I read my first book 🎉 (and have stats to share)

I wrote about it here: :blush:

If you’re just here for the stats

Here’s a graph of my progress through Harry Potter by reading session (each instance I sat down to read the book):

Here’s a graph of my progress through Harry Potter by chapter:

How long it took me

  • 75 reading sessions
  • 62 hours
  • Across 2 months

How many lookups

  • 3366 unique words / 4738 total words
  • 565 unique kanji / 975 total kanji
  • 96 unique kanji that aren’t in WaniKani

That last point is pretty interesting and something I didn’t really expect before I started! Really highlights how finishing WaniKani is not the end of the kanji-learning journey. In any case, Harry Potter is just a children’s book, I’m sure there’s plenty more kanji to be encountered in more difficult texts.

Moral of the story

Reading Japanese is hard. But, if you stick with it, it will get better. If you’ve opened up a book and been discouraged by how difficult it is, put off by having to look up several words a sentence, this doesn’t mean you’re not ready. I probably would have quit reading Harry Potter if I hadn’t set myself the goal earlier on in the year. And I would have lost out on a lot of reading practice as a result. Sure, some books are easier than others and it’s best to find one that’s suited to your level. But, whatever the book, native material is never going to be easy to start with. You’ll be surprised by how quickly you improve if you just give a go!

Also, if you get excited by data (like I do), it’s well worthwhile to track your reading stats. Reading Harry Potter has definitely been the most fun part of learning Japanese for me, and it’s partly because of the confidence those numbers gave me.

Anyone else set themselves yearly goals to aim for? And how do you measure your progress when learning Japanese? I’d be really interested to hear from everyone else. If you have stats to share too, that would absolutely make my day. :bar_chart:


I bet the katakana was interesting, haha!

Harry Potter is not a young children’s book. It’s a book meant for upper elementary (11 or 12 yr olds), and the rest of the series goes on up (maturity-wise especially).

You should be proud of yourself! :congratulations: :confetti_ball:


Congratulations, that’s an amazing achievement! This gives me hope :relaxed:


Congratulations! It’s amazing to so clearly see your progress over this short time period!

Makes me wish I had some stats to share, sorry I don’t have any!


How’d you keep track of all these stats? Do you happen to have the full list of kanji you looked up that aren’t in WaniKani? That would be really interesting to see.



That’s a long time to spend on a book, it must feel amazing to reach that goal!

I tried to read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in Japanese a few years ago and it was a total disaster and ended up giving up. Seeing this makes me feel like I want to try to tackle that goal again!


congrats, getting through a whole book is very impressive.
where did you purchase this in the UK? googling brings up different versions, and it seems you have to buy second hand or go abroad

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You will find plenty in this thread :slight_smile:

Also, congrats on finishing Harry Potter! That’s definitely not a small achievement :tada:


Nice website! I’m a half-Japanese software engineer as well :wave:


Haha yes! So many times where I turned to the dictionary to look something up only to realise it’s an obscure witch or wizard who’s name I forgot.

Yes, please give it a go! Would love to hear about how the second attempt goes.

I got it from Amazon Japan so I did have to pay quite a bit for shipping. But, I also included a couple of textbooks and the second and third book of Harry Potter in my order to spread the cost out a bit.

Yes! I follow that thread eagerly! :grin: I will be tracking my 2 books a month goal on there too.

:wave: Nice to meet a fellow one in the wild! Did you know much Japanese before you started studying?


Hmm, definitely have never been fluent! I knew some from talking with my mum but we mostly speak in English, which probably doesn’t help.

I’m also reading Harry Potter at the moment, I’m somewhere around chapter 5 or 6 (they’re on the train to Hogwarts)


Because I was reading a physical book, I couldn’t do anything fancy like have an automated log of everything I looked up (which I believe some e-readers do). Instead, I manually recorded every kanji or word I looked up in a spreadsheet.

All the kanji that aren't in WaniKani

Let me know if you would like the list in a different format. :blush:


Very inspiring! I hope I can get through a non beginner book at some point this year. Seeing your graph makes me think I should start slow now and just work at it throughout the year rather than to wait.

Maybe I missed it in your post, but where was your grammar at when you actually started the book?

Thank you again :slight_smile:


I think you overlooked a few kanji in WK:

Out of curiosity: How did you determine whether a kanji is in WK or not? (Maybe your data was outdated?)


Good spot! I just realised I made a mistake in my spreadsheet filtering. Basically, I have a sheet where I record the word or kanji and a link to the definition. This makes it easier to do a second reading because I have a reference for when I get stuck.

I filtered my list for kanji that didn’t have wanikani in the link which those two don’t have. But I must have made a mistake when entering those records and forgot to paste a link in.

I’m sure there’s a few instances of manual input errors! Which I is why I would like to build an app to track my reading stats at some point. :blush:


is in WK as well


Ah I was in a very similar boat! My mum spoke to me in Japanese when I was very young but I rejected it as I got older. Unfortunately, that meant my Japanese slipped over time. I try to have weekly phone calls with my mum now, in Japanese, and am furiously studying to make up for what I lost.

Good luck with the reading! I remember that chapter being a nice break from all of the descriptive chapters that came before it. I found the dialogue between Ron and Harry much easier to grasp.

Thank you! I’m glad to have inspired. :blush:

I’ve been going through the Tobira textbook for the past couple of months which would put me at a N4/N3 level. But, I’ve had a lot of exposure to Japanese from a young age and I think that means I grasp grammar a lot more quickly. I didn’t have to look up any grammar points reading Harry Potter like I did with kanji, words and phrases. I understood it all purely from context. So, I can’t give you any recommendations there I’m afraid. :pensive:


Gotcha! Well I’ll keep to my grammar studies and might open this book up in a few months or so just to give it a go :slight_smile: Will most certainly struggle but like I said before the progress you made was very inspiring to see!


That’s awesome! :sunglasses:

I’m in the book club and I’m up to the Potions Master chapter. Great to see you actually finished it.

It’s technically Middle Grade (8-12) and gets into Young Adult (12-18) around book 5. Funnily enough, the widespread appeal of the series is credited as one of the factors that started the YA boom afterwards with Hunger Games and others.


Congrats :clap: Thank You for sharing. I’m loving your website, too. Really easy and pleasant to read :+1:

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