What’s your set up for reading?

I don’t read as much as I would like. One thing that put me off is not really finding a good set up which works for me.

With WaniKani it is easy. Any spare moment on my ipad, I can spend 20 minutes efficiently doing reviews.

With reading as an Absolute Beginner, I’ve never really cracked it. I have bought one or two physical copies, but the print is a bit small, (and my latest one doesn’t have page numbers).

With an on line book (dropping in and out of the wonderful Bookclub excel spreadsheet and looking up things on jisho), I never seem to have enough screens and it is easy to lose track of what I am doing.

Any recommendations for good ways of accessing books and all the help available. PC, phone, tablet etc. What do you use for what?


I have run in the exact same problems as you. That’s why I decided to sign up for Satori Reader . A lot of content, look ups and grammar notes when just clicking on the words, and bonus, it has voice too!
So I’m enjoying making progress with that, and saving all the other materials for when my reading will be better and need less lookups.


Here’s a screenshot of my setup, works well for me!
Kindle for PC and Jisho


If you don’t mind reading in front of a computer and have an ePub version of your book, using Yomichan+ttu reader is about as convenient as it can get.
An alternative on iOS that people seem to like is Immersion Reader (which is basically an alternative to Yomichan on iOS)
People have also been using Yomichan on Android devices with Kiwi Browser.
I guess I’m saying “Convert your books to ePub and use Yomichan”, but I don’t think there is a more convenient tool for looking up words while reading.

And if you don’t want to create flashcards while reading, a good old Kindle Paperwhite works fine.


I buy ebooks off Book Walker. Absolute godsend. Especially for me since I’ve never been to Japan.

For physical books, I know it’s not exactly what you’re asking, but a good book-holder makes all the difference. With the tight bindings of Japanese books, getting a hands-free workflow makes perseverance astronomically easier. I have two but I also improvised one using a clear file/folder holder from an office supply store.

Japanese.io is what I use most often. I can copy-paste text and let the site’s parser do a lot of the work. I usually open WaniKani, BunPro, Japanese.io, Anki, Jisho, and OJAD on the device I’m closest to. I also have a Dictionaries app with Meikyo and Daijirin (they’re expensive but it’s worth it when you’re ready to learn Japanese in Japanese). I use DeepL as a last resort or to check work I’ve already done.

You’re going to go slowly for a long time. There’s no avoiding it. But try not to look up every single word. Practice guessing from context the way you might in English. I try to mix up my practice. Sometimes I’ll try to just get the gist (especially in manga or things I’ve seen in English) and other times I’ll read more deliberately (usually with nonfiction).


Here’s mine:

Books: CDjapan or Amazon JP will ship to many places abroad, but in all cases the ROI depends on how much you buy at one time.

Manga (and light novels): mostly from Mandarake.

I use a combo of looking up via radicals in jisho and Google translate on my phone to interpret the kanji and then search that.

News: I use the Todai Easy Japanese app, which allows quick word lookup and sorts articles by JLPT level word usages. I think you can read 3 articles free each day or so, but I got the lifetime when it was on sale last new years.

Misc: Satori read is similar, but they have fictional stories they’ve written.

Books: I get from Amazon JP and read on my Kindle reader which has a dictionary.

Manga: I get from Bookwalker and read on my big tablet. Looking up words is harder since it’s usually pictures not selectable text. Pretty much lookup the same as physical copies.

Games: I use Steam or emulation on my PC. I haven’t used a text hooker yet, but they appear to be convenient so I’m looking into it. Ones with audio log to replay make it much easier to get through.


For physical books in the US, check out Kinokuniya USA. They have stores in many US cities, and also recently upgraded their web store (which was terrible).


I have 2 setups, one if I’m at a computer, and one if I’m on my phone. The point of both of them is making the pain of looking up words less prevalent, as that’s what is the most mental effort for me.

PC setup

I have 2 browser tabs next to eachother, one with the book/manga, and one with the dictionary, and deepl if I get completely stuck on a sentence. This is great, because you can easily look up words you don’t know without having to awkwardly switch back and forth between tabs or anything, which makes looking up unknown kanji a breeze. Additionally, though not shown here, I download my books using the windows kindle app, dedrm them (which is legal, as far as you don’t then share the book with anyone), and read them that way, because the kindle web reader has poor quality for anti theft purposes.

Additionally, for manga lacking furigana, I took a page out of @ChristopherFritz’s book, and run them through Mokuro, which makes the text selectable and converts the whole thing into a neat web format similar to what you would see on a less legal site. It’s very very far from perfect, but the less barriers you have between you and knowing what a word on your page means, the less frustrating the reading experience will be.

Phone setup

The phone setup is very similar to the pc setup (ha! you thought you could get away with reading only this one). I have both the manga and Jotoba (my dictionary) and deepl open at the same time, so when I have to look up a word, I can easily see the word and what I’m searching at the same time. I have a Redmi Note 10, and that has this great feature, that let’s you float apps over other apps in a minified form, while still making them accessible:

This means the dictionary is usually out of the way enough (though I still need to juggle it sometimes).

I do most of my reading on my phone, because I can do that while traveling or being away, but if I have my tablet ready, that has multi-tasking support, which is pretty similar, though typing on it is just horrendous, so I rarely use it.

If I’m doing a word heavy read, or one I’m very familiar with already, I don’t often need to touch a dictionary, which means I can read pretty quickly, but especially a kanji heavy book like the examples above, and especially especially if it doesn’t have furigana, this makes it less tedious and more enjoyable.


for pc there’s ttsu reader that has yomichan capabilities so I recommend checking that out

aside from yomichan i just use kanjitomo for manga because looking up every words on jisho/weblio gets annoying after a while - alternatively you could use mokuro for yomichanning with manga

this is my setup for vns


I’ve bought a few things from them, but tbh I think they’re just too expensive compared to doing a bulk import haul. I’d occasionally get stuff in store when I lived in Cali, but since moving have only bought once for some items I was having trouble finding elsewhere.


My setup is paper books, and a single-purpose electronic dictionary.

Paper books : largely because four decades of reading dead trees has given me an emotional attachment to the medium. They are more expensive to import, but such is life. I used to order from hon.to, who for many years had the cheapest shipping (including a ship-by-seamail option if you were willing to wait three months for books to arrive); sadly they recently stopped doing international shipping. I made several orders with amazon.co.jp (easy, big stock), and am waiting for parcels to arrive from cdjapan.co.jp (don’t stock some stuff, currently cheaper on shipping than amazon) and kinokuniya.co.jp (good selection, website is Japanese-only, some weird quirks like not letting you specify a different delivery address, shipping which is either great value if your parcel is 1.95kg or terrible value if it’s 2.05kg). When I get the opportunity to visit Japan (maybe 2024?) I visit Book-Off and fill my luggage up with books; occasionally I even fill a box with second hand books and get Japan Post to send it back via seamail…

I’ve nearly filled five shelves with read books; I should really take some photos for the ‘show me your books’ thread soon…

Electronic dictionary


If you’re going to read on paper you do need to put some attention into making dictionary lookups as easy as possible. I love my Casio Ex-Word XD-GP9700, which has keyboard and handwritten input and has the Daijisen and Meikyo J-J dictionaries plus the Kenkyusha J-E (aka the “Green Goddess”, usually considered the best of the commercial J-E dictionaries). I know you can do this on a smartphone these days, but I got this back in the earlylate 2000s, and in any case I like the special-purpose nature of it that means I don’t ever get distracted into checking messages or browsing the web. (I have a “no internet in bed” rule, and reading in bed is usually when I get the most time spent reading without getting distracted.) If it broke I’d buy a new one tomorrow – or perhaps I’d buy a second-hand one: I checked out of curiosity and the current model lineup isn’t really much better than the one I have now. The main features I’d like extra would be one of the “big” J-J dictionaries, and pictures and maps in the encyclopedia.


Oh I remember reading these LingoMastery books. Fun times.


I read almost entirely using Bookwalker on my iPad, I just flick back and forth to my dictionary app or Jisho if I can’t find it in the Bookwalker dictionary.


I’m curious, do you ever run into situations, where you can’t find a word in that dictionary? And if yes, how often? I would assume these have some drawbacks in terms of actual word contents


Only very rarely. The Daijisen has 220,000 entries, Meikyo 65,000 and the Kenkyusha 130,000. So I occasionally find a word where I have to use the J-J dictionary, but not much where it’s completely lacking. I think JMdict based dictionaries (i.e. jisho.org etc, 190,000 entries) are a little more comprehensive than the Kenkyusha if you need J-E and probably more up-to-date with slang and technical terms; but for the stuff I read i don’t run into that.


As an absolute beginner Crystal Hunters manga teaches you Japanese and you can read it off of Amazon kindle.

As for reading manga in general you can use Bookwalker for reading digitally and then use the app Nihongo Pro which is an iOS app. You take a screenshot of the page you are reading and open it/upload image into the app. Then you can click on any word to see the English definition and you can also can make flashcards for the words you want to learn. The app has an SRS system when it comes to studying the vocabulary words as well. This is done all on one screen on my iPad.


I didn’t know Bookwalker has a dictionary! Can I ask what you’ve been reading? None of my manga or nonfiction seem to have selectable text.

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I use Bookwalker, syncing between smartphone and tablet. It also syncs to PC, but I don’t usually read on that. Smartphone has convenience, while tablet has comfort. PC has VN and other materials.

The dictionary app is usually Aedict on smartphone, where it has more than JMdict and KANJIC (e.g. Proper Names, Bio-Medical). Also it is fully offline, but the contents get updated periodically. Searching is via either English keyboard (+ dictionary-dependent Kana guessing), Kana keyboard, or Handwriting keyboard (GBoard, actually). Kanji handwriting, afaik natively in any dictionary, sucks; also they don’t accept Kana handwriting.

Aedict entries also have a hyperlink to Goo in beginning-with mode. However, browsing Goo in mobile is worse compared to PC. Also it needs to be online. I don’t have an offline monolingual dictionary on Android.

Occasionally, there is no dictionary results. Aedict sometimes allows saving non-entries to History. However, Akebi, which I don’t use much nowadays, remember searching keywords (i.e. custom keywords).

Akebi can easily be popped up when reading on a mobile web browser. The downside is JMdict doesn’t get updated in this app.

When reading with tablet, I look up on smartphone; so it is easy. But when reading with smartphone, I need to switch apps, so it gets inconvenient sometimes. (Bookwalker grey out and resync on switching apps.)

Reading light novels on Bookwalker has Google Translate and searching on the web. However, it is nothing like a proper dictionary.

Yomichan is used when typing in to Discourse (right here) or Google Sheets; so it is manual for what I want to look up further. It is also used when reading on PC web browser, of course. Yomichan is the only means currently, for me to add to Anki (in suspended mode).


I read a variety of things, but light novels such as 夜カフェ have selectable text. Manga don’t as essentially the pages are images not text.


I bought some light novels last night and I finally got the text selecting to work. Thanks!

It looks like I just had bad luck with the books that I bought. I bought some math books but those are just images as well. Selecting text is disabled. That seems silly considering that wording is important in math. I guess this is a case of 仕方がない…