What was your first experience in reading?Tips?

Hello! Well, I’ve been studying Japanese for nearly 6 months now and I want to finally start reading! Or so I thought, but when I started to tackle manga, I found out that I can barely understand a thing. I doubt I will quit trying, but I still want to hear your stories about how you started reading(big phase in learning!) and what advice you can give me.
Also, please, don’t say about reading clubs in Wani Kani. Thing is, I am pirate of the pirates(actually, planning to become a captain, Captain End) and only read the free resources, for the clubs, it’s a no-no(no such free meals in existence). Also, for me, books currently look like some God’s Revelation, that I can’t even begin to comprehend, in mangas I at least have some basic sense of things going on.


Well, there’s book clubs here in WaniKani…

In all seriousness, though, I doubt I would have started reading without the book clubs. In the past I’ve bought a number of volumes of manga and manga magazines in Japanese with a thought of “yeah, I’ll definitely get around to reading this someday”, but they just sit on my shelf gathering dust. It wasn’t until I joined the Yotsubato and Aria book clubs here that I actually started reading anything.

Buuut, if you’re violently opposed to the book clubs, here’s one option for free reading materials:



I started withe graded readers. The ASK graded readers are good but rather expensive. There are pretty good free ones here:

These are a good way to ease in to reading.


It’s not that I oppose them, it’s just that I can’t find where to read these materials for free. I am not ready to pay for something I can barely understand and may even dump after a few pages.

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There are coughcough “options”. I’m sure I wouldn’t know what they were, though. :slightly_smiling_face:


Can we… discuss something between us gentelmens?You know, weather, politics and stuff?


Since no one has asked yet, what have you studied for Japanese outside of WaniKani?

The first thing I legitimately attempted to read (and finished) was オオカミさんと七人の仲間たち. I saw the anime and was super disappointed that that was it, so I picked up the light novel and just dug my way through the first volume, looking up everything and anything.

Would not recommend unless looking stuff up doesn’t hamper your enjoyment of the content (and you want to spend that much time doing that). I followed up with much shorter material (manga, doujinshis, comic strips on Pixiv) before I jumped into any other novels.

I second the graded readers if you don’t want reading to be a huge slog. 4komas are usually pretty okay too.

I also have totally illegal copies of 氷菓, so you can find that on the Seven Seas…


Well, I had my grammar practice(learned till N3, altough not so firmly) and some hearing practice, but that’s it.I plan to learn japanese via reading, because it’s the only thing I can stick to.


That’s plenty to start reading. It may be tedious, but you have to be willing to use a dictionary a lot to look up words you don’t know. I’d recommend starting with something with furigana so you don’t have to look up words with kanji you don’t know, because that takes a lot longer.

As for the cost, it just comes with the territory… we all inevitably buy something and then don’t end up reading it. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. The alternative is easier (but even more expensive) graded readers, or reading what you can get online for free. I’ve spent hundreds of dollars on Japanese books so far, but it’s worth it to me.


Might I suggest this thread?

Bookwalker Freebies Thread

It’s free and easy to sign up for bookwalker, and some of the free items are even used as book club material here. Flying Witch goes up as a freebie fairly frequently, and Chi’s Sweet Home has made free appearances, too. There’s so many mainstream manga freebies as well as a few hidden gems, and there’s no reason not to pick them up if they’re legit free, right?


Aria is really calling me more and more…


Had a similiar situation to yours (and still kinda have). Was level 15, had N5 and N4 grammar all covered and wanted to start reading. Graded Readers were way to easy, though. These are suited better for levels 10-15 imho (lvl 4 GRs are an okay first choice i guess). Slice-of-life manga like yotsubato and flying witch were actually on the doable, yet not too easy side. But they were kinda boring (i´m more into fantasy stuff), so i dropped them. Then i went on to NHK easy and since then it has been very beneficial for my reading! Currently going through 4 articles per day, and i don´t even need 5 minutes for some of them. I swear, these corona virus articles are so frequent, i feel i´m almost reading them at native level at this point lol. Thing is - this, too, is becoming way too easy just like the GRs, so i tried Satori Reader, which is an alright help. A bit hit or miss, though, when it comes to useful vocab and interesting reads i assume.

My next step is learning via video games. From what i´ve seen, Ace Attorney in JP looks challenging but doable, so it´s in a good sweetspot i feel like. Lawyer vocab is interesting to me as well, so that helps!

So what you can take away from this: NHK easy (mainly for reading speed) and generelly stuff you´re interested in (visual novels seem like a good choice, if you´re into that). The beginning is always the hardest part.


After finishing genki 1 I have started in of the absolute beginner clubs and I am right there with you in regards to understanding nothing! I have to plug most sentences into a word by word translator and put the pieces of the puzzle together that way. I think its pretty useful though, you get to see more “natural” sentences as opposed to ones created specifically for your lesson like in Genki. The book clubs on here are definitely a big help to beginners, as they have experienced people tweaking your translations.


I jumped in with NHK Easy News. Short articles, furigana, word definitions, audio, etc. Very practical.

Still took a while to get used to - at first there were a lot of words I constantly had to look up. But the more you practice the better you get.


Seconding starting with graded readers! I started them while I was going through Genki I and found them easy to read. Once I finished Genki I and level 1 of the graded readers I was using, I jumped into manga. I’d really recommend starting with a simple manga that you’ve already read before in your native language. I’m reading 黒子のバスケ which I watched the anime of years ago when it came out. You don’t have to worry about getting lost because you already know the story, but it’s good reading practice with something you already know you like.


My first experience is the absolute beginners book club, we are currently reading なぜ?どうして?科学のお話. I just started, and although its difficult and there is a lot of google translating, japandict or seeing other’s translations in the thread it definitely helps. For example some vocab just gets ingrained in you like I learned the word part(部) before encountering it in WK.
I think just do it, and join a club.


Can I recommend the “Free Online Resources” tab of this thread?

You will find there such wonders as free graded readers (already mentioned by others), PIBO, Wasabi, NHK News Easy, Watanoc…

You can read a certain amount of the content on Satori Reader for free.

There is also the free EhonNavi collection and an associated club on the forums - it doesn’t have a fixed schedule, but you might find it motivational regardless, and can get help there.

I got started out with some random bilingual books, and then I read Flying Witch (pretty slowly) on my own, and then I joined the Beginner Book Club. If you find an eBook that we’ve read in the past available free from BookWalker or wherever, the vocabulary sheet and historic grammar discussions will still be invaluable.


If you are interested in manga, there is a few free issues on here. helps to have a visual aid sometimes. it has chapters from some popular manga like One Piece, Assassination Classroom, and others.

The problem though: you can’t highlight text, so looking up words would be a bit hard.


You might want to check out kindle. Most of it isn’t free, but most (if not all) books/manga have free samples, which will give you a good idea of how much you will understand before you have to pay. The in app dictionary is also pretty helpful (though it sometimes fails to recognize conjugated words, particularly in kana).