Learning Japanese can be difficult, especially when it comes to reading. This is because the Japanese language uses 3 different alphabets, sometimes even all in one sentence. These three alphabets are called hiragana – ひらがな, katakana – カタカナ, and kanji – 漢字. Hiragana was invented as a way for women to write, while the men used kanji characters that had been adopted from China. Katakana is used to write any foreign words, for example, if you have a non-Japanese name, this would be written in Katakana. Because of this, finding resources to practice reading Japanese can be very difficult if you’re still a beginner.
White Rabbit Press have created a series of books to help with this problem though. The Japanese Graded Readers have been created to aid Japanese Learners at every level. Each level has 3 collections of 5 volumes, all using language targeted at the learners ability.
The levels also integrate the JLPT level vocabulary well. Starting at Level 0, for absolute beginners who know up to 400 words, all the way up to Level 4 for Intermediate students who know between 5k-10k words. Anyone higher than intermediate level will hopefully be able to pick up regular Japanese books, and practice their reading with those!
The stories in these series vary, in order to make sure everyone can enjoy reading something. The tales range from Japanese folk stories, people travelling in Japan, and short dramatic stories. For example, the collection pictured above, which is from level 1 (JLPT N5-N4) contains the tale of Hachiko the dog, whose statue can be seen outside Shibuya station in Tokyo; John’s Trip to Japan, which follows a young boy as he travels to Japan and makes a new friend; and a story about a young girl who is forced to move from her big beautiful house, into a small house in the city.
You can buy the books from most bookstores in Japan or online from White Rabbit Press in book form, and for the iPad.
・100 Things to Do in Shibuya, Tokyo’s Fashionable Metropolis, in 2018