Stories of the Japanese Prefectures (Absolute Beginner Book Club)

Welcome to 都道府県のおはなし 低学年 - Stories of the Japanese Prefectures (Lower Grade Reader) :jp:

We read this book as part of the Absolute Beginner Book Club between May and August 2022. You are still welcome to read along on your own, and hopefully you find the discussion threads and the vocab sheet we created helpful.

This book was only available as a physical book. You can try reading the introductory chapter in our prereading thread, where we broke down all the first chapter in detail. Link



This book takes you on a tour of Japan, visiting each prefecture and telling a short story from that area. The book is set out with one page per prefecture. There are 47 stories in total. The top part of the page contains the story, and the bottom part some reading comprehension questions. This book is aimed at children in Grades 1-3 of primary school.

Who should join

We’re reading this as the Absolute Beginner Book Club. This book club aims to help readers who are new to native Japanese content successfully read their first book. It will be helpful if you have completed the first volume of a beginner Japanese textbook such as Genki 1 or Japanese for Busy People. That’s around the standard required to sit JLPT N5.

If you’re not at that level yet but interested in reading along you are still very welcome to join. You might need to look up more vocab and grammar, but we try to help each other by compiling a shared vocab list and answering each other’s questions.

How it works

We create a reading schedule, with a set number of pages to work through each week. Each week we create a new discussion thread for that week’s reading. In those threads we discuss everything from vocab and grammar to the characters and story. We try to help each other by contributing to the shared vocab list, by answering each other’s questions and by keeping each other motivated.

What to expect from this book

This is a book written for Japanese elementary school students in grades 1 and 2. The text is in polite Japanese, i.e. the sort of Japanese you learn in a textbook. It uses a lot of the common kanji found in the early Wanikani levels. All the kanji have furigana. Words which use kanji not learned until later school years will be written in hiragana alone.

The grammar will be relatively straightforward and mostly that found in JLPT N5 and N4, although this is native Japanese so there might be some grammar concepts from higher JLPT levels come up occasionally. There will be a broad range of vocabulary as this is a book helping young children learn more about the world. The vocab sheet will help with this.

Overall this is going to be a step up from reading a graded reader. It will hopefully be an interesting read that will help you learn more about the geography, history and culture of Japan. :mount_fuji: :japanese_goblin:

One interesting aspect of this book is that each page contains a reading comprehension question so you really get to test your understanding!

Table of Contents

Translated with DeepL Translate: The world's most accurate translator (free version)

Map of Japan: What are prefectures?

Hokkaido: Where you can meet wild animals

Aomori: The lively Nebuta Festival

Iwate: The jagged rias coast

Miyagi: Delicious rice and Hitomebore

Akita: Are Namahage scary?

Yamagata: Cherries, a favorite

Fukushima: The secret of Goshiki-numa

Ibaraki: Natto, a healthy food

Tochigi: Monkeys in Nikko

Gunma: Konjac, a refreshing snack

Saitama: Soka senbei, a popular snack

Chiba: Japan’s sky landmarks

Tokyo: Tokyo Tower and Tokyo Sky Tree

Kanagawa: Minato-machi

Yokohama Niigata Prefecture: The time of the natural age

Toyama Prefecture: What is a Shinkiro?

A lively morning market Ishikawa

Fukui Prefecture Echizen crab, a winter treat

Yamanashi Prefecture Grapes, not pears

Nagano Prefecture: Cool summer air

Gifu Prefecture: Gashouzukuri no ie

Shizuoka Prefecture: Eighty-eight nights of tea gathering

Aichi Prefecture: Golden shachihoko and three heroes

Mie Prefecture: Shinju no hihitsu

Shiga Prefecture: Shigaraki tanuki

Kyoto Prefecture: A thousand years of Owarai and Takoyaki (octopus dumplings)

Hyogo prefecture: Tansei cider

Nara Prefecture: The Great Buddha and the Deer

Wakayama Prefecture: Ume, Ume!

Tottori Prefecture: What is Sakyu?

Shimane: Shijimi clams from Lake Shinji

Okayama: Momotaro and kibidango

Hiroshima: Aki-no-Miyajima

Yamaguchi: Akiyoshidai and Akiyoshido Cave

Tokushima: What’s awaodori?

Kagawa Prefecture: Delicious Sanuki Udon

Ehime Prefecture: The Kingdom of Mandarin Oranges

Kochi Prefecture: Katsuo no Ippon Zuri

Fukuoka Prefecture: Study Goddess

Saga Prefecture: Ariake Sea Nori and Mutugoro

Nagasaki Prefecture: Secrets of Castella

Kumamoto Prefecture: What is Igusa?

Oita Prefecture: A lot of onsen!

Miyazaki Prefecture: Tropical mangoes

Kagoshima Prefecture: Sweet potatoes for snacks

Okinawa Prefecture: The beautiful sea and Shisa (sea squirts)

Three Example Pages

How do I join in?

  1. Get yourself a copy of the book (see “buying the book” below)

  2. Click on the participation poll below to let us know you’re planning to join in

  3. Set this thread to “watching” so you get updates on the group (go just past the last post in this thread, click on the grey box that says “normal” or “tracking” and change this to “watching”)

Schedule & Discussion Thread Links

Week starting Pages
Preading 4-5
May 14 6-9
May 21 10-13
May 28 14-17
Jun 4 18-21
Jun 11 22-25
Jun 18 26-29
Jun 25 30-33
Jul 2 34-37
Jul 9 38-41
Jul 16 42-45
Jul 23 46-49
Jul 30 50-53
Aug 6 54-57
Aug 13 58-61

Vocabulary Sheet

Buying the Book

This is only available as a physical book. Some online options for buying include the below. Please let me know if you have other ideas for buying and I’ll add them here:

CD Japan : Amazon Japan : Kinokuniya USA online ordering (Kinokuniya also operates stores in Australia and some East Asian countries)

Participation poll

  • I’m planning to take part in this book club
  • I’m not sure yet
  • Not for me

0 voters

If you’ve read it before but will join in the discussion, please select ‘yes’!

Can’t wait to get started?

Download this Anki deck and start learning the Japanese prefectures now! Japanese Prefectures - AnkiWeb


Schedule Poll

Having read through the example pages I think 4 pages a week is a good speed for this book at Absolute Beginners’ pace. There are 47 prefectures so that would take us 12 weeks to read.

As each page is self contained people could choose just to read one or two pages from that week’s allocation, and still keep up with the rest of the group.

I’ll leave this poll open for a while to let people join the group and have their say.

How Fast Shall We Read?
  • I’m happy with 4 pages a week
  • I’d like to read faster
  • I’d like to read slower

0 voters


The example pages already look super lovely.
Even though I was in Japan and actually have seen the example nikkou apes ^^ I still think I will take a lot of useful knowledge and vocabulary from this book. Stoked that something so different from the current pick got chosen this time around.


I’d love to read this but the lack of an ebook option rules this out for me. Hope you have fun!


Same here, wish there was an ebook option.
(I’ll just pick up a previous book from the club while you read this one)
Enjoy the book! =)


I agree it’s a shame there is no digital version, it would be so easy to digitalise as well! I think we’ve only had one previous ABBC pick that was physical only, although famously the original BBC pick Yotsubato! was not available in digital format despite being super popular!


So with shipping the $5.83 book comes out to $22.08! Any cheaper options or ideas/suggestions?


Combine it with other books you want to have and buy 5-10 in one bulk to make the average shipping cost lower. At least that is what I’m doing. Last time my order had 24 books, therefore the shipping per book was okay.

If you don’t want to buy other stuff too, it depends on which country you live in. In Australia or USA you might be able to obtain it locally from something like Kinokunia.


CD Japan usually has cheaper (slower) shipping options which is why we set up the club 6 weeks or so in advance. Their website is a bit confusing though, some of the shipping options seem to be suspended.

1 Like

That looks pretty cool, I think I’m gonna join this one :slight_smile:
Finding out a bit about all the different prefectures is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time but never really did


Hah!!! I didn’t know about this place, thanks. One of their stores is 10 miles from where I live, so that’s awesome. I order it online and can pick it up in the store in a week to 10 days! Perfect. $10.99


Sounds like a fun challenge to me.


Amazon: 1600 yen shipping
Cd Japan: 1130 yen shipping -_-
It’s better at least… I went for the CD Japan. I can’t buy lots to save on shipping at the moment.
I miss good old “Free world wide shipping”, Amazon used to have way back when.
I checked my “Free Shipping” bookstore, as they do have a Japanese section. It is small though, so nope…


I just ordered the book! Excited to join. This will be my first time ever reading native japanese content. I’m Level 9 about to be Level 10 in the next couple days. Haven’t gone through Genki, but been doing WaniKani, Duo Lingo, and Busuu. Finished all the A1 lessons, and about 20 lessons into A2. Should I be okay be to start with this club now?


Just ordered my book. Shipping was twice the cost of the book itself. Fun. I hope the text will be clear like nothing I’ve seen before when it arrives in a few days.


Thanks for the link to the Anki deck! Much appreciated.

I’ve been meaning to learn the Japanese prefectures for years, but I never managed to stick with it before now.

This is a very simple deck with an attractive map.

I imported the deck on a desktop computer (running Anki version 2.1 49), where it works perfectly. However, I ran into a problem when I tried to sync it to an Android device (running Ankidroid version 2.15.6). The images failed to load, which makes the deck unusable. I’ve fiddled with a few settings but I can’t seem to make it work. (I’m not an expert user of Anki.) The error message says something like “Card content error: failed to load pref_kanagawa.png”.

Has anyone else encountered this problem and found a solution? Is there an Anki guru here who could walk me through a fix?

If not, I’ll just continue using it on the desktop.

One prefecture a day from now until our starting date should just about do it.


Weighed my strained shelves versus joining a book club again and the book club won this time! I hope to become more familiar with the prefecture names and learn a lot of culture elements :slight_smile:


This looks interesting, and I’m thinking of reading along if I get a copy. At least I could pass it on to my daughter to read and actually write in the pages when she’s older.

I just read a negative review about the content being too basic. I think reading-wise, this is geared towards third grade, but the content seemed to be a lot of the things that are already well known and didn’t offer fun new trivia to teach her kid so it felt like a waste.

I’m sure for most of us here that won’t be a problem. But I’ll probably check a bookstore for a hardcopy to see what it’s like before investing in a copy. If the writing activities seem helpful, then it might be worth getting for writing practice. If that happens, then I’ll join!


You’ll post all the stuff and we could follow along later by ourselves, ya?

I’ll be in Tokyo (hopefully) mid June and I’ll try to find a copy…but it will be too hard a read unless I have access to the vocab pages and everything.

1 Like

Thanks to this tip, I’ve found this book in Malaysia’s Kinokuniya too! Bought another book so I could get the local free shipping. I’m excited that this will be my first book club in WaniKani. :partying_face: