Note taking for reading authentic Japanese

I would like to hear what people do when taking notes while reading Japanese texts like (light) novels, short stories, poems etc.

Are you going back to your notes? How do you organize them?

What is the art of note-taking for you?


I have a Google Doc on the side. I use it to write down interesting and new expressions. The doc is named after the book. Each chapter has its own header.

Almost never go back to the doc afterwards but I feel that writing things down helps remembering them.

If you’re asking for, then it’d be ideal if you could easily get to the place in the book from your notes. Maybe even see the sentence right in the notes section. Also would be nice to classify notes, e.g. new words, new grammar, new way to use a familiar word etc.

I was trying to use the notes in the Bookwalker reader but they have a cap of 50 entries per book, which I hit after reading only 15% of the book.


I usually only take notes when reading light novels with long, confusing katakana names for people and places (狼と香辛料 :eyes:). I put them in a Google doc and check them again when I can’t remember something.
Other than that I create Anki cards for words with kanji I don’t know, and review them.
I don’t take any notes on the contents, story or anything like that.


I write by hand, but I don’t have any plans to become good in writing Japanese so my notes are quick and hardly readable. They all have the texts name as an heading, but i might read multiple stories at the same time so they get a bit jumbled. :pouting_woman:

I never look back at pure vocab, but I write four kanji idioms and other “vocab” that took me some time to look up on my Kitchen cabinets Next to some grammar points. :brain:


Whenever I’m reading a book I mark all the sentences with vocabulary I don’t know in pencil. After reading a chapter go through it again adding all the sentences I didn’t understand to Anki and double check to see if I understand them by translating them in DeepL. It’s been working out well so far and it’s been helping me retain vocab for longer periods of time. The most effective part is typing the entire sentence out. I found that it really helped me with like what particles pair well with which words and which words work well together. While I found wanikani useful for learning how to read kanji, I found that sentence cards made by yourself really help put more meaning and context into every card because I can remember what part of the book I read it in and what the scene sort of looked like in my head.

1 Like

Whenever I encounter a new phrase or piece of vocabulary I very specifically want to remember, I write a note onto whatever I have on hand (phone notepad app, paper, etc.), and later enter them into subject-organized decks on Quizlet.

I don’t often do actual drilling on Quizlet, but just having everything stored there to glance through, and even the act of making the card itself, makes a difference.

1 Like