What WK Level Should You Start Reading Japanese Literature, Manga, Light Novels etc

Hey guys,

I’m a fairly new WK user, but I’ve been learning Japanese for 7 months now. One of the things i really want to start as soon as possible is reading Japanese books, purely because thats the best way to absorb grammar, vocab etc.

My Kanji knowledge is pretty much at my WK level, but i was curious at which level is a good level to start reading Japanese books, mangas etc?

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The general consensus is that you should start immersing yourself as much as possible right from the beginning.
As far as going by a wanikani level, I’d say between level 10-20 is a good starting point. At that point you’ll know quite a few common kanji. But I don’t think it’s a bad idea to try to read what you can now.
Though that being said, your wanikani level is not representative of your japanese skills, so proceed with cauton :wink:


As soon as you can, provided the stuff you’re interested in reading isn’t really complex. I’d definitely recommend starting with manga, as visual clues help a lot compared to something like a novel.

How smoothly you can transition into it will have a lot to do with how long you’ve been immersed in Japanese media. That was me for about 18 years before I started WK, so I had a lot of grammar and stuff learned informally though osmosis, which helped me start reading without formally studying grammar (yet). The less Japanese you’ve been informally exposed to, the more you might need to formally study before you can feel comfortable reading and such.

But give it a try. I bet you’ll understand more than you expected. That was the case with me and it’s only gone better and better as I’ve stuck with WK.


I tried reading some baby books. It was hard, but satisfying. But it did make me decide to do some bunpro before getting into it.

I think that as far as beginners books go, Grammar is more a blocking issue than kanji… But maybe that’s just me

Edit: oops didn’t mean to reply OH WELL


I would suggest knowing a little bit of grammar first, and then find reading material that would correspond to your current knowledge level +1. That way, you would keep on improving, yet won’t be likely to burn out. If the materials is too difficult, find something easier, and vice-versa.

Try the graded readers, they’re a pretty good series to start with!


Hehe, no worries xD

You are absolutely right on the grammar part, though. Even though I can recognize a lot of kanji by now, I still have a lot of trouble understanding even simple sentences, because I haven’t indulged in a lot of grammar, yet.


Ah I see your point, thank you for your comment :slight_smile:

Aha! I just started using that too! :slight_smile:

I think I might buy some childrens books at level 5 - I have up to Genki 2 grammar knowledge, but I’m using a文ポロ now to improve grammar.

Graded Readers are a great way to start. The White Rabbit collection is one that I’m very fond of. I started with level 0 after about 3 or so months into studying.

Now doing level 2… today I read the saddest elephant story in those :open_mouth: … so don’t let the great artwork to let you think it’s chidren material… I hope no japanese kids is reading these as nightime stories.

Anyway they should keep you reading until N3-N2 level… there’re other series of graded readers that go further… But I’m guessing at that point you could pick up some native material aimed for kids at around 11-12 years… so the options are wider by then.

PS: I would avoid too basic children readings, as they are aimed for children, which already have a knowledge of japanese. So they could be graded kanji wise, but with far broader vocab that the one you could have and topics aimed to small kids :sweat_smile: … just saying…


The first thing I started out reading is NHK Easy because it’s targeted at kids and people who don’t have a complete knowledge of Kanji. Also, because it’s news and current events, you’re likely to already know the context of the articles. Many of the articles also come with audio recordings so you can listen and follow along! Since it also has furigana, you could start reading it now, no kanji knowledge required.

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How many stories does it have? I mean per volume/level?

Those graded readers are quite expensive where I live and I want to know which ones are worth buying…

I’m guessing level 0 is not really that useful? or higher levels when you can start reading native material.

Which ones do you recommend?

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You can also check out the local university’s library in the foreign languages section, or if you’re lucky, the library at your local Japan cultural center.

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Level 0 comes with 6 stories for every volume. and there’re 3 volumes for each level.
After level 0 it’s 5 stories for volume for the rest of the series.

For 500-800 vocab, starting with kanji I would recommend level 0 or 1. The grammar should be in the N5 level.
Level 2 it’s supposed to be more N4. I would recommend it if already you’re past a beginner grammar textbook and the 1000-1500 vocab.

PS: there’s also the series にほんご多読ブクス in amazon.co.jp, it goes with the same graded system, but a bit further with a level 5 included. It might be worth looking.


For me, the immersion technique did not work out. Trying to read too much too fast totally wore me out and discouraged me. It all just looked like… well, like it was written in Japanese.

I just started reading one of the recommended “easy” mangas, and it’s slow going, but it’s finally GOING. For reading preparation, you’ll need more grammar knowledge than vocab/kanji. You can always look up a word you don’t know, but recognizing a verb tense is a much more difficult thing. I can recommend really trying to read in the wild at about WK level 6 or 7, and more importantly, when you can conjugate verbs, and can recognize a dozen common particles or so.


This was what I didn’t want to happen with me x’D I ended up saving reading until closer to level 20, towards the end of last year. I would glance occassionally at sentences and brush up on grammar here and there, but I wanted to get a good amount of kanji and vocab under my belt before I started. I then went to NHK Easy and now I’m doing manga.

I could’ve definitely started earlier, around at least level 10, but I put off the grammar until later. I’m glad I waited though, it’s going pretty well and I’m happy with the progress. But of course, it always depends on the person.

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NHK Easy - still seems beyond me… :frowning:. ATM its 難しいにほんのニュースです not やさしいにほんのニュースです.

Anyways, not why I’m here for, the most beginner friendly resource i have seen and even used a tiny bit is N5-Beginner タグが付けられた記事一覧を表示しています。 -free web magazine written in easy Japanese language - This was the first website were i read an article (on Godzilla release) and kind of understood it. Not completely, but it felt like a huge achievement reading something beyond a structed textbook review lesson. I really like the layout of this site, you can hover over words, toggle language between English and Japanese, looks nice and user friendly.

I would love to know if there any sites similar to this site, and no i’m not affiliated with this site or anything for promoting.

Another site that seems quite beginner friendly - probably a bit higher level is https://matcha-jp.com/easy . I haven’t used this site. I booked marked it for a later date. but the text front seems friendly, the text is large and that pink cake looks nice to eat,

I really should start using these, and get back into grammer studies, Ive been using wanikani and memrise daily(mostly) to try build vocab and enforce kanji, but havent really dont anything beyond that, except starting to draw kanji to try improve memory…

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There’s an app on the iPhone that someone recommended in another thread, TangoRisto. It has NHK and NHK easy, and you can sort the easiest stories to the top so you can find some good starting material. I haven’t played around with it too much, but it’s a good app so far.

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I just happened to run across this tofugu article:

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