One of the most difficult aspects of learning Japanese is to master its complicated written structure. For this reason, reading Japanese language books can be the best way to learn Japanese!
What exactly do I mean by a “Japanese language book”? While it is possible to define this as strictly an academic book for practicing Japanese grammar and vocabulary, I want to generalize the term “Japanese language book” to mean any book written in the Japanese language.
In this article, I will introduce the various types of Japanese language books that you can read to improve your Japanese language skills. For each section, I will also include links to copies of free Japanese language books that are offered online!
1. JAPANESE LANGUAGE TEXTBOOKS
Grasping the basic structure of the Japanese language is an important initial step in mastering the language. This is why beginners in Japanese may want to start with a Japanese language book like the ones below:
- “Japanese for Busy People”
- “Adventures in Japanese”
- “Minna no Nihongo”.
You can find a complete list of academic Japanese language books on grammar and vocabulary in this article: The Best Japanese Language Books for Beginners! Rankings and Review | SchooLynk Media.
Free Japanese Language Textbooks
My recommendation for free Japanese language textbooks is NHK World’s Easy Japanese PDF which is free to download online. NHK WORLD RADIO JAPAN has published a short and simple introductory Japanese language book that gives a brief overview of basic Japanese. While it does not cover the grammar and rules in-depth, it is an easy read for any beginner in the Japanese language.
Perhaps the most comprehensive online source for downloading free PDFs of Japanese language books is Nihongo Library’s Free Japanese Study Materials. The website posts complete PDFs of JLPT prep books, Kanji books for beginners, and introductory books to katakana! Make sure to check their site often, since they update their online shelves rather frequently!
2. JAPANESE LANGUAGE STORYBOOKS
After gaining some understanding of the basic sentence structure and grammar of the Japanese language, you can ease your way into Japanese creative writing with traditional folktales and storybooks! Storybooks are written for younger audiences, so the terminology will be basic to intermediate level, and the storyline will be easy to understand.
You can access free, digital copies of Japanese storybooks at e-douwa.com.
Want to give it a try? Learn how to learn Japanese while reading a Japanese storybook by checking out this article: Folktales: Let’s read Japanese Language Books Together! | SchooLynk Media. In this article, we translate and analyze each section of the storybook “ネズミにだまされたネコ（The Cat Fooled by the Rat)”. Read along to learn various techniques to catch speech patterns and recurring language use!
Free Japanese Storybooks
In this section, I’ll introduce two websites with free online copies of Japanese storybooks.
Tadoku Supporters is a website that has free Japanese storybooks for beginners. It offers selections from five levels, where level one contains mainly pictures and level 5 contains short paragraphs. All books on this website include furigana and illustrations!
E-Douwa is another website where you can access a wide selection of Japanese language storybooks. While there are many selections of classic Japanese tales, the genre on this website is not limited to Japanese traditional folktales. You can read storybooks from works such as The Grimm Fairytales, Greek Mythology, and traditional folktales from all over the world! My personal recommendation would be The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Anderson!
Some classic tales are tearjerkers, regardless of the language that it is written in! Why not read the age-old tale of The Little Match Girl: By Hans Christian Anderson (E-book) in Japanese? It’s also a good practice to know the story in advance so that you can concentrate on vocabulary and fluency rather than context.
3. JAPANESE LANGUAGE AUDIOBOOKS
Audiobooks are great sources for learning Japanese. Not only do they contain more words than animations and tv shows per length of time, but they also challenge the listener to use his/her imagination to capture each scene. I recommend you to lay down and close your eyes while you listen to the soothing voice of Japanese audiobooks!
Get more insights about learning Japanese through audiobooks from our article: Listening to Japanese Language Books: Best Way to Learn Japanese with Free Audiobooks | SchooLynk Media.
Free Japanese Audiobooks
While there are various free sources of Japanese language audiobooks online, my recommendation is to start with YouTube. Indeed, various free Japanese audiobook channels and videos are available to watch on YouTube!
My recommendation is to start with Orpheus: The Man Who Became a Star for free online! This is a Japanese picture book that tells the tale of Orpheus, a famous figure in Greek mythology. If you want to listen to the audiobook version, you can find the 5-minute audiobook of The Tale of Orpheus posted on YouTube!
4. JAPANESE LANGUAGE MANGA
Having difficulties enjoying a story solely through lines and lines of Japanese words on a blank page? Then I recommend you start with a Japanese manga!
Mangas are Japanese comic books that tell the story mainly through their images and the comment bubbles of their characters. By paying attention to the type of final sentence particles, pronouns, and vocabulary used by each character, you can grasp the unique speaking styles that vary between genders, social settings, and personalities. Moreover, the illustrations help you to keep moving ahead when Japanese words alone become too strenuous on the mind!
Go to “Learn Japanese Through Mangas: Easy Japanese Language Books – SchooLynk Media” to get the best tips and tricks on finding and reading your perfect manga series!
Free Japanese Manga
In terms of enjoyment, the best book to learn Japanese for beginners is a good manga…especially if they are free!
One of the most popular manga in Japan is One Piece, which is an adventure story with humorous pirates and maritime battles. It has furigana over the kanji, making it easier for beginners in the Japanese language.
[Once you get to the ONE PIECE pdf free download page, just click on the green button that reads “はじめから読む”, which means “read from the beginning“!]
Another manga that you can read to learn Japanese is Naruto. Perhaps you are familiar with this title for its animation and video game versions. The manga tells revolves around Naruto Uzumaki, a young ninja who dreams of becoming the Hokage, the leader of his village. This series is also written with furigana, so Japanese language learners who are unfamiliar with kanji can enjoy the book, as well!
[Once you get to the NARUTO pdf free download page, just click on the green button that reads “はじめから読む”, which means “read from the beginning“!]
5. JAPANESE LANGUAGE NOVELS
Last but not least, Japanese novels offer a rich outlet for Japanese learners to experiment with the Japanese language. By changing up the genre from time to time, you can access a wide range of Japanese words and kanji without having to pick up a Japanese dictionary! You can start by checking out 10 Easy Japanese Language Books and Novels to start off your literary journey!
I recommend you to download the google translate app and keep it with you as you read a Japanese novel. This app has a writing feature where you can trace the shape of the kanji into the search engine!
Check out Tips For Reading Japanese Light Novels: Japanese Language Books For Beginners – SchooLynk Media for more tips on reading a Japanese novel as a Japanese learner!
Free Japanese Novels
I’ll be honest: it is difficult to find Japanese novels for free download online. However, there are exceptions.
Aozora Bunko is a website that provides free copies of Japanese language books that have expired copyrights. This mean that the works are over 70 years old. A downside to this fact is the novels often use older styles of the Japanese language. However, this also means that you can get your hands on some of Japan’s greatest classic novels!
My personal recommendation is No Longer Human by Osamu Dazai. It tells the story of Yozo, a lonely man in postwar Japan. It includes various allusions to historical contexts, such as the war crime trials and postwar depression.
While Colloquial Japanese: The Complete Course for Beginners may seem like a textbook, I’ve decided to introduce it in this section it is structured more like a novel. Colloquial Japanese: The Complete Course for Beginners, Second edition pdf free download offers an in-depth analysis of the linguistics behind colloquial Japanese. This may be an interesting read for anyone interested in learning about the structure of the Japanese language, rather than learning to speak it. However, depending on the type of learner you are, this in-depth analysis of the Japanese language may be the introduction you need to spark your interest in learning the language!
I hope these options have widened your world of Japanese language books. Not all forms of learning come from academic textbooks! By experimenting with various combinations of reading materials, you can gain a deeper understanding of the Japanese language, as well as its unique culture!
For more articles on studying Japanese, you can visit the Learning Japanese | SchooLynk Media webpage!