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Japanese Reading Practice: Lessons, Books & Sites for Beginners

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Hey Junkies!

Want to read Japanese with fluency?

Then, you will want Japanese reading practice – books, lessons and websites – to help you improve.

Here is why practicing reading in Japanese is so important. 

  • Easy Review. When you read, you get to practice and review words and grammar without the hard work. You get to see words that you learned before. As a result, they get ingrained into your brain.
  • You learn words, kanji and grammar rules. Similar to the point above, you’ll come across new things and learn them. And of course, with review, you will master them too.
  • Easy progress because reading is the one thing you practice do 100% of the time. You can’t always listen to audio or take video lessons. You can’t always have a tutor. But you can easily read anywhere, anytime.

So, what need right now you need is ACTUAL Japanese material to read.

You don’t need more advice on “how to read.”

Here are some good resources for Japanese reading practice. ↓

japanese reading practice 1

Japanese Word of the Day

If you’re a brand new learner and want to practice Japanese reading, then you should start with words first. The Japanese word of the day helps you do just that.

Every day, you get one little word, with the translation and audio pronunciation.

Why it’s great:

  • learn just one simple word a day
  • takes a minute or less
  • not overwhelming at all
  • practice reading with sample sentences
  • listen to native audio for pronunciation

japanese reading practice 1

Coscom – Study Japanese Language through the News

You can read about news and weather in Japan on this site.

The best part? You don’t need to know hiragana, katakana or kanji, though I recommend you start learning. The articles here are written in all forms – romaji, in hiragana and in kanji. So, you can start reading with romaji, or Latin letters, first. Also each article comes with audio to help you read along.

Why it’s great:

  • you can literally read it in “English” or Romaji (the romanized version of Japanese
  • very short news articles (2-3 paragraphs and around 8-10 sentences max)
  • you can finish it in 1 to 3 minutes
  • includes audio
  • perfect for beginners that learned or are learning hiragana and katakana
  • includes translations of words and sentences

japanese reading practice 1

NHK News Web Easy – News Articles in Easy Japanese

This is another site that posts news articles in easy Japanese every day. You can get Japanese reading practice and learn about what’s going on in Japan. To use it, you should know hiragana, katakana and some kanji to start practicing here. I suggest reading it with a pop-up dictionary like “rikai-chan” or “rikai-kun.” All articles come with audio, although somewhat robotic, to help you read along.

NHK News Web Easy is my favorite resource for Japanese reading practice.

japanese reading practice 1

Why it’s great:

  • medium length articles (2-3 paragraphs long)
  • meant for those that already know the kana and some kanji
    • for high level beginners and upwards
  • includes furigana (hiragana of kanji)
  • you can finish it in 1 to 3 minutes
  • includes audio version of the article

My experience with NHK News Web Easy. Video below.

News in Slow Japanese

Although this is meant to be Japanese listening practice, you can easily read with their articles for free.

Just like the sites mentioned above, you get news articles here. But, you also get 2 audio tracks. One is slow. The other is fast.

Why it’s great:

  • medium length articles (2-3 paragraphs long)
  • meant for intermediate level students.
  • includes pop-up definitions and vocab lists

japanese reading practice 1

Japanese Reading Comprehension Video Lessons

Want to try Japanese reading practice with video?

These JapanesePod101 lessons present you with scenarios such as “reading a train schedule” or “taking taxis” where you have to read to get the answer. It’s a nice way of testing your reading skills.

Definitely a lot easier than reading Japanese articles.

Why it’s great:

  • video lessons that test your reading
  • for all levels: Absolute Beginner to Advanced
  • 1-2 minutes in length
  • translations on lesson page

japanese reading practice 1

Asahi Gakusei Shinbun / Junior Asahi

The famous Japanese Asahi newspaper also publishes a kid’s version.

It’s just like NHK’s News Web Easy just without the audio.

What’s great:

  • medium length articles (2-3 paragraphs long)
  • meant for those that already know the kana and some kanji
    • for high level beginners and upwards
  • includes furigana (hiragana of kanji)
  • you can finish it in 1 to 3 minutes

japanese reading practice 1

Watanoc – Free Web Magazine in simple Japanese

You probably now notice that there are a ton of kid’s newspapers on here.

Don’t worry. This Japanese reading practice resource is an online magazine. It covers topics like food, culture and travel/

It’s very simple to read and you can choose your difficulty – N3, N4, or N5 – on the JLPT scale. Articles are super short, well laid-out and include pop-up definitions.

  • easy articles with sentences broken up by pictures
  • aimed at beginners and intermediate learners
  • written in casual Japanese

japanese reading practice 1

Japanese Extensive Reading Books

These are simple e-books by JapanesePod101.com. They’re easy enough to read through and finish quickly. The goal is to finish a ton of these and get a lot of practice in.

In other words, it’s quantity-over-quality practice that ALL beginners need.

Super simple. Just 1-2 sentences per page. But they also have more advanced level books for more experienced readers.

What’s great:

  • Actual e-Books
  • Super simple to finish. Just a few sentences per page
  • Includes translations on the lesson page
  • Audio “read-along” also included

So, now you have a nice list of juicy Japanese reading practice resources.

What now?

How do you learn with all of this stuff?

  • Definitely sign up for the Word of the Day. Why? Because unlike all of the resources here, it comes to you and notifies you! You have to visit the other sites for brand new articles.
  • Print the articles out. It’s a lot easier if you have an article on hand to read and re-read. It’s a lot more work to “remember” to go to a website and read whatever is new.
  • Review and reread. The first time you will read an article, you will suck. That’s a fact of life that you cannot escape. But, with your second and third try, you’ll know most words and read a lot better.
  • Make some time in your schedule to read. Otherwise, when will you? Practicing reading is a lot like lifting weights at the gym: you have to put in some effort. It’s not as easy as just watching Japanese audio and video lessons. So, make time for that work.

And that’s it!

If you are looking for Japanese textbooks and dictionaries, check out my post below:

For Beginners: The 7 Best Japanese Textbooks & Dictionaries

What are your favorite Japanese reading resources?

Be sure to leave a comment.

– The Main Junkie

P.S. I highly recommend this for Japanese learners. If you REALLY want to learn to Japanese with effective lessons by real teachers – Sign up for free at JapanesePod101 (click here) and start learning!