Resources for Starting to Read Japanese Content


I didn’t even twig you were wanting to know how much the points are worth :see_no_evil: :see_no_evil: :see_no_evil:

I’ll just see myself out now… of my own thread…

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Ahh no, I just thought that maybe the points were for something else and that’s why I couldn’t use them for paying. But it didn’t cross my mind that the points were basically just Yen, haha. I thought they were two different currencies.


I don’t see Bookwalker being mentioned a lot, but you’re able to get a lot of free digital manga here. They have sales or campaigns every week on different series, sometimes even entire publishers or sitewide. A lot of series accept payment from paypal instead of a credit card too, which is a plus for me. Naturally, it has the points system too, though it pays better in points than honto and ebookjapan when you rank up or during their coin up campaigns.

The current free manga is here:

I’d go for the ones that say 0円 rather than 無料 since the 0 yen ones are on your account forever and the むりょう ones are only available to read for free for a limited time.

I’ve gotten things like Volumes 1 and 2 of Mushishi, Volumes 1-3 of Hoozuki no Reitetsu, and Volume 1 of the older Kindaichi Shounen no Jikenbo for free. More recently, volumes 1 and 2 of Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso were free. The quality is great too.


Is there any point at which it is advisable to start reading? Or do you just go for it? At my current level I still miss a bunch of words and only get N5-N4 grammar.

From the guide ^^


If you’re interested, you can join the Beginner Book Club. We’re going to start a new manga around September 1st.


A think you should start as soon a possible.
Vocab most likely will be the biggest limitation to pick native material, even if aimed at very young audiences; that’s why WK vocab shouldn’t be your only resource for that.
Grammar will hold you back too, but I think after basic grammar there’s room to learn on the go, so you can quickly get the gist of a newly found grammar concept after reviewing it once and then been exposed multiple times to the same grammar concept.

Graded readers are a great solution to keeping you reading while closing the gap to native content, if your are struggling too much. The grammar it’s fairly constant, so you will find only that many new grammar concepts in every secuentually more advanced level. I think of it as a great complement even if you’re able to tackle native media (specially because native media for younger audicences will go very gentle with the kanji, in case you wan’t to actually use those) in the beginning.

I think the recommendations in the guide as listed above are fairly accurate, most of all because at least in my case those 20-30 levels are the ones where I’ve actually felt kanji slipping through my memory, so reading has become a wonderful aid to prevent that from happening and moreover I feel I’m gaining reassurement in all the learning I’ve done so far.

Huh, I read that a while ago and completely forgot about it. Thanks! I guess that I might as well continue reading.

Like Satori reader? And grammar has definitely been a huge problem. The biggest issue I’ve had is probably the multiple conjugation chaining.

I’ll check it out, thanks.

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Something I’ve tried lately is reading manga at
The manga there are usually colored so not your typical standard manga. They’re free so you don’t have to worry about choosing what to get, I find this really nice since you can browse through and choose one that suits you. I’ve found that just going through some of the manga has been so very helpful for my reading ability, especially since there’s such a large selection I don’t think I’ll run out of interesting material there anytime soon.


I haven’t tried Satori Reader.

I actually meant any of the collections of Graded Readers for Japanese learners (Ask, Taishukan, White Rabbit, Oxford-Brookes).
The struggle with this it’s much less in the grammar department, since grammar it’s controlled and only gradually included in every new level. Good thing it’s that if you found a new piece of grammar in the first stories of a particular level, you will find that same grammar for the rest of the level. So new grammar you review it once, and then you’ll see it across the entire series, making it extra worth it to study it in the first place, same for a lot of the new vocab you’re presented with.

Getting to an N3 level grammar-wise is best before you dive into native material. It’s too time inefficient otherwise.

I think you can be N4 grammar wise and do fine. I’m honestly not entirely sure since I haven’t picked up a textbook in ages, but I last left off around halfway through Genki II. I feel like I’m probably high N4/low N3 in terms of grammar at most. I’ve gone through a fair bit of native material, though haven’t fully completed any yet, and my largest problem has been vocab more than grammar.

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Yeah nothing wrong with just N4. I was mid-N4 when I read 魔女の宅急便 and I did well enough.


I don’t disagree, it’s just that it’s a huge PIA if you don’t come in with a good understanding of grammar.

Just as an example, I believe @seanblue said it took five months or something for the beginner group to finish 魔女の宅急便. I don’t know how much time was getting put in a day, but I read my first novel without any prior reading experience in about a month and a half (at low N2 level grammar).

In reality, you can start reading whenever you want. You can do it at N5, if you really want to. It’s just that studying grammar beforehand saves you a ton of time, which is what I meant when I said

Anyway, it just comes down to how you prefer to do things. It’s more efficient to hold off on reading, but it’s less fun. If you don’t care about learning efficiency then the point is moot - just go have fun reading stuff.


I just checked a comment I had made on the final chapter’s discussion thread when LucasDesu said he read the whole chapter in about an hour. I said in response:

I’ve been reading the chapter for around 4-5 hours over 3 sittings, and I’ve read 10 of the 23 pages in the chapter.

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I somehow missed this when you posted, sorry! I’ll add it to the purchasing / free material section, thank you :blush:

@arsdiaboli1 there is a section on graded readers in the OP :grin:

Surprised that LingQ hasn’t been mentioned here.

Honestly this is one of the best resources out there for practicing reading. There is heaps of content available on LingQ together with text and audio and what’s even better is the option to import your own content into it. The way it works is all words that you don’t know are highlighted in BLUE, then when you click on a BLUE word the definition for that word pops up on the side and it begins to appear in YELLOW and is now saved as what is called a LingQ. LingQ’s are basically words that you are in the process of learning and as you get more and more exposure to these words the meaning becomes ingrained in your memory and you move these LingQ’s to known words after which they are no longer highlighted. There are more features such as being able to translate and save whole phrases and also the ability to view content sentence-by-sentence and have the whole sentence translated in one go. It is subscription based but it’s well-worth it.

The true testament to how valuable this resource is is the fact that its founder, Steve Kaufmann, a polyglot of 15+ languages, himself uses it as a method to study languages to the point of fluency. You can check out his YouTube channel below.

By the way, a neat trick on ios for kanji look-up is to simply enable the Chinese keyboard in settings and then draw the kanji by hand into something like Jisho

It works remarkably well.

I’ve never heard of it before! It looks really awesome (though a bit expensive :scream: ) - has anybody else tried it?

not that I’m stalling while I try to work out where to put it

What’s the difference between that and just using the draw button on jisho itself?