What level would I be able to start reading Yotsuba?

Just like the title says.

And when’s a good time to start reading manga, in general?


The limiting factor in reading manga aimed at children and teens is usually not kanji, but rather grammar and vocab. Many manga have furigana on all kanji, so you wouldn’t need to be any particular level to be able to check the meaning of any given word. But grammar is tougher to check on the fly.

So, I would say, whenever you feel motivated to push through the hassle that is looking that kind of stuff regularly is a good time to start.


I agree 100% with Leebo. Wanikani will help you, but it’s not a “cure-all” solution.

Just want to add that the forums have a book club for yotsubato. It’s a place where you can check people asking questions and more advanced learners helping with cool explanations. It will certainly make your reading flow much better :smiling_face:


In addition to both comments above, in my experience ~N4 is a good time to start reading manga.


Yotusba was the first manga I ever read, and my level was zero. I did it here in the Yotsuba bookclub and if you look at the threads you’ll see hundreds of questions there from me, and others, and hundreds of really useful answers - and lots of fun! So, armed with volume one, and the bookclub, so long as you can read hiragana, you could start right away.


I just started reading Yotsuba on Bilingualmanga, i’m WK level 20 and Bunpro mid of N4 grammar (L34).
While there’s a lot i don’t understand and have to look up, it’s fun and extremely instructional. picking up lots of words and phrases.
my pace is quite slow of course, i finished two chapters in a few hours.

without being able to select text and switch to english translation in one click on bilingualmanga it would require much more work though.
just always try to read the japanese first before checking a translation.

But yeah, as marcusp said, as long as you know just a little vocab and grammar, go ahead and try it. Even if you don’t understand a lot, i think it’s excellent practice. You’ll learn a lot.


Also, before you buy it you can read the sample on amazon.jp.

If you can’t understand enough for your liking yet, check back regularly and buy it when it feels right.


I tried to read yotsuba by myself several times when I was starting to study grammar. And while you can do it veeeery slowly with minimal knowledge, I feel like it became more manageable when I was done with genki 1+2, so roughly N4 grammar.

A good time to start is now! just join the book clubs and learn on the spot. It’s great practice!


I just started it this last weekend, and wanikani level 32 is not enough, by itself. I don’t think wanikani level 60 is enough, by itself. You’re going to need grammar and common non-kanji vocabulary.

The good news is, that means you might as well start now. :slight_smile:


I remember when I first tried reading Yotsuba in Japanese. I’d already read it in English, and everyone (online in general) goes on about how it’s the best thing for a beginner to read in Japanese, so I figured I’d give it a shot (even though my grammar knowledge was all over the place and lacking in a lot of areas).

Trying to read it, I failed miserably. At that point, I gave up on reading manga for a while, but didn’t know what resources were available to learn grammar well. I failed to make any grammar progress. I had been learning new vocabulary for a while, and continued to do so.

Some time later, I decided to read the whole first volume, without looking anything up. Just read and understand what I understand based on what grammar and vocabulary I did know, and what I remembered from reading it in English many years prior (not much).

The result? Not much. I didn’t get anything out of it.

This year, I upped my grammar knowledge (any N5 I was lacking, and more N4), and joined book clubs in the community here. This pushed me to start looking up grammar I didn’t know. When I returned to Yotsuba, I was able to make my way through volume one, and understood a lot of it! Grammar was the big thing, but having an increased vocabulary helped keep me from having to look up every word. While knowing kanji isn’t necessary due to furigana, being able recognize some kanji is always nice.

I’d say, give it a try. If you can’t understand it, learn more grammar and vocabulary. You can either use Yotsuba as a launching point to learn even more grammar in context of native material, or shelf it for a bit, trying again from time to time to see if the latest grammar you’ve learned elsewhere shows up in the comic.

I find there’s a good mix of very easy chapters (especially when there’s little dialogue, and most of it revolves around the kids talking) and very difficult chapters (when it’s the adults together talking, and even Yotsuba’s lost on what’s being said). Some of the easiest chapters show up in later volumes.


Thanks a lot for your advice, everyone. I work on WK a little longer and work on upping my grammar and vocabular. I’ll try to get back to you on how it goes. :slight_smile:


So, how did it go?

And, if you are still reading Yotsuba, I don’t know if you noticed, but we have set up a weekly live reading, starting June 6th. See you there?!


I read the first volume of that manga when I was around level 12. It was a bit annoying because there is very little kanji. In manga it is often the case that adults will “use” kanji when they speak and children will not. This is a narrative device peculiar to Japanese and is extremely frustrating to the learner (or it was for me at least).
Yotsuba also uses a lot of funny/improper words in order to come off as naive and loveably stupid/silly; it’s part of her character. All in all, it was not a very hard manga, and was the very first manga I ever read. I opted not to continue the series as I didn’t see it really helping me learn much.
Now I read a lot of manga, and fairly difficult manga at that; this is only because I put in the effort and made the leap from easy stuff to normal manga. Level 17 should be a good place to start reading easy to normal manga, so I say jump on in.

As far as Yotsuba, I’d reccommend choosing something else that is also a fairly easy; if you’re dead set on her though, grab a single volume and give it a shot. Just remember that it won’t necessarily reflect your actual reading ability.

When choosing a manga as a beginner I recommend you keep a few things in mind:
1: It has furigana on most words, if not all
2: It is not aimed specifically at children as it will lack most kanji
3: it is not set in a sci-fi/fantasy world. They will use a lot of difficult and useless kanji in order to convey ‘sci-fi-ness.’
4: It is not a samurai period piece. Dialect, especially Edo period, is pretty different, and the author will purposely use a lot of it to draw the reader into the time period. If you are interested in this sort of stuff, go for it, but it will be extra work, as common phrases like すみません will be different to varying degrees.
5: Avoid yakuza/street punk manga. This will use a ton of slang that you simply won’t understand and will have difficulty looking up.

The most important thing is to find something that captures your attention and makes you want to read more. There is nothing worse than for reading manga to be more of a chore than it is fun. The horror manga of Ito Junji was my key there. Uzumaki was the most difficult manga I had ever read when I picked it up, and i spent at least an hour (usually 2) on it every day. It took forever to read. But it was absolutely fascinating and every day I couldn’t wait to get back into it, because I really wanted to know what happened next. Finding this sort of feeling should be your goal.
There’s nothing wrong with buying a couple different mangas and trying them out. Nothing wrong with putting them down if they are too hard or not captivating.
Good luck!


Me too! Yotsuba vol.1 was the first manga I ever read, I read it along with the bookclub here, and so it will always be special to me. I remember getting to the last page and the sense of satisfaction that brought! I’ve since read a few more volumes of Yotsuba, all with the club here, and so I’m really looking forward to the live reading that starts June 6th!

LOL! Yes, I read a lot of Gundam manag too, but it was tough. Still, it was great fun and I hope to go back and finish it off sooner rather than later!

Indeed! Absolutely!

Thanks for posting!


Yeah that sense of satisfaction is unbeatable!
As I have improved my Japanese perhaps I’ll jump back into Yotsuba just for fun. I’ve always wanted to know what’s the deal with that cardboard guy anyways!


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