When did you start reading?

Pffff, I don’t believe that only children use furigana. I live in Japan. In any given bookstore or library I walk into though, the majority of the books aren’t going to have lots of furigana.

One of the first books I bought was the Mushishi manga. It looks like this on the inside.

Very limited furigana. It and restaurant menus are a major part of the reason I signed up for WK. I wanted to be able to read them and to be able to read them without hassle, you need to know kanji.

Almost anything targeted at the seinen and josei demographic (and no, that’s not code for porn) is going to have very limited furigana. Technical and nonfiction books will also depend on the target demographic, but usually the more specialized ones will have less furigana.

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I don’t live in Japan, and I have furigana novels.
I don’t want to live in Japan, and I don’t want to read Japanese restaurant menus. So I have my own reasoning for learning Japanese. I definitely will get there someday when I can read all kanji. For now, this is what works for me.

I think I did my first NHK news article when I was around level 8 or so, but haven’t read much in the meantime. I have a website that recommends HNK Easy texts to me based on the Wanikani learning stats. It works better than I expected. I often don’t know the words from the text, but I can try to guess the reading and meaning from my WK knowledge. Quite fun I have to say. (Means I use NHK Easy with Furigana disabled)

My plan is to write down all vocab from NHK Easy texts into an Anki deck in the future to boost my vocabulary.

Before using Wanikani (and other online courses) I tried to read children books, but that didn’t go so well. I think I’ll stick to NHK Easy for now. Understanding something there (not all sentences, but the general meaning of the text) gives me some feeling of success.

In addition to the Omun’s mention of the subtitles, there also looks to be some text content available through the (probably now somewhat defunct) related website http://learnjapaneseonline.info/ and through Patreon posts. There’s also the book Unlocking Japanese, which I read somewhat recently and, while by no means comprehensive, does provide some insight on a few tricky grammar points like the infamous は vs. が.

More specifically on topic, I started reading (again) within the past few months, having reset back to square one on WK around the end of March, and now trying to make a better attempt at learning Japanese. At this point, my grammar, vocab, and kanji are all lacking, but I’ll have a go at the sample sentences here or on Bunpro or other grammar resources, Japanese tweets, the occasional NHK Easy article, JP subtitles in VTuber clips or other videos, children’s stories, manga, novels undoubtedly above my level—whatever, really. I don’t expect to understand a lot of it (and frequently don’t) but it’s still great motivation to come across the sentences I do catch the meaning of in the wild (or to get the gist of a longer text), or even just to recognize words I’ve learned or guess the reading of some kanji compounds I haven’t seen before. There are definitely a lot of unfamiliar kanji and vocab and a lot of dictionary lookups that happen, but even with this presently shaky foundation, there is Japanese out there that’s comprehensible, so I’d tell anyone to just start reading when they want to start reading.

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I’d stayed at around beginner-level Japanese for over half my life before I started WaniKani. I hit Japanese hard about a year ago. I’m still far from fluent, but my skill has skyrocketed.

If you’re asking, you’re already ready to start. Just read as much as you can. Video games, light novels, whatever interests you (I personally like playing video games along with strategy guides, both in Japanese). You can stop to look up every word or see how much you can get in a cursory readthrough. Heck, I often do the latter and then the former with the same text.

You’re going to suck at it at first, but I’ve seen level 60 users on this very forum who sucked at it too, by their own admission. You just have to keep sucking until the sucking stops, so you might as well start sucking today.

I thought the same way a lot of learners think, that they have to stuff their brains full of info before they even start with real Japanese. It’s actually very much the other way around. The more you see WaniKani material in the wild, the longer and better it sticks.


There are actually cased where the author writes something completely different with the furigana than with the kanji for a written joke of sorts. I don’t quite remember where I’ve seen a case like that though.

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I think I’ve seen a joke usage as well, but otherwise mostly see it when a less common word is used and they want to keep things clear.

The case that immediately comes to mind for me is アグレッシブ烈子, when the 部長 is rapping and the subs want to make sure the audience knows what the English word that he uses means.

It lets you know what he means with the kanji, and shows what he’s saying in the moment with the katakana.


I recommend you to start reading as early as possible. This will not only solidify your already learned skills, be it Kanji, grammar, slang, whatever, but also helps the most with learning actually useful vocabulary. So, whatever it is that you’re interested in, start reading it.
It may seem very difficult, and it certainly is, but if you stick to something like manga, where you have visuals to help you out as well, it should be fine.
Even better than reading manga might be reading subtitles to a show, as stupid as it might sound, as you also have audio to help you comprehend what’s said.

Tldr: Just try reading as early as possible. If it’s no fun at all, drop it and come back again once you feel like it.


For me it was maybe around lvl 15, but I made the mistake of starting when I was perhaps only halfway through Genki. I started with Yotsubato and was a real slog for me because I didn’t have enough knowledge of grammar.

That being said, I think when you start reading any native material it will be difficult. You have to persevere through the frustration and know that with continued attempts it does come slowly to you.

The best feeling I get when reading, no matter how simple the sentence, is reading and understanding it, and not automatically second-guessing myself that I’ve understood it incorrectly.

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There is an app called “japanese reader” for android. You just take a photo of the book page you wanna read and if you dont know a specific kanji, you can look it up by clicking on it on your smartphone. I didnt really start to use it yet because im lazy when it comes to reading stuff. But i guess it helps alot (:


i started reading pretty recently (yotsuba to, stuff like that), so I guess level 20 would be good to start

Thanks for this! I was curious so I immediately hopped over to the play store. It was listed under “Japan Reader.”

It said to ensure the page is completely flat, and I wasn’t sure it’d work with those small LNs that are about the size of your hand. I’m one of those fussies that doesn’t like cracking the spine, so I didn’t know if it’d manage to work with the curved parts of the page close to the seam, but it worked when I tapped random words

Edit: the furigana colour is hard to make out but it works.

Edit 2: and you can change the output dictionary settings to Japanese (and to many other languages) :+1:


Something similar happens in 鋼の錬金術師(Fullmetal Alchemist).
When they talk about the Automail, which is an in-universe concept, the subtitle shows
機械鎧 オートメイル .

機械鎧 isn’t really a word in itself, but explains the concept to the word オートメイル.

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I started reading books with furigana (kadokawa green edition角川つばさ文庫) when I was studying for N2 because I was told reading speed was really important.

It took me forever to read a few pages because of all the vocab I didn’t know but it did get better with time. As other people have said, I would recommend reading something you’re familiar with and you really enjoy. :slight_smile: it’s going to be hard at first but it’s really nice to see your own progress!

I’m currently reading a light novel in Japanese (君は月夜に光り輝く) and I see a lot of vocab I learned on WK so at level 19 this website has already been extremely useful for me to get better at reading!

If I’m listing random features anyway:

  • It also has a button that adds furigana to all kanji on the page in the picture.

  • The translation / definition box can be hidden, in case you want to manually add furigana to a few words without being “spoiled” on what the definition might be.

  • Words that you select can be favourited, and you can do an honour system review (ie. answer in your head and tick off whether you got it right or wrong)

I’ve only been pressing random buttons so far, without really checking the output. So I don’t yet have an opinion on whether or not it has a high margin or error in its ability to parse what’s on a page.


I think almost every shonen manga does that. Japanese do love puns.

I think it’s not considered as puns but I can’t find a better vocab to describe it lol.

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Well thanks for the instant review. Now i can be sure that it helps when i’ll start reading some novels or something else. Great :slight_smile:

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Me again!

I didn’t bother reading around well enough, I guess. For some reason, I thought it said “contains ads” rather than “in-app purchases.”

The app is not free. You start with ten free “tokens,” and when those are done, you have to pay for tokens to be allowed to upload pics or documents into the app. There is no token counter displayed anywhere, and I don’t recall the app mentioning anything about being limited in that way as you get started.

I’m not saying the creator is wrong for charging money, but I’m also really put off that I can’t even purchase the app for one lump sum. Prices for tokens aren’t mentioned anywhere, and they want me to fully add a payment method without bothering to mention in any way what the price of said tokens would be. I don’t give out credit card details before I even know whether I find the price fair or ridiculous.

So I nope’d out and uninstalled, since all credits were spent on random pages. If they’d offer a set price that I find reasonable and currently affordable, I’d probably do it, but that’s not how the creator wants to go about it at this time, it seems.


thats sad to hear :confused: its a shame that its kind of scam. maybe there is a similar app out there. but well as i said. i didnt even started reading yet

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