Where can I find Japanese books (fiction or not) with furigana online?
March 13, 2010 3:21 AM   Subscribe

Where can I find Japanese books (fiction or not) with furigana online?

I'm half Japanese and can speak fluently, but read and write at a primary school level. I have a poor vocabulary when it comes to subjects outside of daily life (I had to look up "socialist" during the elections) let alone anything esoteric, but most of all I'm held back by my ever-diminishing knowledge of kanji. I haven't lived in Japan for a while.

I would settle for textbooks and have relatives back home who would be more than happy to buy and ship them over to me, but I imagine I'd owe them quite a bit of money. And I guess that being able to read on subjects that actually interest me (as a 21 year old architecture student and history enthusiast) would mitigate my frustration/embarrassment at learning what I ought to know already.

This question is relevant to someone with my level of Japanese, but I'm covered in terms of actual kanji-learning books for English speakers, and kanji dictionaries. I figured the best way for me to learn and get motivated was to find literature with furigana, or at least websites with good writing that I can slowly read with the help of rikaichan.

Some way of identifying and sourcing books with furigana online would be ideal, but recommendations of specific books/websites, especially on Japanese history, would be much appreciated!

(At the risk of derailing into chatfilter: I think watching documentaries/shows like Gaia no Yoake, which I love and miss, would be useful as well, but again I can't be buying paying for boxed DVD sets and getting my Japanese relatives to keep forwarding packages to Australia. I know I can watch Japanese TV for free online (keyhole or TVU), but I'm on a mac.)
posted by carnival of animals to Education (4 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I'll sometimes read Yahoo!きっず because it allows you to set your furigana level (Click on the よみがなツール button at the top of the page, then choose 1,2ねんせい 3,4年生 5,6年生, or 中学生) for the pages you view.

Mostly, though, I use rikai-chan for firefox and just read regular Japanese websites.
posted by emmling at 4:46 AM on March 13, 2010 [2 favorites]

Rikai-chan may be what you want, and the Hiragana Times also offers articles (but not fiction) with Furigana.

A challenge may be that there are not many books with content suitable for adults with furigana.

Elementary school textbooks (Kokugo, Shakai), may be what you're looking for, as they contain interesting content and use furigana for more complicated concepts.

For actually learning the first 1000 kanji, these books are awesome for self-study (it's how I learned).
posted by KokuRyu at 10:39 AM on March 13, 2010

Best answer: One thing you could try is finding a copy of any Banana Yoshimoto novel or short story in both languages. Her Japanese is very basic and clear. Try reading the original Japanese, and when you get into trouble, refer to the Japanese text.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:40 AM on March 13, 2010

Best answer: So, first, Aozora Bunko. It only has books that are out of copyright, but that includes Soseki, Ogai, Dazai, etc. Written Japanese from 50+ years ago is harder to read from a modern POV, but I bet you could get your Miyazawa Kenji (for example) on without too much difficulty.

As for history... Have you considered textbooks/study aids for high school history students in Japan? There's tons of stuff, ranging from "Japanese history: the comic book" to "Gigantic encyclopedia you must memorize to get into university", so I'm sure your relatives would be able to help find something at your level. You could probably make a pretty good guess based on Amazon listings, too.
posted by No-sword at 2:16 PM on March 13, 2010

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