Tips for Reading
- Intensive Reading.
- Set up Yomichan so that you can look up the definition of unknown words instantly as you read.
- Reading a lot of content is required to get good at reading Japanese. Nothing is going to save you from the struggle that is going to ensue besides hours of hard work and reading a lot of Japanese content that challenges you.
- For a while, you are going to be “working” your way through an article (doing lots of dictionary look-ups). That’s okay! As you get better, over time they will naturally decrease, and you will start being able to read longer and longer without needing to look up new words/grammar.
- Try to at least read for one hour a day (don’t forget to do at least one hour of active listening immersion too!). If you can do more, then do so.
- Read something you’re interested in! Even if it is above your level, if you’re interested in the material, then you are going to be more motivated to spend more time with that material.
- Varied Difficulty.
- Read a mix of easy and challenging material. Try to do a bit of both every day.
- Reading easier content is going to help you increase your familiarity with known vocabulary and grammar and help you read faster.
- Reading harder content is exactly the way to increase your vocabulary and push your language abilities to the next level.
NHK Web Easy
Content: current events, politics, economics, natural disasters, etc.
Example Sentence: 北海道電力の原子力発電所「泊原発」が安全かどうかについて、10年以上裁判が続いていました。
NHK Web Easy News takes normal news articles and rewrites them in simple Japanese so that children can understand current events.
- Names and places are color coded (which just mean you can ignore these words for now as a beginner)
- Usually 3-5 new articles are posted every weekday.
- Some articles have accompanying videos.
- Includes a link to the “normal” news article so that you can challenge yourself. Reading the easier article, and then the harder or normal one is a great way to push yourself and bridge the gap between beginner and intermediate reading materials.
福娘童話集 is a collection of over 2000 folk tales and campfire ghost stories meant for children. Each story is usually about half a page to a page.
These short stories are great for getting you used to more descriptive language and dialogue while still at an early level.
Most stories also have accompanying audio, where the story is read out loud by a native speaker.
Content: Folk Tales, Ghost Stories.
Example Paragraph: むかし、ある浜辺に、やかんが打ち上げられていました。
Content: Graded readers from N5 – N1+
Example Sentence: 地震から10日後、インターネットで中学校の友だちの名前を見つけました。地震で亡くなったのです。
日本語多読道場 is a website that has graded readers for beginner-intermediate learners. The stories themselves are pretty short, usually only about a page long.
Every story has multiple high-quality photos to help you understand what is going on and also has an audio recording of a native speaker so that you can read and listen at the same time.
Towards Intermediate Level Reading
Reading these harder sources listed below is a great way to push your abilities, grow your vocabulary, and get into reading actual Japanese material that is meant for a native audience.
Nothing is really going to prepare you for tackling this harder material, so it’s best to just jump straight in and try a little bit every day, while also continuing to use the easier resources listed above. Eventually, this content will also become easy!
仏教ウェブ入門講座 is a blog that tries to teach various aspects about Buddhism and help people deal with everyday struggles in work, relationships, and at home. It reads more like a self-help/improvement blog rather than anything about religion.
Most other Japanese blogs are written in a similar format, so it’s good practice for learning how to read normal Japanese while also remaining within a daily life genre and not being overly difficult.
Buddhism is a huge part of Japanese history and culture, so it’s important to learn about it for cultural reasons even if you won’t practice it.
You’re going to learn some cool vocabulary if you read this.
Content: Self-help, Self-Improvement, Religion
小説家になろう is a website where aspiring authors will publish chapters/pages of whatever story they are working on. Most stories tend to be isekai/fantasy or romance. This website is great for getting started with reading actual Japanese (light) novels while still being able to take it one page at a time.
Use jpdb.io to search for novels by difficulty, length, or character count.
くまクマ熊ベアー is a good series to start with if you don’t know what to read (and has over 20+ full novels worth of content).
Content: Fiction, Fantasy, Romance, Webnovels
Example Paragraph: ゴブリンキングを討伐したあとギルドで依頼を受けつつ、いろいろ実験を行った。
Content: History, Politics
日本史事典 is a blog that posts lots of articles about Japanese history, world history, and politics sorted by time period.
These articles can get pretty tough due to the names of people/places and references to other historical events, so expect it to be a bit more challenging than the other material listed here. It might take you an hour to read one article when you start, but you will get faster as you keep reading more!
Articles are sorted chronologically, so you can work your way back/forward in time and learn about each time period in Japan. I think that working your way backward is easier, since you can rely on your knowledge of recent events (21st-century history).
Each article includes multiple pictures.