Resources for Starting to Read Japanese Content

As noted above, I troll through Bookwalker occasionally looking for stuff I am familiar with even if I’m not ready to start reading it. Remember to check the series view down the bottom of the page to see if any additional volumes are free that I overlooked.

Notable free-to-keep books on Bookwalker, 2/1/2020:

Last but not least:

  • ふらいんぐうぃっち aka, “Flying Witch” - both volumes 1 and 2 are up for free at the moment. (@Radish8, do you want to add this to the OP for the book club? - Price goes back to normal on 9/1/2020.)

I didn’t realise these were free, thanks for sharing :blush:


…that is actually another spin off from Cells at Work, that one is called Bacteria at Work

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I just want to say thanks to you and everyone else who’s mentioned Bookwalker in this thread! I just made an account, because it appears I can read manga on my PC instead of needing a device like a Kindle. I still prefer physical copies to e-books, but I can’t pass up the opportunity to read my beloved Sangatsu no Raion (March comes in like a lion)! I’ll definitely have to learn more kanji now. There are a bunch of other manga I want to get too . . . but Sangatsu no Raion has to come first!

EDIT: Went ahead and bought all the volumes of Sangatsu no Raion that are available. I can still only read part of the first page of volume one, but darn it, I have to start somewhere . . . :sweat_smile:


Thanks, will do! Give me another ping tomorrow if it looks like I’ve forgotten.

Has anyone here checked out A Japanese Reader that was mentioned in the thread? I like the idea of a single thing I can progress through, but I wondered if anyone had any thoughts.

I’m afraid I haven’t tried it out myself, but if you don’t get any good answers here, might also be worth asking in the Graded Readers Thread.

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Hi @Entity447B, I’ve used A Japanese Reader a little bit. Here are my subjective pros and cons:


  • physical book.
  • portable paperback size and weight.
  • one volume contains beginner through advanced.
  • one volume contains both Japanese text and English notes.
  • relatively inexpensive.


  • written in 1962; as far as I can tell, it hasn’t been revised to modernize the grammar or cultural notes.
  • Japanese font size gets progressively smaller as you advance through the readings.
  • readings advance quickly in difficulty. Lessons in the elementary section (Part 2) introduce up to 34 new vocab words written with kanji for each short reading. Intermediate (Part 3) readings are longer, but the first one introduces 58 new words.


  • There are a few explanatory grammar notes, but as with all graded readers, the book assumes that you are learning grammar from some other source in parallel with your reading. Sentences in the elementary section (Part 2) of this book use grammar and vocab from the old textbook, Essential Japanese, by Samuel Martin
  • Kanji are introduced in context, that is, as part of a vocab word to be memorized as a whole. This is different from the WK approach of learning single kanji with reading(s) first, and later seeing it in a vocab word.
  • The table of contents and most of the introduction to the book are available on the Amazon look inside feature.

This is a book I turn to when I feel like I want something additional to supplement or reinforce what I’ve been learning elsewhere. So far, I’ve read through the end of the elementary section, but the small amount of time I’ve been devoting to studying Japanese means I’m progressing at a slow pace, and going through one book extremely slowly feels demotivating, so recently I have mainly been using other materials. Plus, the subject matter so far hasn’t been very interesting to me (seems like a lot about business and military, although I did enjoy the reading about Japanese houses).
I hope this helps you and wasn’t too long :sweat_smile:



That was much more in-depth than I dared hope for, and very useful!


Hello readers,

I just came upon the You Can Read Smoothly ‘Ikki Ni Yomeru’ Series on OMG Japan and it says some of the books is based on Akutagawa Ryunosuke’s work and that it’s illustrated by an animator who worked on Mononoke Hime named Yoshiyuki Momose. Say no more!

It says “aimed at Japanese elementary 1st graders with short quiz questions to check your reading.”

Any thoughts on what level I should be before I buy one of these cutie leafy treat?

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Oh gosh, I missed this at the time, sorry. Do you mean WaniKani level? I imagine that your level of grammar knowledge will be much more important than how many kanji you know.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that the Japanese school system does not align particularly with the learning journey of a non-native speaker. So the grammar will not be nicely constrained to N5 level grammar. Resources aimed at young children are often very light on kanji as well, which you may be surprised to find makes it much harder for you to understand; lacking the kind of innate experience of the language that a child will have and with a smaller vocabulary, it can make it quite difficult to parse out the words in the sentence.

If they’re not too expensive, why not buy one and see how it looks? :slightly_smiling_face: if you keep picking it up every now and then you’ll discover at some point that you can read it, which will be the easiest way to gauge!


Especially since it says they are aimed at elementary school students. I assume almost everything will have furigana.

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This guide contains so much useful information, and I know it’s already pinned to the “Reading” section of the forum – but it seems like people don’t see it in this subsection.
Does anyone know if it’s technically possible to pin it to the parent “Japanese Language” section? EDIT: maybe it already is!! People just don’t see it :woman_shrugging:

It has almost all the answers to the common “what should I start reading” and “how do I buy ebooks” questions…


Well it’s super awesome to hear that you think it’s that useful :blush:

I put it together soon after the reading sub-section was first created, when it felt like there was a constant stream of topics on the theme of “what should I start to read” or “how do I start reading”, and we all weighed in each time with more or less the same comments. So it’s definitely designed with the intention of answering those kinds of questions.

But people just aren’t always going to see it, I guess - even if it’s at the top, it’s still just one of a long list of topics in the section.

I don’t think it is pinned to the top of the resources section - I think it’s just near the top because you posted here. But I imagine it would only slightly reduce the number of who don’t find it anyway.

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Paying attention to and familiarizing myself with radicals helped me extremely when learning Individual kanji and will greatly speed up your pace of learning them to rapid degree only if you can see the similarities in which kanji have the same radicals.

Thank you very much for this extensive overview.

I absolutely wanted to read anything because i ve been stuck on my 500 reviews for like 3 years now and desperatly try to get some motivation to slam some kanji in my brain.

Those graded free books are not even bad but that furigana makes me too lazy.

Therefore i’m currently to try setting up my phone to be able to read japanese ebooks but i’m still struggling with it as i can only find the local non japanese kindle up. I still must spend a bit ,ore time figuring out that problem since i’m not much of an ebook reader in the first place.

I try to avoid japanese paperbooks due to weight and shipping.

I will probably aiming with my current level for chi’s Sweet home or something the like so that i can sped a thirty minutes reading and 30 minutes wanikani app or something the like in hope to be making final some progress again.

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Kindle app from European Google Play store works with my Japanese account, you don’t need Japanese app specifically.
Edit: My Japanese account uses different e-mail than my other Amazon accounts though.

It does? Was hoping for the same thing but it wouldn’t eat my japanese amazon login i just created for that very purpose… strange indeed…

Hmmm. Did you already added a physical Japanese address to your account? You can’t browse through Kindle e-books before you do it, so maybe that’s the problem.

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Honestly if you’re trying to read on your phone I’d just make an account on Bookwalker instead. The whole JP Amazon Kindle thing is a massive pain. Sometimes I even have to use a VPN to convince it I’m in Japan so it will work for me on my laptop when I’m browsing.

With Bookwalker you just have one account, easily can switch back and forth from the JP store and English store, and you don’t have to deal with setting up a JP address and making your credit card work, etc.


No i think it didn’t do that step, that might be it.