When What and How

Hi everyone :slight_smile:

I was wondering at what WK level did u start reading books, what sort of books ( manga or novels ) and how did you personally do it, did you take one page at a time refusing to move on till u got the full understanding of that page, or did you go through the book trying to see what kanji you know and if that could help you work out the general understanding ?


1 Like

I can only give you some demotivating reply by now :smiley: . I was playnning to start reading as soon as possible and thought I might go to NHK easy and see what I could read, when I was close to level 10. The result was, I was able to read nothing at all. I could barely find any sentence I could fully understand and was just looking for words I might recognize.
At that point I realized my grsap on the language overall was way to bad. Even if I could recognize all of the Kanji I would still understand nothing, because of the lack of grammatical understanding and non-Kanji vocab understandig.

Therefore I have planned to put in some more work, before I try to read something again. I need to get a rough grasp on the language, so I can feel it a bit more and then use the reading to reinforce that feeling. To get to that point I will try to get to WK Level 30 by the end of the year. Also I will be doing quite much grammar. I am using Japanese from Zero and are a third into the second volume. I will try to at least finish volume three by the point I reach level 30. In addition to that I need to do much vocabulary practice. I do the Vocab from JPZ aswell, as some JLPT vocab (they are partially the same, so its not that much). Also I started to do kaniwani today, not to be able to read, but to get a better overall language feeling.

So yeah, thats probably quite unmotivating now, but my main problem with reading was that I was missing a bigger grasp on the language, so if you are already well versed in grammar and know some vocab you are probably able to start reading way earlier, maybe already around level 10, if you look for special resources you could probably even start reading now. (There are some sites that set furigana to all kanji you haven’t learned on WK, but I don’t know their name so far)


I have not yet started reading books, but I tried https://satorireader.com, which seems like a good starting point for reading practice.

EDIT: Maybe I should extend my post a little… just posting the link might be worthless.
As @Dadung already said, knowing Japanese grammar is important. I had a similar experience as him when visiting NHK easy and could barely read a thing.

I liked that in Satori Reader, every word is clickable and then shows the translation (but I guess there are web-browser extensions that allow you to do the same on every Japanese webpage). Sometimes they also added helpful grammatical explanations. You can listen to every sentence, and there is an integrated SRS for vocabulary that you encountered during reading. It is possible to link it to your WaniKani API key, so that vocabulary for which you didn’t learn the Kanji yet is only shown in Hiragana (or Kanji with Furigana).
The downside is, that only some of the articles are free - for full access you need a subscription.

So if you have no problem with reading digital material, I would recommend Satori Reader or alternatively NHK easy, maybe in combination with a browser extension to look up vocabulary.
If you prefer reading physical books, but want to look up unknown vocabulary on the PC, you could try Houhou, which is a dictionary that also contains an SRS tool.

I’m new to learning Japanese and don’t know many resources yet, but maybe this was helpful for you (or somebody else).


I’m probably the odd one out here, but I started reading about 6 months before coming to Wanikani, after studying Japanese for about 9 months.

I started by reading manga I had picked up throughout the years and traveling, and then worked my way up from there. After a couple of months I moved up to easier level light novels and games. Not long after that I started Wanikani and then started reading more as well. I kinda stayed at that level for a long time. After about 10 months (Around level 30), I started to feel more comfortable reading at that level quickly, and have started to pick up on academic discourse and the such, along with studying listening and accents. My reading speed for novels and light novels is about 40 pages per hour. For academic discourse it’s about 10 per hour for humanities papers and about 5 for scientific discourse.

As for how I read, I try to read at a relatively steady rate through a passage getting the best understanding I can from that. My vocabulary is fairly good, so it’s not often I find words that are causing problems, but when I do I look them up after that reading session. I read in sessions between 30 minutes and 2 hours.

If your looking for a recommendation, I’d say just start reading. Reading in a foreign language is a skill that takes a long time to develop, regardless of the level of grammar and vocabulary you have. The sooner you start reading, the sooner you will develop that skill.


At the end of the WK Guide’s page, you can see what type of reading material WK’s levels allow you to read.

Also, it’s very important to have your skills balanced. It doesn’t matter to know a lot of Kanji when you can barely interpret grammar. @Dadung gave a good example of this above.

I would suggest you to follow WK’s intructions that I mentioned above while making sure that you have your other skills up to date. For example, if you know most of the Kanji for JLPT 5, it’s time to study JLPT 5 grammar (and so on…).

I would also suggest you to use an app or something for language exchange, like HelloTalk. Even though my grammar is far from perfect, I get a lot of writing practice using the grammar rules that I learned.


Pretty much right away (Level 10-ish?), I started trying to read manga I’d already read and enjoyed in English (in order of reading difficulty [for me], least to most: 寄生獣, デスノート, スキップ・ビート!, 海月姫). And song lyrics. Right now I’m struggling my way through the first NO.6 light novel. I don’t do much reading or grammar practice outside if that, so the manga and light novels I’ve attempted are still excruciatingly slow reading, despite my high WK level (53 at time of posting). I really need to keep building my vocabulary – I’m at the point where a slightly larger vocabulary would give me vital context clues I could use to understand other vocab/grammar without looking it up all the time.


Good news!!! I was the same, but I was able to read NHK easy very comfortably around level 24/25, so it might be okay earlier than you think!

Also I’ve only read around 20/30 articles by now, but I noticed that I had to look up like 10/20 words for the first 10 articles, but now I usually don’t look up more than 1 or 2 words, so it really becomes a lot easier the more you do it!

Edit: and my grasp on grammar is not good! NHK easy has taught me a lot of extra grammar though!


I notice NHK Easy is becoming easier every week. There are still some articles that I don’t understand, but mostly I can understand them fairly well looking up 3 or 4 words per article. There have been a couple of articles that I understood 100%, without looking up anything.

I often come across unfamiliar phrases and grammatic structures, but if I can understand the vocab and context I can deduce the grammar, which is actually a great way to learn.

I don’t beat myself up with words using unfamiliar kanji, though, I figure I’ll learn them eventually.

(Level 16 at the time of posting this)


As you described so good experiences I decided to check what I could make out of a article. And I learned that Japan qualified for the worldcup of football next year in russia, by winning 2 - 0 against australia with one goal in each half. And they first qualified 1998 for france and this is their 6th participation. Well, seems like I am able to grasp the outline of an article about non-political stuff. Thanks for the suggestion :smiley:
Could you maybe tell me, what kind of dictionary I could use to check the words I don’t know?


I read that today as well! Though it helped that I had already watched it on TV.

The most practical dictionary for internet reading is the rikaikun/rikaichan extension for chrome/firefox.


You just more or less described my reading pace in English, my native language… How much do you understand at that pace in Japanese? Meaning do you just get the gist or do you understand most of the details too?


I mean, at first I didn’t really understand much of anything. Now, well over a year after starting to read daily, I get a fair bit, but it also depends a lot on what I am reading. I just finished up reading 七人ミサキも恋する and I understood most of it all the way through, but I got a little caught up because at one point because I didn’t know the word 成仏 and that threw me off for like 15 pages. Alternatively, I was reading a software manual like a month ago, and I was understanding the gist of it but not much beyond that. I certainly don’t understand everything, I get tripped up all the time, but generally I understand the core happenings and a good bit of details when I read, especially when reading stuff with similar vocabulary to what I have read in the past.

Just to note, my reading speed in English is about 90 pages per hour for novels and about 40 for academic stuff. Japanese will be my fourth language learning how to read though. English is my native, I had to learn Latin for school, and once upon a time I could read both old and middle English. I also read daily in Japanese, and that has helped bring up my reading ability a ton.

1 Like

I’m so happy to hear that!! How great is it when you can get that much information out of an article written in a foreign language?! And such good news for Japan haha!

I usually use jisho.org as an online dictionary. It works well, I’ve always found the words I was looking for! It also mentions at which wanikani level you’ll learn the word :slight_smile:

1 Like

Right!! I forgot about those extensions! You’re right they are super convenient. I usually read on my phone, which is why I use jisho.org (also for wk level indications), but reading on laptop with rikaikun will go a lot faster I think👍

1 Like

Wow such a great response to this question thank you all very much!. I got my self harry potter and the philosophers stone in Japanese yesterday and was feeling like I might have bit of more then I could chew, but with all the great feed back i’m sure if i work hard and study my grammar as well I’ll get there some day i would love to join the book club on here at some point and i feel like this has taken me one step closer

thanks again everyone :slight_smile:

1 Like

@rodriogowaick thanks for the suggestions!


Like @Dadung mentioned, I also wanted to be able to read as soon as possible. However, you are better off studying lots of grammar and vocabulary before moving on to reading in kanji. It’s okay to learn a word without learning the kanji first! In fact, when you learn a kanji later, it will make the pronunciation easier to remember, because it’s a word you already know.

I’m not really at a level where I can read NHK EZ (currently 11), but I do visit from time to time to skim the headlines (and usually end up looking up a couple kanji in Jisho). Even though my primary language goal is reading, I’ve come to recognize that I need to know the language before learning kanji is useful to me (though I have heard of people who can hardly speak a lick of Japanese, but can read simply by knowing the kanji. Crazy!)

Also there are some great resources in this thread! Wow!

1 Like

I will now add a little bit, because of the experiences I was able to make due to @NathaLire and @rodrigowaick. (Thank you again :smiley: ) I was just reading a whole article again (about dashcams whose batteries caught fire) and was able to read the whole article with only having to add about 10 words to my anki-deck. I was still struggling with grammar and getting the meaning out of more complex sentences in the beginning, but was able to recognize patterns during the read and in the end understand most details and not only the rough outline.

So to come back to the original question of @Angelic : You will need some grammar and idea of the language, for example ある/いる and a slight grasp on verb conjugation aswell as some common non Kanji vocab, but you will not need that much of your wani-kani vocab, maybe not even level 10, to begin reading. It takes some time though, with looking up wwords and trying to figure out the meaning of sentences it took more than 10 minutes to get through the article that takes less than 1:30 in the audio. But I guess that is a point in your studies that has a tremendous effect and will bring you way more of that grasp on the language I was describing in my first post.

So the essence is: Go to NHK-easy, whenever you feel like it, DON’T get shocked and demotivated like I did my first time, look for a non-political article, as they are probably easier and take the time to fight through the whole article :smiley: (be sure to do some grammar before that though, WaniKani is good for kanji, but without grammar all those kanji are worth nothing.)


Yessss congratulations :smiley: thank you for sharing your experiences and have fun reading more and more in Japanese!

I forgot to mention this, but the third-party app WaniKani Statistics ([STATS] Statistics site) actually estimates how much kanji you can recognize from certain sources based on your WK level. Just toggle to the charts tab, then “Reading”. For me, at level 11, I should be able to recognize ~68% of kanji in NHK EZ. Pretty cool!