When did you first feel like you could actually read Japanese?

Not necessarily looking to get there any time soon, but I wonder when you started feeling like you could actually read things in Japanese. Not just separate kanji or whatever, but actual sentences.


I mean, it’s not the most complex Japanese there is, but when you start learning, you come across sentences like, これはペンです、私は学生です。

Those are actual sentences, and from there you start mixing things up and reading harder sentences.

If you mean specifically about kanji, or harder grammar, then it depends at what level you’re trying to read.

Not everything starts super hard, but most people don’t want to read short stories aimed towards children or stuff like that that’s easy enough for complete beginners.


When I realized that googling things in Japanese and scrolling through the results felt very casual to me.


When there’s Japanese writing displayed on Japanese TV and I just read it quickly in Japanese in my heart and understand it in Japanese without translating it.


after 1 year of attending language school, i recently bought a manga and can read it mostly casually. sometimes i look up words, but grammar is not challenging in this specific one that i bought. it feels like nice to finally be able to use japanese without needing to try/focus so hard. still a long way to go though!


That’s hard to quantify. To read anything at all? Like the other comment mentioned, takes maybe days to weeks. これはペンです

A year and a half in here, I feel like I can read a majority of NHK Easy News stuff, complete sentences, and understand it. Fewer and fewer unknown kanji and vocabulary.

As far for real, adult level, no training wheels Japanese… when I was in Japan the other month, I felt like I could get the gist of most things I read. But nowhere near full comprehension of a majority of sentences. Lots of vocabulary and grammar that’s above my head, lot of specific place names (prefectures and cities) I’m not familiar with, etc.


After a (very very) long break, I got back into WK and started up more serious grammar study. My first real reading was with the Tangoristo app. Before that, looking at Japanese just felt like an insurmountable wall of text. But that app was seriously a turning point for me. Just getting through that very first page is a huge confidence boost, even if there’s a bunch of crutches in place with that particular app. I was able to branch out more after that, and being confronted with a Japanese website or a novel was no longer quite so daunting.

I cannot hope to do justice to the feeling I got when I read the first few pages of Kiki’s Delivery Service and realized that I was relaxed enough to imagine the landscape being described or when I read Yotsuba and found myself laughing aloud.

I’m still very slow, especially when things get complicated, but I have the confidence now to pick up something in Japanese and feel like I can get something out of it, even if I don’t understand everything completely. But I can start without stress, and that can really be half the battle.


After reaching level 60, do you feel like you’re able to quickly skim through Japanese text and casually grab some context/information like you would for your native language?


I guess it’s related enough so I’ll post about it.

I’ve been studying for a few years, slower than most people, and I never really had a problem with stuff I had to read for class, since I thought that it was at my level, and I was supposed to be able to read it, so I gave it a go. Most times I had no problem with that.

But I struggle finding the motivation to read books and longer random texts, I get a mental block.

Such as when I was reading the Battle Angel Alita manga, and there was some volume cover text talking about the manga in Japanese, and I went, “Lol, I can’t read Japanese.” and just skipped the whole text.

It was only later that I realized that I can, in fact, read Japanese, since I’ve been studying for a few years.

It was a funny blunder that I think reflects on my personality. :sweat_smile:

Said text:


When I stopped having to read every kana symbol individually, and started being able to read the words at pretty much a glance. For me that was about halfway through the first Minna no Nihongo (chapter 15くらい) , because that is when I started crossing out all the furigana in the coursebooks. About 6 months, I think.

The other day I was watching One Punch Man with my brother, when a pamphlet came on the screen. It read 武道協会 if I remember correctly. I read it out loud, and a second later one of the characters said it too. My brother thought that was pretty cool!

Of course there are still a lot of grammar points and kanji I need to cover (and katakana takes an embarrassingly long time to parse, sometimes), so my rwading speed is not as high as I would like for certain passages. But thaylt will come with practice.


wkstats.com has a chart you can use to get a more objective view of the kinds of things you’ll be able to read at different WK levels.

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When I stopped having to use a dictionary every single time I got a text from somebody.
or when I picked up a book that I had bought a year prior (could barely read anything at the time) and was able to understand at least 70% of it without a dictionary.

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Not at all. At the time I reached level 60, my vocab was lacking (yes, even with 8k words). Right now, I’m sitting around 14/15k and it definitely feels much better.

Level 60 means knowing some words and 2000 kanji, that’s all. It will help you a crazy lot, but grammar and vocab are definitely needed. Right now, I don’t fear kanji at all. My brain is so used to kanji that I can look at Chinese (even without understanding) and not getting overwhelmed by it. Instead of seeing a mess of symbols, I can see them individually and my brain is able to process each of them. But in order for me to understand Chinese, I’d have to learn both vocab and grammar. Japanese is the same.

One important thing to take into consideration is that the 1st volume of a manga/light novel will always feel quite harder than the rest of the volumes. You’re learning new vocab related to that story/topic and you’re also adapting to the writer’s way of writing. Once you’re past 1st volume, it feels much easier to read the rest. So if you’re struggling with the 1st volume of something, let me just tell you that it gets quite easier in the 2nd, 3rd, 4rd…


I’m really impressed with the progress you’ve made. I think I started not too long after you and I’m just approaching 2k words now, lol (although since I only have a few minutes a day to cram between jobs I’m still proud of that!) …


I wish that was true in the case of 十二国記, but it just continues being extremely painful even when nearing the end of the second volume of the first book. Even my tutor who’s reading it with me sometimes goes 意味はなんだろう。。。.

OP: some things are easy. Some things are extremely not. It depends on what you’re reading, what your level is, how easy it is to look things up… Just keep on reading what you can, and eventually the amount you can read will go up.


I think it is more of an infinitesimal spectrum rather than a “can read” / “can’t read” dichotomy for me. I can read and understand much more than I initially could, but Japanese is vast. I always know less things than I want to know, and in that sense, I might say I “can’t” read. The more I learn, the more I realize how much more there is to learn. To me it is an endless cycle of excitement at understanding and frustration at not understanding more. But that is part of the fun! Good luck with your journey! :upside_down_face::turtle::slightly_smiling_face:


For me, I was in a Japanese chatroom and lurking and found I could understand about 80% of what was being said. Looking up the 20% didn’t take long and about a month later I could actually carry on a conversation about whatever people were talking about. Mostly it was video games and workplace stuff. But it was all super useful practice to me.


I’m blessed with quite some time per day… don’t worry, you’re doing great :grin: And I appreciate the kind words!

EDIT: Your art is :ok_hand::ok_hand:

:point_right: :point_up:


Uh, the meaning hasn’t fully developed yet (*cries in N4) but when I am reading simple grammar explanations from Japanese websites (not that I can apply everything though but I’ll get there :fist:


This is exactly when i felt like i can read English. Hopefully same will happen with Japanese.

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