google Translate wouldn’t be efficient.

Thanks for the time and have a nice day everyone! :blush: :blush:


Hey, welcome!

You could start from NHK Web News Easy.
The easiest way to look up vocab and kanji on the web is to use a plugin, such as Rikaichamp. It will show a dictionary entry when you hover over Japanese text.

If the kanji is in an image or a printed book there are two options: use hand-written input on a smartphone or look it up by radicals. For example has Radicals button right next to the search bar.

You could also join an aboslute beginner book club here on the forums.

Oh, on here’s anther useful topic:


Oh wow thanks for the help. I’ll make sure to check it out in the evening. :smile:


For unknown grammar constructs, I discovered in another thread – it’s not perfect but it does help with figuring out which grammar points you need to look up.


I recommend as a grammar resource (English only).
This English-Japanese dictionary is good although you’re not a native speaker you seem competent enough that it will be helpful:
For kanji I prefer to use


I recently started using, I can recommend it.

What about minor mistakes :stuck_out_tongue:


Whoops. Loud and proud about my illiteracy :laughing:
Thanks for the recommendation I’ll check it out.

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When I’m reading and I run into a word with Kanji I don’t know, I like to use Google Translate’s writing option for Japanese so I can write it with a mouse, it’s quite accurate even if the writing is messy but a bit of knowledge on writing some radicals is helpful.
Then once the word is there I copy and paste it into for a thorough explanation and translation because Google Translate can be a bit inaccurate sometimes.

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Nice Punpun Pic :smile:
I’ve been using that method on the phone for A while but it seems a bit slow having to write the kanji down, especially with more complex ones when i get them wrong five times in a row.

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Grammar knowledge up to TE-form is a must even for beginner-level books. rest is up to your time and a good dictionary imo.

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I am pretty bad with grammar. How did you start learning it? Bunpro?

with actual japanese classes, old-school approach.

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Well that seems like it makes sense. I thought about that too but it’s too hard to cough up the time with my mandatory community service right now… :upside_down_face:

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If you don’t feel like paying for a subscription service right now, Japanese Ammo with Misa on YouTube is an excellent free resource for grammar learning and she starts from absolute beginnger. :slight_smile:

She even suggests writing notes with three different coloured pens/pencils. For example, black for parts of a sentence you know, red for the part you are currently learning and blue for parts you don’t understand yet. Helps break up your notes if notes are your thing.

Reading definitely helps reinforce learnt grammar though and seeing it in context so it’s good you’ve discovered that so early in your language journey.


Thanks for the recommandation. Do you still know which book you started reading Japanese with? I’m looking for one but don’t really know where to start and the books in the Beginner Reading groups kinda feel like children’s books. I kinda want to start with one of the visual novels I read in English but don’t know if I’m up to the task.

I did start with a couple children’s books because of the simplicity but they can sometimes be harder to read because they have no kanji to separate the words, and many Japanese words are spelled the same in hiragana but have different kanji. My first one with hiragana was うさこちゃんとどうぶつえん but there was another that had some kanji which was easier which was called いつでも会える.

Right now I’m actually reading Punpun because it’s a book I’m really interested in, so there’s more motivation to read so I would recommend you try reading your visual novels but if it really is too hard then fall back on something easier. Maybe 猫なんかよんでもこない as an example?
But learning some grammar will help so much, like what @HotWeather said, up to TE-form is pretty solid. On the forums here though many people talk about books to read so definitely check around there if you’re not sure.

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Ok I’ll check that out, thanks!