Listening to audiobooks is one of the best ways to learn Japanese. Not only can you improve your listening comprehension skills, but you can also put your creativity to practice by mentally painting the story told through Japanese words.

To summarize, the benefits of listening to Japanese language books include the following:

  • Most highly acclaimed works of Japanese literature have audiobooks available
  • Relying solely on audio helps to hone in on listening comprehension skills
  • Activities like jogging and cleaning can be done while listening to audiobooks
  • In the same 20 minutes of watching a tv episode that contains roughly 1500-2000 words, you can listen to an average of 3000-4000 words in an audiobook
  • Lack of visual aid encourages you to link your creativity to the Japanese language.
  • By having the written copy at hand, you can practice reading a Japanese novel in a fluent manner

That’s enough about the perks of Japanese audiobooks! Let’s talk about the best ways to listen to Japanese audiobooks, as well as the top choices for accessing audio sources of Japanese language books!

Listen to Free Audiobooks on YouTube

YouTube has many videos of audio recordings of Japanese novels and language books. Not only is it free, but this option is perhaps the most comfortable for many users.

Searching specific Japanese audiobooks:

  1. Try typing the English title of the book + “audiobook” in English
    (EX: “No Longer Human audiobook”)
  2. Try typing the romaji title of the book + “audiobook” in English. I advise you to try a different spelling of the title as well.
    (EX: “Ningen Shikkaku audiobook” and “Ningen Shikaku audiobook”)
  3. Retry steps 1 and 2, but also add the author’s name
  4. Whip out the Japanese keyboard! Try typing the Japanese title of the book + “朗読(ろうどく)
    (EX: “人間失格 朗読”)

If you want to browse YouTube for a random Japanese audiobook, you can search “朗読” into the search engine and look through the results! From what I’ve gathered, there seem to be more options of Japanese audiobooks for popular and classic works.

List of classic Japanese novels on YouTube:

  • No Longer Human by Osamu Dazai
    This highly acclaimed novel tells the story of Yozo, a young man who struggles to maintain his humanity during the wartime era.
  • Bocchan by Soseki Natsume
    This story is a coming-of-age tale of a young male teacher who moves to the countryside to teach troublesome students.
  • Ten Nights of Dreams by Soseki Natsume
    This book contains ten short stories revolving around ten thrilling and beautiful dreams.
  • Kokoro by Natsume Soseki
    The story reflects the transition from Meiji society to the modern era by exploring the friendship between a young man and his “Sensei”.
  • Floating Clouds by Fumiko Hayashi
    This is a tragic love story that is set in a dream-like Indo-China during WWII, as well as the dreary remains of Japan after the war.

List of channels with Japanese audiobooks:

  • シャボン 朗読横丁
    This channel is run by a female audiobook reader with a very clear and soothing voice. She has a very well-organized playlist of audiobooks, categorized by series and authors.
  • 【AudioBookChannel】朗読名作劇場
    This channel is run by a male audiobook reader. It posts audiobooks of works that have expired copyright labels. Each story tends to be shorter, averaging at around one hour.
  • ほがら朗読堂
    This channel is run by a male narrator who posts content of various genres. Most videos are one hour long, and the topics range from Chinese short stories to thriller mini-series.
  • 松本夕紀/まつもとゆうき
    This channel is run by a female voice actor who does freelance narrations. Her audiobooks are of Japanese fairytales and legends.

Other Free Sources of Japanese Audiobooks

While I highly recommend starting with YouTube, there are also other sources where you can access audio recordings of Japanese language books.

One such platform is Audible by Amazon. While most audiobooks require paid memberships or individual purchasing fees, there are Free Japanese Audiobooks on Audible as well!

LibriVox also has 127 Japanese audiobooks available free of charge!

What are you waiting for? Let’s get listening to Japanese language books!