The best way to learn a foreign language is to make it part of you daily routine. Here is a list of four Japanese websites that you can read every day. All websites use simple grammar and add furigana over kanji. Use this trick from previous article if you prefer to turn the furigana off.
Probably the best resource to read every day. NHK’s simplified version of their news site is updated frequently with real news. Each article is a short version of the original, which is linked at the end as well. The difficulty is somewhere between JLPT N4 and N3. Some words are explained in Japanese.
A Japanese travel magazine that maintains a simplified Japanese version. A lot of interesting articles with various difficulty. The magazine is written in English, Japanese, simple Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, Korean and Indonesian making it easy to check the meaning of the article. However not all articles exist in all versions.
The Asahi Student Newspaper company publishes newspaper for Japanese elementary and junior high school students. They issue a paid digital version and there are only a few articles available for free. While the NHK site is better, sometimes it’s interesting to compare the articles and learn how to say same things in different way.
Tsukuba is a city not far from Tokyo. There are a lot of students from abroad studying or working at the local university. The website’s simple Japanese version is in fact a bit difficult. But there are English and Chinese versions that can help to understand what’s going on.
Fun fact: Tsukuba city name is written in hiragana! It’s one of the few Hiragana/Katakana place names in Japan.
If you know other Japanese websites suitable for Japanese learners, please leave a comment!
NHK News Web Easy is one of the best resources for reading Japanese around JLPT N4 and N3 level. Most of the grammar is N4 and easy to understood with N3 kanji. Difficult words are explained in a simple popup when you hover the mouse over an underlined word.
All of the kanji also have furigana written above them, which some readers like and some don’t. The furigana makes it easy to read words, but it’s not helpful if you want to practice reading the kanji.
For Yomimaru, I have created a simple script that can turn the furigana off and on again. The same trick can be used for NHK News Web Easy. Simply drag and drop the following link into you bookmarks or bookmark bar and use it on the NHK website:
The first time you use it, all furigana should disappear, second time, it should become visible again.
One of the best free Japanese reading resources online, The Great ChokoChoko Library, recently lost all the JLPT N1-N5 materials. Fortunately, Japanese learners of Reddit seem to have backed up the whole library and created a single PDF document with all the graded articles. Here’s a direct link to a comment that leads to the PDF.
Continue reading Japan Foundation, J-Course and まるごと (Marugoto) Study Book
Recently I started playing Overwatch, an online 1st person shooter from Blizzard. Two characters are Japanese, so you can actually hear a lot of Japanese in Overwatch.
One of the maps featured in the game is
However Japanese and read world Japanese is written all over the place. So to make some use of the game in my Japanese studies, I took some screenshots and translated them with Tori.
The main parts of Hanamura are the Shimada Castle, a nearby temple and a small shop area. Note that Japanese websites refer to the Shimada clan, and the two characters Genji and Hanzo, using katakana. But there is actually Hanzo’s name written on the wall in Hanamura in Kanji. More on that later.
There’s no better way to learn a language than to make it a regular part of your life. And if you like eating and cooking Japanese food, one of the great ways to learn some practical Japanese is to use Cookpad, the biggest Japanese recipe website.
Some of the recipes are easy to read and make, such as this
There are almost no materials to read for absolute beginners. Even books for little children already expect understanding of fairly advanced grammar and quite rich vocabulary. While you might have studied for a few weeks or months now, those children have studied for years with native speakers.
Here’s a list of five websites that I’ve used in my beginnings. They contain JLPT N5, N4 and N3 reading materials.
UPDATE: Some of these websites aged away. For example the Chokochoko library is mostly gone. Check my other article about websites to read for more current list.