Ideas of beginners books to buy in Japan

for kids:
Look for the grade level on the cover of the book. As an example, here’s a book that one of the book clubs here read recently. On Amazon there are some pictures of inside pages so you can see the kanji usage (fairly minimal, at this grade level).

for language learners:
This thread has a list and cover pictures of common graded readers for learners of Japanese (there are not as many as there are for Japanese kids):

日本語多読 means extensive reading in Japanese, so a lot of these books will have that on the cover somewhere.

Sorry, I can’t help you with what section to find them in the bookstore because I’ve only bought books online. Maybe somebody else has more information on that…?


So… regarding Yotsuba&, there is an important distinction to make. It is extremely easy to READ but it is not necessarily equally easy to UNDERSTAND.

My skills are limited, but I can read Yotsuba& quite well. On the other hand, there is a large amount of colloquial dialogue in it which requires me to stop to look up exactly what does the dialogue mean.

At the point where I am, I get the gist of what is going on, it is really funny nonetheless, and I am not bothering myself with understanding every single detail.

I do know that there are some people for which this approach is unsatisfactory, but it works for me.

And by the way, yeah I picked it up last time I was in Japan :wink:


I think this is why it gets recommended so much. You can get enjoyment and a sense of fulfillment from it (“Look ma, I’m reading Japanese!”) relatively early on and feel like you understand the broad strokes of it. At the beginner level, you’re going to find reading any native material to be full of a bunch of things you don’t understand and that’s okay! Even when you don’t fully understand it, you do learn a lot by reading and start to fill in more and more gaps over time. Chi’s Sweet Home and Shirokuma Cafe are two other series that I see mentioned for beginners, but I haven’t tried them myself.

For those who are tackling Yotsubato and want some help with the more casual speech, I’d highly recommend the book Japanese the Manga Way. Since it’s based around reading actual speech used in manga, it explains these aspects of the language that textbooks often neglect to mention.

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The graded collections for school kids are nice. I would totally go with those again! (I’m reading still the last 2 volumes of 10分で読める伝記) Only thing I would do differently been in Japan, since they are books aimed at natives, you can find the entire collection at BookOff for a price that’s a steal!! :wink:


I was there last year walking around the garden that surrounds the castle admiring the sakura when I got to a somewhat secluded spot and paused for a moment to take a break and then heard a cat quietly meowing. It got louder and then out of the bushes one cat appeared, then another, and then another. They were all walking around the clearing and being quite vocal. I was wondering what was going on but then a few minutes later a Japanese girl appeared with cat snacks to feed them. So that day I learned that the Himeji castle park has a secret entrance to にゃんこ王国

Anyway, back to the original topic, my recommendation would be volumes of Aria: the Masterpiece, or volumes of Aria / Aqua.


You could have a look at some of the books for which there are vocab lists you can study on FloFlo Moe.

Make a list of any that sound interesting and then look out for those in bookstores.


Last time I was in Japan, I bought a few volumes of Dr. Slump and I’m really enjoying them. I don’t get all of it being a beginner, but enough to appreciate the jokes, not to mention sweet art style. I also got a few volumes of Hikaru no Go, which I loved as a teen. I figured I may be able to pick up a few things just from context.

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I loved the Kanji Books for Grade 1 and 2. They might differ from place to place but I remember well illustrated colourful comic style books until Grade 3 when they rapidly became a bit boring…
I also really like the Nihongo Kantan series.

And be sure to stock up on stationary!

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I haven’t heard of that one yet. What exactly is in it? :slight_smile:

It may be out pf print.
It was produced specifically for kids at an American International school in Japan.
I had all three books by the time I left Japan, but because I left due to a health emergency in 1999, they did not follow me back to Africa.
The grammar progresses naturally with very simple explanations:
If you want to say ### kind of thing, you will say ***** to say it in Japanese.
There is no romaji at all, and kanji are introduced gradually.

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I started with your link, did some random clicking when I did not understand and came upon this delightful story…

Which eventually lead me to these great words in jisho:屁理 and 屁理屈屋!

Here a couple of others. Sry seems the Osaka one is too big. These ones are in Miyajima


I’ll keep in mind the 3rd and 4th grade books then. Ideally I will like to buy material that will last me at least 6 months or so and my fairly slow but so far constant learning speed. Thanks!

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OK, now I understand what to look for.
I’ll guees I’ll pick up 3-4 Grade levels maybe as I do hope to have Kanji in there.
As I have mainly used WaniKani or hearing ressources I am not use to reading words in Hiragana only… As in my head readings are 90% associated to the Kanji meaning


I think I want something with a sense of fulfillment I was more or less able to understand the lower part of this advertisement. Only had to look up one Kanji and it made me fill awesome. Like WK rlly pays off


Thanks I’ve noted them down. So far no luck with the cats here for photos… I definitely missed this spot in Himeji Castle. Always leave something for next time!

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:+1: It’s such an amazing feeling when you can actually put what you’ve learned into practice.

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I would recommend trying this book.

Its for native Japaneses kids.

Have you read it? I also stumbled on it on amazon, but since you can’t look inside and there’s no pictures of the actual content it’s hard to judge. :thinking:

It’s also for 1st graders, but where there’s one, the other grades usually aren’t too far off.

This store has some pictures.

The stories seem to include real stories from major authors (ones that I only know from Bungo Stray Dogs). I guess they simplify them to cater to the school grade?

Currently reading through the 3rd grade one but would probably read all of them if shipping was free.

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