Resources for learning about 'old' (early 20th century) Japanese

Hello all,

I’ve always been interested in trying to read/translate old books (specifically some martial arts ones :stuck_out_tongue: ) written in the period around the 1900s-1950s but one thing that has held me back is that the grammar and style of writing back then is quite different from modern Japanese.

Does anyone have suggestions for resources to learn about this older style of grammar?


Are you talking about Kobun? If so, then Tofugu has a whole series that can get you started. It links to plenty of resources at the end as well, such as the Classical Japanese textbooks. I think this might be what you’re looking for!

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Kobun would be quite a bit earlier, I think.


Intriguing. English and French have not change much since one hundred years ago. My Japanese is very bad, so I can’t judge, but is it only op who thinks Japanese texts from the beginning of the 1900s are less accessible?

There were a large number of spelling and kanji usage reforms after World War II, so that’s probably what they’re referring to. Also, just stuff that looks weird to us now, such as okurigana (the kana that come at the end of verbs) being written with katakana, not hiragana.


Oh. For that, OP might want to search kanjis in Wiktionnary. They are linked to the traditional form.

Personally I’ve got reasons to learn kanjis, chinese simplified, and chinese traditional at the same time. Those “simplifications” are not making my life simpler at all :tired_face:

Also, there may not have been an offical reform, but English has definitely changed since a hundred years ago. Compare The Lord of The Rings to pretty much any modern novel, and there’s a noticeable difference in writing style, and that one’s barely sixty-six years old.


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