I started studying Japanese almost two years ago (January). That is shocking. I am simultaneously impressed that I stayed with it this long, dismayed at how much time I have put into this essentially useless-to-me hobby, and shocked that I’m not further along by now because wow, Japanese is really hard.
But yeah, I’m still at it. I love it, this interesting puzzle-solving hobby that has zero stress because it has zero connection to anything else in my life. I think its like people who do the daily cross-word puzzle in the morning, or play a few round of solitaire to help them get to sleep. Wani Kani, iKnow, Genki, Imabi, Tae Kim, Textfugu, and Japanese the Manga Way are my Japanese drugs of choice. (Not all at once! WaniKani is daily, the rest is in a complex rotation system that not even I fully comprehend.)
Plus this new one: Ehon Navi. First, if you click that link, you’re going to get a page full of Japanese except for one little English phrase, “Picture books for happiness!” which I love. Yes! A good picture book definitely is a happiness-inducer, isn’t it? Second, Ehon is Japanese for children’s picture book and Navi I think is connected to navigation. Basically the site has over a thousand Japanese pictures books scanned in that you can read for free—one time each (no going back!). You have to register but it isn’t hard, and the reader-app they have is quite usable. It’s basically having a Japanese children’s library on your laptop. How cool is that? And wow, Japanese artists KNOW THEIR CUTE.
I found Ehon Navi via Liana’s Extensive Reading blog. Extensive Reading is the language learning strategy of, basically, reading a ton in your target language, at or below your fluency level, just gobs and gobs of stuff, casting aside anything you don’t enjoy (and don’t use a dictionary!). It’s how I learned English so well, so it makes sense to me. Plus, it’s super fun. Ehon Navi gives someone who wants to try some Extensive Reading in Japanese, but has a low reading level (raises hand), a chance to level up through access to so many easy books. Bonuses: gorgeous, funny art and charming stories. It’s a win-win-win-win, really, with some win on top.
Liana has a walkthrough on how to register, and some clues about how to use the site if you can’t read Japanese well enough to navigate it. Thanks so much for putting that together, Liana! I have been enjoying this so much. It’s been a shot in the arm of my Japanese, studies, really. I can get lost in the slog sometimes and forget why I’m doing it. Oh yeah, I like reading Japanese!
Plus, I used to read so many children’s books when the kids were little, and loved it, but I haven’t read picture books in years. It’s surprisingly delightful to get back to it, even (especially?) in Japanese. Simple stories, cute pictures, funny jokes. Highly recommended. If you’re studying Japanese and can’t read manga yet, maybe get over the fear of all that Japanese by jumping in to picture books.