Monday, December 4, 2023

Japanese Stories For Language Learners

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Japanese Children Stories Resources

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Traditional Japanese Childrens StoriesImport to LingQ: Yes

This page is a collection of popular Japanese childrens stories, as translated by a fellow Japanese learner himself, Tom Ray, as a part of his own Japanese studies. It is also one of the best resources for childrens stories on the internet available in English, and written by a native English speakers .

They are simple web pages, all text and no images, so are perfect for those who want to focus on reading practice.

Each story is broken down page by page, beginning with the entire block of unaltered Japanese text, followed by the same text broken down and translated line by line.

There are currently 16 translated stories here, including well known ones such as Momotaro and Kaguyahime.

Fairy Tales and Short Stories with Easy Japanese Import to LingQ: Yes

This site is great because you can kill two birds with one stone: reading and listening comprehension. Wasabi has a great collection of popular Japanese kids stories, and they are put together as actual lessons so you can study while you read.

Lessons include the Japanese script to read along to as you play the accompanying audio file , an English translation, and a vocabulary list.

You can import the text into LingQ, however be aware that because the translations are written alongside the text, you may get some English words thrown into the lesson as well. Just ignore them and focus on the new Japanese words as you normally would.

Pibo Import to LingQ: No

Advanced Japanese Reading Practice

If you are an advanced Japanese learner, I recommend using real Japanese materials as much as possible. By this I mean books and articles written for native Japanese speakers not for language learners.

The ultimate goal is to speak fluent Japanese, the way native speakers do. You will learn the most natural language by using real life sources.

The good news is, its incredibly easy to find real life Japanese resources online! You can also find resources on literally any topics.

I recommend thinking about what you read in your native language for fun. What do you read in your spare time, just because you love it? Find the Japanese version of that! This means youll be more likely to stick with it. Plus, youll learn new words specific to your hobbies and interests.

This is also a good time to change your phone, computer, Facebook settings into Japanese and create an immersion environment.

Here are a few websites to start you off. I tried to choose a selection of websites from different genres. Remember, this list is just to give you some ideas! When you know advanced Japanese, you can read whatever you want

Where To Find It

Like I said, I had never really used a graded reader like this before, but I can clearly see why people love them.

They are a great way to break into reading authentic Japanese books, and this one in particular had an audio component as well which is a huge plus.

If youve had any experience with this book, or with other Japanese books that are similar, then let me know what your thoughts are on them by leaving a comment down below. Thanks!

Further Resources for Learning Japanese:

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Traditional And Modern Japanese Stories Are For Everyone

This book presents two traditional Japanese Folktales and three modern short stories by famous Japanese authors. Bi-lingual presentation with Japanese and English translations in parallel, detailed translator notes, vocabulary lists, and discussion exercises, offers readers an interesting and effective means for learning both Japanese Language and culture. The five stories featured are:

  • Urashima Taro :A Japanese folktale about a fisherman, who is guided by a sea turtle to the underwater Palace of the Dragon King. Based on a legend recorded in multiple pieces of literature dating to the 8th century
  • Yuki Onna :A Japanese folktale about a beautiful woman that appears on snowy nights and freezes people to death. A famous horror thriller dating back to the Muromachi Period
  • Kumo no Ito by Akutagawa Ryunosuke : Written by “the father of the Japanese short story” about the afterlife of a villian named Kandata. Short and simple, with unforgettable impressions on human nature
  • Oborekaketa Kyodai by Arishima Takeo : Based on the real life stories of Arishima, this story makes us think about human nature and how guilt can shadow our lives
  • Serohiki no Goshu by Miyazawa Kenji : A story about a musician named Goshu, his relationship with the animals that visit him before his performances, and the gradual changes within him that result

Japanese Childrens Stories For Beginners

Furigana Japan

When it comes to learning Japanese, there is no doubt that reading is one of the hardest skills to master . One look at a Japanese newspaper full of kanji is sure to turn many learners away, leaving them questioning just what they have gotten themselves into.

Fear not! There is a much easier way to build up your skills.Introducing Japanese childrens stories.

While newspapers and other, more wordy literature can seem intimidating, theres no need to delve into them right away. In fact, I recommend building up your skill and confidence gradually by starting out with easy-to-read content.

In this article, I will introduce some of the best online resources for finding such stories, and how you can use them to build up your reading skill!

Useful VocabularyWhen navigating these sites , chances are you will encounter some resources that are written in Japanese . As such, you will find it helpful to know some common literature related terms to ease your search

Study these to recognize them while navigating the sites, or challenge yourself by searching them and checking out what resources come up!

Here are a few helpful words:

: fairy tale childrens story: : picture book: : tale story legend: : folk tale legend: : fairy tale nursery tale: : age : ~ years old

Importing to LingQ!Keep in mind, you will also want to take advantage of the Import feature on LingQ ” rel=”nofollow”> import instructions here.

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Japanese Stories For Language Learners: Bilingual Stories In Japanese And English


Reading these stories in the original Japanese script and hearing native-speakers read them aloud in the accompanying free audio recording helps students at every level deepen their comprehension of the beauty and subtlety of the Japanese language.

Japanese Stories For Language Learners

Title: Japanese Stories for Language Learners- Bilingual Stories in Japanese and English Author: McNulty A., Sato E.Publisher: TuttlePlaying time: 01:35:00Size: 91 Mb

Japanese Stories for Language Learners can be used by learners of Japanese at intermediate and advanced levels: h ey can learn vocabulary and grammar while reading these stories using the glossaries, grammar notes, and exercises provided for each story. h is book can also be used by non-language learners: English speakers can read the English translation while Japanese speakers can read Japanese original text to appreciate Japanese literature and deepen their understanding of Japanese culture. We can learn interesting facts from history books and newspapers, but it is diificult to feel the raw emotions of people who lived at a dif erent time or in a different place. Reading literature and learning a new language opens doors to a new world.

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Free Websites For Japanese Reading Practice

Team Japanese uses affiliate links. That means that if you purchase something through a link on this site, we may earn a commission .


Want to get better at Japanese?

Reading is one of the best ways to improve your language skills.

Its especially important to read a lot when youre learning a language with a different writing system, like Japanese.

Hiragana, katakana and kanji can be overwhelming at first. But with enough reading practice, reading these characters will become natural!

Reading consolidates all that vocabulary and grammar youve spent all that time learning. When you come across new words in a story or article, its much easier to remember.

And best of all, its free!

So if youre wondering how to learn Japanese effectively, I really do recommend making regular time to read.

Heres a selection of great websites for completely free Japanese reading practice online, whatever your level:

Vocabulary And Expressions Lists

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After the translator notes, you will see a long list of pretty much every major word and phrase used in the story. Words are presented with kanji and furigana, a bolded romaji transcription, and the English meaning or explanation. For certain grammar constructions, the book will also occasionally provide an example usage. The Vocabulary and Expressions section for “Gauche the Cellist,” for instance, gives an example usage of the construction, which it translates as “to start to do abruptly.” The example is given as follows:

imto wa naki dashimashita.

The authors translate this as “My little sister burst into tears.”

Bolded romaji readings can draw the eye, potentially causing the reader to use them as a crutch.

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Magazines Lifestyle And More

Japanese magazine lists This site and this one have huge lists of popular Japanese magazines with links to their websites. They are mostly fashion magazines but there are some in other categories such as business, tech and travel. Note that the amount of free content varies by site some have a lot of free articles online whereas others just want you to buy the print magazine.

Rocket News short funny news articles on topics such as pop culture, viral content, new releases etc.

Hatena Bookmarking a social bookmarking site. Users share interesting articles from around the web.

1000moji user-submitted short stories in 1000 characters

Kinarino womens lifestyle blog covering food, fashion, travel, interiors and more

CanCam a popular Japanese womens fashion magazine

Lifehacker interesting tips and tricks, and tech news

Toyo Keizai a well-known business and finance magazine

BuzzFeed Japan you probably know this one! Funny and interesting things from around the internet

The Rising Wasabi satirical news site news about and from Japan. Many articles are also available in English so you can switch to check your comprehension.

Note a Japanese magazine style site as recommended by our reader Erik. It covers lifestyle, education, culture, work and more. Content is user generated and very varied.

Intermediate Japanese Reading Practice

At the intermediate level, you will be able to understand longer sentences and more difficult works. You can also read some kanji. You need some reading resources that introduce these features of the language, but you still need a bit of help understanding new words.

We have just the thing for you! Here are some sites for Japanese reading practice for intermediate students:


Hirogaru is a cute site for Japanese learners. It has short texts and videos on lots of different topics. In particular, it has a lot of articles on traditional Japanese culture, such as calligraphy, tea ceremony and martial arts. There are vocabulary lists of key words for each topic.


Matcha is a cool Japanese travel and culture magazine. Its available in 10 different languages, including an easy Japanese version! It does use kanji but always with furigana above.

Most of the articles are available in English too. You can read the English version afterwards to check your understanding . Be careful though, because the translations arent always the same word-for-word.


NHK News Web Easy

NHK is Japans national news service. On this site, you can read NHKs top news stories each day in simple Japanese. Its aimed at Japanese elementary school children, as well as foreigners learning Japanese.

The site has furigana on the kanji, and Japanese dictionary definitions that pop up when you hover over a word. Many of the stories have videos too.

Hiragana Times

Nippon Talk



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Browser Extensions For Reading Japanese Online

No doubt about it, learning to read in Japanese in slower than most other languages simply because of the Japanese writing system! I just wanted to finish off by sharing a few useful browser extensions that can help you read Japanese websites.

There are dozens of similar extensions out there but these are some of the top recommended!

How Well Does It Stack Up

My First Book of Japanese Words (eBook)

This text contains authentic stories from Japan and has a plethora of useful features that I believe would benefit your Japanese study. This text can be easily used as a textbook in a Japanese literature course or even at home for self-study.

If the authors hadn’t considered non-Japanese learners, they could have cut out unnecessary romaji and furigana over the most basic kanji.

One thing that I wished could be different about this book as a Japanese learning resource is its lack of focus. The title clearly suggests that it is for “language learners,” and the introduction mentions that it could be used for intermediate and advanced learners. While it’s true that such learners could use it, the learning experience could’ve been improved if it was better-focused on intermediate and advanced levels. If the authors hadn’t considered non-Japanese learners, for example, they could have cut out unnecessary romaji and furigana over the most basic kanji. Intermediate and advanced learners may be disappointed if they come to this book expecting something tailored to their level.

Criticisms aside, however, this is overall an excellent Japanese learning resource that I can confidently recommend to anyone of the following:

Interested? If you can’t decide, , so take a peek. Happy reading!

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English And Japanese Pages

This book is designed with the learner in mind and they make it easy to understand the words and phrases in several ways.

One huge way is by providing the same story in both Japanese and English. Of course the English translation is a natural translation of the sentences, so its not always going to line up 100% with the Japanese sentences, but I think thats a good thing as it allows you to take more of a big picture approach to understanding the material

When you read the Japanese, every new kanji has furigana on it so that you can learn how to read it in that context, but then the next time you run into that kanji in the story it will be shown without any additional help.

I thought this was brilliant since it then forces you to recall how to say the word, which is a pretty good way to remember kanji readings.

There are two other things I want to mention about the stories, one big and one small.

The small thing is that there are some illustrations provided throughout each story that allow you to see whats going on and really feel immersed in the stories. I thought that these were a great addition and I really enjoyed seeing them as I read.

The big thing is that an audio CD is included with a native speaker reading through the Japanese version of the stories. This is great since it allows you to not only listen to the stories, but to improve other aspects of your Japanese such as listening and pronunciation.

What Is Japanese Stories For Language Learners

Unlike other Japanese readers I’ve used before, the stories in this book utilize modern kanji along with relatively common vocabulary.

Japanese Stories for Language Learners was created by a teacher-student team at a university program for Japanese and translation studies. As its name implies, this book is simply a collection of Japanese stories with features aimed at Japanese language learners. According to its introduction, the book seems to be mainly intended for intermediate and advanced learners of Japanese.

After the story concludes, you can find a number of features in the following order: translation notes, a vocabulary and expression list, grammar exercises, and discussion questions.

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Other End Of Chapter Info

Theres actually a lot of other information presented to the reader at the end of each chapter. One that I actually really enjoyed was the translator notes for certain sections where the English story had to do a little footwork since the Japanese was unique.

For example, there are multiple points where a Japanese character is talking in a specific level of formality. Since we dont have an equivalent to this way of speaking in English, I got a lot out of the strategies that the translators used to convey both the message and the tone in English.

If you are someone who wants to work in translation between English and Japanese one day, then I think youll also get a lot out of these parts. But if not, then its easy to skip over them and move on to other things.

There are also some quizzes at the end of the chapters that test you on the Japanese used in the book. Personally, Ive never really been into these kinds of tests and I felt like I was in a classroom when I read them, so I just skipped them.

That being said, Im sure a lot of people will appreciate being able to test their retention in these sections.

The last thing that was included was also some questions, in English, that had you think about the stories on a deeper level. They were also things that a teacher might ask his or her students, but I felt that they were valuable as it promoted a deeper reflection on the Japanese stories and what significance each one had.

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