Reading more Japanese

As part of a Japanese Language assignment for this trimester (started since July 2020), I gave myself the mission to improve my Japanese reading ability. Aside from Japanese reading materials found in the textbook and text that we are provided as part of the Japanese course that I am studying, I hardly ever get to read Japanese. I found that whilst I could understand a lot of the materials provided in class, I would struggle a lot with materials found in other resources used outside of the classroom. So, in order to gain more exposure to other reading materials, I looked into reading Japanese stories.

The idea was not to just read more Japanese but to trigger further personal interest and motivation. As I enjoy reading stories and folklore material, reading Japanese stories seemed like a great idea to help motivate me. After a bit of asking around and researching, I discovered a reading series called Japanese Graded Readers.

Graded readers are books which have been designed and written for Japanese language learners. One can choose a set that suits their Japanese level and the readings are a collection of Japanese novels, folklore, children’s stories and so on. The stories begin from Level 0 up to Level 4. Carefully designed and graded reading material for each level is provided. Each level is somewhat catered for a particular stage that a Japanese language learner could be in. For example, Level 0 graded reading material is typically for JLPT 5 Japanese learners. The provided image is from the White Rabbit Press website where it shows you which JLPT level is catered for by a particular Graded Readers series level.


There are a number of different Japanese Graded Reader series. You can find a full collection of them through the website:

Different series are offered by different publishers. Some you need to purchase as physical books and some are offered as free downloads. The one that I was particularly interested in reading were stories offered by White Rabbit Press publisher ( Stories from this publisher are offered for purchase in electronic form as PDF files. I purchased my version through the Japanese Graded Reader mobile app, known as the “Nihongo Tadoku Books app.

The task that I gave myself was not just to read the stories. I also would translate them into Japanese. None of the Japanese Graded Reader books offers translation. The stories are only written in Japanese. As such, I felt that it would be a great task for me to produce a translated artefact that would appeal to those who are also learning Japanese and/or have access to such reading resources and would like to have an English version to help them check their understanding of the story/article. By doing so, not only am I gaining exposure to reading more Japanese, but also giving myself an opportunity to really analyse the text and further improve my own ability in translating information from Japanese to an English audience. Personally, translation is a task that does interest me and I think it is very fun to do.

I have selected a number of stories to translate from the White Rabbit Press Japanese Graded Reader stories. These include:

Story 1: どうして海の水は塩辛い (Graded Reader Level 1)

Story 2: 花咲かじいさん (Graded Reader Level 2)

Story 3: 一房のぶどう (Graded Reader Level 3)

By clicking on the titles, it will lead you to separate blog entries that contain the story translations.

I wish to emphasis that I am translating these stories for my own personal interest and learning purposes. These stories are owned and published by the White Rabbit Press.

If anyone is interested in reading any of the Japanese Graded Reader series, please refer to the publisher’s website.

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